By Ken De Laat
The Lions have not won a divisional title since 1993. Tampa Bay has won the title in the Central/North Division more recently than Detroit and they haven't even been in our division since 2001.
Then there are the playoffs where they haven’t posted a win since 1991. In fact their playoff record in the Super Bowl era is 1-12. They have lost playoff games to no fewer than 8 teams and none of those teams went on to win it all that year. In fact only 4 teams have never made an appearance at the Big Game with Roman Numerals (to make sure everyone knows its importance) and the Lions are one. They are also the only non expansion team in the group meaning the other four missed out on the first 25-30 SB’s because the teams didn’t exist as yet.
The Lions were the sweethearts of the league last year with a fiery coach, some budding stars, an Offensive Coordinator with some uncanny moves and some impressive come from behind wins. They came on strong and even knocked the uber-obnoxious Aaron Rodgers and his Packers out of the playoffs with a season finale win in Lambeau.
And with a spot in the season opener on national TV against the Super Bowl Champion Chiefs, those who schedule such things must be confident about their chances for success this year. And while I hope they do well and will certainly celebrate any success they have this year will seem more than a little different to me.
A longtime near and dear friend of mine passed away earlier this summer. Don was the most faithful Lion fan one could ever hope to pity. He lived and breathed the Honolulu Blue and Silver, convinced each year they had gotten the right coach, the right QB, the right players to win it all.
And year after year they broke his heart but never his spirit. Guys would get on him about his dedication to the Lions. He knew fans of the Bears and Packers who would chide him about his team, as did the frontrunner followers, those fair weather fans who follow the top teams as if they grew up in New England, Pittsburgh or Dallas.
But Don was undeterred. He once said to me, “They can talk all they want but one of these years the Lions are going to put it all together and I’ll be able to say I was with them all the way.”
And now he won’t.
He never got to see them play in a Super Bowl. Heck, he was 4 when they last won a championship and one playoff win over the 66 years since isn’t exactly a proud legacy for your favorite footballers.
Don’s loyalty to the team may have seemed fruitless and futile to many, but win or lose, his team was his team. He was steadfast and unwavering in his support of the much beleaguered Lions. When others gave up on them and railed on their propensity to turn losing into an art form, he would gather whatever positives could be gathered and embrace hope.
Last place? Well, we’ll get a good draft pick. Yet another Coaching change? Maybe this is the guy to do it. Trade the star quarterback who later that year won a Super Bowl? Well, this will give us a lot of picks next year.
Hope. Always hope.
And maybe, just maybe this truly is a turning point for the eternally dormant franchise.
My late friend may not be in attendance for his annual visit to Ford to watch his guys play and he may not be sitting in front of his big screen TV on Sunday afternoons.
But I will never be able to watch another Detroit game without thinking about Don and his passion for his perpetually underperforming team.
And should they find the measure of success many are predicting?
I will raise a glass to his memory and say, ”You were right all along. They finally got there.
“Just wish you were here to see it.”
In memory of Don Longcore. Friend, golf trip roomie, all around good guy…
And one helluva Lion fan.
The September Newaygo County Democratic Party meeting will be held on Monday, September 11 at the Newaygo County Heritage Museum. Guests and members can arrive at 6pm to participate in the new Open Forum Time, share snacks, and enjoy meeting with others who share Democratic positions. For those who wish, they can stay for the formal NCDP meeting which will begin at 6:30pm.
“The Open Forum is a new and exciting way for people to raise concerns important to them,” states Nancy Howland-Walker of the Newaygo County Democratic Party Organizing Committee. “We discuss issues, then decide on any actions needed together. Those actions could involve writing persuasive letters to the editor, arranging to meet with local representatives, or lending support to causes that are close to our community.”
The Organizing Committee is one of three active committees in the local Democratic Party. The others are Communications and Fundraising. All committees welcome interested community members to share their skills and interests in these areas to help promote Democratic positions in the county.
“The Organizing Committee was created to better connect with and involve our wider community. Our goal is to make sure that our local Democratic membership is inclusive, so we can address the issues and concerns that impact all of us,” added Ms. Walker. “Come to the next meeting, and let us hear from you!”
The Newaygo County Heritage Museum is located at 12 Quarterline Street in Newaygo. Use the west side back entrance to enter at 6pm for the Open Forum, with the official meeting starting at 6:30pm. Virtual attendance is an option, and you can email to request the Zoom Link on the meeting day at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about the Newaygo County Democratic Party, go to the website at www.NewaygoCoDems.org.
By Ken DeLaat
We’re on the cusp of September (What? I’m still emotionally stuck in mid July!) and if you predicted we would hit the final month of the season with the Tigers just 7 games back, I’d call you a typical optimistic Detroit sports fan who is already thinking about booking a February trip to Vegas to see the Lions in Super Bowl LVII.
Of course the Tiger’s standing in the Central Division is a bit different than it would be in the West (14 games behind) or the East (22 games back), but who cares? After too many years fighting to stay out of the cellar a third or even second place finish looks ok to me.
Besides the recent surge of power in the Bengal bats gives one hope for some good times ahead. Spence Torkelson has been on fire as has current N3WH favorite Kerry Carpenter. Riley Greene has become the hitter we thought he’d be and man oh man, Parker Meadows looks like the real deal. I like the bullpen (especially Tyler Holton) and while inconsistent, the starters have had flashes of brilliance and overall have improved.
They stumbled out of the box going 2-9 then came an ugly late May, early June when, after sitting one game under the break even mark, they went 2-13 to fall 12 games under .500. Since those rough patches they are 31-31 after getting absolutely shelled by the Astros and losing to Tiger alumnus Justin Verlander today. Not great but not bad.
Look, I’m a diehard. To me, BFF means Bengal Fan Forever. Others may have switched allegiances to and perhaps rightfully so having suffered through a dismal decade or so of futility. But these are the Tigers. Our Tigers. While playing Magnum Tom Selleck didn’t wear the hat bearing the olde English D because they were a dominant dynasty team like the Yanks of old or more recently the Stro’s and Dodgers . He wore it because it was his team. He grew up in Detroit and the legacy of this team has a hold on you.
The Tigers may continue to scuffle when it comes to competing against the elite teams. They are scrappy and young and they will be coming into their own soon I suspect. In the meantime they remind me of when I was following the team in the mid 60’s and early 80’s. They were young and pretty good, but not quite good enough.
Then in ‘68 and ‘84 they caught that lightning in a jar that smaller market teams seem to occasionally be blessed with and brought their fans the Big One.
Ah yes, a mere 40 years since the last title.
Who knows, it might not happen as soon as I would like and being a member of the septuagenarian society the sooner the better.
But win or lose the Tig’s will always be my team.
I just rant, curse and argue with the radio less often when they win.
And while I'm on baseball, I am certain there are those out there who feel sad about the dynastic desiring Yankees tanking so badly of late, losing 16 of 23 games going into Sunday and falling out of contention.
I’m not one.
In fact,it would absolutely make the season for me if the Tigers finished with a better record than those long despised Bronx Bombers. Their current freefall brings out the tendency toward schadenfreude in me to be sure and while I should maybe feel at least a smidge of shame about this…
Yeah, I don’t.
A few minutes with petition sponsor Joshua Stein
That is the goal of the Recall Grant School Board Initiative group who on Tuesday presented their petition language in a hearing held at the Commissioners Meeting Room in White Cloud. Despite challenges regarding the language from Board President Ken Thorne the approval was given and soon the group will begin soliciting signatures with the goal of recalling Thorne, Sabrina Veltkamp-Blok, Rachal Gort, and Richard Vance.
The move came on the heels of the latest board meeting on Monday August 15th that once again saw public comment filled with protests from dozens of community members including numerous calls for the 4 to resign their seats on the board.
We caught up with petition sponsor Joshua Stein for a few questions.
How and why did you get involved in this initiative?
‘How’ I became involved was relatively simple and it relies on two actions, educating and engaging. I became informed of the issues and had conversations with the community. Anyone can do this and I strongly encourage everyone to be educated and engaged. The ‘why’ is slightly more complex. When I think about how we build and strengthen communities, I am firmly in the belief that a rising tide raises all ships, or building from the ground up. The Child and Adolescent Health Center is one resource to help that foundation. Some parents or community members might need to make a choice between employment and health and the health center helped remove that question. This also helps employers who lose productivity when workers are absent. Child based health centers are universally recognized as a benefit to student performance and studies show an indirect benefit to their classmates. However, I believe the initiative is about more than just the health center and it is related to a lack of trust between the community and school board.
Did anything surprise you at the hearing?
You could say there was a surprise at the hearing; however, the surprise felt more like an insult. The school board members were willing to share more detail in a public hearing with the election commission, than they will at public school board meetings with the community they serve. They care more about maintaining power, than being transparent with the community. This contributes significantly to the lack of trust. The primary argument I felt the board members were making, is that they are actively negotiating a new contract, and it is their job as board members to negotiate. They shared detailed information about their concerns for the contract. For example, a board member brought up a lack of sufficient school board members on the health center committee; however, I reviewed school meeting minutes and this was a talking point in a February 2023 board meeting. Why didn’t they resolve the issue at that time? Rather, months later, they issued a 90 day eviction to the health center before attempting any engagement. We have been told the health center will need to close 10/06/2023, absent a new contract, which means the 90 day termination letter was issued on 07/08/2023. Evidence provided at the hearing shows the school board, through their attorney, first presented a new contract to begin negotiations on 08/09/2023, 31 days after issuing a termination letter. While I agree it is the purview of the school board to review, update or cancel contracts, the approach suggests, at best, a poorly planned and reckless negotiating tactic that creates confusion and instability for students, school staff, families and health center employees. The uncertainty has likely impacted applicants for school positions and student enrollment. They could have renegotiated the contract without a termination letter, as has been done in the past. My most favorable view is this negotiation tactic was to give them power over Family Health Care, who absolutely wants to remain in this community. My true belief is they never wanted to maintain the Child and Adolescent Health Center, and are only now negotiating after the significant community support displayed for the center.
Most of the pushback from the community has been due to their decision to cut ties with FHC with regard to the Child and Adolescent Health Clinic. They have said they are negotiating with FHC. If the CAHC is retained will that affect the recall initiative? If not, why?
I want to be honest and I always try to have a realistic view of any situation I’m involved in, so yes, I do believe retaining the health center could affect the interest of some community members in the recall initiative. However, as the sponsor of the petitions, and through discussions with other engaged community members, the recall petitions will go forward until board members resign or they are removed by the will of the voters. The school board has lost trust of a significant portion of the community and doing the right thing for the CAHC will not fully restore that trust. Again, I don’t believe they would have negotiated with Family Health Care, if the community didn’t rally in support. The board spent 5 months looking at how to earn a one time profit through sale of school property, rather than focusing on how to use the land as a long term asset to strengthen the community, such as the ideas presented by Rob Schuitema to use the land to gain education or program grants to bring resources to the school rather than diminish the resources. The health center termination letter decision was made as a motion after the public meeting already started, what other surprise motions and actions might the board members attempt to initiate.
There is a 60 day window for obtaining signatures and close to 1100 are needed. What do you see as the biggest challenges?
There are 7,847 registered voters among the three counties the school district spans and 6,777 of those voters reside in Newaygo County. The biggest challenge in gathering signatures is the same for this initiative as any other petition based action, ensuring we make contact with as many of those registered voters as possible, as well as generating more registered voters. This will be accomplished by establishing a presence in the communities with voter registration, door to door engagements and scheduled events to collect signatures. The overall goal requires sustained engagement. Getting a special election is the means of restoring a voice to the voters. Voters will also need to have their voice heard in the election to ensure the school board members elected represent the children first. That’s why voter education is another important aspect to inform voters of the beliefs, goals and qualifications of all school board candidates.
Assuming the target date for the recall election would be in May, are all 4 eligible to be recalled by then?
The short answer is yes, all four board members are eligible for recall in May. There are some timing technicalities for submission of signed petitions.
Do you feel optimistic about the chances for a successful recall?
I am very optimistic for a successful recall and we receive a tremendous amount of support from the community. In public we receive thank yous and positive messages for standing up for the students and community. Attendance at school board meetings remains very high and the vast majority of public comments expressing concern the four members being recalled are not representing the best interest of the students. While I am not personally on social media, I hear the primary response to the recall being supportive. We have over 7800 registered voters in the district. While collecting petition signatures, we will be engaging those voters to have their voice heard, as well as registering new voters, and providing education on all board candidates, current and future, to ensure the voters have sufficient information to elect a school board that strengthens our community by providing the resources children need to succeed.
Anything you would like the community to know?
The Grant Community is incredible. We have a wide diversity of people and views; despite any differences, there is a passion for the success of our community. While I have not been a lifelong resident, as many have, I have been here for 9 years. I am invested in the success of the community. For a majority of my time that has meant paying taxes and shopping at local businesses. However, we have an opportunity, at this moment, to ensure the Grant Board of Education maintains focus on their number one mission, the children. If you have a passion for the success of the community and we haven’t reached you yet, please reach out to learn how you can be involved through signing, volunteering or donations. Children are our future, education presents a world of opportunity for children and healthy children are in a better position to maximize their opportunity.
The most recent Grant School Board meeting on Monday, August 14th went the way their meetings have gone since four members voted to oust the Children and Adolescent Health Center in June with a lot of public comment criticism of the Board.
101st District State Representative Joseph Fox was in attendance and we contacted him for a few comments on the meeting.
“The elected school board has made a decision and is responsible for determining the future and/or next steps for the health clinic at Grant Public School. I trust that the final decision will be made based upon what is best for the students, the realities of the situation, and the input from the community.
“I applaud the board for not allowing the Public Comment time to become a public question and answer session. However, I am saddened by the many ad hominem attacks that occurred. It was heartening to see that one courageous young woman spoke up for what she termed the “silent majority.”
“My hope is that the board, the staff, the students, and the Grant community will pray for wisdom in discerning the next right best steps.”
The 101st District includes all of Newaygo County.
It's all about the shoes
By Ken De Laat
Unless you have successfully gone completely off grid (which means you won’t be reading this anyway) AI, aka artificial intelligence, has been hitting the airwaves and cyber sites quite a bit lately. From the ability to replace humans in any number of occupations to the sci-fi notion of a takeover (the ‘futuristic’ setting for HAL 9000 was over 20 years ago) AI has become a talking point for politicians, preachers and pundits the world over.
Being intrigued by its supposed ability to create answers to complex questions there was really only one question that came to mind.
The shoes, of course.
Those solitary soles spotted along our roadways in some of the most precarious spots almost as if…wait for it…
Lifetime Spousal Companion Lil has endured countless theories and questions that have arisen during 50 years of road trips during which shoe spotting goes beyond observation advancing into discussion as to what lies behind the epidemic. Granted her near legendary patience was tried mightily when I called her at work during a meeting she was in and shared my discovery of a particularly unusual high heeled single lying on the off ramp to downtown (“Do me a favor and don’t call me at work about shoes anymore, ok?”).
Truly remarkable woman I must say.
Since then I have tried to limit sharing these discoveries to when she’s in the car.
Oh, and not sleeping. That was another agreement after a couple of unfortunate incidents during lengthy travels.
From the beginning my mantra has been ‘What does it mean?’ and yet the quest for answers has long been met with frustration.
Then it occurred to me. Why not try AI?
Well let me tell you, in my opinion their answers fell woefully short.
Me: Why does one see so many single shoes alongside the road and what does it mean?
AI: There are several theories about why there are so many single shoes on the road. Here are some of them:
And it's not hard to believe that some may have fallen off vehicles having personally lost a cellphone (x2) and numerous coffee mugs in a similar manner. But again not an occurrence that would satisfyingly answer the sheer numbers of lost soles.
I also can see the possibility of waking up missing a shoe after a bout of being ‘overserved’. An acquaintance of mine once told me that during his heavy drinking days his morning after game was “Find My Car” so misplacing a shoe now and then is understandable I guess.
But none of these stabs at this mysterious ongoing phenomena hit the mark for me. The sheer proliferation points to a more widespread and possibly even conspiratorial effort. Is it all a sign? Might there be a message being sent to us via abandoned footwear? Or could it all be more of a diversionary tactic meant to steer us away from the real issue whatever that might be.
All I know is that in my lifelong quest to get an answer to the burning question AI fell significantly short of being impressive. AI may know how to knock out a term paper, come up with a business plan and even develop new ideas.
But toss one of life’s true mysteries at them and one is left, once again, with that solitary shoe mantra,
“What does it mean?”
And the quest continues.
“Peter lost one of his shoes among the cabbages, and the other shoe amongst the potatoes.”- Beatrix Potter, Peter Rabbit
Newaygo’s Berger named to Muskegon Area Sports Hall
N3 Editor Mercer captured the spirit of the Joe Berger Football Camp in her recent story on the event. The Camp has become a magnet for kids who have flocked to the Newaygo football field in hopes of honing their skills for their future feats on the gridiron.
This past Spring Joe Berger was inducted into the Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame, a fitting honor for the former Newaygo Lion who spent 13 seasons facing down the best defensive linemen in the world, primarily as a member of the Minnesota Vikings.
Beyond his football skills Joe is first and foremost a family man. He is also an engineer having earned a degree from Michigan Tech while playing football for the Huskies and now finds himself using the skills taught in what might be called a ‘second career’.
We caught up with him recently and posed a few questions about the HOF honor.
The last Newaygo inductees into the HOF were the Lion Girls basketball teams from the mid 80’s who entered in 2010. How does it feel to be chosen?
It is an Honor to be chosen. It was great to take time to reflect back on my career and all the memories and people that helped me along the way. My Aunt was part of that basketball team, so I'm not even the first Berger in the HOF.
Was football the first love when it came to sports?
Yes, as soon as I was old enough, I begged my mom to get me to camp. I believe there is no sport like it, and feel privileged that I got to play the game until I was 36.
When did you know you could compete on the highest level in the sport? How did you know?
It really wasn’t until I was into my NFL career a few years. I had a successful college career, but that didn't guarantee anything for the NFL. I feel like every year but maybe one of my NFL seasons I was fighting for a roster spot in training camp. I'm not sure I ever "knew" that I could compete, I had to prove it to myself and my team every time I put my cleats on.
You mentioned in your speech the support from your wife Abby during your years in the NFL. Can you reprise some of that for our readers?
Emotionally, physically, and mentally the NFL takes a toll on your body. The physical is obvious, I think. To have someone at home that you knew was taking care of the kids and handling the day-to-day tasks of raising a family and running a home was a relief. Mentally and emotionally is harder to quantify. The expectations and stress that a season puts on you are hard to describe. Having Abby as a partner in all of this, someone to talk with and confide in, helped get through all kinds of tough moments in both football and life. Having that same person to celebrate victories with makes them all that much sweeter.
Your family has lived in a number of larger cities before returning to Newaygo where you and Abby are both from. What city felt the most like home and was it an adjustment to return to the pace of a smaller town?
The small town was always home to us. I don't feel like I ever really fully left it. We enjoyed each city. Charlotte is a beautiful city and though short, was a great transition to the city culture. Miami was a bit of a shock my first time there, but we really enjoyed my second stay in South Florida. We found some friends and a great church, and it really became home to us. I'm not sure I'd choose to live there, but it is still my favorite place to vacation. Being a part of football in Texas was fun. The people there love football and love Texas. The food in Dallas was exceptional. After six years of being down south, coming north to Minnesota really did feel like home. Our daughters were born there, and kids went to school there, we made lifetime friendships in Minneapolis. Though I enjoyed each stop, MN definitely feels like a second home, and I love getting to go through there anytime I can. We have seven years of memories and built our family in the twin cities area. We were ready to get back home to Michigan and settle in. Having the chance to travel the country I'm confident that there is no better place than West Michigan to settle down. The seasons, the lakes, and the people in this region are unlike any place I have been. I am so thankful that I was able to grow up in Newaygo and am happy that I can offer that to my kids as well.
You were involved in highly competitive activities since you strapped on a helmet. What do you do these days to scratch that itch?
There is nothing that can compare to the rush of running out onto an NFL field on game day, but since my retirement from football I have transitioned to my other love, manufacturing and automation. I had the opportunity to work at a controls company 11 months out of football. The job allowed me to get back into the engineering world and learn about business and management on the job. Then, a little over two years ago an opportunity close to home came available that I couldn't turn down. I currently work for Modern Produce Equipment right here in Fremont. We sell vegetable handling equipment to farms and packhouses all over the country. I have enjoyed working with the equipment as well as having the ability to travel and work with farms. We sell equipment that is made in England, making that international connection has been a joy as well. I have gained a lot of respect for farmers all over. It's a tough job and at times it doesn't seem like anything is on their side. If I've learned anything, it's that next time you enjoy a meal remember to thank a farmer. The food didn't get there without a lot of stress, sweat, and some sleepless nights.
A transplanted Texan's take on his adopted water wonderland and a float down the Little M
By Charles Chandler
My morning routine usually begins with the crew from the Weather Channel and a cup of strong black coffee. I watch the big weather picture that is now mostly covered in red. These attractive metrologists, appearing to be frustrated drama majors, carry on about southern tier heat domes, broken temperature records, approaching super cells and tornado warnings. Having chatted with my “baking and broiling” Houston family the previous night, I heard all about their weather worries. Will my air-conditioner last through another summer? Can I pay my utility bills? Will the power grid hold up?
This morning as I sipped my coffee and watched the weather forecasters, it was with gratitude and a sense of unearned grace that I don’t have to deal with that mess today. My gratitude is because 15 years ago my adventurist, Canadian-born wife and I retired and left Texas’s 100-mile-wide mega cities and repotted here in Newaygo County.
I recognize that summers in western Michigan can get a little warm, now and then. However, our summer focus in Newaygo County is pretty straight forward. It is WATER and our chosen recreational activity with water. It could be a sunset cruise on one of the many residential lakes; a picnic with the family and assorted dogs, followed by a snooze on one of the world-class Michigan beaches; or joining a group of friends and kayaking or tubing down the ever-popular Muskegon River. Around here the summer challenge is not hot weather but choosing your favorite bodies of water and associated recreational activities. That’s it! Our single summertime problem is that we must choose. Well maybe a couple of other things too, like did we bring enough ice, and for goodness sakes, is Kokx’s sweet corn ready yet?
After watching our local weather forecast for this week, our choices are firmed up. If we get a fair breeze, it will be sailing in our pocket-sized sailboat on Hardy Pond. If breezes are insufficient, then it will be kayaking the White River from Taylor’s Bridge to Pines Point campground. Kayaking is the current house favorite but sailing is gaining ground.
Last week I discovered a beautiful little Newaygo County River that was new to me, and it was love at first stroke of the paddle. On a beautiful cool morning, three seniors launched our watercraft of choice at West County Line Road and the Little Muskegon River. Paddling the Little Muskegon on that day was a serene experience. It had rained the night before and the river was up with a heavy stain. The current was respectable and demanded our attention in the tight bends, shallow rapids, and occasional bolder garden.
This little river valley is exceptional. So many shades of green with huge oaks, maples and improbably tall pines that stretched up into the blue Michigan sky. Gawking at these distracting giants often resulted in a reminder bump from some rock or woody debris. All along this river corridor wildflowers thrived in every spot of sunlight, and we were treated to a selection of songs from the abundant Red-eyed Vireos and unseen warblers. Occasionally we would round a bend and be surprised by a remarkably high bluff that towered over the lush riverside vegetation.
There are very few houses and no other launches or takeouts along this stretch of the river. We never saw another paddler, heard a noisy boombox nor the irritating whine of a jet ski. All too soon we reached the slow backwater as this outstanding Newaygo County River entered Croton Pond. I have paddled other Michigan rivers but none as peaceful and secluded as this stretch of the Little Muskegon. Many years ago, one of those handsome Frisbie men recommended that I should paddle the Little Muskegon. I so wish I had taken that good advice then.
The paddle from West County Line Road down to the river mouth at Croton Pond took about four hours, including a couple of 30-minute rest stops. With permission, we were able to take out at the private dock of generous riverside homeowners and this kindness negated the long paddle across open Croton Pond to the public launch. Big bonus!
If you take this trip, I highly recommend you have intermediate river paddling skills. There is limited roadside parking at West County Line Road bridge and if you put in there, you are committed until you reach Croton Pond.
Democrat Summer Picnic Saturday August 5
The Newaygo County Democrats will host its Summer Fundraiser Picnic on Saturday, August 5 from 2pm-5pm at the John Graves Lodge (Newaygo County Welcome Center): 4684 Evergreen Dr, Newaygo, MI 49337.
This very family and kid friendly annual event will include delicious BBQ food catered by Down Home BBQ of Grant. Kids eat free! Fun games with great prizes will be provided. The silent auction of donations from local businesses and talented artists will entice attendees. Some of the items include original oil paintings, potted planters, salon gift cards, a pet acupuncture session, and a guided nature walk. Special auction items for kids include a Voyager hoverboard.
The afternoon will offer a great lineup of entertainment and speakers. MCing the event and keeping everyone laughing will be the local improv duo known as the CIA – “Chicago Improv Associates” – Marshall Stern and Nancy Howland Walker. Their performances have delighted thousands on cruises and corporate events. Find out more about Nancy & Marshall on Facebook @Chicago Improv Associates.
Music will be provided by local respected performer and educator Greg Miller. Greg plays guitar in a variety of styles including jazz, and works his way around the music scene in West Michigan and beyond. Learn about Gregg and his musical circuit on Facebook @ greg.miller.58910.
Featured speaker of the day is Paula Greear, President and CEO of Michigan Planned Parenthood. Ms. Greear is a proven executive leader with more than 26 years of experience across advocacy, nonprofit, and corporate sectors. She returned to her Michigan roots in 2022 to take the helm of the Michigan Chapter.
Also speaking will be the 2nd Michigan Congressional District Candidate Michael Lynch. Mr. Lynch has been a lifelong advocate for working- and middle-class families. He has made guaranteeing access to affordable, quality health care for all Michiganders, particularly those in rural areas, a top priority. You can learn more about Michael Lynch at www.electmichaellynch.com.
The link to ticket purchase and registration can be found at
For any questions, please call 231-709-9007.
School Board meeting reveals continuing community rift
Photos by Lil De Laat
Story by Ken De Laat
One thing that became clear after last night’s Grant School Board meeting? The board has lost the trust of a good share of their community.
The Board’s regular monthly meeting was held at the school’s Fine Arts Center and most of the roughly 300 of those in attendance were decidedly part of that share.
Superintendent Brett Zuver gave his report on various items adding he had been contacted by Fremont Area Community Foundation President & CEO Shelly Kasprzycki to say a grant could be available to cover the money the clinic costs the school, estimated at $5000. The expense of the CAHC was one of the primary reasons given by the board members who voted to cut ties with the clinic. The Board then discussed a couple of issues including a discussion on assessing the value of school property and a discussion ensued regarding the formation of ad hoc committees to interview school board applicants for the board's current vacant position.
As the meeting progressed there were occasional calls of “Resign” aimed at the Board as well as a few more pointed remarks and two people were removed for their outbursts, but the clearest message to the Board came via public comment. When the Board moved “to consider entering into negotiations with Family Health Care Center or another provider” it was more than apparent the citizens who made their way to the podium after this motion was passed were not assuaged by this action.
Nearly 50 members of the community along with staff, students, former students, parents, providers and others expressed frustration that their questions about the reasons for the initial move to discontinue the CAHC continued to go unanswered. Rachal Gort, Ken Thorne, Sabrina Veldkamp-Blok and Richard Vance, the 4 members of the Board who took the initial action of severing ties with FHC, were the primary recipients of such commentary. Many of the public spoke of having voted for those members and feeling betrayed by their performance after being elected.
Board Member Rob Schuitema, the lone member of the board who has supported the efforts to retain the Child and Adolescent Health Center, challenged his fellow board members about the motion, questioning the availability of other providers and asking why this wasn’t part of the initial action taken at the June 19th meeting to cut ties with the CAHC.
“I’m just stating that we are all fully aware of the fact that we provide medical care to our students," said Richard Vance. "That is a known. So, in the process of making decisions we also know…I know… that without discussion, without knowing other providers, of which I know there are 3 dozen health care providers throughout the state of Michigan that provide school based clinics.”
The vocal response from the crowd was immediate and punctuated once again by calls of “Resign”.
“You say there are all these other providers,” replied Schuitema. “ Why haven’t we heard about them the last 12 years? What is their capacity? What are their boundaries? This is a state funded program essentially for rural areas, especially those with a large migrant population. There are stipulations and guidelines for all of this and if you want to make a decision based off of that evidence, that’s fine. But that’s not what happened on June 19th.”
The crowd responded with applause as they did following the words of most who contributed during public comment.
Many speakers called the board dysfunctional and one speaker mentioned available training specifically for school board members and recommended they pursue this. Several spoke to what the loss of the clinic would mean to their ability to access health care and many pointed to the ongoing need for mental health services. One woman speaking through a translator stated, "There are no Hispanics here because they are busy working to put food on their table. That gives you no right to make decisions for them and take their rights away."
Clearly the board members who oppose the CAHC have their supporters. The actions they have taken are obviously congruent with the opinions of some members of the Grant community and perhaps even a significant number. It is easy to explore local social media and read the reasons being given for their skepticism when it comes to the Health Center, and although the CAHC has repeatedly attempted to clarify what they can and cannot do, the distrust remains.
But the contentious relationship that now exists between the board and a large percentage of the people they serve is troubling at best.
And no one is likely to get out of this one without some pretty significant damage being done.
On both sides.
“If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem. -Abraham Lincoln
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