The Newaygo County Democrats will hold their January meeting on Monday, January 8th at the White Cloud Library. All are welcome to the 6pm Open Forum and social time, with the business meeting starting at 6:30pm. A virtual option is available by emailing for the link: NewaygoCountyDemocrats@gmail.com. The White Cloud Library is located at 1038 E Wilcox Ave, 49349.
According to the (Special) Political Organizing Committee, also known as (S)POC, this first meeting of 2024 will be key in planning community outreach and actions during this important election year.
Items for discussion include:
* Presidential Primary in Michigan is now in February: this year it is Tuesday, February 27.
* Early Voting starts 9 days before every statewide and federal election.
* Recruiting for Democratic Precinct Delegates for local office and board seats.
Newaygo County Democrats, visiting Dems, guests, members and the moderate to liberal-leaning curious are all welcomed and urged to attend this first of the year meeting. For more information and to sign up for Enews, visit: https://newaygocodems.org. Follow on Facebook @Newaygo County Democratic Party, and @Newaygo County Democrats.
To The Editor:
I’m correcting the record about arguments in a recent letter on Generate Upcycle’s Fremont Regional Digester. I’m always willing to engage in critical conversations, where both parties want a positive outcome. But to communicate, everyone must have the facts.
When considering joining the FRD’s community advisory council, I had to learn about the plant. I wasn’t familiar with the digester, so I did some research and spoke with local agricultural leaders. This helped me understand the importance of digestate as a fertilizer and the FRD as a resource for food waste recycling.
I’m proud to be a founding member of FRD’s community council. The digester staff diligently keeps council members, residents, and other stakeholders informed — including through a Facebook page for neighbors, website, tours of the facility, and more. The team is a resource for members of our community, listening to and addressing concerns.
Among residents’ concerns have been odor at the digester and lagoons, as well as run-off related to land application of their digestate fertilizer product on farm fields. Before Generate took control of the digester, this odor impacted their quality of life. Generate has invested in significant upgrades and reduced smells to nearly none at the digester facility and lagoons. Further, there have not been any issues with fertilizer runoff since Generate assumed operations.
In regards to the permit and regulatory issues, I invite everyone to read Generate’s response to EGLE, which corrects misinformation amplified by the Department.
The FRD’s work in our community doesn’t end there. With the help of the community council, the digester has become a valuable partner, including through an endowment scholarship fund that supports our neighbors.
Before we make judgements, it’s important we ensure they’re informed. Regardless of our roles in the community, we should have an accurate understanding of the FRD and what it provides.
White River Watershed Collaborative Celebrates Progress In 2023
2023 was another busy year for the White River Watershed Collaborative (WRWC). Initiated in 2019 by Trout Unlimited (TU) and the White River Watershed Partnership, with support from the Fremont Area Community Foundation, the WRWC is comprised of local communities and governments, state and federal agencies, non-profits, local business owners and White River enthusiasts. The WRWC is working to facilitate collaborative data-driven restoration and protection of the White River Watershed.
In 2022, West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission (WMSRDC) collaborated with local partners to secure funding from the Community Foundation for Muskegon County, the Community Foundation for Oceana County and the Fremont Area Community Foundation to contract with Grand Valley State University to conduct an economic impact study of the
White River. The need for this study was identified by the WRWC Economic Opportunity sub-committee, led by Newaygo County’s Economic Development Director Julie Burrell. Completed in 2023, study results demonstrated just how impactful the White River is as an economic driver. The study found that the White River has an overall economic impact of $20 million, drawing over 35,000 visitors from outside the region each year. It was estimated that the river increased home values by a cumulative $25 million. This study serves as a baseline to gauge progress and the information gathered will be leveraged to target opportunities to improve the quality of the White River and serve as justification for future investments in the watershed.
In 2023 WMSRDC also collaborated with the Oceana County Road Commission, Grand Valley State University, GEI Consultants and private landowners to replace two culverts on Swinton Creek with more appropriately sized structures that support fish passage and increase flood resiliency. These projects were made possible by funding under the Lake Michigan Rivers and Coastal Wetlands Regional Partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This project will continue in 2024 with two additional culvert replacements on Swinton and Cushman Creek and restoration of over 1,000 feet of in-stream habitat.
In recent years, the WRWC has invested a lot of effort into collecting the necessary data to make informed decisions on project priorities in the watershed, including temperature monitoring, fish passage assessments, habitat assessments and fisheries surveys. In 2023, we began to leverage those datasets to identify additional projects that will have the maximum benefit to the watershed and its fisheries. Ten culverts that block fish from accessing upstream habitats were identified and prioritized for future replacement. New fish-friendly structures will also be more resilient to flood damage and reduce maintenance costs for local communities. Additional habitat enhancement and erosion control projects were also identified, aiming to improve in-stream habitat for fish and other aquatic organisms.
The WRWC is now fundraising for these well-justified projects. Already, TU has obtained funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to support culvert replacement and habitat enhancement work. These funds will be leveraged for additional support, such as funds available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
The Schrems West Michigan Chapter of Trout Unlimited (SWMTU) has invested in four Salmon in the Classroom (SIC) programs in the local area. Through SIC, students raise salmon from eggs, learning about their life cycle and habitat needs, and eventually release them into the White River. SWMTU also held their 3rd annual White River stream cleanup, where volunteers remove trash from the river and clean up river access locations.
Through ongoing collaboration, data collection and fundraising, the rubber is starting to hit the road for implementation of restoration projects in the White River Watershed, ultimately benefiting not only the aquatic ecosystem but the communities that enjoy and depend on a healthy White River.
To The Editor:
Generate Upcycle's Bill Caesar seems to have omitted a few issues lately when he has been in contact with the press. Reading both sides of this evolving story, it appears that EGLE, perhaps because it is now under a new director, began to look more closely at the AUA permit (Agricultural Use Approval) issued to Fremont Regional Digester (FRD). These types of permits generally have less oversight than the new type that is being required. Egle’s Director, Phillip Roos stated that part of the reason that the Fremont digester's AUA permit was even sent up any red flags in the first place, in part, was because of the ongoing and frequent odor and digestate spread issues/complaints that have occurred since FRD opened. There is a local Facebook group page devoted to problems that the digester has created for locals who live near the digester on Lake Drive and on M120 near the two 10 million gallon lagoons near Holton. I am unaware of any other local Facebook group page that has been created to deal with concerns and issues surrounding any other Newaygo county business. Similar Facebook pages are in existence in upstate New York where Generate and other companies run digesters. I think that this speaks to the problems that can arise in communities that have digesters and digestate lagoons in them. I am unsure if EGLEs new director has been reassessing all AUA permits or if this arose solely from the history of EGLE having to spend literally hundreds of hours up here with odor complaints from the digester, odor complaints at the lagoons, and a digestate spread that ran-off onto neighboring property, literally making a lake of smelly digestate in one man's yard near Holton and likely then making its way into the local watershed through drains and culverts. Mistakes get made while running any business, but from what I have seen over the past four years, little was done to try to correct mistakes in the first place and it took local residents bringing their concerns and frustrations to EGLE, over not being able to sit in their yards because of the stench, which resulted in fines and mandates forcing Fremont Regional Digester to work on odor issues among other things.
From what Mr. Roos states in his letter to Generate, an AUA permit was the incorrect type of permit for this type of highly liquid digestate in the first place. EGLE likely screwed up. It sounds like the letter that was sent to Generate Upcycle by EGLE's new Director, Phillip Roos, that EGLE is looking into that mistake. Finding a mistake of permitting type does not mean EGLE should continue to reissue the wrong type of permit - on the contrary, I would hope we all would feel that when a government body finds that it has likely made a mistake, that they rectify that mistake. The recent information presented by Generate Upcycle to the press and aired on WZZM was amended to include a letter that EGLE sent to Generate's Bill Caesar, presenting a fuller picture than was first presented by WZZM. I find it irresponsible of WZZM to have released the story without first contacting EGLE to get their take on where things are at in the permitting process. I would urge people to read the letter released by WZZM from EGLE to Generate Upcycle regarding the permit and why it no longer falls under the Solid Waste Division but instead under the Waste Water Division where it should have been in the first place.
The Email From EGLE
November 30, 2023
Bill Caesar, President Generate Upcycle
156 Magnolia St. Suite B Spartanburg, SC 29304
Dear Bill Caesar: This letter is being sent in response to the email you sent to Tim Boring and me on Sunday, November 26, 2023. In this email you raised a question around whether the facility’s digestate can be registered as a fertilizer. You also raised a variety of issues surrounding the groundwater permit being developed by the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). Our responses to these items are as follows. Your request to classify digestate as an organic fertilizer could fundamentally change the permitting approach being pursued by EGLE. As you are likely aware, EGLE and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) staff met with the Generate team to discuss this question in March. While Generate had not formally requested a decision from MDARD at that time, it was discussed that the digestate does not contain nutrient value at the application rate required to meet required standards in respects to biological oxygen demand (BOD). Specifically, the application rate required to get 20 lbs of nitrogen per acre would exceed the BOD of the material by 5x. Generate is welcome to make a formal submission for a determination of whether the digestate can be licensed as a commercial fertilizer. However, if this information is correct, the material would not qualify as a fertilizer. Regarding the questions you are asking around “what has changed” and whether the facility should have been allowed to operate under an Agricultural Use Approval (AUA) over the years, we are asking our teams many of the same questions. While we do not currently fully understand the decisions the previous administration made regarding the AUA’s applicability, we are trying to understand the facility’s regulatory history. We will share that employees who were in EGLE when the facility was first opened by Novi Energy have described the residual materials following the digestion process being stored in piles. We have also identified a number of media reports associated with the opening of the facility nearly 20 years ago that describe the feedstock as manure, apple cores, and other solid materials. They contain very little mention of the highly liquid feedstock that the reports you have provided to ELGE illustrate. We have also been informed that the lagoons currently utilized by the facility to store its large volumes of digestate were not constructed, according to our records, until 2018.
While this historic information is incomplete at best, it does give an indication that decisions made by the previous administration on the applicability of the AUA were likely based on different digestate characteristics than the digestate the facility produces today. EGLE and MDARD will continue to evaluate its records to attempt to reconstruct these historical decisions. We welcome any additional input that Generate could provide in the interest of ensuring an accurate record. Understanding the historical, regulatory decision-making associated with your facility is of interest to both EGLE and MDARD, however it does not change the underlying situation we are working through today. Generate’s operation no longer qualifies for management under an AUA. As you are likely aware, facilities like Generate that are operating under an AUA have limited oversight, including infrequent inspections. Re-evaluation of the conditions that resulted in the issuance of an AUA does not routinely occur unless a problem is identified associated with the facility’s operation. In this case, odor and runoff problems caused by land application of the digestate generated by your facility led to closer scrutiny of the situation. Based on this closer evaluation, EGLE staff determined that the facility’s liquid residuals could not legally be authorized for land application under Michigan’s solid waste program, which can authorize the land application of solids and sludges. Liquid wastes applied to the ground require a different legal authorization - a groundwater discharge permit. This was communicated to Generate Fremont two years ago, and they have been allowed to continue to operate under the AUA while the groundwater permit is being developed. It is possible that we will determine that the AUA should have been terminated years ago. Although this determination was only made 2 years ago, we recognize that transition to an appropriate groundwater permit takes time. We have allowed the AUA to temporarily remain in place until the permit can be issued. You are correct in stating that EGLE has approved an additional extension of the AUA’s applicability through March 21. Your email did not include that EGLE had indicated to your lobbying firm and to you personally that we would be willing to consider extending the AUA through June 30, 2024, if additional work on the permit is necessary such that a March 21, 2024, extension is insufficient. Regarding the groundwater permit being drafted by EGLE, we will not be responding to all the specific statements contained in your draft letter that you state you intend to send to your customers. This is because the permit is not finalized and EGLE is still working in good faith with your company to ensure that only appropriate and necessary standards are incorporated into the permit. However, many of the statements made in that letter are not accurate and forthcoming of all of the circumstances being discussed. We will be prepared to respond to these inaccuracies in detail if necessary. It is our understanding that permitting conversations are progressing well between our technical teams. We recognize that Generate is not in agreement with some of the requirements that EGLE is proposing. We can assure you that this work has been prioritized within the agency and that we are committed to issuing a permit.
We are also committed to ensuring that the permit complies with the underlying laws, is protective of the environment, sets reasonable expectations based on the unique characteristics of the facility, and provides defensible, regulatory certainty for Generate. We can assure you that EGLE is not “trying to shoehorn FRD into a regulatory framework designed for industrial pollutants” as you contend. The statutory obligations being discussed with your company appropriately apply to a large variety of operations, including anerobic digestors. We do take note of your characterization of the permitting discussions as being “aggressive.” Our expectation is that all conversations with our agency are always respective and collaborative. We believe that this has been the case in our engagement with your team. However, we will ensure that all staff understand that this is our expectation. If your use of the word “aggressive” is descriptive of the agency holding firm on the minimum requirements that must be in a groundwater permit to meet the expectations listed above, you should not expect a different outcome. We recognize that the requirements of a groundwater permit are more restrictive than the requirements associated with operation under an AUA. This will likely require additional costs and changes to the operations of your facility. This is why EGLE is working to include reasonable timeframes in the permit to help the facility meet the new requirements. However, the liquid nature of the material and the underlying statutory expectations necessitates these differences. We recognize from what you have described to us that the facility is not currently profitable and has been operating a deficit since Generate acquired the property. We share your desire that your company is successful. We are committed to being flexible where possible, but we cannot compromise legally required and necessary environmental and public protections. It is our understanding that EGLE will be ready to provide a final draft of the groundwater permit in the very near future. The permit will be public noticed as provided by Michigan law and will allow additional deliberation on permit expectations in response to public comment. After a final permit is issued, Generate will have the ability to legally contest the permit if you believe that EGLE has issued a permit that is not in compliance with the statute and supporting regulations. We are hopeful that we will be able to reach an understanding on the necessary requirements applicable to your facility. We encourage Generate to continue to engage in good faith and provide the necessary information for EGLE to make its necessary permitting decisions. From past conversations with you it has been clear that you share our commitment to protecting Michigan’s groundwater and surface water resources. It is in that spirit that we are committed to continuing to collaborate with you and your company to achieve a reasonable and defensible outcome. Michigan’s citizens, especially those that rely on groundwater resources as their source of drinking water, deserve no less of either of our organizations.
Phillip D. Roos Director 517-284-6712
cc: Dr. Tim Boring, MDARD Aaron B. Keatley, Chief Deputy Director, EGLE
By Ken De Laat
They’re killing me.
Love the Lions, love Coach Dan, but man, I gotta tell you they are killing me these past few weeks. A squeaker, an improbable comeback win and a truly bad loss and now this Jekyll/Hyde performance against the Saints?
Look, I have endured this team’s propensity for striving toward mediocrity since Eisenhower was president. I know what being a Lion fan is about.
You don’t allow any more than fleeting optimism.
You await big plays being called back due to penalties or third down stops evolving into pass interference calls.
Turnovers at crucial moments are not just possible but expected
If the game hinges on an overtime kickoff return or 63 yard field goal it will be the opposing team who performs it.
And now they’re good? I mean not like great or anything with an episodically porous defense and a propensity toward episodes of offensive ennui, but they’re actually pretty good. They win more often than not, have a 3 game lead in their division and are heading for the playoffs, right?
I mean, they are heading for the playoffs,right? After all they’re 9-3 for Cripes sake, there’s no way they won’t get in.
You see, this is the bane of being a lifelong Lions fan. This year they have won pretty, won ugly, won when they should have and lost when they shouldn’t have.
And here they are in first place and one of the three top teams in the whole freaking conference with 5 games to go.
And yet with a far too lengthy history of consistent disappointments to haul around it is hard not to anticipate the eventual doom that will inevitably befall the team I love.
When the Tigers made their improbable run to the Series in ‘06 I was walking the long departed Shotgun, a quintessential quadruped, along the riverside path each day. I always ran into another dog walker who wore a Tiger hat and would speak of their impending collapse.
But it had been 22 years of futility. Who could blame him for remaining pessimistic?
Now add another 44 years.
I truly want to believe Lions, but I gotta tell you.
You’re killing me.
The December meeting of the Newaygo County Democratic Party will be on Monday, December 11 at the Newaygo County Heritage Museum, 12 Quarterline Street, Newaygo.
Members and guests can join the Open Forum and snacks at 6pm, with the business meeting starting at 6:30pm. The meeting will have a virtual Zoom option which will be available via the Democrat Enews, or by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Open Forum at 6pm is a chance for members and guests to discuss issues of concern, and to meet others who follow Michigan Democratic principles. The business meeting will cover community outreach, engagement and education plans, as well as fundraising activities for the rest of the year.
A topic of discussion by the (S)POC Committee will be the role of the Precinct Delegate, and how that role can provide effective engagement and mobilization within local neighborhoods. How and why a community member should become a Precinct Delegate will also be discussed.
To learn more about the Newaygo County Democratic Party, visit the website: https://newaygocodems.org. Sign up for Enews by contacting email@example.com. Or follow on Facebook pages at Newaygo County Democratic Party, and Newaygo County Democrats.
How can something so perfect just be waiting for me? Did the Christmas-present gods see me coming?”-Sophie Kinsella, Christmas Shopaholic
The first Shopping With Ken foray found us in Fremont.
A few weeks ago I showed up late for the ribbon cutting when JRC Bargain Bins opened the doors to their new facility in the building once occupied by MPH Trucking. After apologizing to Nicole Crutchfield for missing the scissors work I wandered about the place, impressed with the space after having visited their former home, a much less expansive area to say the least.
Nicole and husband Conner brought this entrepreneurial concept to the area and it proved to be hit for bargain loving shoppers. Now they have moved to a place that will allow the offerings to be spread out a bit.A survey of the new surroundings made JRC the perfect kickoff to our SWK series.
From stocking stuffers and decorations to a large collection of games and toys the store is a must stop for those looking to fill that list without putting a major dent in the pocketbook, all the while feeling good about supporting one of our newest local businesses. What makes JRC ideal for shoppers this time of year is how the merch involved changes every week and we don’t mean like just a couple of things here and there. We’re talking about true transformation. New items of all types huddled in the bins and ready for bargain hunters.
If you are unfamiliar with the bin concept here’s our story when we visited their former location
What I like about this place is the gamesmanship involved. After hitting up JRC to see what’s new, maybe you gamble a bit, waiting out the price reduction in hopes the potential gift doesn’t get snapped up before hitting your planned purchase day. It tosses a little more adventure into what can be a draining present purchasing process.
The other added bonus is Ms. Crutchfied herself and her staff. They make the store a fun place to browse around while being exceptionally helpful. Special assistant Jasper may be the youngest crew member and despite being a bit shy of 2, did an admirable job helping his Mom provide us with a tour of the new place.
Stymied on gifts? Especially toys and games? This is your mecca for bargain gifting opportunities.
And say hello to Jasper.
If you have an idea for a place for SWK to visit email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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