Group hopes to encourage shutdown of Line 5
By Marsha Reeves
The Michigan Water Walkers have been moving through our area for the past several days. They started walking to Lansing from the Straits of Mackinac in the midst of the polar vortex in early March, with wind chills in the minus 20 degrees. Now they are well past half way and beginning to think about what lies ahead in Lansing. They have definitely earned the title 'Badass' and they're not even finished with their mission yet.
The Water Walkers are walking and carrying sacred Nibi (the Anishinaabe Language word for ‘water’) from the area where the outdated pipeline, Line 5, crosses under the Great Lakes. They are bringing the water all the way to Lansing, where they hope to encourage our Michigan government to shut down Line 5. Line 5 currently carries around 500,000 barrels of oil per day under the waters of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. It carries synthetic crude, natural gas liquids, sweet crude, and light sour crude. It was built to last 55 years and is now over 60 years old. The pipeline is owned and operated by Enbridge, who assures us that the pipeline is perfectly safe. Enbridge also owns and operates the pipeline that spilled nearly a million gallons of crude oil into the Kalamazoo River in 2010. The Line 5 pipeline carries the oil to Canada where it is refined. Michigan residents do not see much benefit from the pipeline, but bear a great deal of the risk to our waters and land.
One of the Water Walkers, Nancy Gallardo, is also a Water Protector who faced the militarized police at Standing Rock in the fall of 2016. She had these words for all of us about taking care of the water that we all depend on:
“Everyone just be knowledgeable about their community water source. Not just in their homes, but in their children’s schools. Really be mindful of your own community water. Even in small communities there are old landfills and other sources of pollution that are hidden”.
The Michigan Water Walkers were hosted by local families as they walked South on old US 131 and the White Pine trail. Some of our West Michigan people have been sharing the walk with them for a bit too. It's pretty nice to be out walking with these good people on a lovely sunny day, and pretty awesome that they've been out in all of the March weather we've had, walking to encourage us to care for our water.
Film offers look at brutality of Indian boarding schools
By Charles Chandler
One would think to have that Thursday morning cup of coffee and blueberry muffin with friends at your favorite table in Riverstop Café would be risk-free. And, it felt innocent enough when Larry Gouine from the Native Circle of Newaygo County invited me to drop by the Brooks Township Hall the next day and preview a movie called Indian Horse. Little did I know that when I said Ok, I would be AMBUSHED by an old emotional self that I thought had been left down in Oklahoma.
When I said yes, my expectation was that I would be sitting with a small group of Native American maybe eating some popcorn and watching a movie about beautiful Indian horses. Not being blown up, shot down and napalmed. As I sat between Larry Gouine and Two Dogs watching this movie, I felt my protective privileged emotional WASP skin slowly burn away. I listened to the gasps, saw tears being wiped from cheeks and others physically react as if trying to dodge the blows or protect children from the abuse and tragedy we saw in this movie. There are some events in this movie that I cannot unsee or un-feel.
The movie Indian Horse is based on the award-winning bestseller by Richard Wagamese. It is an over the top drama that illuminates the dark and brutal history of Indigenous Residential Boarding Schools. It is also a brilliant example of how the human spirit, embodied in the protagonist “Saul Indian Horse,” can overcome indescribable hardships.
The movie was shot on location in the cold, gritty industrial provinces of Canada. Surprisingly this movie was produced with assistance from Clint Eastwood. There is about as much mercy in this movie as there were in Eastwood's infamous spaghetti westerns. Be forewarned this is no Hallmark Movie with that perfect, “and they lived happily ever after” ending. If you are a tough ole Hockey Fan you will find some enjoyable moments. One example is when the young hockey phenom Saul uses frozen horse apples (poop) as practice pucks.
I do challenge you to see this move and walk away without feeling like you have been emotionally tumbled inside of an Elmer’s Redimix Truck. For context and reference, a review of some relevant events that never made it to your high school history books would help with the why and how questions. Go to the internet and google up the “US Indian boarding school policy” https://boardingschoolhealing.org/education/us-indian-boarding-school-history/.
Even though this movie is about the Canadian Indigenous Residential Boarding Schools the United States had the same policy and this program has largely been written out of the history books. My alma mater the University of Tulsa was one such school and began life in Indian Territory in 1882 as a Presbyterian School for Indian Girls. There were more than 350 government-funded, and often church-run, Indian Boarding schools across the US in the 19th and 20th centuries. Indian children were forcibly abducted by government agents and sent to schools hundreds of miles away from their families and traditional homes. Between 1869 and the 1960s, it’s likely that hundreds of thousands of Native American children were removed from their homes and families and placed in boarding schools operated by the federal government and the churches. Though we don’t know how many children were taken in total, by 1900 there were 20,000 children in Indian boarding schools, and by 1925 that number had more than tripled.
The American Native children who were voluntarily or forcibly removed from their homes, families, and communities during this time were taken to schools where they were punished for speaking their native language, banned from acting in any way that might be seen to represent traditional or cultural practices, stripped of traditional clothing, hair and personal belongings and behaviors reflective of their native culture. They suffered physical, sexual, cultural and spiritual abuse and neglect, and experienced treatment that in many cases constituted torture for speaking their Native languages.
Many children never returned home and their fates have yet to be accounted for by the U.S. government. The stated purpose of this policy was to “Kill the Indian, Save the Man.”
Regarding these programs, many parents had no choice but to send their kids to these schools, when Congress authorized the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to withhold rations, clothing, and annuities of those families that refused to send students to these schools. Some agents even used reservation police to virtually kidnap youngsters, but experienced difficulties when the Native police officers would resign out of disgust, or when parents taught their kids a special “hide and seek” game.
Sometimes resistant fathers found themselves locked up for refusal. The Hopis in Arizona surrendered a group of men to the military to be imprisoned in Alcatraz, rather than voluntarily relinquishing their children.” This practice continued until the mid-1970s when in 1973, 60,000 American Indian children are estimated to have been enrolled in Indian boarding schools The rise of pan-Indian activism, and tribal nations' continuing complaints about the schools, and studies in the late 1960s and mid-1970s (such as the Kennedy Report and the National Study of American Indian Education) led to the passage of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975. Finally, in 1978, the Indian Child Welfare Act gave Native American parents the legal right to deny their child's placement in these schools.
This is a very timely movie and if you are brave enough to do so, then I suggest you keep two current events in mind as you watch. One, the recent Bishops Summit at the Vatican and the other the current US policy and practice of separating children from the families of asylum seekers when they arrive along our southern borders.
After the movie ask yourself these questions:
When are we going to stop brutalizing our children?
When will we stop demonizing the helpless and the disenfranchised that knock on our doors and ask for our help?
And why do we so fear those that are not like us?
The Movie Indian Horse is presented by the Native Circle of Newaygo County. It will be shown Saturday March 30 2019 at 4:00 PM at the Loomis Lodge located at 198 Croton Drive Newaygo, MI. Admission is free and the movie is recommended for those 14 and older. This a drug and alcohol-free event.
Words from the road
By Ken DeLaat
There is nothing quite like a road trip to clear one’s head- particularly if it involves traveling in a southerly direction during this time of year.
The past few years have seen a couple of car cruises toward the Carolinas , a short sortee to Savannah and some major meandering through Mississippi so the non-Florida series continued this year in the direction of Alabama.
Nothing against the Sunshine State. After all it is indeed a peninsula and we are (bi) peninsular people and all but recalling a trip through coastal Alabama a few decades back the area seemed to be calling us back in that direction.
Funny how as one ages there seems to be a bit of a pull toward past events and travels that spark forgotten memories.
Speaking just for myself, of course, since my Lifetime Spousal Companion Lil seems to be ageless, a fact pointed out every time I’m asked who my much younger companion might be. A more sensitive guy might take offense at such comments but like I said that would be a more sensitive type and being fairly impervious to assessments of my character, appearance, personality and so forth by others these situations produce nary a ripple.
But I digress.
Needless to say there have been changes in the 30+years since our last visit. Beach houses and smallish hotels have been replaced by massive condos and resorts stretching as far and high as the eye can see. It seems if there is a spot on water it is engulfed by humanity and this area is certainly no exception.
This reality of our times aside, the area retains a beauty that extends beyond the marvelous seashore.
Discovery of one of those outrageously wonderful used book stores that dot the land. We tend to not bring books along instead make finding reading material along the way a bit of a quest. This allows for seeking out content to fit the mood of the moment and my mood was mysteries. Southern flavored mysteries at that.
I chose a Grisham selection (The Rogue Lawyer a multi section meandering story that offers a rather dim view of the entire justice system) then asked for a few recommendations from the quite knowledgeable and helpful book folks and discovered the wonderful weaving of words produced by James Lee Burke. A previously unread author who produces small Chandleresque gems like ‘I felt like I was snipping fingernails in a season of plague.’, Burke makes use of the southern dialect peculiar to Louisiana in a way that had me seeking out the inclinations of his well crafted lines via the magic of the internet.
The town of Fairhope, a tree laden southern marvel with intriguing people and shops and a bookstore where an Advice booth was set up like the familiar Peanuts psychiatry booth where Lucy held court. The same price (5 cents) and while the dispenser of said advice bore little similarity to the young Ms. Van Pelt, her booth was never empty and my notion to give it a try was stymied by a fruitless search for a subject matter and the continual line of folks who took advantage of her offerings.
Duck’s Diner was recommended as a breakfast spot and turned out to be a regular morning destination. It was the kind of place where Banana French Toast, shrimp laden grits and the most mouth watering biscuits imaginable stoked a menu filled with the usual offerings and buck-fifty Bloody Marys.
Locals dominated the scene along with a few of us folks who had accents and the serving staff were among the most accommodating peeps ever encountered.
The beach, of course. Surfers dotted the gulf waters, small kids built sand castles, paddleball, frisbees and a game involving a small trampoline type thing and a small ball along with the occasional volleyball contest all had their place and walking along the shore became a ritual that never grew tiresome.
Best of all? Time. Time to do whatever was desired or in many cases to do just nothing at all.
“What are your plans for today,” LSC Lil asked just a short time ago.
Nothing. I was kind of hoping to do nothing today.
“You did that yesterday.”
“And the day before.”
Um, yeah I believe you’re right.
“So why again today?”
Well I’m not entirely sure I got it right so I thought of maybe giving it another go. They say repetition is often the key to success.
“I’m not sure being good at doing nothing could be called success.”
Probably not but I would hate to abandon the effort at this point.
“I am so busy doing nothing... that the idea of doing anything - which as you know, always leads to something - cuts into the nothing and then forces me to have to drop everything.”-Jerry Seinfeld
Heartwell presentation speaks to environmental efforts, challenges
By Kathy Morrison
Bombarded by dire warnings of the calamities we are facing because of climate change, it is, at times, extremely difficult to see just how we can make a difference. We may worry that what we do personally and at a local level just isn’t enough. The Honorable George Heartwell, former mayor of Grand Rapids, helped to ease some of that worry, in his presentation at the Newaygo County Citizen Environmental Watch and Action Coalition (CEWAC) monthly meeting on Thursday night in a packed room at Brooks Township Hall in Newaygo.
George’s commitment to environmental issues first grew from his love of hiking and spending time outdoors. An early awareness of man’s detrimental role in harming the environment came to him while solo hiking in Smoky Mountain National Park some years ago. Upon seeing mile after mile of dead conifers, he learned from the park ranger that it was “acid rain” that was killing the trees. Reading Bill McKibben's book, The End of Nature, moved him along on his path of concern for our natural world. Then in his early years as mayor of Grand Rapids, George was further inspired to champion the cause after attending a 2004 conference in Sundance, Utah hosted by Robert Redford along with 29 other mayors from around the country.
Former Vice President Al Gore, the featured speaker, presented a slideshow of what would later become the core of Gore’s Nobel Peace Prize winning, An Inconvenient Truth. Since then, George’s commitment to the environment has intensified and he has immersed himself in learning about the issues, the science, and the solutions to climate change. Heartwell was a leader among U.S. mayors in making Grand Rapids a role model in sustainability, despite times when our federal government was reluctant to progressively move forward in tackling these problems.
Addressing climate issues with this solid background, George first spoke about the science: about carbon fuels, about the “greenhouse effect”, about oceanic temperature and level rises, and about all the ways that man’s increased carbon output has disturbed the delicate balance of Nature. No longer in a state of stasis, our Earth can no longer process the increasing volume of carbon. Since man’s heavy reliance on carbon fuels began during the Industrial Revolution, the Earth’s temperature has risen about 1° C (1.8 ° F).
While a small temperature increase of a few degrees over less than 200 years may sound small and inconsequential, however, it is a big deal. Two-thirds of this temperature rise has occurred since the 1970’s and this increase corresponds directly with rapid glacier melt, the rising of sea level in our oceans and many weather related changes and disasters which are becoming part of our “new norm”.
A rise of 2° C or more could result in vast miles of current coastal areas submerged under sea water and glaciers melted into non-existence in areas where animals and people rely on them for drinking water.
In addition to more severe and unpredictable weather related disasters, enormous shifts in weather patterns will occur that will change where and how crops can be grown, causing food instability for billions worldwide.
While mayor, George Heartwell had the distinguished honor of attending the 2015 United Nations Climate Conference in Paris, at which, the Paris Agreement was negotiated. This conference, he felt, was landmark because for the first time in the history of climate conferences, participating members came prepared with specific goals that they were willing to reach in halting climate change. These goals were concrete and measurable, and nations agreed to report every five years on their progress toward attaining them.
In this groundbreaking Agreement, member countries vowed to take steps to keep world temperature levels from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial temperatures. Furthermore, by the year 2050, it was agreed that carbon emissions would be held at a level that our oceans and atmosphere could absorb, keeping our ecosystem in stasis. Large sums of money were committed by developed nations to support undeveloped nation in meeting their goals, helping them to fund cleaner energy and “leap frog” over their reliance on dirty energy, such as coal.
George was impressed with how wisely planners organized the event to allow for plenty of opportunity for direct networking and collaboration. In the center of the complex sat a facility for world diplomats and dignitaries which was surrounded by concentric circles or “zones” for other attendees. In the “blue zone”, world mayors, including George, met and worked, crafting solutions that they could take home to implement in their own local community. A “green zone” was set up for non-government organizations to brainstorm ideas of how they would play a role in reducing man’s impact on the environment, and yet another area nearby was designated for global industry leaders, lenders, insurance companies, and bankers to find solutions in their arenas that would have a positive impact on the environment.
World diplomats periodically came out to the “zones” to interact with its participants and share ideas and concerns. This structure of “zones” allowed for the collaboration needed to set many wheels in motion. Some of the ideas brainstormed by those in the “zones” have already been implemented and are having a positive impact. For example, some lending institutions will not approve loans to, nor will insurance companies offer coverage to, projects that will have a negative impact on the environment. Many businesses are taking steps to be environmentally sustainable, and often achieve even higher goals because of growing consumer demand.
In Mayor Heartwell’s realm, many cities and towns, such as Grand Rapids, have adopted plans to reduce their environmental impact and reduce their overall carbon footprint. Voters are going to the polls demanding candidates that will make a difference. A meeting of worldwide mayors met before leaving Paris and did further work at solidifying plans to allow cities to move forward in achieving a 1.5 ° C goal, one which would make a larger difference that the 2° C one, which in reality, isn’t stringent enough to reverse the damage done.
To help reverse the damage being done, President Obama signed the Paris Agreement, promising to work immediately toward the goal of reducing U.S. carbon emissions. Some 200 other nations also signed what was seen as a landmark, worldwide attempt to commit to slowing the destruction of our earth’s environment. One of the pitfalls of the Paris Agreement, is that it is voluntary and non-binding. To the great dismay of other committed member nations and millions of people worldwide, President Trump, with the stroke of a pen, signaled his intent to withdraw from the Agreement and turn his back on the rest of the world, the environment and our children’s and grandchildren’s future world.
Disheartening as that may seem, Mr. Heartwell’s words still were a beacon of light. He pointed out that many towns, cities, and states are determined to lead the way and live up to the goals of the Paris Agreement, despite the President’s reckless withdrawal. In changing how state and local units of governments operate and plan their energy needs, they are indeed already making an impact on reducing greenhouse gases. In this local movement, George sees hope. It is in the actions taken by individuals, local units of government, business and corporations that the change is happening and will continue to happen.
It was crystal clear from the presentation that his commitment and work on climate issues which started as mayor are not ending anytime soon. His closing wisdom to his rapt audience was, “Paris shows us the way. It is up to us to listen.”
Honorable words from the Honorable Mr. George Heartwell.
Bumstead seeks feedback from 34th District residents
LANSING- State Sen. Jon Bumstead on Monday announced that he has added a survey to his Senate website and encourages area residents to participate.
“As the vice chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, I will have a key role in molding our next state budget,” said Bumstead. “I have put together a short survey regarding items the governor has proposed for the 2020 budget, and as your voice in Lansing, I would like to hear your input regarding how your tax dollars will be spent.”
The survey features four questions regarding proposals found in Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s recent budget presentation. It also asks residents of the district what other budget priorities they consider to be important.
“I am here to serve you,” Bumstead said. “If you could take a moment to fill out the brief survey, it will help my staff and me better understand your expectations and the issues that are important to you.”
The survey can be found on Bumstead’s website or by clicking here.
The Great Decisions Speaker Series brings national experts to West Michigan for thought-provoking discussions on critical issues related to U.S. foreign policy and other international concerns. The Great Decisions Global Discussion speaker series is put together by the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan and is live-streamed at the Dogwood Center for Performing Arts on Tuesdays during March, 12 noon to 1:00 p.m. in the main stage.
The goal of the series is to discuss critical issues that are facing the world today, and features diplomats, policy makers, practitioners, think tank specialists and journalists using their diverse expertise to lead conversations.
On March 12 the topic will be “Life after the Arab Uprisings and the Islamic State” with Rania Abouzeid, author of "No Turning Back: Life, Loss, and Hope in Wartime Syria". The March 19 topic will be “Global Cyber Threats” with Peter Jolliffe. Special Agent Jolliffe, who has worked for the FBI for the last decade, will outline cyber risks and the work being done to minimize them.
The Great Decisions Speaker Series will be video streamed live at the Dogwood Center, 4734 S. Campus Court, Fremont, from 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. Tuesday's in February and March. The live-stream sponsor for the series is Gerber Products/Nestle Nutrition. The lectures are free and open to the public. View the speaker schedule at www.dogwoodcenter.com. or www.worldmichigan.or
By State Sen. Jon Bumstead
“As vice chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, one of my duties is to consider input from all who are involved as we work toward the common goal of a better Michigan. There were many good ideas the governor presented, and many that I can get behind in principle.
“What I was glad to hear the governor talk about is the need for increased focus on improving the skills of our workforce. I am happy to see her commitment to continuing Michigan’s comeback and fostering a growing economic climate.
“I was also happy to hear her call for efforts to clean up our drinking water. I think these issues are both fantastic starting points to budget discussions and look forward to working through the process with my colleagues and the governor’s administration.
“I am very wary, however, of her recommendation to increase funding for our state’s roads. We’ve all been asking how we would pay for her goals mentioned in the State of the State address. Well today we see it is simply another tax increase.
“The Legislature approved landmark road funding initiatives in recent years that have yet to take full effect, and we are seeing results based off those efforts. I would like to see more success out of current funding before going back to the taxpayers again and throwing money at a program that has not been fully implemented.
“Lastly, in today’s budget recommendations the governor proposed eliminating income tax liability for those who were fortunate enough to retire with a pension, though not all senior citizens are treated equally. Those with a pension will get tax relief, while those with a 401k or seniors still working will not see any benefit. I am willing to consider a plan to help our seniors as long as it helps all seniors and not a select group hand-picked by the governor.
“For eight years in a row, the Legislature and governor have approved the state budget well before the beginning of the fiscal year. I look forward to working through these tough issues and once again approving the budget well ahead of schedule.”
The Great Decisions Speaker Series brings national experts to West Michigan for thought-provoking discussions on eight critical issues related to U.S. foreign policy and other international concerns. The Great Decisions Global Discussion speaker series is put together by the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan and will be live-streamed at the Dogwood Center for Performing Arts on Tuesdays during February and March, 12 noon to 1:00 p.m. in the main stage.
The goal of the series is to discuss eight critical issues that are facing the world today, and features diplomats, policy makers, practitioners, think tank specialists and journalists using their diverse expertise to lead conversations. Migration, cyber security, China and trade are just a few of the global issues in the series.
“Our organization’s perspective on this series is that to change the world — or to even begin to understand global issues — one first must know about the world, and that’s what we attempt to do with Great Decisions,” Michael Van Denend, executive director of the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan.
The February 19 event will be “Immigration Policy beyond the Border” with Ambassador Jim Nealon, former U.S. Ambassador to Honduras. On February 26 the topic will be “A New Nuclear Arms Race?” with Kelsey Davenport, the Director for Nonproliferation Policy at the Arms Control Association assessing the possibility of a new nuclear arms race.
The Great Decisions Speaker Series will be video streamed live at the Dogwood Center, 4734 S. Campus Court, Fremont, from 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. Tuesday's in February and March. The live-stream sponsor for the series is Gerber Products/Nestle Nutrition. The lectures are free and open to the public. View the speaker schedule at www.dogwoodcenter.com. or www.worldmichigan.org.
Communities, Forest Service to look for options
On February 1st the edict came out regarding the use of alcohol on rivers that traversed the National Forest. Sections of the Manistee Pine and Au Sable rivers would be seeing an alcohol ban from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
With a fine of up to $5000 for an individual and $10,000 for organizations found to be in violation of the order.
Then came the outcry as citizens and business owners opposed to the new rule filled the pages of social media, created petitions and drew supportive responses from their state Reps.
Thus, on February 12th the organization released this statement:
“The Huron-Manistee National Forests will delay implementation of a closure order prohibiting alcohol on sections of three National Wild and Scenic Rivers until at least 2020. The delay creates an opportunity for the Forest Service to work with local communities to develop alternative means of restoring public safety and preventing damage to congressionally-protected sections of the AuSable, Manistee, and Pine Rivers.
“Individuals and businesses throughout northern Michigan have expressed strong interest in partnering with the Forest Service to address ongoing public safety and environmental issues on our National Wild and Scenic Rivers,” said Leslie Auriemmo, Huron-Manistee National Forests Supervisor.”We welcome a practical community driven solution to these challenges.”
Auriemmo has come under fire for her part in ordering the ban, the prohibition option of addressing what the Forest Service refers to as “persistent public safety issues.”
While the closure is not completely off the table, the Forest Service will work with the communities to come up with an action plan to restore public safety to these rivers by May. During the summer the action plan would be implemented and if conditions don’t improve the Forest Service will consider bringing back the ban in 2020.
The work group will be made up of local businesses, officials and citizens from along the three river corridors.
Though the Muskegon, a paddler paradise and tuber treat, is not currently part of this discussion it is an issue that has certainly been addressed in our area and with a collective effort among townships and the city of Newaygo, law enforcement and the community, weekends along the Mighty Mo have become more family friendly without requiring the implementation of a ban on adult beverages.
Rachel Wisner’s family has been sending people down the Muskegon in a variety of crafts for half a century. We asked the proprietor of Wisner Rents Canoes if she would care to comment on the efforts by the Forest Service to impact the issue and she most graciously agreed to do so.
“I know for a fact that it can be done. The Muskegon River used to be way worse but thanks to the DNR, Newaygo County Sheriff's Department, City of Newaygo Police and Muskegon River Watch (and, of course, those people who called in on the "River Jerks") it has improved substantially.
As the Owner of Wisner Canoes, we get plenty of customers that want to consume alcohol while floating the river. We also have just as many that don't. There is room for both. You just really need to remind people to respect the river, the property owners (even if it is State land) and each other - it really isn't that complicated but it did take some serious cracking down for quite a few years before it has mellowed out. Maybe if everyone, I mean EVERYONE- including people who paddle sober and people who like to have drinks ALL start taking stock in their own group in how they are acting and behaving, whether it be swearing around others, littering, arguing, trespassing... just bring a River Jerk... and say NO. Not let YOUR group get out of hand and each group take care of their own and it will make the whole summer a better place.
And wouldn't it be great if the other group paddling by had no reason to get their bathing suits in a wad and could just smile, wave and say 'peace, love. float'?
That is livin' my dream…”
Thank you Ms. Wisner
Any thoughts folks?
By Holly Moon, Newaygo County Treasurer
After all the official notifications, personal visits and publications to notify property owners that are in jeopardy of tax foreclosure have been exhausted, County Treasurers across the State are then left with the daunting task of foreclosing on April 1, 2019 as required by law. The properties in jeopardy of foreclosure this year are those with unpaid 2016 taxes. Thankfully, the number of parcels you saw in the December publication is dramatically lower by the final foreclosure date of April 1, 2019. (The statutory foreclosure date of March 31 falls on a weekend this year allowing taxpayers one more day to save their property.)
Some of your readers might be curious how this happens. Each year approximately 6,000 parcels are returned delinquent (unpaid) from the local townships, cities, and village to the Newaygo County Treasurer. In Newaygo County the Treasurer purchases these delinquent taxes from the local townships, cities, and village using the Delinquent Tax Revolving Fund and subsequently begins the task of collecting them. The property owners of parcels advertised in December last year have missed property tax payments dating from 2016 forward, prompting the foreclosure process mandated by the State and ordered by the court.
Last year the Circuit Court Judge ruled to give 55 property owners extensions beyond the March 31 deadline. County Treasurers do not want to take anyone’s property, but taxes must be paid. Our job as County Treasurers is to collect taxes not to foreclose on properties. However, after 3 years the law mandates foreclosure, if the taxes remain unpaid. If you or someone you know needs an extension, please contact my Office immediately. The Circuit Court hearing with Judge Springstead is February 26 to grant extensions. There’s no time to waste….requests must be received prior to this date! Of the 55 extensions awarded last year, 90+% were paid and saved from foreclosure. This is a wonderful example of our success in working together with our taxpayers in Newaygo County. Taxpayers receiving extensions will all be provided a payment plan to continue paying on their 2017 delinquent taxes. Extensions are limited and are not intended to be a solution. They are a “hand up” toward bringing their delinquent taxes current.
The problem of foreclosure continues to demand urgent attention, and we recognize the need to help families struggling with this issue. As County Treasurer I have partnered with StepForward Michigan (Stepforwardmichigan.org), TrueNorth’s Center for Non-profit Housing, (CNH), LOVE, Inc., the Newaygo County Department of Human Services, Five Cap, Inc., and the County’s Veteran’s Affairs Officers to help those eligible for assistance through their programs. Our overarching goal is to help families understand the tax foreclosure process and to assist citizens in developing a solution to save their property.
We include information sheets with our delinquent tax notices to encourage taxpayers to set up a payment plan early. We also provide them with information about the programs and services available in our County and the contact phone numbers. We educate taxpayers to be sure they have a Principal Residence Exemption, and provide information on how to request a Hardship Exemption from the local units. Tax foreclosure is final…there is no redemption period after April 1 this year!
If you are reading this and need assistance, or know someone who would benefit from a payment plan, please call us at the Newaygo County Treasurer’s Office: (231) 689-7230. My staff and I would be happy to help. If you would like to review the timelines for tax foreclosure and read our Frequently Asked Questions, please visit: www.countyofnewaygo.com/countytreasurer.aspx for additional tax foreclosure information.
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