To The Editor:
In the chaotic political environment that exists today, how you present an idea might be as important as the idea itself. We have all witnessed the problems created when an idea, even a good idea is introduced in a manner that is distasteful, demeaning or crude. A little marketing or dare I say manners can go a long way when trying to persuade others to your line of thought. Having a civil discussion with a person that disagrees with your ideas or values will add value to your words and you will gain respect in the process. Your voice will be heard.
I believe Ken DeLaat will be able to bring good ideas to our Board of Commissioners in a way they will listen and consider those ideas. Current District 5 representation has been reduced not necessarily because of bad ideas but, because of how those ideas were presented.
Vote for better representation for District 5. Vote for Ken DeLaat.
Editor Note: Last week we received an email from Newaygo City Council Member Mike Hikade outlining his opposition to the upcoming Public Safety Millage that is going in front of county voters on August 7th.
Mr. Hikade posed 5 questions and concerns and expressed a desire to hear answers regarding these.
Sheriff Robert Mendham sent the following as a reply to those concerns and questions.
Mr. Hikade's entire letter can be accessed at:
1. This money will only support the Sheriff’s Department. No cities, villages or townships will receive these dollars.
Sheriff Mendham - This millage will only go towards adding deputies, equipment, and training to the Newaygo County Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff’s Office is the largest police agency in the county. We are responsible for 864 sq. miles and almost 50,000 residents. The Sheriff’s Office obviously handles calls for service throughout the county and routinely responds to calls within the cities and village. It is our belief that no police agency in Newaygo County is completely self-sufficient. We rely on personnel and equipment from the local police departments and likewise they rely on us. A well manned and equipped Sheriff’s Office will be able to assist and respond promptly to all calls for service.
It should also be noted that the City of Newaygo’s TIFA district captures approximately $60,000 of our current 1.0 Road Patrol Millage.
2. Since the Newaygo area is doing economic development to attract more employers for the region, and keep more of our residents working here, how will this tax increase benefit job creation or the Promise Zone?
Sheriff Mendham - We believe that a safe community with a pro-active Sheriff’s Office will only bring value to the Newaygo County area. People want to live in safe communities with safe schools. Businesses want to operate in areas where they can depend on the law enforcement community to protect their investments and assets.
3. We have a need for housing stock to have affordable homes/apartments for people to live in, how will this tax increase affect housing starts and future development, when we have one of the highest taxes in the area?
Sheriff Mendham - A community with a well trained and equipped law enforcement presence is very attractive to families looking to build or buy the home where they plan to raise their family.
4. One piece of the proposal is that deputy medical training will be done. With most fire depts in the county already having medical capability, why duplicate services? Put medical back where it belongs: with the fire departments.
Sheriff Mendham - Unfortunately there is a shortage of medical first responders in our county. The entire northern half of Newaygo County has very limited access to immediate medical care. We also understand that those first responders are volunteers working full time jobs elsewhere. Their response times may be slowed because they are at work or must first respond to their station for equipment. We believe that our deputies may potentially have a quicker response time or be the only response when an ambulance may be 20 – 30 minutes away. We are not trying to duplicate services we are hoping to enhance them. Kent and Ottawa County Sheriff’s Offices have had medically trained first responders for many years and they work closely with the fire departments in their areas and we believe we can as well.
This would be another value added and reason for families and businesses to move to Newaygo County.
5. Under the 2016 Medical Marijuana law, the sheriff department has been receiving tax revenue from the licensing of facilities in our county, as well as a secondary road patrol fund. Why is the millage needed?
Sheriff Mendham - The money we currently receive from the Medical Marijuana law is a grant, not a tax revenue, and is approximately $16,000, it goes directly to the Central Michigan Enforcement Team because they are tasked with doing the facility inspections.
Our Secondary Road Patrol money has been cut nearly in half over the past five years. That money used to pay for a patrol car and one deputy, it now covers less than half of the total cost for that position.
We are asking for the .5 Public Safety Millage because we have fewer deputies on the road now than we did in 1998. We have fewer detectives now than we did in 1998. We are taking more calls for service now than ever. We have fewer MSP Troopers working our county since the Post closed in Newaygo. Fewer deputies and troopers means slower response times and less pro-active policing which means more crimes and accidents.
Medical marijuana is already leading to changes in our county that will require more police involvement and if the Recreational Marijuana Law passes in November the tax dollars for Sheriff’s Offices stops.
Sheriff Bob Mendham
To the Taxpayers of Newaygo County:
This letter is to inform you of an upcoming millage request from the Newaygo County Sheriff Department. They want you to approve a millage increase of .5 mil on your property tax bill to fund their activities. This will bring in approximately $757,000 the first year, and will be a ten year assessment on all taxable properties. However, I am not in favor of the increase for an already rising tax value, for the following reasons:
I feel that until the questions above are answered and other means of financing are explored, the taxpayers do not deserve to be saddled with more tax debt.The sheriff department has the highest budget of all departments by a significant amount. I know that closed social media groups and others will probably label me as a cop hater and try to smear my reputation. I categorically deny that and am only concerned with our taxpayers getting the best service for the taxes they pay. All agencies need to remember that WE serve the taxpayers, not the other way around. Newaygo County has 48,000 residents with a taxable value of over 1.8 billion dollars of property. As more people move into our area, they are looking for housing and jobs. Why would a larger tax burden be allowed to possibly hinder economic progress and housing choices? I urge you vote NO on Thursday August 7. Thank you.
Newaygo City Council Member
By Doug Harmon
I've known Ken Delaat for a few years now.
I have had the opportunity to have worked with Ken on various committees, for small projects and big projects. We have worked side by side getting our hands dirty on the county’s hazardous waste day and have enjoyed each other's company working a scorers table at local high school sporting events. We do both sit on the Newaygo County Board of Public Works. So I would have to say I do endorse and support Ken's bid to be elected as a county commissioner. He has always displayed commitment, compassion, and dedication to projects he adopts. He always adds valued comments.
It seems like he's got it together and living the dream.
So I have to know, why would you want to become a county commissioner.
A thankless job, that usually displays more negative than positive.
So it is my hope that he answers my questions and also shares it with his readers and followers.
Curious minds need to know.
How long have you lived in the county?
KD-20 years. Lil and I moved here from Comstock Park where we had raised our two children and lived for 15 years prior to coming to this area.
What do you like about Newaygo County?
KD-Beyond the natural beauty the area abounds with and the many opportunities the region offers it is the people who reside here that make Newaygo County a compelling place to live and work. There is a sense of community that runs deep and transcends the inter city rivalries….unless the high school teams are competing against each other that evening, of course.
What do you see as some of the challenges facing Newaygo County?
KD-Change is inevitable. I am old enough to remember the Brighton area in the 1960’s and what it looked like compared to 15-20 years later. We have two metropolitan areas to the south and west . One continues to experience steady and relentless growth and one is poised to do the same. While it is more than likely this suburban growth will continue to extend beyond its current status, Newaygo County must be prepared to ensure the changes that accompany this growth will be positive in nature and well thought out.
Are you ready for the time commitment to be a commissioner?
KD- I will be retiring from my position as Diversion Coordinator for the Newaygo County Juvenile Court in October which will free up a good deal of time. Having spent over 40 years in the nonprofit sector there exists no illusions about the necessity to be prepared for long days and long hours in order to serve the public effectively.
Does your family support your commissioner bid?
KD- I am fortunate to have been married to an exceptional woman who has supported me in a number of endeavors throughout the past 45 years while remaining my most valuable critic as well. She is behind me so long as I don’t ask her to march in any parades.
My son and daughter have said they would indeed vote for me however neither live in the district and my 4 grandchildren would likely also cast ballots my way however beyond also residing outside my district none are as yet age eligible.
Will you attend township meetings in your district?
Yes. Generally when I attend township and city council meetings my presence is oftentimes met with reactions that tend to be less than enthusiastic due to my role as a reporter. It is my hope to become a more welcome regular rather than the occasional harbinger of undesired publicity.
Have you ever done anything like this before?
KD-I serve on the Board of Public Works and currently chair the Board of Directors for the Dogwood Center. I have also been involved in the Headway Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition having previously served as chair.
There has been involvement in a number of other boards over the years however my only experience in running for office was a less than successful campaign for student council in junior high.
It still stings a bit.
Are you a problem solver or the problem?
KD-My career has been spent in helping others find solutions to difficulties whether they be personal, organizational or communal. I’m not inclined to change this pattern toward persistent positive problem resolution.
Are you a team player or a lone wolf or a mix of both?
KD-I am a strong believer in the power of collaboration. So much of being a successful public servant is about fostering relationships and working together for the greater good.
Will you ask knowledgeable questions or just be a rubber stamp kind of guy?
KD-I find it is vital to always do the homework. Research is a huge part of being capable of making good decisions.This observation has instilled a personal need to gather as much information as possible from a variety of sources before moving forward to support or oppose decisions.
Do you feel you can help the residents of Newaygo County?
KD-I feel I can be a voice for my fellow residents and respond the needs of the constituents while ensuring the county continues to remain fiscally responsible.
Is this just a whim or are you considering more than one term?
KD-I’ve watched commissioners come and go over the years. It is my hope to be allowed to serve the constituents of our district for more than one term since many initiatives brought forward by the board may take time to come to fruition.That being said there are no plans to make a career out of serving on the board. I have a high regard for public service and recognize that at some point it's appropriate to step aside and allow others the opportunity to serve.
Your overall opinion of Newaygo County?
Newaygo County is a treasure. While not blind to the challenges and issues looming on the horizon there is no doubt in my mind this county has the wherewithal to not only meet those challenges but to emerge stronger for having faced them.
What will Newaygo County look like in five years?
KD-It will be a different economic landscape to be sure. There are challenges we currently face with workforce development and efforts seem to be getting some traction with the advent of the Promise Zone and the blossoming collaboration between education and private industry. The Fremont Area Community Foundation’s role in these efforts cannot be overstated and their support of initiatives aimed at reducing poverty in our area are being shown to be effective measures toward an issue that has stymied nearly all who have taken it on.
Housing, particularly affordable housing, is another issue that will need to be addressed yet overall Newaygo County is poised to prosper and the next five years should reflect the positive changes our greater community so richly deserves.
Community invited to learn about major barrier for local families on July 19
How would you feel if a raise or promotion actually meant fewer resources to support your family? It might feel as if you were falling off a steep cliff. This “Cliff Effect” is exactly what more than 8,500 Newaygo County residents face as they struggle to make a living and care for their families.
When working families gain income, their higher income often causes them to lose public support benefits like meals at school for their children. The Cliff Effect happens when the lost benefits total more than the new income. To avoid this issue, struggling parents may not look for work or may turn down jobs, promotions, overtime, or other opportunities. This not only keeps working families from getting ahead, but it also prevents businesses from attracting and retaining the talent they need to grow our local economy.
On July 19, join Circles Newaygo County to learn more about the Cliff Effect and hear from local people dealing with this issue. There will also be conversation about what we can do as community members to create solutions.
The meeting will be held from 6-8 p.m. at Newaygo United Church of Christ (432 Quarterline Street, Newaygo). A community meal will be served at 6 p.m. and the program begins at 6:40 p.m.
To RSVP, contact Lindsey Slater at Fremont Area Community Foundation at 231.924.5350 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Artists, crafters and collectors are invited to donate items for the fall Newaygo County Democratic Party 2nd Annual Dinner and Silent Auction. This year it will be held at the Dogwood Center for Performing Arts on September 15 from 6pm to 9pm.
“It can be a great way for local artists and crafters to promote their work,” states Shelly Ross, Fundraiser Chair. “Businesses can promote to a diverse audience through their donations or gift certificates as well. Original work, new items or vintage jewelry and antique pieces of interest are welcomed!”
The Dinner and Silent Auction supports political engagement of community members by bringing local and regional candidates to Newaygo County.
“The Dinner will be a great place to meet those running for office, as we expect both State Senate and House Candidates to attend,” added Ms. Ross. “Community members can hear what they have to say, and ask them the tough questions that are on voters’ minds. There will also be a special video presentation by Senator Debbie Stabenow.”
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