In-Depth Study of the White River Begins
NEWAYGO COUNTY, MICHIGAN: The White River Watershed Collaborative (WRWC) recently launched an effort to study the economic impact of the White River in Newaygo, Oceana and Muskegon Counties. The study is intended to develop a baseline to gauge progress in the communities along the White River. The study will be conducted over a 12-month period to evaluate the economic impact of the White River on local communities through river-based recreation and property values. Information gathered will be leveraged to target opportunities to both capitalize on and improve the quality of the White River.
Since 2019, the WRWC has focused on environmental and economic opportunities of the White River and surrounding watershed. WRWC is led by Trout Unlimited’s Jake Lemon and involves stakeholders from over 40 local, state and federal organizations. The WRWC Economic Opportunity subcommittee, led by Newaygo County's Economic Development Director, Julie Burrell, identified the opportunity to conduct an economic impact study of the White River.
Recognizing the potential value of this study, West Michigan Shoreline Development Commission (WMSRDC) stepped up to serve as the fiduciary on behalf of WRWC. WMSRDC was able to successfully apply for and receive funding from the Community Foundation for Muskegon County, the Community Foundation for Oceana County and the Fremont Area Community Foundation. Additional funding partners include Schrems West Michigan Trout Unlimited and Free The White River Group. One hundred percent of funds raised will be dedicated to contracting with Grand Valley State University (GVSU) to conduct the study.
After months of planning, organizing and fundraising, a contract was signed with GVSU in July. The project hit the ground running, with river use intercept surveys beginning immediately. The project will also include business surveys, a river communities survey and an analysis of the White River property values. Simply put, this information will be compiled into models to estimate the economic impact of the river in terms of commerce generated and property values.
Surveys are expected to continue through June 2023 to capture all seasons and varieties of river usage. The project is expected to be completed in July 2023. For additional information please go to the project page on the WMSRDC website http://wmsrdc.org/project/white-river-impact/
Native Plant Hike & Gathering This Week
Story & photo by Sally Wagoner
The first of “seasonal” guided hikes and gatherings will take place on Wednesday, August 31, 6pm – 8pm at Coolbough Natural Areas. This is a free event, with donations accepted. Coolbough is located between Croton and Newaygo off Croton Drive and Barberry Avenue.
Hosted by Carmen Marie Alfaro, the hike invites anyone interested in learning or sharing knowledge about native plants and local ecology. “Coolbough Natural Areas are home to the rare Oak Savanna, a threatened natural community traditionally stewarded by Indigenous Peoples. They are now maintained by The Coolbough Natural Areas Environmental Commission and The Nature Conservancy. This unique ecosystem is packed with incredible flora and fauna,” stated Carmen.
Participants are encouraged to wear long pants, bring water to drink, use non-toxic insect repellent if needed, and be ready to share seeds and stories. Carmen continues,“I spent about 2 hours at Coolbough recently in preparation for the hike, and easily identified over 45 unique floral species as well as a few fungal friends.”
Owner of the new Sunhart Center of Ecology and Design, Carmen’s unique training provides sustainability-focused landscaping design services in the Newaygo County area. With training and experience in native wildflower prairie and wetlands installation, permaculture design, integrated food-forest creation and management, and invasive species removal, the Sunhart Center ensures that all projects have a minimal carbon footprint and practices mindfulness of sound pollution and clutter.
“I’ve always had a passion for listening to and working with the Land. As a Wixárika person, I believe in honoring the spirit of Mother Earth, Sister Water and all of our plant and animal relatives. With the recent listing of the Monarch butterfly on the endangered species list, I realized the time to give back to my community is now. I want to make a world where our children and grandchildren can enjoy clean air, clean waters and abundant nature. A better world is possible,” shared Carmen.
The hike will be slow-paced over prairie and wooded trails, with frequent stops along the way to identify plants and share knowledge. Those who wish to walk for only part of the adventure may go back to their cars at any time.
For more information about the Coolbough Hike & Gathering, contact Carmen Marie Alfaro at email@example.com, (231) 450-4590, or by visiting the Events link on Facebook @Sunhart Center of Ecology & Design.
Newaygo Marching Band “Takes Shape”
Story and photos by Tara Hefferan
Summer break ends in early August for Newaygo Marching Band. Keeping a grueling Monday through Friday, 9 AM – 5 PM training schedule, band kids know that hard work and commitment lead to success. Indeed, the band is among Newaygo High School’s most-winning competitive programs, with fourteen performances at the Michigan Competing Band Association (MCBA) State Championships at Ford Field since 2009, earning the state title twice and taking second place five times.
August practices have focused intensity, as the band of forty-five students learn the details of their 2022 fall show, “Take Shape.” They are led by Band Director Branden Listh. From atop his observation tower, Mr. Listh assembles his musicians in the Newaygo Bus Garage’s parking lot. The lot has been painted to reproduce a football field, with lines and signage marking yards and steps.
Using a microphone and loudspeaker, Mr. Listh calls directions, and the kids find their marks. Mr. Listh begins each instruction set by calling out “Hey Band!” The kids respond “Hey, what?” to signal they are at attention. Then, in an iterative process, with plenty of other calls and responses, Mr. Listh and his support staff lead the kids through their formations, finetuning steps, distancing, speed, musicianship, and the like. Repetition is key, as the same steps are practiced and corrected over and over, until they become embodied muscle memory.
The mood is jolly. The different “sections” of the band—led by student “section leaders”—coordinate outfit themes. Today’s themes include the Wizard of Oz, princesses, and vampires, among others. One goal is to develop a sense of community across the various sections. Another is to develop an identity connected to particular instruments. “Oh, she’s a flute” or “he’s a saxophone” are ways of noting who people are and where they fit. Also, the outfit themes are just fun, giving a festive edge to the hard work and long days.
With the band perfecting its new program, Mr. Listh says, “I am looking forward to our first competition. It is always an enjoyable experience for the students to travel and to experience other bands performing after we give our first performance.” The band will give its first public performance on Thursday August 25th at the Newaygo vs. Kent City football game’s halftime show. Kick-off will be at 7 PM. The first competition will be the Rockford Invitational on September 17.
Community Meeting Aug. 24 to Discuss Future of Consumers Energy’s Hardy Dam
WHY: Input from communities will help Consumers Energy determine the future of their 13 dams in Michigan. Ahead of their dams’ operating licenses expiring, the energy provider is gathering community and individual’s opinions to help determine plans to either continue investing in or remove any of our river hydro facilities.
WHERE & WHEN: The Hardy Dam public meeting is Wednesday, August 24 at Newaygo High School Cafeteria, 360 S. Mill Street, Newaygo, MI. An open house begins at 5:30 p.m. and the public meeting will begin at 6 p.m.
WHAT: Consumers Energy hired Public Sector Consultants (PSC), a Lansing-based
nonpartisan research and consulting firm that specializes in public engagement, to hold public meetings with the goal of collecting unbiased feedback regarding its hydro facilities. PSC and Consumers Energy dam experts will provide information about the dam, explain future state options, discuss impacts if any dams were to be decommissioned, and facilitate community input.
For community meeting details, and more information access: ConsumersEnergy.com/HydroFuture. Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest energy provider, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and/or electricity to 6.8 million of the state’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.
NC Emergency Services stepped up at the recent Gus Macker in Newaygo
From organizers and players to spectators and food trucks nearly all who were involved in Newaygo’s first Gus Macker Event deemed it a huge success. Not the least among the folks pitching in to make Newaygo’s Macker #1 a quality event was the crew from Newaygo County Emergency Services.
Once again the team of volunteers were on hand to ensure the safety of the participants as they have whenever a situation calls for them to be at the ready.
Extensive training with an emphasis on preparedness has been the calling card of the ES team and their ability to respond whether it be a large scale event like the Macker or a crisis situation such as flooding or other natural disasters is second to none.
Here are the ES numbers from the recent Macker event:
What is it that inspires people from the community to join the ES team?
We asked a few of the team members.
"I like being part of a team that has received comprehensive training in the skills needed to support coverage and safety at local events, and assist local law enforcement and emergency responders in various disaster response activities and situations. We make a difference by supporting the community and individuals in times of need (large or small) and by promoting emergency preparedness." -Dianne Taylor-Chandler
"Being on the team for the past 12 years has been beyond rewarding. We are not only a team but a second family for each other. I love interacting with the community and sharing awareness in being prepared at home. It is wonderful to be a part of a team that has the same passion and drive that I do when it comes to helping the community when it is in need. Being able to volunteer alongside my husband and even include our daughters into some of the training is just amazing!" - BobbyJo Deater
"Being part of the CERT team is like having a second family. We look out for each other, work well together and get things done. It is a great way to do service out in the community and receive training to help assist law enforcement, etc. when needed. " - Shari Paulsen
“We have a great team! They are like family and I really enjoy working with them. These wonderful individuals give of their time and talents to help with event support, (medical, safety, logistics), flooding, damage assessment, administrative tasks, and so much more. They are our force amplifiers! We could not do everything we do without them. Come join us. - Renee Gavin, Deputy Director, Newaygo County Emergency Services
Newaygo County Emergency Services Director Abby Watkins encourages all members of the community to learn what they can do to help their community before, during, and after a disaster. “An organized and efficient response to a large-scale emergency depends on the active participation of members of the community. When members of the community show up to help with no formal training, it can overwhelm and clog the response efforts,” stated Watkins. “By getting trained, you will have the knowledge and skills to help save lives and protect property.”
Want to join the group making a difference when it comes to helping your community?
Mae a visit to this link.
Here are the folks who were helping out at the Newaygo Gus Macker 2022:
Director Abby Watkins, Incident Commander
Dep Director Renee Gavin, Medical Command
James Farinosi, DO, Medical Tent
Gretchen Farinosi, RN, BS, Medical Tent
Mike Rinehart, Medical Tent
Dianne Taylor Chandler, Medical Tent
James Kilmer, Roving/Courtside Medical
Linda Kilmer, Roving/Courtside Medical
Shari Paulsen, Roving/Courtside Medical
Mark Watkins, Roving/Courtside Medical
Cassie Rickert, Spectrum Health Gerber Rehab, Medical Tent
Renee Gavin: These guys do so much, they take care of our tech, tow, set up, and maintain our heavy equipment. Heavy equipment includes the CERT/MRC trailer, our Command Trailer, ATV’s (the Sheriffs office lets us borrow theirs), digital sign, generators, radios and anything else that needs any fixing, moving, or Macgyvering.
Bobby Jo Deater
RG- She is a member of our Admin Team, helps out in all areas, married to Tim and a great cook!
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