Or... Open-Heart Surgery with Backhoe
Photos and story by Charles Chandler.
It is about 10:00 AM on a Tuesday and several onlookers are standing on a big pile of dirt at the intersection of Walnut and 24th street supervising a very important project. Although after morning coffee and daily news, this spoil bank feels like an island in a different world. Hurricanes are ripping through the Gulf of Mexico. Thousands of migrating birds are dying across the southwest. Everything west of the Rockies is a blazing inferno with immeasurable loss of life and property. The arctic is recording 100-degree temperatures and huge bomb craters are appearing in the Siberian tundra. The glaciers and sea ice are melting faster than predicted. The global Corvid-19 pandemic and partisan politics rage on. All of these events are backlit by dire predictions about Global Warming. It all feels like a sweaty high fever dream.
But here at this Newaygo County road intersection, it is a cool Michigan morning, there is a tiny warbler hunting insects in a bush near the side of the road. There is a bit of fall color beginning to show among the thick green pine and spruce. The small clear spring-fed creek that is getting all the attention is gurgling along a few feet away. We are all oblivious to the world’s troubles and are mesmerized by the activity in front of us. This morning the Newaygo County Road Commission crew is installing a huge box culvert on this small Bigelow Creek tributary.
The healthy young men in bright green safety vests laugh and joke as they work with a rigger and the guy in the cab of a giant yellow crane to carefully maneuver massive concrete Lego blocks into place. This huge box culvert is replacing the original rusty 46-inch metal tube lying over in the far ditch. At first glance, this seems like a bit of overreach.
Not so, as this culvert replacement is part of a very important and ongoing collaboration to restore the viability and potential of the Bigelow Creek watershed. What is so special about the Bigelow and this project? A bunch to be sure. This is a big Newaygo County Project that has many, many benefits to the fishes and creatures that live in and along the creek and to the residents of Newaygo County and beyond. It is incredibly important to local and regional fishermen and the general economy of the County.
Bigelow Creek is a tributary to the Muskegon River, and the entire subwatershed lies in Newaygo County. It originates just a couple of miles southeast of White Cloud, flows generally south for approximately 15.7 miles before joining the Muskegon River about a half-mile above Henning Park. For those not familiar with this beloved stream, Bigelow Creek and all tributaries are Type 1 trout streams, mostly intact, and contain healthy self-sustaining populations of Brook, Brown and Rainbow Trout, (Steelhead), and Chinook, and Coho Salmon along with many other small fish and invertebrates. What this means to trout, steelhead, and salmon fishermen is the Bigelow is a fish nursery and produces large numbers of beautiful sporting fish for them to pursue.
To me and other recreationalists who have lived in the dry hot brown places or traveled to Newaygo County from the thick midwestern cities to fish, paddle, camp, and hike along the Bigelow it is a modern miracle. A true sign that the Almighty loves us and wants us to be happy.
So why the open-heart surgery that is going on down in the big ditch in front of us? In human terms, the Bigelow has been suffering from a bad case of clogged arteries.
The guy that this Near North Now correspondent has been waiting for has arrived and has agreed to tell that story. His name is Jeremy Geist and his title is Great Lakes Stream Restoration Manager for Trout Unlimited (TU). TU is a national nonprofit organization that was founded here by Michiganders to help conserve, protect, and restore cold-water trout streams. He is the project lead, coalition manager, and cat herder on the Bigelow Creek Watershed restoration project. His is an awesome responsibility because the outcome of this important project will impact the Bigelow Creek natural processes and its biological contribution to the larger Muskegon River and the economics of Newaygo County.
According to Jeremy in 2016 a coalition of partners organized a project to improve the road-stream crossings in the Bigelow Creek watershed. These partners included Trout Unlimited, Newaygo County Road Commission, United States Forest Service (USFS), Michigan, Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) the Muskegon County Conservation District, and the Muskegon River Watershed Assembly.
“We met with the Road Commission and other partners to prioritize the work. We looked for those overlapping opportunities that could improve the Biglow Watershed and the Newaygo County road system. After some deliberating eight or nine different road-stream crossings were selected for culvert replacement. This year we will replace culverts four and five.”
These eight or nine culverts were typically installed 50 plus years ago and were either too small or in the wrong place. Over time, several not so good things happened to the stream processes. These undersized culverts allowed sand and sediment to build on the upside of the culvert further reducing the streamflow. Then during a heavy rain event, the water pressure would increase, kind of like putting your thumb over the end of your garden hose. This fast-moving water would jet out of the culvert and wash a hole out in the stream bed on the downside of the culvert. This lowered the water level and created a “perched” culvert. This gap between culvert and stream stopped the fishes and other organisms from migrating upstream. This reduced the production and potential of the entire Bigelow Creek watershed.
Kind of like we seniors that have overtime eaten a semi-truck load of brats, bacon, bread, barbeque, beer, and cinnamon rolls. Our arteries have clogged up and a little sediment has collected around our waist, backside, and other places. We have lost a little potential and can’t make that 50-yard dash to catch the football or sprint down the court for that perfect layup or walk for a couple hours hunting grouse in the Michigan thickets. You get the picture.
Additionally, if the rain event was big enough the stream would overtop the roadways and this would generate phone calls to the County Road Commissioner, Emergency Services, and the Road Commission.
The logic for the big box culvert becomes apparent as Jeremy and others explain that now we frequently get bigger rain events, that is, more rain falling faster which results in a faster runoff in the watershed. The benefits for these large replacement culverts are many since they improve drainage and our County roadways while reconnecting important sections of the Bigelow watershed. These projects also have an immediate benefit to the local economy. The Great Lake Restoration initiative disburses about 300 million a year to restoration projects like this one. These projects also deliver an infusion of money to the local economy and taxpayers. The Road Commission offsets some of their cost and use local contractors and buy materials locally whenever possible.
For we fishermen, they are a beautiful thing indeed because they facilitate fish passage upstream to prime spawning grounds and ensuring the sustainability of the variety of game and nongame fish in the watershed and the Muskegon River.
Jeremy discussed the project status and schedule for other culvert replacements. These legacy culverts have been replaced on the East Branch of Bigelow Creek at Spruce Ave. (2017) and at 40th St. (2018), and Bigelow Creek at 40th St. (2018). Two Walnut Ave crossings are scheduled this year. The 58th St. crossing and the West Branch at 40th St is scheduled for 2021. The final replacement on Croton Dr is scheduled for 2022. The money for this project comes from a quilt work of federal and state competitive grants from the United States Forest Service "Sustain Our Great Lakes" the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Great Lakes Fishery Trust, Great Lake Restoration initiative, Fremont Area Community Foundation, and In-kind and cash matches from the Newaygo County Road Commission and some Townships.”
He summed up the interview stating that TU and the collations partner's goal is to restore the viability and the quality of the wetlands and waters for all the inhabitants that complete their life cycle in the Bigelow watershed. By removing these legacy culverts on these road crossings and replacing them with these big box culverts we will give these streams the opportunity to become more efficient and the fishes and other inhabitants more space to do what they need to do.
We both needed to get back to that pile of dirt so that we can continue supervising the Road Commission Crew. And another thing, we locals need to give these guys a break and quit complaining when they have the road blocked off and we have to make a short detour around one of their important projects. They are doing good legitimate work. Don’t know if you have noticed but during this pandemic and all the complications, they have completed a bunch of road projects in our County. Some folks appreciated their work because some nice family of onlookers brought the crew so donuts to share.
But back to the Armageddon that I mentioned earlier. Most of that craziness and chaos going on around the country is not happening here in the beautiful woods, water, and fertile farmlands that is Newaygo County. It should be apparent how important our local natural environment like this gem of a watershed is for resources, recreational opportunity and our economy. This is evident by the uptick in the regional real estate market and the increasing numbers of seasonal residents and recreationalist. We must make every effort to conserve, protect, and restore these precious cold-water trout streams. If these recreational assets are protected and managed, they could be an economic engine for Newaygo County.
According to the American Sportfishing Association. “Sports fishing ranks second after jogging as the most popular human recreational activity. America’s anglers are estimated to spend $49.8 billion per year in retail sales associated with their sport. With a total annual economic impact of $125 billion, fishing supports more than 800,000 jobs and generates $38 billion in wages and $16 billion in federal, state, and local taxes. If sportfishing was its own corporation, it would rank #54 on the Fortune 500 List, ahead of Cisco Systems. Over twice as many people fished in 2016 than attended all NFL games combined.”
We also so need these woods and waters to keep us sane. During our recent Pandemic shutdown recreational access to our rivers, streams and trails were first to be reopened. Many families used these to recreational opportunities to cope with some very uncertain times.
There are many compelling arguments for funding similar projects in other area watersheds like the Bigelow. We all must take every opportunity to conserve, protect, and restore these precious Newaygo County cold-water trout streams.
Content contributors were Mr. Kelly Smith Road Commission Consultant, Mr. Jeremy Geist, Great Lakes Stream Restoration Manager for Trout Unlimited and Mr. Mark A. Tonello, DNR Fisheries Management Biologist.
To the Editor:
Editors in smaller towns often need to be careful in how political their citizen opinion submissions are.
So I will try to be careful in expressing my concerns - no, they are fears - as to how our politically motivated divisions are creating hatred, anger, violence and death in our country now. And it is escalating, perhaps to an end that we do not know now, but may regret had ever happened.
The political divide and vitriol is being felt and mirrored from the halls of our capital to the halls of our schools, and into our neighborhoods and streets. And although all hate and vitriol can either start or end with each of us individually, OUR leaders of OUR Nation can, should and do set a tone that says “Do like me. Follow me”.
So I weep when I hear messaging from the highest level of the campaign trail that talks disparagingly about refugees from “dangerous” countries to a crowd of nearly all white European descendants, in a Midwest town that opened their doors to war torn refugees (“how did those refugees work out for you?”), surrounded by Native American tribes and their reservations. Then going on to say that the crowd has “good genes, you know that right? A lot of it is about the genes, isn’t it? Don’t you believe....the racehorse theory? You have good genes (here) in.......”. Historians liken this rhetoric to that which culminated in eugenics-theory led “cleansing” (murder and genocide) of people from “unwanted” racial and ethnic ancestry, and other “defects”. It begins with rhetoric and divisive talk, and can end with a following of dangerous power.
I weep when I see the raging, never before seen fires out west; the never before known numbers of hurricanes of intense force in one season; the loss of 2/3rds of our planet’s wildlife in the past 50 years (catastrophic). Yet our country has rolled back environmental protections that had taken years to put in place; we have removed ourselves from the rest of the world’s concerns and commitments by blatantly opting out of the Paris Climate Agreement; and we ignore science and citizen observations from around our globe that shows undeniable warming and destructive consequences to our earth and oceans. But the deepest moral sin we have created against the earth and our local environments is our religious, national and personal irresponsibility as stewards of God’s Creation. And this is being led and exemplified by our leaders and their policies that put a higher value on cash and untethered capitalism over care of our only planet, and therefore of its people.
I weep when I hear and see our leaders of the Coronavirus Task Force putting forth the “official” policy of ‘social distancing, washing hands, wearing masks and not gathering in large crowds’ in order to help slow the spread of the disease - yet do not publicly practice it themselves as positive examples for our citizens. And even worse, host major events with hundreds or thousands of people who must sign a disclaimer that they won’t sue the organizers if they get sick. When asked, the Chair of the Task Force says it is up to each state how to deal with the safety measures - as if the nature of the virus changes at their borders. In the meantime our country has 4% of the population of all nations, yet has 25% of the world’s Covid cases. More cases lead to more deaths: over 200,000 of our family members and neighbors now (and growing). Yet I do not hear our leaders mourn them, nor attempt to mitigate the rising deaths through promotion of their own policies of safety.
Sometimes there is one very personal issue that we take to the polls with us as we vote. But there is no one political party or candidate that carries all of our own values in their platforms. Our voting decision must consider how our leaders in power will carry the tone and the moral compass of our nation and therefore of each of us as its citizens. We must consider the greater ramifications that will follow as policies are made, as laws are carried out, and as diplomacy or war are offered to our neighboring nations.
I am listening to the 489 generals, admirals and senior security officials as they take a public stand to halt these politically motivated divisions and the directions these divisions intend to take our nation.
Teaching in a Pandemic
By Alexis Mercer
If an Education Professor at Hope College back in 2002 or 2003, or perhaps my supervising teacher at Grandville High School, Susan Peterson, would have told me that in 2020 my job would look drastically different than what I was learning to do at the time, I wonder how I would have reacted.
“You’ll spend nearly three months in the early part of 2020 teaching from home while the country stays home to stay safe.”
“Once you go back to school in late August you’ll be teaching 30% or more of your students virtually and the rest will be in person. Yes, you’ll be responsible for both situations because you’re able to build relationships with them online, too, but it will require that you spend the majority of your summer learning best practice for virtual learning.”
“Your biggest concern and challenge will no longer be whether you can effectively teach them Spanish or complete a yearbook or even coach them to run their fastest times. Your biggest concern now will be doing everything within your power to ensure their mental and emotional health needs are being met.”
Part of me thinks that I would question whether this is actually the profession for me. I will be honest in saying that I have had moments of that feeling over the course of the past six months.
Is this what I signed up for? How can I possibly do all the things I am being asked to do in a day let alone in a month or marking period? Do I want to do all of this?
And yet especially in these last few months as we have navigated the opening of the doors to students and the practices for sports, I have found my answer to be an emphatic yes.
This is what I signed up for. It might “look” completely different from when I started as a newbie fresh out of the gates in 2003. But here is what I have found to be exactly the same:
When I decided to be a teacher and coach I was deciding to dedicate my professional life to caring for and helping my students and athletes become the best version of themselves no matter the circumstances. Yes, I was a “Spanish teacher” or a “Yearbook Adviser” or “Cross Country Coach” by title. But what do those titles actually mean? They mean I am willing to do whatever it takes to empower my students and athletes and give them the best chance at a successful future as is within my own ability.
While that perhaps used to mean they checked out a Spanish textbook, we worked through problems together in class, they repeated after me the verb conjugations for ser, and turned in a physical piece of paper which I then graded and handed back to them immediately, now it looks like me finding creative ways to get them the information instead. I can record myself on Screencastify giving instructions so they are all able to see my face while hearing words that I am saying out loud. They can use Flipgrid to record themselves saying those words back to me. Every student gets the information from an online textbook so that no one has to worry about the virus spreading through a physical object. We can have synchronous lessons completed through online Google Meets and they can turn in assignments to Google Classroom that I can even more quickly comment on or grade and get back to them without paper.
It means assigning work that is 100% individualized to each student. There are electronic task checklists that I give out each week and at the end of the week the students are required to turn in so I can closely monitor each student’s need for individualized help according to the standard he is struggling with.
I get to spend more time than I used to in building connections and relationships with students because I am more focused on the essential need for them to have someone they trust who can listen and if necessary point them in a direction to get more professional help with their mental or emotional needs. Is it always about Spanish? No. Is that a change that is for the better? Yes.
Teaching in a pandemic means taking life one day at a time. Sometimes one hour at a time. It looks like a whole lot of grace for my students, my coworkers, my bosses, the parents of my students, and even for myself. It means looking at each new challenge (and let me tell you there are a LOT of them) that is presented each day and facing it head on with an attitude that says “I might not know exactly what to do but I am going to try my hardest to make sure I figure it out.” It means being brave when I am feeling anxious about everything I have on my plate and remembering that I can only get one thing done at a time.
And isn’t every last one of those items on the list a valuable lesson for my students to learn?
My professional mission has not changed one bit from the first days of teaching all the way back in 2003. I will be here working my hardest to ensure that every single student who I have the honor of teaching gets the very best of me. That I help them to become the very best version of themselves as is possible, however that may look and through whatever method that may happen (here’s looking at you, Google).
It's not easy. In fact I am working harder than I have in all 18 years of my career. But it is a mission that is well worth the effort. Because "Our kids are worth whatever it takes" isn't just a phrase to use that sounds good; it's a mantra of truth. A pandemic doesn't change that.
The who is up to you
This informational document was compiled as non-partisan information for Newaygo County citizens. Information was taken from the 2020 Newaygo County Directory, plus phone and email contact with City and Township Clerks by volunteers.
Voter In-Person, Mail-In and Drop-Off Ballot Information & Locations for Newaygo County Cities & Townships.
Important Dates: Election Day is Tuesday, November 3, 2020. You must be registered to vote to cast your ballot! Make a plan to vote!
Monday, October 19: Deadline for online voter registration. Monday, October 19: Deadline for mail-in voter registration (must be postmarked by October 19). Friday, October 30: Deadline to mail in your request for an absentee / mail in voter ballot (must be received by 5pm). Tuesday, November 3: Deadline to register in person to vote. Contact your city or township clerk for Election Day registration. Thursday, September 24 to Monday, November 2: Early, drop-off, mail-in or absentee voting.
Dates and hours may vary based on where you live. Contact your city or township clerk for Early Voting information and locations.
You can learn how to register to vote, check to see if you are registered to vote, find your voting precinct, request an absentee ballot and more at: www.mvic.sos.state.mi.us. Contact your city or township clerk listed below with any questions on registration or voting locations.
City of Fremont
Clerk: Vicci TerVeer City / Clerk Phone: 231-924-2101
City Offices & Precinct Polling Location: 101 E. Main Street, Fremont, MI 49412
Drop box located at the NW corner of the parking lot, walk or drive up.
Voters can also bring in their ballots to the city offices up to and on election day until 8 PM.
City of Grant
Assistant City Manager/Clerk: Sherry Powell City / Clerk Phone: 231-834-7904
Mailing Address: Attn - City Clerk PO Box 435, Grant, MI 49327
City Offices & Precinct Polling Location: 280 S Maple St, Grant, MI 49327
Wall slot - drop box located to the left of the front door, drops directly into Clerk’s locked office.
City of Newaygo
Clerk: Kim Goodin Township / Clerk Phone: 231-652-1657 Ext. 213
City Offices & Precinct Polling Location: 28 N. State Rd., Newaygo, MI 49337
City residents can off drop their ballot at the City Hall front desk window Monday-Friday from 7:30 am-4:00 pm.
Drop-off box located outside the City Hall/Library Parking Lot entrance, left side of doors. Drop box used for all City of Newaygo related documents including ballots.
City of White Cloud
Clerk: Kelli Arnold Township / Clerk Phone: 231-689-1194
City Offices & Precinct Polling Location: 12 N. Charles Street, White Cloud, 49349
Drop box slot is located in the entry door of the City Office building on the North wall. It is used for all City of White Cloud related documents including ballots.
Village of Hesperia
Clerk: Vicki Berrell Village / Clerk Phone: 231-854-6205
Residents in and around Hesperia vote according to the Township in which they live. There is no “city resident” precinct.
Newaygo County: see Denver Township Info
Oceana County: Newfield Township Phone: 231-854-0831
Oceana County: Greenwood Township Phone: 231-854-0202
Clerk : Shelly Boerema Township Phone : 231-834-7535 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Township Hall & Precinct Polling Location: 2019 W. 120th, Grant MI, 49327 (Mailing address: P.O. Box 457, Grant, MI 49327)
The Drop box for Election material is located on front porch of the Township building
Clerk: Pam Rosendall Township Phone: 231-796-4586
Metal Ballot Drop Box on the porch at Clerk’s home: 8230 E 14 Mile Rd, Paris, MI 49338
Township Hall & Precinct Polling Location: 7860 E. 17 Mile Rd., Reed City, MI 49677
Mail in and drop off: 8230 E 14 Mile Rd, Paris, MI 49338
Clerk: Penny Hernandez Clerk’s Phone: 231-873-5795
Township Hall & Precinct Polling Location: 7991 N. Dickson Ave., Bitely, MI 49309
Drop box by front door
Big Prairie Township
Clerk: Judy Baker Township Phone: 231-689-1385 Clerk’s Phone: 231-652-7390 Email: Judyb43@hotmail.com
Outside mailbox at Clerk’s home office: 5160 S. Croton-Hardy Dr, Croton (Newaygo) -
to the right of the front door.
Township Hall & Precinct Polling Location: 2815 S. Elm Ave, White Cloud,49349
Locked box at the Hall inside the building. Hall is open Mondays from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.; Thursdays from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Clerk: Carolyn Drake Township Phone: 231-834-0014 Clerk’s Phone: 231-924-2028 Email: email@example.com
Township Hall & Precinct Polling Location: 11830 S. Warner Ave., Grant, MI 49327
Mail in ballots: Carolyn Drake 12350 Pike Ave, Grant MI 49327
A ballot box will be in place by election time – likely at the above home address of Clerk Carolyn Drake. Contact Clerk to verify.
Clerk: Jennifer Badgero Township Phone: 231-652-6763
Township Hall & Precinct Polling Location: 490 Quarterline Newaygo, MI 49337
Mailing address: PO Box 625, Newaygo, 49337 Metal secure drop box at Brooks Township Hall, 490 Quarterline Newaygo, to the right of front door.
Debbra Wright Township Phone: 231-652-4301 Clerk’s Phone: 231-652-0907 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact Clerk to verify your precinct polling location.
Election Day Voter Precinct #1: Fire Station, 6431 S Elm Ave. Election Day Voter Precinct #2:
Library, 8260 S Croton Hardy Dr, Croton In person drop off and mail in and location: Croton Township Hall, 5833 E. Division St, Croton.
Clerk: Jeannie Stroven Township Phone: 231-924-9509 Clerk’s Phone: 231-225-8970 Email: email@example.com
Township Hall & Precinct Polling Location: 3215 S. Stone Road, Fremont, MI 49412
Mailing address: PO Box 68, Fremont 49412 There is a mailbox at the hall. Another secure drop box to be installed at another location before the November election. Contact Clerk to verify.
Clerk: Kristin Smith 231-854-0730 Clerk Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Drop Box for Denver Township voters will be at Clerk Kristin Smith’s home address: 9051 W Adams St, Hesperia, MI 49421
Township Hall & Precinct Polling Location: Hesperia Village Hall 33 E Michigan, Hesperia, 49421
Clerk: Cindy Harwood Township Phone: 616-636-8510 Clerk
Township Hall & Precinct Polling Location: 7163 E. 120th St., Sand Lake, MI 49349
Drop box location is to the west of the main entrance.
Clerk: Pam Chaffee Township Phone: 231-689-1082 Clerk’s Phone: 231-689-5484 Cell: 231-335-8823 Clerk Email: email@example.com
Township Hall & Precinct Polling Location: 1516 E. 8th Street, White Cloud, MI 49349
Dropbox is to the left of the entrance door.
Clerk: Kristin Melvin Township Phone: 231-652-4251 Clerk’s Phone: 231-519-2379 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Township Hall & Precinct Polling Location: 7190 Bingham Ave, Newaygo, MI 49337
In person, mail in and absentee drop slot at Township Hall above.
Clerk: Jennifer Wozniak Clerk’s Phone: 231-923-3797 Clerk’s
Mail in ballots: c/o Jennifer Wozniak, Clerk
4423 N. Locust Ave. White Cloud, MI 49349 Or c/o Rachel Belcher, Treasurer 5960 E 4 Mile Rd, White cloud, MI 49349
Township Hall & Precinct Polling Location: 2465 N. Cypress Avenue, White Cloud, MI 49349
*No drop box yet – may have one by election – location not set at this time. Call Clerk to verify.
Clerk: Gladys VeltKamp Township Phone: 231-834-8033 Clerk’s Phone: 231-834-8409 email@example.com
Township Hall & Precinct Polling Location: 1617 E 120th St, Grant MI 49327
Drop box located to the left of entry door
Clerk: Theresa Ouderkirk Clerk’s Phone: 231-349-0073
Mail ballots to: Clerk Theresa Ouderkirk 9819 N Oak Ave, Paris MI 49338
Township Hall & Precinct Polling Location: 11253 N. Walnut Ave., Bitely, MI 49309
No Drop Box
Clerk: Frances Nelson Clerk’s Phone: 231-745-4095 firstname.lastname@example.org
Township Hall & Precinct Polling Location: 10767 N. Prospect, Bitely, Michigan 49309 Ballot in-person, mail-in and drop-off box is inside building – contact Clerk for times & location. Outdoor drop box location pending. Contact Clerk for information.
Clerk: Sharon L. Noggle Clerk’s Phone: 231-689-2024 Mail in and drop box at Sharon Noggle, Clerk’s home: 2776 N. Baldwin Ave. White Cloud, Mi 49349
Township Hall & Precinct Polling Location: 1988 N. Wisner Ave, White Cloud, MI 49349
Clerk: Tabatha Glezman Clerk’s Phone: 571-304-1885
Township Hall & Precinct Polling Location: 1585 W. 11 Mile Road, Bitely, MI 49309
A drop box will be in place prior to election time. Contact Clerk for information.
Clerk: Nancy Stone Township Phone: 231-689-6958 Clerk’s Phone: 231-580-9372 Clerk’s Email: email@example.com
Township Hall & Precinct Polling Location: 4141 E. Fillmore St., White Cloud, MI 49349
Mail or drop off ballots at Township Hall above also.
Clerk: Angela Barnes, Clerk’s Phone: 231.796.3919
Clerk’s Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Township Hall & Precinct Polling Location: 7213 N. Cypress, Big Rapids, MI 49307
Ballot box will be located at the Township Hall. The Clerk intends to enclose instructions with each absentee ballot sent out, telling the location of the ballot box. Contact Clerk for information.
Sheridan – Charter Township
Clerk: Maggie Kolk Township Phone: 231-924-2566
Township Hall & Precinct Polling Location: 6360 S. Township Parkway, Fremont MI 49412
Mailing address: PO Box 53, Fremont 49412.
Drop box on the north side of the main entrance door
Clerk: Jamie Kukal Township Phone: 231-924-7164 Clerk
Township Hall & Precinct Polling Location: 2168 S. Wisner, Fremont, MI 49412
Drop-off and absentee ballot in USPS mailbox at: Sherman Township Hall
Clerk: Kim Hill Township Phone: 231-873-9000 Clerk’s Phone: 231-873-4479
Township Hall & Precinct Polling Location: 10350 N. Dickinson, Walkerville, MI 49459
In person delivery of ballot when clerk is at Hall – call Clerk Kim Hill for schedule: 231-873-4479
Clerk: Teressa Hamilton Township Phone: 231- 689-1825 Clerk’s Phone: 231-689-6389
Township Hall & Precinct Polling Location: 1795 N. Evergreen Dr, White Cloud, MI 49349
Mail ballots to: Wilcox Twp., PO Box 728, White Cloud, MI 49349
Ballots can be dropped into a wall slot located on east side of building near handicap ramp.
Make a Plan to Vote! See election results at: www.electionreporting.com
Football is back...kind of
By Ken DeLaat
There was a crispness to the air under a clear late summer sky creating a perfect scenario for high school football. For a few moments walking into the Fremont Athletic Field it seemed like any other year…
But it wasn’t.
It’s not just another year. It is the year of the Pandemic.
The first thing you notice is the stands.
If you’re somehow unacquainted with small town high school football games (and if so shamefully I might add) Friday Night Lights is the best show in town bar none. It has drama, comedy and adventure and brings out a sea of emotions from disappointment to delight. There are triumphs and tragedies played out on the field and side stories abound
Beyond the game is the social aspect. Not just the friends one might meet up with and sit together with , but also running into all the others from the area who gather for 4 or 5 nights a year in the autumn chill to watch the progeny of the community take the field.
And they pack those bleachers and line the fences on game night.
But not this year.
The stands looked as sparse as those found at Tiger games in Comerica Park the past couple of seasons.
People still seemed to chat it up a bit in small groups but the majority were socially distanced due, primarily I imagine, to the wealth of opportunities for nabbing a good seat.
And it’s pretty much all parents. No alumni, no aunts, uncles, or grandparents and none of the random townspeople who have no kids in the games but have been coming to them for years.
And the oddest thing about the stands? No young people. No student section stuffed like sardines to root on their team, respond to the cheerleaders, and chant various phrases in unison when situations on the field call for such action.
Just, as I said, mostly parents.
But at least no cardboard cutouts
Then there was the National Anthem. When walking in I failed to notice the absence of those snappily attired tune troops, each armed with their musical devices and prepared to create that magical marching band sound.
But when Doug Harmon slapped on a taped version of the Star Spangled Banner it hit me.
And no halftime show .
No concessions (sob!)
My fall Fridays have become evenings of epicurean indulgence. Outside of an overzealous affection for dark chocolate my diet is relatively healthy due to sharing meals with LSC Lil who generally eschews meat..
Concession stands rarely have salads or carrot sticks and are generally light on vegetarian fare. However, it’s been my experience that they always, and I mean always, have hot dogs.
Sometimes there’s pizza (pepperoni not veggie) and nachos and other delights but knocking down a couple of dogs at halftime (mustard only of course unless diced onions make an appearance) generally does it for me, particularly when accompanied by the musical performance of the marching band.
Friday, faced with the prospect of a foodless Fremont Field, I had an early dinner with Lil.
We had salads.
Then there was the relative quiet. Because of the sparse crowd one could almost hear bench conversations between coaches and players and any loud outburst echoed through the facility. It gave the more, uh, vocal of the parental fans clear access to the ears of the zebras.
And of course, the masks. Nearly all kept them on in the stands and the players and coaches truly seemed to do their best to maintain masking despite times when they were disheveled by the action on the field or the heat of emotion.
Kudos to Fremont Schools. This was no easy task. It meant plunging into unknown territory accompanied by a slew of requirements needed to be met in order to have this happen and from my perspective they did it well.
It’s a different type of season to be sure but in so many ways it’s a different world.
And like with other parts of our lives adjustments have been made. We may not like them, we may not believe they are necessary, but the only thing that mattered Friday night seemed to be that two talented teams could take the field and play a game of football.
Just like any other year.
.A trip (literally) on a treadmill
By Ken DeLaat
Can you cure clumsy?
I posed this question during a late afternoon meetup with a colleague/friend. I had been doing a bit of poking around about a possible story and we had just kind of wrapped things up before her latte and my smoothie were barely touched so there was some time to kill.
The reply? A definite no while citing personal evidence as to fruitless efforts to alter the affliction.
I’ve been known to ask somewhat off the wall questions that pop into my head. Some years back for whatever reason I found myself randomly asking people “So has your life turned out the way you thought it would so far?”
It’s a compelling question and I received a wide array of intriguing answers (as well as the occasional expletive laden rebuke I must admit) but learned a few years back to only ask this when unaccompanied by others particularly if one of those others is your Lifetime Spousal Companion (LSC).
But back to clumsy. The morning prior to my meeting while finishing up a few dishes by hand a wine glass...a rather nice wine glass… slipped from my hand and tumbled into the sink where it unceremoniously shattered into a number of pieces.
This is not newsworthy nor particularly startling since my history would leave a less understanding LSC to believe I was engaged in a long term plot to rid her of all nice things. The list of broken, shattered, scarred, damaged and otherwise impacted items would rival a novella in length.Thankfully Lil is both kind hearted and forgiving so long as I agree to keep my hands feet and any other part of me clear of her vast collection of teapots-no easy task given the sheer number that reside at N3WH.
But it bothered me more than usual, hence the reason it was rattling through my brain and arose quickly as a question during any lull in normal conversation. And as all questions do, it led to more self directed inquiries.
Has it always been this way? Was I a clumsy child? Wouldn’t I have possessed better balance to play the sports I did? Why are there so many solitary shoes alongside the road?…
Oops. Sorry. Drifted a bit.
And then of course there’s the real question.
Is this an age thing?
When the gyms all closed this past spring my Tamarac workouts came to an end-as did my relationship with the beloved steam bath that served as the punctuation point of any workout and admittedly at times during winter months was part of my hot tub/steambath/short swim ‘workout’.
Most days I followed a routine designed to fit well with my needs, a routine crafted together by one of their instructors a year or so earlier. It was my hope initially to develop more flexibility, a bit of strength and, perhaps even a modicum of improvement in coordination.
Self analysis concluded it was going along swimmingly (yeah, miss the pool a lot) and then came March and the whole COVID thing and both Tamarac and Newaygo Fitness, my other occasional drop in gym, closed their doors.
I pondered the choices presented. Top of the list was to take advantage of this all too perfect excuse to stop exercising. I mean, truth be told, over decades of half-hearted attempts at improving personal fitness I’ve utilized much lesser excuses to stop. Things like “Now that we have a new boat I can’t really see myself going to the gym” or “How can I think about exercising when we have a garden to take care of?”
But in reality I had begun to enjoy not only the workouts but the feeling of being somewhat fit.Tasks that once proved exhausting had become relatively easier, and even an increase in flexibility was noticeable if not substantially so and when it came to coordination?
Well, not so much perhaps but I remained optimistic this might tag along and join the other progressions at some point in time.
So I went to the basement where Lil does her daily workouts and uncovered the NordicTrack treadmill purchased long ago and while used on occasion by other family members remained a stranger to me.
Initially I thought it was broken until daughter Lesly showed me the correct way to turn it on.
After this operational mentoring I began a nearly daily session on the beast.
It wasn’t easy. I found balance was pretty important on such apparati and it took awhile before I could get through a session without frequently grabbing the bars.
I slapped on some headphones to somehow simulate my workout sessions in the gym and walked to familiar tunes slowly figuring out a bit more about the nuances of the machine.
But we never became friends and I was ecstatic when the weather cleared up enough to take my walking outside.
N3WH is on a lake and much of my 3 mile path has a lane for walking or biking, an extremely fortunate addition to any road.
And I have loved it.
Generally the walks occur in the early morning hours and the dawn brings out a symphony of sounds from the birds and other wildlife so it has been a most pleasant experience.
As summer has crested into fall there is a later sunrise so traffic is a bit more prolific but the walks have continued to be both fun and engaging in many ways.
Lately my thoughts have drifted to the inevitable arrival of winter and the likely return to the treadmill.
Oh, I know the gyms have reopened but most refer to those of us who might want to be cautious about returning. Though it varies from place to place most cite two situations that might stimulate a bit of caution.
I have none that I am currently aware of unless questionable sartorial tastes can be considered an underlying condition
2. Older Adults
When one is careening toward membership in the septuagenarian brigade it becomes necessary to accept the notion that one has indeed reached the stage of being an ‘older adult’.In reality I’ve long passed the milestone of eligibility for senior discounts (they don’t even ask anymore), been afforded the benefit of receiving Medicare and Social Security, and frequently have my door opened for me by younger women. My haircuts involve some trimming of the ears and eyebrows and my late father appears in my mirror each morning.
So for now it’s no to the whole gym thing.
Which brings us back to the treadmill and balance, or lack thereof.
Walking outside allows for a certain amount of weaving even though, when accompanied by Lil I am compelled to frequently ask for pardon when swerving into her.
The treadmill? Not so much.
It was raining today and though I’ve walked in rain from time to time I thought it might be a good time with winter looming in the not too distant future to give the Track a try.
It went fairly smoothly for the first 10-15 minutes or so until an alarm from my phone indicating a scheduled commitment sent me reaching for the phone and without any warning…
I slammed down on the treadmill and rolled back ingloriously banging several body parts and emerging with various scrapes, a skinned knee and somehow a bonk on the head.
Lil asked me how it happened.
“Uh… not sure.”
Are you hurt?
“Mostly my pride and a bit of a much diminished sense of dignity.”
Falling delivers a sudden sense of powerlessness. An out of control feeling of physical chaos that anticipates injury.
And I despise it.
Maybe it’s because there’s not been a lot of experience with it. I’m not saying I’ve never fallen but it’s been rare enough to remember most.
I recall a time I fell out of a golf cart, sober no less.
Then once when with my Dad there was an incident involving a bar stool...also sober.
And a memorable one off a porch at hunting camp...not so sober.
And of course the hardest fall occurred the day I met Lil.
All of these happened when I wore a much younger man’s clothes (thanks Billy Joel).
But this is my first significant fall as an...uh…
And I don’t like it.
It takes me much longer to heal than it once did. The fallout soreness from this recent tumble will be visiting for days longer than it used to.
Make no mistake in understanding that I’m not adverse to getting older. There have been definite advantages.
While not gaining by leaps and bounds in wisdom I am acutely aware of a tendency to do fewer dumb things as I age.
I like that Lil and I are retired and get to spend a lot of time with each other.
There are few regrets of opportunities missed, no ongoing ruminations on past mistakes nor lamentations of paths not taken.
But I’m not embracing the concept of ongoing unsteadiness.
And remain committed to attempting to hold onto some degree of fitness.
So I’ll continue to walk outside until it becomes infeasible for one like me who has never developed any fondness for being cold.
Then I may revisit the now nefarious treadmill.
As a friend said when I described the mishap.
“It’s like getting thrown by a horse. You have to just climb back on and conquer your fear.”
Difference to me is from what I understand you can reason a bit with a horse.
They have no soul.
N3 asking for input on school changes.
OK, so week one of this most unusual school year is in the books.
How are we doing Newaygo County?
With somewhere near a third of our students doing remote learning, those in school required to don masks throughout the day, teachers facing the inherent instructional challenges, school staff from transportation to administration to food service to everyone else throughout the building balancing new procedures school life is in a truly transitional phase.
Then there are parents.
Nothing adds to the stress of any family like tossing a curve into what had been a somewhat structured routine and while back to school always involves some adjustments to daily life the current situation simple tosses a bit of gas on the fire
From what we are hearing, things are inching along as they should with the usual tweaking necessary when nearly everything is new. Many situations have likely not been figured out yet but again, this is uncharted territory and we have capable, creative people who will be guiding the process.
Now we want to hear from you.
How is it going? What are you learning? Biggest challenges? What has changed? Likes? Dislikes? Thoughts? Ideas? Philosophical insights?
Send us a few paragraphs, a few sentences or, if you’re pressed for time, a few words.
Let us know what this has been like for you as a student, parent, teacher, et. al.
Our hope is to create a bit of an ongoing community dialogue so we welcome your input.
Look for responses to be posted in our Pulse page.
By Ken DeLaat
And the Tigers are in contention.
Of course in all fairness the season is just a little over a month old so it’s more like being in contention in May I would imagine.
And though just 3 games out of the expanded playoff picture (as of Monday evening) the teams in front of them probably possess more seasoned talent.
But with the kind of year we’ve all endured having the beloved Tig’s in some form of contention with but a couple of dozen or so of games remaining delivers a little good news to what has been a rather gloomy run since March.
I’ve watched them scrap and tussle with teams that in the past couple of years or so would have brushed them off easily taking advantage of a lack of clutch hitting, an absolute dearth of effective pitching especially from the ‘pen and frequent miscues in the field.
More Importantly there seemed a lack of any team personality or collective chutzpa.
Now it seems suddenly they’re fun to watch as they’ve developed a little swagger to their game.
Of course the pitching, while improved, is still suspect most games and the hitters strike out a whole lot but at a bit more than halfway through the season they have won nearly as many as they have lost and it’s been awhile since they’ve been able to say that.
Hey, they still could bomb another 9 in a row as they did earlier, but they are showing us their future and it looks pretty bright from where I sit.
Having been a Tiger fan since around the middle of the last century I recall the buildup to the champion caliber teams they fielded in the late 60’s, the mid 80’s, and the most recent 10 year span a bit back when we endured just 2 losing seasons.
This feels like those years. A prelude of what might bring a few playoff runs.
Particularly if MLB continues this year’s practice of allowing 16 of their 30 teams in like they do in hockey and basketball. You’d have to be pretty lousy to not make it to the dance...uh...as both the Pistons and Wings failed to do the past few seasons.
Dragon lovers rejoice!
Hiking and biking are booming what with all the folks getting outside and finding ways to grab a little exercise and have a little fun at the same time.
The Michigan Dragon Trail has moved beyond its infancy and has begun to gain ground toward becoming a destination site for pedalers and pedestrians alike.
Newaygo County Parks recently announced two new bridges and 2 more miles of trail have opened on Segment 9 of this appealing outdoor attraction . This means one can now ride or ramble 5.5 miles north from Sandy Beach County Park.
If you haven’t taken a ride (or walk) on this unparalleled pathway, do yourself a favor and take in a few miles.
Then think about ponying up a few bucks to help keep it growing.
You can keep abreast of the project by going to their fb page.
Last spring when the Newaygo girls hoopsters were making a magical tourney run there was nothing better than being at those games and the eventual disappointment came, not with a loss on the court but a pandemic connected pause in the action that morphed into an outright cancellation as well as slapping down spring sports for good measure.
Now after a chaotic late summer with coaches, players and parents waiting for news and beginning preparations, footballers resigning themselves to changing seasons and soccer and vball squads standing at the ready for competition the Gov lifted the ban on contact sports and as the word came down from MHSAA that soccer and volleyball could start...
Suddenly football was back on.
If there was ever any doubt as to the status of football in the high school sports landscape think about this.
After initially rejecting a proposed shift of fall sports to spring and facing the cancellation of football the MHSAA on August 14th voted to move football to spring.
Following the announcement from Lansing last Thursday it took less than an hour for a new vote to be taken to reinstate the fall season, albeit a shortened one, and tossing in an invite to the postseason for all teams regardless of record.
Yes, one could safely say football has a bit of clout.
And for your perusal we share two quotes we found in same day press releases following the Gov’s announcement.
Chief Medical Executive and MDHHS Chief Deputy for Health Dr. Joneigh Khaldun “We know of 30 reported outbreaks involving athletic teams and facilities in August. Based on current data, contact sports create a high risk of COVID-19 transmission and MDHHS strongly recommends against participating in them at this time.”
Mark Uyl MHSAA Executive Director “We share the Governor’s priorities of putting health and safety first, and the COVID-19 guidance and protocols designed by the MHSAA at her request have led to the safe starts in all sports across the state.”
It truly is all about perspective
Rev. Berghoef to speak at the Septeber 19 event
From the NC Democratic Party:
Reverend Bryan Berghoef, candidate for Michigan’s 2nd Congressional District, will be a featured speaker at the 4th Annual Dinner and Silent Auction by the Newaygo County Democratic Party. The event will take place on Saturday, September 19 from 4pm to 8pm at the John Graves Lodge (Newaygo Welcome Center), 4684 Evergreen Drive (M-37), Newaygo. The mainly outdoor event will follow health safety guidelines with social distancing provided and mask wearing required until seated. Live music will be provided by Greg Miller, jazz and pop Guitarist; and the MC will be Marshall Stern, improv artist, entertainer and actor.
Berghoef is the pastor at Holland United Church of Christ, and a community advocate. He lives in Holland with his wife Christy and four children. Bryan will face incumbent Bill Huizenga.
“I seek to represent our communities in the 2nd Congressional District because I see my friends and neighbors struggling with the coronavirus pandemic, an economy that serves the wealthy, attacks on our democracy, and much more. And the influence of Big Money in politics stops us from solving these issues and helping West Michigan," states Rev. Berghoef.
"Our current 2nd District Representative Bill Huizenga is under federal ethics investigation for spending over $400,000 in corporate campaign donations on fancy restaurants, ski vacations, and trips to Disney; he hasn't held an in-person town hall in the district since 2017," he added. "I'm running to represent West Michigan with integrity, and to fight for families, not wealthy special interests. That's why I support comprehensive campaign finance reform and am not taking corporate PAC money.”
Other key policies for Berghoef include backing science-based national plans to contain the coronavirus and reopen our economy safely; supporting small- and medium-sized businesses to create jobs with living wages; dismantling systemic racism, including common sense police reform and support; smart regulations that protect the environment and produce jobs in the sustainable energy fields; and working towards universal health coverage with public and private options.
Bryan Berghoef is currently endorsed by the Christian Democrats of America; Michigan Education Association; National Education Association; United Auto Workers, Plumbers and Pipefitters; The Lakeshore Community Labor Council; the West Michigan Building Trades; Progressive Women's Alliance; Progressive Democratic Women's Caucus of Muskegon County; Michigan's Second Congressional District Party; and the former heads of the Christian Reformed Church in North America and the Reformed Church in America, Dr. Steven Timmermans and Reverend Wesley Granberg-Michaelson.
Sandy Clarke, candidate for the 100th House District, will also speak, highlighting her candidacy platform. Ms. Clarke has been a homeowner and resident in Lake County for over 25 years. In addition to her experience as a local township and Lake County Foundation trustee, a Board Member of Baldwin Promise Authority, and civic memberships in Baldwin Rotary and Lions Clubs, Sandy also brings her history as an adjunct professor of political science to her candidacy. Ms. Clarke’s platform includes assuring funding for education, economic development, infrastructure repair, and human services among other issues.
“The Newaygo County Democratic Party supports candidates who embody the spirit and principles of the United States Constitution,” states Jan Walsh, NCDP Board Member. “This can be summed up in the statement from the National Democratic Party Platform: ‘Democrats are the party of inclusion. We know that diversity is not our problem—it is our promise. As Democrats, we respect differences of perspective and belief, and pledge to work together to move this country forward, even when we disagree ... we do not merely seek common ground—we strive to reach higher ground.’
“This may seem difficult to do at this time of upheaval in our country; but it is something we must all strive for, together, across all social, racial, economic and political divides,” added Dallas Dean, NCDP Chair.
Tickets and sponsorships for the 4th Annual Dinner are available for the full event. Guests can also come just for the speakers and auction without the dinner. Visit www.newaygocodems.org and Newaygo County Democratic Party Facebook page for information and to purchase tickets online. Information and tickets can also be obtained by calling the Newaygo County Democratic Party at 231.709.9007.
The First Congregational Church of Fremont, especially the wood shop, had a need and the Fremont High School football team agreed to “tackle it.” A large amount of wood needed to be transferred on a flatbed trailer from a local barn to our church Congo Wood Shop at 714 Hillcrest in Fremont.
The players arrived at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, August 22 at the church. After doing some heavy lifting at the church, the Congo wood shop crew, led by Wood Shop Manager Bernie Denny, served the team and helpers lunch.
Then it was off to the local barn to load the long rough sawn timbers onto a flatbed trailer. The team worked the assembly line with other wood shop volunteers for an hour and a half loading the wood and then unloading it back at the wood shop.
It was great to observe the teamwork and work ethic. The wood shop is very grateful for the team's help.
Other FHS football players were in Hesperia putting together a playset for a family.
Head Coach Jason Carpenter is to be commended for organizing his team to do these community service projects. There is more to sports than practicing and playing games. The life lessons learned by players involved in projects like these are lasting memories that build character by serving others.
Thank you FHS Football Team
First Congregational Church of Fremont
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