For one doctor, serving this community is part of Gerber Memorial’s commitment to provide a wide range of care close to home
By Jordan Sall, DO, Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial
Serving as a healthcare provider in Newaygo County is a rewarding experience for me and my colleagues at Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial. When GR Magazine released its list of Top Doctors in West Michigan, I took a moment to pause from my daily duties to reflect on this honor. I took time to think about the privilege and blessing of being able to provide care to the families of this wonderful community. To be honest, I was pleasantly surprised to have made the list. Yet at the same time, I realized that whatever qualities I may bring to my job and my interactions with my patients are also the qualities I seek in my colleagues. Everyone from our front registration staff to the team in our kitchen to environmental services to nurses and lab techs comes in every day with only one thing in mind: Providing healthcare that is personalized, simple and exceptional for the folks who live and work here.
Newaygo County is a special place. Full of rivers, lakes and trails, Newaygo County is an oasis where neighbors help each other, and the spirit of collaboration remains strong. They’re family members and childhood friends of the 690-plus people who work at Gerber Memorial. It is not an exaggeration to say that we really treat our patients like family, something Gerber Memorial has done since 1918.
When I became Chief of Medicine and later Chief of Staff at Gerber Memorial, I was immediately excited to find myself in a setting where I could do and learn more as a doctor. At Gerber Memorial, I had the opportunity to practice a wider, broader scope of medicine. While my colleagues in larger communities (where I practiced previously) are focused on specialized medicine, doctors at places like Gerber Memorial have the privilege of doing the opposite: developing more knowledge in more areas of medicine and being more involved in the whole patient.
Having worked in Grand Rapids, I’m also amazed every day at how Gerber Memorial strives constantly to deliver more services to attend to the needs of our patients. All with the goal of delivering care close to home. Gerber Memorial providers can now refer patients to a wide range of Spectrum Health specialists who are right here in Newaygo County, from urology to cardiology and gastroenterology.
Cancer patients in Newaygo County and surrounding communities no longer have to drive to Grand Rapids for treatment because Gerber Memorial has a Cancer Center right here in Fremont.
Like many rural communities, Newaygo County faces challenges when it comes to hiring doctors to work here – and rural communities need doctors, nurses, registered dietitians and therapists, among others, now more than ever. Newaygo County, as in many rural counties in Michigan, is working hard to rein in high rates of diabetes and tobacco use. Mental and behavioral illnesses are a growing challenge. I believe we are up to the challenge and those healthcare professionals who are here truly want to serve at Gerber Memorial.
We are brainstorming and implementing solutions that we believe meet the needs of families in Newaygo County. Services like Momentum – unique to Gerber Memorial – pairs a patient’s primary care provider with relevant experts such as certified fitness specialists, dietitians and therapists to create a personalized medical fitness and health program to meet that patient’s specific needs. Momentum seeks to address what each patient needs, while potentially addressing clinical challenges such as readmission rates. Gerber Memorial has a registered nurse who is also a dedicated diabetes educator who can guide patients on a journey toward whole health and wellness.
These are just some of the amazing things I see my colleagues do every day and offer to our patients and our community. Though Gerber Memorial may be “small” in size, we are doing big things to provide care close to home. And for each of us, it is a privilege to serve our patients.
Editor's Note: Jordan Sall, DO, is a hospitalist at Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial. The June edition of GR Magazine listed Dr. Sall as a Top Doc in West Michigan based on recommendations of other physicians.
Rebuttals to Reader Comments on The Forgotten River Article III
By Charles Chandler and Mark Heying
The recent articles suggesting removing the old White River dams at Hesperia and White Cloud, have generated considerable interest, questions and comments on social media. Here are some of those questions, and the authors replies. These replies are based not on opinion, but on the facts, which are based on careful studies done by those experts who have dedicated their professional lives to learning the answers presented here. Facts matter.
Question: There’s an old rumor, still going, that a nation-wide fishing organization put carp into White Cloud Pond, to drive out the trout and ruin the fishing. Is that true?
Answer: No. Carp didn’t drive the trout out of White Cloud Pond. The water temperature did. Trout need clean, cold water in order to survive. They need cold water because they need a lot of oxygen. Cold water has a lot of oxygen, warm water has less, and very warm water has a lot less. White Cloud Pond is shallow, getting shallower, and warmer, with every passing year. There may be a few trout that drift into the Pond in the cold weather months, but they can’t survive there in the summer. Carp can. They need much less oxygen to survive.
(see first paragraph page 40)
As an example, and regarding the comments about the fish populations in White Cloud Pond. On Monday June 3rd DNR agents began a typical fish sampling survey of the White Cloud Pond. They set a series of large and small mesh nets at various locations around the Pond. Passerby’s may have noticed the red buoys that marked the location of the sampling nets. The preliminary sampling report after 3 days of netting was “a few small bass, a few pike, one brown trout, one crappie, and one yellow perch.
The most numerous fishes were white suckers, carp, and hybrid sunfish.” The sunfish were recently dumped in for the June 1st Kids Fish Free Day event. A Typical sample for an old shallow, warm and forgotten Pond. According to the DNR agents the full sampling report will be published in the Spring of 2020 and can be found on the DNR website.
Question: Is it true that the Michigan DNR has been thinking about the re-introduction of Grayling into the White River?
Answer: Yes. Years ago, Brown, Rainbow and Brook Trout were introduced to Michigan rivers. Before then, Grayling were the only native salmonids. They were, unfortunately, wiped out by logging and over-fishing, and have been gone from Michigan streams for 100 years. Now the Michigan DNR is considering re-introducing these incredible fish back into the White River. They will only live in waters that are cold year-round. Therefore, in the current state of the River, they would have to be put in above the White Cloud Dam.
The Alaskan Grayling thrive in waters alongside five different kinds of salmon, rainbow trout, char, whitefish, and other predatory fish. Grayling populations are limited by the quality of water and supporting habitat they need to thrive in, and not by competition with other fish.
This is a huge opportunity for the City of White Cloud. City residents should strongly encourage the re-introduction of these beautiful and remarkable native fish back into the White River.
Question: Some people say that, if salmon and steelhead were allowed to go past Hesperia Dam, it would ruin the upstream trout fishing. Is that right?
Answer: No. Trout, salmon, and steelhead can live together just fine. They have done so for thousands and thousands of years. They do in nearby Bigelow Creek. They do in nearby Pere Marquette River. And if allowed to, they’ll do just fine in the upper White River as well.
The fact is that salmon and steelhead make a river healthier. Salmon generally enter our Michigan rivers around the end of August and begin spawning in September. As the females begin digging their redds (nesting beds) in the gravel they dislodge trout food, mayflies, stoneflies, caddis flies, and midge nymphs that are living in the streams, and the trout gobble them up. Then, as the females drop their eggs, the trout will eat as many as they can. These protein-packed eggs are like ribeye to the trout, and they fatten very quickly.
After spawning the salmon die and their decaying bodies provide a rich supply of nutrients for other fish, crayfish and stream microorganisms. After they hatch, salmon and steelhead fry and fingerlings are eaten by the trout. Studies show that mink, otters, ospreys, kingfishers, great blue herons, pike, large predatory brown trout, fishermen and thermal pollution are far more detrimental to the resident trout population than migratory salmon or steelhead.
In the case of the upper White River, (below White Cloud Dam), the high summer water temperature is the real killer when it comes to trout population.
For a great video on a fly-fishing watch Frank Willitts Pere Marquette Lodge businessman and fishing guide.
Follow these two link to photos of salmon, steelhead, and trout, all caught in the same river.
Question If the Hesperia Dam is taken out, the lamprey will invade the upper White River. Is this true?
Answer: Yes and No. If the entire structure was removed it would allow the lamprey access to the upper White. But there are other options rather than removing the entire dam.
A short dam, 2 feet or so, will prevent lamprey from migrating upstream. The Homestead Dam on the Betsie River near Benzonia, MI was mostly removed in 1974 and currently acts as a lamprey barrier. It impounds little water and does not impede upstream salmon or steelhead migrations.
Question: People say that if the salmon and steelhead are allowed to go up past Hesperia Dam, the fisherman will stop showing up there, and Hesperia’s economy will suffer. Is that right?
Answer: No. It’s exactly wrong. Take a trip to the above-mentioned Homestead Dam, and see for yourself. Or watch the following YouTube video. During the fishing season you’ll find the parking lots full of cars, from all over the country, and the river full of fishermen and women. And you’ll see something else; people coming just to see, and photograph, the fish as they fight their way up above and past the short dam. If Hesperia and White Cloud had a similar structure, fishermen and tourists from all over Michigan, and more, would find their way there to fish and watch.
All comments to these articles regarding our Forgotten River are appreciated. Discussions involving change, especially about removing the two dams, is very controversial and should continue. Hopefully these discussions will become less emotional, and instead be based on facts, rather than misinformation and rumor.
Watch Near North Now for upcoming articles discussing the year after year economic penalties that White Cloud and Hesperia are experiencing because of their two dams.
You may gain a new perspective.
The Bears of Newaygo County
By Ken DeLaat
Many thanks to photo sharers: Jodi Breuker Wilburn, Rob Benson, Emily Burrell, Beahany Acton, Krystalynn Cubitt, Marcy Wojciakowski Southwick, Sandy Taber Scherphorn, Diane Flaherty-Graff, Julie Berwald, Caitie Wilk, and others who contributed.
The bears have always been with us. Years ago sightings would be spoken of over coffee at local eateries on occasion and close encounter stories might get shared after a few beers at one of the bars.
Then came the advent of social media exposing us to a significantly wider community while technological advances delivered high quality phone cameras, trail cameras and such . Soon these bear glimpses began to be a sporadically erupting subject eventually evolving into more regular appearances.
Now these past few months it seems we have suddenly been swept up by ursamania.
Social media is filled with the adventures of the three pawed Momma with her cubs and lone bear sightings occuring in such widespread parts of the county seem to indicate its not just one or two amorous males with faulty homing mechanisms in search of dates for the season.
Residents just a few miles away from N3 World Headquarters have experienced thickly coated bestial brunettes deck dancing, feeder frolicking and just plain making themselves at home.
What does this proliferation of sightings mean? Are the bears looking to move here en masse to establish a strong political base in order to push forward their agenda?
And what would that agenda be?
Look, I know it depends on the individual bear and all but as a species can they really be trusted?
In their recent annual ‘bear memo’ press release the DNR began by recognizing that West Michigan has an expanding bear population and that Newaygo County (yes, us) is now considered ‘bear country’ according to Wildlife Biologist Pete Kailing from the Paris Field Office.
“Citizens will need to be aware of that and take a few precautions to avoid accidentally attracting bears.,” said Kailing. “The best way to avoid issues with black bears is to never feed them. A fed bear often becomes a dead bear.”
Wow. So it sounds less like a political agenda than a hunger/food thing to me. I’ve known people over the years who I can imagine wandering into new territory if they were hungry enough. I recall one night attempting to get an acquaintance who had been visiting far too long to leave by not feeding him but he opened a new bag of chips he took right out of my cupboard without even a momentary consideration about asking. It was if he was caught up in an instinctual gathering phase with minimal forethought in play. Weird, I know, and truth be told so was he.
But I digress.
The DNR details some helpful tips for avoiding conflicts with bears around homes and camps and we add a bit of feedback because, well, because we find bears fascinating.
Never intentionally feed bears.
And if you need this advice the rest of this guide will likely elude you.
Remove potential food sources, like bird feeders and bird suet, from your yard. Do not feed wild birds in the spring, summer and fall, when bears are most active.
This one hurts for folks who love to keep tabs on their feathered friends year round but seriously if one only feeds in winter most years in this peninsular paradise winter can be close to being nearly year round anyway.
Keep pet food inside or in a secured area.
As well as small pets who might be protective of said food one imagines.
Keep garbage and odor at a minimum by removing trash often and cleaning the can or other container used for garbage. Keep garbage in a secured area or in a secured container with a metal, lockable lid until it is picked up or taken away.
“One man’s trash..” as the saying goes. I imagine after grubbing about for some roots and berries hitting an unprotected pail of what humans toss away food-wise is like cutting loose a ravenous group of teenage boys on an all you can eat buffet line.
Keep grills and picnic tables clean.
Have you ever camped near folks who didn’t do this in bear country? I have. It doesn’t make for easy sleeping.
Bee hives (apiaries), fruit trees and gardens can be protected from bears by electric fencing.
My hunch is the average bear (not Yogi who is said to be smarter than the average bear) doesn’t have the table manners of Pooh when it comes to honey. Bears have been described many ways but dainty has never been one I’ve seen used so in quest of honey the hive likely takes a bit of a beating.
Make noise to scare bears out of your yard or around your home: but do not approach bears.
I would definitely make noise...mostly a prepubescent scream while bolting in the direction of any port of safety.
Good work DNR. This all looks like good advice to me but if I were to be totally honest?
I really want to see one.
I never went to the dump in the UP to see them like other kids talked about doing back in the day and never have bumped into one when enjoying our peninsular partner to the north.
So yeah, I want to see one.
And when I do?
I’d greatly prefer it to be from a bit of a distance.
Courageous? Not on your life.
Get more information on Michigan black bears at www.michigan.gov/dnr
Trying times test the temperament of Tiger fans
By Ken DeLaat
They are terrible.
Don’t get me wrong I love the Tigers. Always will. I’ve survived plenty of their down years and reveled in a handful of up years but the Tig’s get into your blood and when your team finally gets there, contends for real and on occasion makes it into the postseason with hopes of taking it all it’s sweet.
Then of course there are those golden times they indeed take it all.
Twice in my lifetime. Once when I was 16 and again when I was just a kid of 32.
And I love baseball. Always have. I can watch it on any level and when you see it played real well it is an absolute exercise in pure karmic confluence. A literal art form of action.
And this team?
They don’t play the game well.
They make errors, they give up way too many walks and lots of home runs too, a truly lethal combination.
And to say they can’t hit is an understatement of epic proportions.
More than half of the players in the ever changing lineup aren’t even sniffing the Mendoza line (.200 batting average, a bottom boundary of barely competent batting ability) and the power outage is such that they are 29th out of 30 teams in home runs and in the same position when it comes to runs scored.
Who’s the 30th you say?
Miami, the team that just swept a 3 game series on the Tiger turf to extend the freefall to 10 straight losses.
It is destined to be a long long summer for we of the Tiger Nation. This current streak of futility will surely not be the last one of the season and the trade market will be heating up again come the latter part of June when anyone who might yield a few younger and considerably less expensive players will be moving on to participate in pennant races.
Oh, the youthful players taking the field will show some flashes and the vets and journeymen looking to hang on a few more years will occasionally put on display the reasons they are still a valuable asset in the Bigs. The pitching isn’t that bad most days except for a frequent tendency to turn bullpen ineffectiveness into a group experience. Ron Gardehire is the perfect manager for this group and knows when it’s time to be patient as well as when it’s time to rip into a few players. While his post game interviews aren’t the classic Leyland variety they’re more entertaining than when Brad Ausmus was at the helm.
They will win some games they probably shouldn’t and most assuredly lose many games they could have won with a rally or two. In other words a typical ‘rebuilding’ year.
Disappointment is generally attached to expectations and this year (and hopefully just a few more) the hope for any aspirations beyond landing around the same 64 wins they posted the last two years can only result in a dispirited despondency.
Come mid July LSC Lil and I are heading down to CoPa for our annual visit. It’s not the same as the days when we frequented the hallowed, revered, stale beer and cigar scented halls of Tiger Stadium, but it’s a great place to see a game and while it doesn’t have the charm of the old barn it also doesn’t have the obstructed view seats behind what always seemed to be a proliferation of poles.
By then the Bengals will likely be about 20-30 games out of first and the post season a faded, forgotten dream. There will be pennant races taking place all over the midwest in Cleveland, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Milwaukee.
But not in Motown
The season may not be over in July, but the season will indeed be over for the Tigers.
But take heart Michiganders.
Come August the Lions return and...and...uh....
To The Editor:
The Village of Hesperia is currently undergoing a governmental crisis. Several council members, elected to office just in November, are derelict in performing the duties Village residents expect of them. Two trustees have missed over 70% of council meetings, and have effectively blocked legislation needed to move Hesperia’s business district forward. The Village voted in 2018 to approve a Medical Marihuana facility. This facility would provide much needed jobs for local residents, substantial funds in the form of licensing fees for the Village, and a potentially significant increase in commerce for existing businesses. Over five months later, they have yet to approve the Village ordinance that would allow this previously approved business to open its doors.
On February 11th, these same Village trustees voted to fire the Village’s attorney, leaving the Village vulnerable to a hostile attempt to claim ownership of two islands in the White River, built by the Village and several community organizations in the late 1950s. One of these absentee trustees, who chairs the Legal committee, has made little effort to replace the Village’s legal representative. On at least three occasions, the same four trustees have failed to appear for scheduled Village council meetings, forcing an immediate adjournment of those meetings due to a lack of a quorum.
The Village of Hesperia has no newspaper. Several television stations have been asked to investigate, but as yet, there has been little response from them. As private citizens, we ask that you, as a local source of news, help raise the awareness of Hesperia’s residents – most of whom have no knowledge of the failure of their elected officials to act in the best interests of Hesperia – the duty they promised to assume as trustees of the Village.
The Village of Hesperia needs your help.
R. Christine Turple
Note: The Hesperia Village Council is scheduled to meet on Monday, May 20 at 7:30pm
By Megan Wirts
Sometimes I encounter people who seem to treat me differently because I have a disability or because I'm a woman, a mother, from a small town, etc. Their words, tone and actions can get to me. I start to over-analyze and overthink every interaction, every word said and every facial expression. Then I get in my own head and begin to believe all the negativity I was feeling was something I deserved. I start to berate myself and go down this spiral of shame, insecurity and disappointment.
"Why did you say that out loud? What were you thinking? You were bragging too much and trying to show off again. Why can't you just shut your mouth!? Nobody even cares about you."
That's where my brain goes on the worst days. Not as often as it used to but it still happens. I learned, with the help of a good dose of therapy, to actively push those negative thoughts out and replace them with positive ones, I feel more confident and happy in my life.
However, there are those nights that I find myself swirling down the drain of negativity.
When I find myself circling that drain, I need to talk about it. I need a good friend, a therapist, my husband or anyone that will listen and not judge me. Usually by the time we are done talking, I have worked out my problem myself and all I needed was an ear. Then I need to look in the mirror and remind myself that yes, I am a woman! A mother! A person with a disability from a small town that is deserving of respect, kindness, friendship, opportunities and greatness! I have to remember that not everyone is going to like me, and that's ok. I don't like everyone, but it doesn't mean I am allowed to treat them like garbage when I'm around them. "Kill them with kindness", right?
It has taken me years to feel confident in my abilities, my body, my own thoughts and opinions. I still struggle on occasion. Growing up, I was often bullied and felt I was not always given equal treatment at home because I was a girl.
So I left home after graduation at age 17 as a terrified little girl with no self confidence. I was incredibly naive. I clung to people that I thought were smarter, prettier and better than me. I believed everything they said, especially if it was something negative about me.
“You’re too chubby”, “Your arms are too fat” or, ”You’re just not interesting at all.”
And that all came from my "best friend" at the time. I finally let her go when I became a mother and I looked at my sweet baby girl and realized that I never wanted her to hear words like that from someone that was supposed to be her friend.
Those words still echo in my head every now and then. Words from people that I loved and admired and were supposed to love me back stung me the deepest and stayed with me the longest. Those words eventually became my own internal monologue. I'm here to tell you that you have the power inside of you to change those words. You have the ability to turn your inner monologue into one that is empowering instead of oppressive. For me, I think this will be a lifelong process. This cycle of overthinking, negative self talk and then finally finding my footing again isn't going to happen over night and it's not just "think positive" or "just be happy". It's hard work, being patient with yourself and in my experience there is also a lot of crying.
Over the years, I have learned to not rely so desperately on what others think of me and instead to love who I am, completely. Even when feeling moody, judgemental or just plain old bitchy, I am not those things. I will make mistakes, but I have learned to forgive. I am not nor will I ever be perfect. I am human. I am worthy.
We are all worthy of love and kindness from others as well as ourselves.
Knowing this frees us up to not just accept and embrace love and kindness when it comes our way,it also enhances our ability to express these to others.
We just need to love ourselves enough.
Not always easy, but definitely doable.
Mayor Rynberg’s proclamation shines a much-needed light on the silent pain of new moms
By Rhonda Byrne, LMSW
As a social worker who interacts with and helps pregnant women and new moms across Newaygo County, I want to commend Fremont Mayor Jim Rynberg for proclaiming May as Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders Awareness Month. Once commonly known as postpartum depression, PMAD affects one in every five new moms. Men are not immune either because one in 10 new dads report experiencing PMAD.
Every day, moms who are going through some form of PMAD walk into the clinics where I work. I even see severe cases a few times each year. These moms feel depression and anxiety. They may be experiencing bipolar disorders, as well as panic, obsessive compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorders. The feelings affect pregnant moms as well as women up to two years after delivering their child. PMAD is the Number One medical complication related to childbearing.
PMAD can be detected and it can be managed.
Mayor Rynberg’s resolution is timely because it aims to remove any social stigma surrounding this condition. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that only a fraction – around 15 percent – of mothers who display symptoms of PMAD get help from a provider or therapist. Millions of women keep their struggles to themselves because they don’t want to be judged, stereotyped or seen as an unfit mother. Mayor Rynberg’s proclamation of May as PMAD Awareness month, in conjunction with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, is a strong signal to families that PMAD is not something to be ashamed of.
Instead of hiding from this problem, we must face up to it. Being a social worker, I see it as my job to address PMAD by being a resource for women and as someone who can screen patients. The moment someone walks into our clinics at Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial, health care professionals like me and others look for signs that may indicate PMAD. That allows us to connect people with much-needed resources, from medical treatment to therapy to online support.
Recently, several Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial’s labor and delivery nurses as well as OB/GYN clinic nurses and social workers attended a PMAD training to learn more about screening tools, treatment methods and resources for families. These are other steps that we can do as a community to address this issue.
Healthcare professionals aren’t the only ones who can act as screeners. Family and friends can too. We can watch out for tell-tale signs: irritability, sadness, difficulty sleeping, and feeling overwhelmed and disconnected from the baby. Women who may be experiencing PMAD may cry uncontrollably and lack energy. They may say things like: “I don’t feel like myself” or “I’m just not good enough.” Some may share frightening thoughts about harming themselves and their baby.
These are red flags. They are an opportunity for us to show empathy and take action. Remind the mom and her family that they are not alone. She is blameless and with help, she will get better. If the mom has extreme thoughts and behaviors, take her to the emergency room. Contact her obstetrician. Follow up with medical care. Together, we can raise awareness about the silent suffering so many new mothers go through and help those we care about.
For support and information: Call Pine Rest Mother Baby support line 844.MOM.HOPE (844-666-4673) or go to Postpartum Support’s website atwww.postpartum.net
Rhonda Byrne is a social worker at Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial. She helps mothers and families at the OB/GYN Clinic and at Gerber Memorial Pediatrics.
Time For The Dams To Go?
By Charles Chandler and Mark Heying
In Part II of this series it was stated that some controversial issues regarding the overall health of the White River would be addressed. Springtime fishing, and the springtime floods, make this a good time to begin a discussion of this important subject.
On Tuesday, March 19 Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, declared a state of emergency in Newaygo County after floods caused considerable damage to structures and washed out roads. Newaygo County also declared its own state of emergency, when leaders had determined that county resources were not enough “to protect the health, safety, and property to lessen or avert the threat of a crisis. Some areas with flooding include Newaygo, White Cloud, Fremont, Hesperia, and Grant.”
Additionally, spring steelhead fishing is underway in the nearby Muskegon, and Pere Marquette rivers, and in the White River below Hesperia. Trout fishing season opens the last Saturday in April.
People can and do feel passionately about our beautiful, forgotten river. This is as it should be. Unfortunately, these passions sometimes turn into emotional, confrontational shouting matches. It’s important therefore to consider the facts of the matter, and to rely on these facts as we discuss the future of the White.
Fortunately, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and Grand Valley State University have given us two documents that provide us with factual and reliable, research-based information on the water quality and fishery of the river.
One of these documents is the “Grand Valley State University ScholarWorks@GVSU White River Watershed Preliminary Habitat Assessment” report. It can be found at the following link; https://scholarworks.gvsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1012&context=scitechreports
The other is the “White River Watershed Status of the Fishery Resource Report for Muskegon, Oceana and Newaygo Counties, January 2012“report, found here; https://www.michigan.gov/documents/dnr/2012-121_388116_7.pdf
Many of the facts discussed in this article come from these two important reports.
Each spring the White River floods to some degree, impacting the citizens of White Cloud and Hesperia, as well as the many riverside residents along the 30-mile stretch in-between. Their concerns are valid, as both White Cloud and Hesperia ponds are shallow lakes formed by two old, low, earthen dams.
The White Cloud pond was originally constructed in 1872 to support the lumber industry in and around White Cloud. The current pond covers about 50 acres with an average depth of 8 feet. The earthen dam is about 14 feet high. Hesperia pond also covers about 50 acres with a maximum depth of 4 feet. The head of this dam is 7.7 feet high. Both spillways were later modified to provide water for electrical power generation for the two respective towns.
In 1951, Consumers Power Company was no longer generating electricity at either White Cloud or Hesperia, and they were looking for someone to take over ownership of the dams. Instead, the DNR Fisheries Division recommended that both dams be removed, due to constant maintenance costs, and because these dams seriously degrade the rivers health. Despite this advice, ownership of the dams was eventually transferred to the Village of Hesperia and City of White Cloud. The ownership, management and operational responsibility for the White Cloud Dam is somewhat controversial; about two-thirds of the Dam, and about half of the Pond, is in Everett Township.
The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) classifies state dams into three different categories: 1. High Hazard, 2. Significant Hazard 3. Low Hazard.
White Cloud Dam is classified as High Hazard Potential: The failure of the dam may cause serious damage to inhabited homes, agricultural buildings, campgrounds, recreational facilities, industrial or commercial buildings, public utilities, main highways or class I carrier railroads, or where environmental degradation would be significant, or where danger to individuals exists with the potential for loss of life. The Newaygo Emergencies Service Department has developed an Emergency Evacuation Plan for Dam Failure and Flooding.
We have had several springs where the river has overtopped the emergency spillways of the White Cloud and Hesperia dams. The White Cloud Dam was breached during floods in 1910, 1975 and 1986. In the spring of 2017, the White Cloud Dam emergency spillway was again overtopped and the dam sustained erosion damage. The City was able to get a grant of taxpayer dollars from the Michigan State Disaster Fund. White Cloud then spent about $100,000 of that on repairs and improvements, which did not cover all of the recommended work. Subsequent repairs, which will occur, will have to be paid for by the citizens of White Cloud, or by the citizens of Michigan, or both.
The Hesperia Dam has a similar history of dam breaches, overtopping the emergency spillway, resulting reconstruction and repairs. Hesperia Dam was breached during floods in 1975, and 1986. Again, subsequent repairs, which will occur, will have to be paid for by the citizens of Hesperia, or by the citizens of Michigan, or both.
The White Cloud Dam is almost 150 years old and one questions the logic of maintaining this relic. It is now and will continue to be an old high maintenance earthen dam with considerable liability for the City and downstream residents and landowners. Should the dam suffer another catastrophic failure, the City may be liable for the damages.
A similar situation is happening to communities all around the State. An aging dam did fail recently on the Boyne River, near Petosky.
The cultural and economic value of White Cloud and Hesperia Pond is debatable. White Cloud has a dock and summer swimming area that is used by some city residents. The Newaygo County Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect holds a day camp there from mid-June – mid-August. The most popular event at the White Cloud Pond is the annual Russell Gilbert Kids Free Fishing Day.
Unfortunately, fishing in White Cloud Pond is poor; it is not stocked, and the access is limited by the primitive boat launch. In the summer you will see the occasional boat, or in winter the solitary ice fisherman. The most intangible and cultural value derived from the pond is from the esthetic view had by local residents, and the fond memories of the good times that were had down at the swimming hole. But the City of White Cloud does not need a dam in order to have a swimming area; Hesperia has a separate swimming area located in the Sports Park.
The White Cloud and Hesperia ponds do a few things really well. They function as a summertime water heater, restrict river water flow and block the upstream migration of salmon, steelhead trout, walleye, suckers, and other fishes. Both dams seriously degrade the water quality of the river and prevent valuable cold-water fish from moving upstream to their natural spawning grounds.
The two White River dams have a long history of negative effects on the fish in the river’s mainstream and tributaries. “The cold-water fisheries were degraded as a result of increased water temperatures downstream of the impoundments. According to research presented in the White River Watershed Status of the Fishery Resource Report water quality and specifically water temperature is an important habitat component for cold water stream fish like trout to survive and thrive. Water temperatures determine the types and production level of fish that will be present in Michigan streams (Zorn et al. 2010).”
To better understand water quality, temperature and the fishery you need to divide the South Branch of the White River into three sections; the section above White Cloud Dam, the section between the White Cloud Dam and the Hesperia Dam and the section below Hesperia Dam down to White Lake.
The river above the White Cloud Dam is cooled by abundant springs, and has many shade trees along its banks. Downfalls provide shelter for trout and abundant spawning gravel for fish reproduction. Presently, self-sustaining populations of brook trout and brown trout occur in the 20.6 miles of river upstream of White Cloud Dam. Of interest, the Michigan DNR, in partnership with the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, has a new initiative to bring back the historic and beautiful Michigan Grayling. The upper White River watershed is one of a handful of rivers that have water quality that could sustain the Grayling; they and other trout need clean water that is in the 45 to 65 °F range. If water temperatures exceed 68 °F, they can become stressed. Follow the following link for more information on the Grayling Initiative. https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/MIDNR/bulletins/2106251
In the summer months the cool spring-fed water enters the White Cloud Pond, where it warms rapidly, producing a harmful effect on water quality and fishery all the way to Hesperia. Last year, a White River water temperature survey was conducted by DNR employee Mark Tonello. In July he found a maximum temperature above White Cloud Pond of 69 °F. Below White Cloud Pond, at Highway M37, it was 77 °F. Down at Luce Road, it was 80 °F. These temperatures are clearly too hot to support a healthy river fishery.
In the lower section below Hesperia Dam, the July maximum temperature at Hesper Loop Road was 82 °F. At the 184th Street crossing it was 81 °F. There are no trout in the river below Hesperia dam in the summer; the water is simply too hot.
To make matters worse, Michigan migratory brown trout, steelhead, Chinook salmon, Coho salmon, Walleye, suckers, and other migratory fish are blocked from travel up the river by the Hesperia Dam.
Simply put, expert studies show that the White Cloud and Hesperia Dams take the heart out of the White River fishery. The White Cloud Dam heats the river water to the point at which the trout population struggles, and fails, to survive. The Hesperia Dam stops the Lake Michigan migratory fish from reaching the river at White Cloud.
These facts are well known to City and Village officials, most fishermen, area residents, members of various stewardship groups, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) agents.
The foremost obstructions and challenges to improving White River fish populations and developing the full potential of a world class fishery are due to these two dams. They must be repurposed, so that White River water quality can improve, and the full economic, biological habitat and recreational potential in these rivers may be realized.
Repurposing just one of the dams will not be enough; if you removed the Hesperia dam and allowed Lake Michigan migratory fish to move upstream, they would be then be blocked by the White Cloud Dam. And, according to Mr. Richard P. O'Neal, a recently retired DNR Fisheries Biologist “if Lake Michigan migratory fish gained access to this section of the river, juvenile production would also be affected by thermal water quality degradation from White Cloud Impoundment.”
Given these facts, namely, that both the White Cloud and Hesperia dams are classified as High Hazard Potential for failure, both degrade the river’s fishery and overall ecology, both dams have a limited recreational value, and both are old, dangerous, and cost a lot of money to maintain, one must ask the question: Why are they still there?
There’s a perceived value of the White Cloud Dam in that it provides a scenic view to the residents around the Pond, and provides an occasional swim to the local residents, at the expense of the Village of Hesperia, and to the detriment of the river itself.
There’s a perceived value of the Hesperia Dam to a few local businesses that cater to the seasonal fisherman that target the migratory salmon and steelhead. Some people see their support for the Dam as an act of loyalty, which protects the Village economy from competition, at the expense of The City of White Cloud, and to the detriment of the river itself.
If you take the larger view and look at these small dams and their impoundments across the country that are privately owned or owned by Municipalities you will see some similarities. The owners of these dams cling to and defend them in the face of growing liability, continued deterioration, and expensive maintenance that is often supported by local, state and national taxpayers. They maintain their support even when presented by strong fact-based arguments that they, the upstream and downstream landowners, and the recreational tourism and regional residents would all receive a greater benefit by removing or repurposed them both.
Go to Hesperia Dam now, and take a look. Stand on the dam and watch the beautiful, and valuable migratory fish jump time and time again, as they try to continue their journey up the White. They are biologically programmed to continue until they reach the absolute uppermost tributary or spring, searching for the gravel used to build their nursery redds (nests) and lay their eggs, in hopes of producing the next generation of fish.
Sadly, they will tire, after repeated attempts to continue upstream. They will then drop back downstream, usually to the area between Highway 20 and Pines Point.
hat’s where you’ll find the fishermen; at the dam and at every access point between there and Pines Point. The consequences are that the spawning fish are taken or harassed to the point that they will build their redds under obstructions, where they cannot be reached by casting, or they will hide during the day and spawn at night. Concentrating wade and drift fishermen along a short stretch of the river often leads to crowding and subsequent confrontation with other fishermen and from streamside landowners that forbid trespassing. Both of these can easily spoil a long-awaited fishing trip.
The fish are, in a very real sense, confined by the Village of Hesperia; the river, and the fishery, pay the price. Ironically, by limiting the potential fish population, Hesperia is, in fact, hurting itself as well.
According to the State of Michigan DNR, the habitat above White Cloud Pond could be a fish factory. Other ideal spawning areas are found on the main branch of the river between White Cloud Pond and Echo Drive and between east Baldwin Ave and east Warner Ave. Then there are all the clear cold tributary streams that feed the White. All have ideal spawning habitat for salmon and steelhead.
Stopping these migratory fish at Hesperia or White Cloud dam is unreasonable and shortsighted. Allowing these fish to continue upstream to this ideal spawning grounds would produce a far greater number of fishes, that would then pass through Hesperia, and in the case of steelhead and walleye back down through Hesperia after post spawn. It would also give the fishermen great access to many miles of additional fishing waters.
And so, the questions boil down to these; would Hesperia prefer to keep things as they are, assuming the risk of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to maintain an old, failing dam, to keep the relatively few fish restricted for themselves and at a cost of a much more vibrant and healthier fishery? Would White Cloud prefer to keep its aging dam, assuming the risk of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in order to keep a silted in reflecting pond, at the cost of a much healthier, and locally valuable river?
Each year that the White Cloud and Hesperia dams are allowed to remain, the recreational potential for fishermen and kayakers is lost or degraded. and the long-term water quality and biological community are degraded. Each year, the citizens of the Village of Hesperia and White Cloud, along with local businessmen, and many of streamside property owners, leave money and other economic benefits on the table.
Should they remain in place and the natural infilling of silt continue both dams will eventually fail or be frequently overtopped requiring repairs and reconstruction. Both Dams have uncounted tons of silt bottled up behind them, which will then wash down the river should failure occur, ruining it for years to come.
In the next article, a comparison between the potential of the White River to that of the nearby and famous Pere Marquette will be made. Then some suggestions for collaboration, and a way forward to some long term and agreeable solutions will be made, for all that live along our beautiful, forgotten river.
By Ken DeLaat
“People cannot change their habits without first changing their way of thinking.”- Marie Kondo
Being admittedly a bit of a pack rat (nicer name for hoarder despite the rodent reference) my area of the house known as the office (and the heartbeat of N3 World Headquarters) has collected a significant amount of memorabilia, a ton of papers, folders, books, and assorted flash drives cds with no identification, as well as things like telescopes (3), tool sets (4) with things like screwdrivers and wrenches all brand new and still in their cases (presents from people who either don’t know me or know me well and find humor in the gesture), some chaotically categorized vintage baseball cards, a flag, a mannequin and other items too numerous to list.
It’s not the well placed disarray like the office of Rich Wheater where one begins to feel a bit of a sense of order in the disorder. Like a Picasso that begins to make more sense the longer you look at it.
No, this one is an outright omnishambles. A level of disorganization so thorough that it could nearly be labeled an art form.
Do I love it? No. Not always. It works for me until confronted with the need to amp up organizational skills to a new level and lately this need has seemed to be in waxing mode.
Has anything been done to change it?
Oh, there’s been some weak chatter to LSC Lil about ‘getting to it soon’ but it falls on deaf ears since that phrase ranks with a parent’s ‘maybe’ in the realm of possible follow through.
Thus far? A half hearted peek through the occasional box of stuff with a tossaway or two. Nothing of significance.
Then Marie came into our lives.
Lil had long planned to go through the house soon after her retirement and once we returned from a bit of a celebratory vaca, she embarked on the task like the nurse she has always been, with perseverance, resilience and a steadfast sense of duty.
Then she heard about Marie and began watching the series ‘just to get some hints’.
If you’ve heard anything about Marie Kondo who has seemed to ignite a minimalist craze or maybe read the column by our Ms. Wirts a while back you know that one of her concepts is to make a decision to keep or pitch based on whether or not the item sparks joy, correct?
We apparently had a bit of joyless stuff lying about since a mountain of material has been purged or put aside for what could be our part of the mother of all garage sale seasons given the immense popularity of Ms. Kondo.
As far as the office?
I’ve agreed to incorporate some of the methodology of decluttering.
It seems there are a lot of things that bring me joy.
On the desk one finds old toys scattered about along with a baseball or two, a plastic flute, a couple of small board games, a hat and a can of pink salmon (gift from my sister- a long story), among a sea of other items. They each help to lighten my mood when sitting with a bad case of writer's block. I could likely get rid of the salmon but according to the date on the can it’s still good until 2020 and each baseball has a particular feel when being gripped and I like both. And the flute? Well, one should never be far from some semblance of music making capability. The games I discovered can be played alone if necessary, though some are more challenging than others, and ...well….
You see what I mean?
Also, there are somewhere in the neighborhood of a thousand books lying about down here. Though I will never, ever, ever, read most of them and know for a fact deep in my heart that I will not read them, I will endure significant personal dissension when attempting to expurgate them from my reach and will find myself leafing through a couple of pages as if that alone was justification for keeping it.
And so the task at hand over the next few weeks will be slim down the office enough to make it manageable (and possibly even find sitting room for the occasional guest).
And it’s all because of Marie.
As for Lil?
The Marie thing is working for her. She has whittled down kitchen supplies, redone the filing system, torn through cabinets finding long forgotten and heretofore unused items that will be moving on and has progressed toward the clothes laden closet we share.
I only hope that during those recent long stares she casts in my direction she concludes that I still spark some joy in her life.
Gerber Federal Credit Union Awards Annual Scholarships
FREMONT- Gerber Federal Credit Union awarded a total of $2,750 as a result of its Annual Essay Scholarship program. Entrants were asked to explain “What do you think is the largest risk to financial health for teens and young adults today? What steps should be taken to reduce this risk?” in 300-500 words. Entries were accepted from Gerber Federal Credit Union members currently attending their senior year of high school and planning to attend an accredited technical school, community college, trade school, four-year accredited college or university, or an apprentice program.
Brayden Mumper of Newaygo is the First Place winner and was awarded $1,750. His essay will be published at www.gerberfcu.com.
Aubrie Kibart from Fremont is the Second Place winner and was awarded $750 and Jade Murray from Grant, MI is the Third Place Winner and was awarded $250.
“Financial literacy is a key determinant of success in today’s society. Gerber FCU is committed to providing excellent resources and opportunities to learn for all of its members, no matter where they might be on their life’s journey,” said John Buckley, President/CEO of Gerber Federal Credit Union.
Essays were submitted by email and mail. Our panel of judges included 4 educators from various school districts and a member of management at a local hospital. Judges evaluated the essays on Topical Relevance and Quality of Writing after all identifying information was removed.
Here is the winning essay by Mr. Mumper:
Debt is something that many teens and young adults are facing. As young adults start to make the transition from high school to college, they think that they have to take out loans of more than they need to be able to pay for college, which is not the case. There are many different opportunities to help pay for college that you can start in high school.
Step One: Scholarships are the best way to pay for college. Scholarships are based on academic achievements one has accomplished while in high school. Many scholarships you will have to write an essay to apply for whichever scholarship you are applying for such as, Fremont Area Foundation, Local School, and GPA and SAT scholarships. There are many different scholarships one could apply for. If you receive a scholarship, you do not have to pay the amount given to you, as it is an award to you. I have applied for as many scholarships as I possibly can: local, private, state and national wide.
Step Two: Working is another way one could save up for money and avoid debt. You will learn many skills while working at a young age such as establishing a work ethic, being disciplined, responsible and reliable. While working, you will be able to make a savings account at a local bank to start saving for college. This is an amazing way someone could become close with members at Gerber as you may have questions and concerns about managing your money. At age thirteen, I started as a dishwasher at a hometown restaurant River Stop Cafe. After working at the cafe, I got a job at our local Newaygo Brewing Company as a cook. I then moved to Little Caesars and worked there as a crew member. Since June of 2018, I have worked at McDonald’s.
Step Three: Creating a financial plan is very important when exiting high school. With a financial plan you will figure out your goals, money situations, and how to building your security. Once you start working a budget is necessary to keep things organized. For example. I have made a plan on how much money goes into my savings for the future and I plan out the days I need to pay my bills.
My personal experience with my local Gerber Federal Credit Union has been absolutely amazing. I am one to always plan ahead, which makes this transition from high school to college an anxious time for me. I am one to get ahead of the game with my college applications, filling out my FAFSA and sitting down with a Gerber Federal member to manage my future loan’s with Gerber. After sitting down with the financial Service Representative Katie, I am more than confident about taking out loans in the future through Gerber. Katie listened to all of my questions. During our meeting she helped me by researching different opportunities that Gerber could offer to me. She provided me with paperwork to fill out with my parents to get a loan and a very helpful flyer about the benefits of credit cards. After my meeting with Katie I was even more confident about working with Gerber throughout my future.
With all of these steps, my drive, and planning skills, I hope to avoid the crushing debts that are plaguing the modern day of young adults.
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