To The Editor:
In November 2003 Newaygo county voters overwhelmingly approved a 911 phone surcharge of $3.00 monthly. During a session in 2008, the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) decided to cut surcharges across the state of Michigan, reducing Newaygo County’s to $1.56 monthly. The rationale was that cell phones were becoming more popular, and with adding more devices to the system, the surcharge would generate the same revenue as previous. This was not the case, and Newaygo County Central Dispatch sustained a cut of over 40% in their annual revenue from 2008-2017. A class action lawsuit case was filed by 23 counties in Michigan in an attempt to bring surcharges back to the previous amounts approved by voters.
This lawsuit lasted from 2008-2013 when the MPSC agreed to bring Newaygo County’s surcharge back to $1.95 monthly. Although this was better than $1.56, it was still 35% less than approved by voters in 2003. Restoring the voter approved 2003 level of $3.00 monthly will fund the replacement of the outdated radio consoles and make it possible to update and maintain critical public safety dispatching equipment. At this time Central Dispatch does not have any funding available to replace these vital technology pieces.
Rumors have spread, which I would like to address:
1. This surcharge is a different way to get money for the Sheriff’s Office.
This is untrue. They are two different departments in the county which have separate budgets. The Sheriff’s department uses services from Central Dispatch as does all of the city Police Departments, Michigan State Police, Fire Departments, Ambulance service, First Responders, DNR and sometimes the Road Commission, Forestry Service and others. This telephone surcharge exclusively funds Central Dispatch and it cannot be used for any outside purposes per state law.
2. This is a double dip with the state having passed some new legislation last year.
Again, this is untrue. Senate Bill 400 provided funding to be used for 911 infrastructure at the state level to create a fiber network build out, supporting Next Generation 911 technology with some enhanced 911 services. There was about $4,150.00 that passed through to Newaygo County. If that stays the same in the future, we could replace our consoles in about a hundred and ninety years, if their price tag didn’t rise from its current figure of about $850,000.00.
3. This money will probably be wasted on employee salary.
Some of that $3.00 will certainly be spent on employee salary, just as it is now. That salary is set contractually with the county and, just like all of the county employees, has not seen more than a three percent cost of living adjustment for many years.
I hope that this lays to rest a few concerns and some misinformation that is out there. I know how important to me it is to have local people who are personally familiar with the emergency services in the county as well as the communities they live in, answering the emergency calls that come in.
I will provide a recent example of this. August 28, 2018 when storms with 70 MPH winds came through Newaygo County, our Central Dispatch answered 320 call for service between 7PM-10PM and 600 total during the night. Neighboring counties had that same storm come through. I am so glad that we had our own Newaygo County people on hand that night handling those calls for service which included the city DPW’s, Emergency Service personnel and other volunteers.
From January 1 – December 31, 2017 our dispatchers took 106,416 calls for service. This includes:
Audio raises concerns, Huizenga camp offers explanation
A recent YouTube recording entitled ‘Huizenga Deadheads’ that has been circulating around and about apparently captures the voice of Representative Bill Huizenga addressing another group after Monday’s debate with Democratic challenger Dr. Rob Davidson. The audio has stirred up a bit of a hornet’s nest on local social media.
We had a debate last night in Newaygo, the audio begins. And you all know who deadheads are, right? Deadheads are the folks that travel around following the Grateful Dead. Well we’ve got the political equivalent with my opponent. He’s got a group of folks who are traveling around with him everywhere he goes and last night we had somewhere like 5-600 people.They were by the way, complaining it wasn't big enough ..they wanted more.
We had a few folks there, but about a tenth of what they had. They were loud they were raucous they were demanding.......
It was quite shameful, really. They acted like third graders..no maybe third graders wouldn’t even act that way.
The day after the debate we reported the following on the N3 Pulse page:
“The crowd was likely leaning toward one of the candidates and their reaction to the answers given by the two definitely put this preference on display. However, outside of a few of what might very well be short spontaneous non-verbal reactions by some attendees (a bit of a groan here, maybe a snort or two there), the crowd remained polite, courteous and appeared to be genuinely interested in listening to what each candidate had to say. “
A comment on the article from reader Joann Delmar cites:
I agree, "People listened to what the two had to say. They listened and afterwards they could be seen interacting with each other...talking about what they had just witnessed and what they had just heard."
However, Rep. Huizenga shared with another audience that Newaygo participants were "Dead Heads" and "Third Graders". Any thoughts?
N3 contacted the congressman’s office and Campaign Chair Jim Barry replied with the following:
"Here's the story about Bill's comments that were not about Newaygo, or the people who were at the debate, or even all of our opponent's supporters. However, a small group of his supporters have a reputation that proceeds them.
“Congressman Bill Huizenga was addressing an enthusiastic group of over 150 grassroots GOP activists Tuesday night at the Ottawa GOP Reagan Day Dinner. His comments about Deadheads was an analogy to fans of a rock group, The Grateful Dead who were famous for following their favorite band wherever they went. We recognize many of the same faces we've seen ever since our Democrat opponent launched his political campaign at an official Congressional Town Hall over a year ago.
“Bill's comments about third grade behavior refers to a small group of our opponent's supporters who boo, hiss, give thumbs down, and have even booed an 8 year old Girl Scout being recognized at a Town Hall by Bill for her community service.
"But don't take our word about their third grade behavior. Following Bill's Town Hall in Grand Haven last year, The Editorial Board of the Grand Haven Tribune published an editorial on March 9, 2017 headlined 'Rudeness Has No Place in Grand Haven'. They went on that 'what occurred at the Lakeshore Middle School auditorium was disgraceful'. Adding 'Those who were rude, shouting, and cat-calling throughout the more than two hour forum, should be ashamed of themselves'. **
"This is the behavior Bill was referring to that we have seen throughout the campaign and is done by some our opponents supporters, some of whom don't even live in the district.
"There's also an issue that it was a private meeting that was covertly and possibly illegally recorded and distributed. That is an issue that will be dealt with later, for now we're focused on turning out our base and supporting GOP candidates up and down the ticket.”
**Note: Dr Davidson did not enter the race until June of 2017, 3 months after the editorial referenced appeared in the Grand Haven Tribune
Our thoughts, Ms. Delmar?
Each attendee Monday night may have experienced the event differently influenced either by their political views or possibly their seating selection. From our birds eye view there appeared to be an air of civility, a high level of interest and a crowd that seemed invested in listening.
A few observations from a birds eye view of the event
By Ken DeLaat
They started filling the gym soon after the doors opened at 5pm. TV crews began to get their gear readied while tables and chairs created the setting that would serve the moderator and candidates delivering their message to an audience that would fill the gym like a Grant/Newaygo basketball game.
The room was buzzing beforehand and when Dr. Rob Davidson walked in a large contingency of attendees tossed out a lengthy and enthusiastic cheer. Later a vocal, albeit noticeably smaller, group heralded the arrival of current U.S. Representative Bill Huizenga.
It likely lacked the entrance drama associated with a heavyweight fight but for a political debate in a high school gym significantly smaller than a Las Vegas venue, it created a appreciable bit of excitement and anticipation.
Moderator Rich Wheater did an outstanding job in his role. His introduction as to the guidelines of the event were delivered clearly and concisely as were the questions posed to the twosome while his ability to blend in a bit of well placed humor on occasion integrated nicely with the spirit of the evening.
The setting was what one can expect given the limitations inherent in a multi-use facility with a huge focus on a couple of primary uses. The school did a great job getting ready and clearing the way for the contest and the co-sponsoring RC Chamber handled the infrastructure of the event very effectively.
The crowd was likely leaning toward one of the candidates and their reaction to the answers given by the two definitely put this preference on display. However, outside of a few of what might very well be short spontaneous non-verbal reactions by some attendees (a bit of a groan here, maybe a snort or two there), the crowd remained polite, courteous and appeared to be genuinely interested in listening to what each candidate had to say.
I was duly impressed by the number of young people in attendance who were interested in what was happening and/or assigned to go via Government class.
As to the debate itself, despite enormous technological limitations on the part of this reporter N3 was able to livestream the event on our fb page and it is currently running there. The best way to determine who might have bested the other would be to view it for yourself and come to your own conclusions, but here is our opinion as to who won this debate.
The people of the 2nd Congressional District to be sure, but particularly for those of us who live in this area. To have candidates come to one of our high school gyms and field questions selected from emails sent in from district residents serves as a huge win.
Too often we enter the ballot booth unaware of who the candidates might be much less what their stance is on key issues. Instead we are exposed to slanted television ads, social media posts with little regard for accuracy or integrity and colorful postcards that fill our mailbox every couple of years and none of these sources provide anything other than what the late musician Frank Zappa once called ‘cosmic debris’.
This debate was democracy in action. Two of the likely leading candidates for a coveted job sitting through an interview with the employers/constituents who would eventually hand the job over to one of them for the next two years.
Much is said about the divisiveness in this country, an estrangement encouraged by the questionable use of a variety of media and primarily, it seems, social media.
And I cannot pretend that those in attendance Monday night might not be victims of that same dynamic.
But on this night, in that town, and in one particular gymnasium?
People listened to what the two had to say. They listened and afterwards they could be seen interacting with each other...talking about what they had just witnessed and what they had just heard.
That speaks of hope.
And a big, big win.
By Charles Chandler
Part one: The voyage of discovery
On Columbus Day afternoon a group of local fun-loving kayakers gathered along the White River at the Flowing Wells Park in White Cloud. This meetup was to celebrate and publicize a recently opened 30-mile water trail that kayakers can now access to paddle from White Cloud on down to Hesperia.
This motley crew included Julie Burrell “Right Place” Business Development Coordinator for Newaygo County. Scott Rumsey, Hesperia businessman and President of Hesperia Chamber of Commerce, Lora Kalkofen City Manager for White Cloud, White Cloudian and kayaker Margie Green, Colleen Lynema, Executive Director of River Country Chamber of Commerce, Rick Lynema, sportsman and kayaker, Mark Heying, local sportsman and author, Dianne Taylor-Chandler, kayaker and Flyfisher person, Keith Payne, local, businessman, entrepreneur and adventurer, Darcy Payne, County employee, avid runner and sports person and the mildly hobbled N3 correspondent.
These courageous paddlers were bound (weather and an supply of mosquito spray permitting) for another meetup and some celebratory refreshments at the Gazebo on the Island in the Hesperia Mill Pond.
This event concluded one chapter in an unfinished story that began with an effort to brand and market White Cloud as a recreation destination. As those colorful banners displayed street side states, “White Cloud is a trail town with a trail for every season.” These trails include the North Country National Scenic and the White Cloud connector trails a pair of pristine pathways used by local and passing through hikers, winter snowshoers and cross-country skiers.
In addition to foot trails, there is the Diamond 3 snowmobile trail and other routes for ATVs. The latest addition to the local trail system is a water trail on the White River that begins at the launch in White Cloud Rotary Park and continues for about four miles downriver to the takeout at Flowing Wells Park. After meeting some stiff requirements, that section of the river was recently designated as a State of Michigan blue water trail.
This State designation created some online publicity and an uptick in paddlers on this beautiful stretch of the White. It also helped kayakers recognize and others to remember that there is another river between the big Muskegon and the world-renowned Pere Marquette. This State designation also brought a well-anticipated challenge. After paddlers have made the trip through this beautiful and feisty stretch or river running between the two White Cloud Parks they want more. As sportsmen, recreational fans or adrenalin junkies that have had a pleasant or screaming scared almost to death experience we want more. It is who we are.
The problem had been that there was no more. The water trail and fun ends when you paddled under the snowmobile bridge and stopped at the take-out at Flowing Wells Park. If some brave or uninformed paddler continued past that take out they would go straight into the heart of paddling darkness and all who do so live to regret it. The personal horror stories are the same whether it is from old timers that tried it when they were young , robust Michiganders, recent area newcomers or the unaware.
After you paddle under the Echo Drive bridge until you reach the N. Baldwin Ave bridge, about eight miles downstream, you would have spent more time out of your canoe or kayak than in it. You would have portaged around logs and other large woody debris dragging your watercraft up steep banks, through the muck, poison ivy, stinging nettles, briers, and leeches and back into the river. Then after a short paddle do it all over again.
Adam and Audrey Rynberg, two experienced kayakers and riverside residents took the challenge and reported they made about 80 portages in those eight miles. Mark Heying a local Base Line Rd resident recalls that around midnight one night he heard voices on the river and had to rescue two unfortunate and very exhausted kayakers that had started late in the day and only made about four of the eight miles.
He also mentioned that they did not have a flashlight.
There has been growing pressure from a variety of sources to address this impassable section of the river. There were concerns for the safety of unaware kayakers that ventured past the take out at Flowing Wells, streamside landowners and kayakers like Mark Heying and the Rynbergs who wanted to be able to use the river that ran along their property.
Given the growing popularity of kayaking others began to see the recreational opportunity and economic benefits of developing a new water trail between White Cloud and Hesperia. And then there are the visionaries, the entrepreneurs and dreamers who suggested “Why stop at Hesperia? Why can’t we paddle from White Cloud to Whitehall? The river runs all the way to Lake Michigan, doesn’t it?”
The answer is yes but first things first. When the old-timers and local residents were asked if developing a water trail down to Hesperia had been tried before the answers were all over the place starting with “not that I ever heard of, are you nuts, too much work,” and “don’t do it you will ruin everything.”
Some said that the White will become a party river like the Muskegon, or that the landowners won’t let you, or it can’t be done because the White is a Federal river.
Most of these comments and opinions were based on inaccurate information and will be addressed in the next two parts of this series. The short answer is yes, you can develop a water trail for kayak paddlers between White Cloud and Hesperia. It was done over this past summer by the White River Kayaker Coalition, an informal group of committed people that included Rick Lynema, Adam Rynberg, Mark Heying, Mike Anderson, Perry Anderson, and this N3 Correspondent. Rick, Mark, and Adam did the heavy lifting on this project and their efforts were truly appreciated.
The afternoon voyage of discovery from Fitzgerald Ave to Hesperia was rewarding and informative to those that had not paddled this section. The weather was perfect and the mosquito repellant held out. Darcy Payne and Near North Now Editor Ken DeLaat were waiting at the Island in the Hesperia Mill Pond as all paddle in. After photo ops, Darcy provided refreshing cold apple cider and delicious greasy cake donuts for the Motley crew. Perfect fare for hungry paddlers.
Stay tuned for additional commentary and the next chapter of the story about the White, Newaygo County’s forgotten river.
Dear Newaygo Public School District Voters,
My name is Artemisia Clark. I am known by many names, Missy Clark, Missy Anderson, Larry & Tish’s daughter, John’s wife and most importantly Chloe’s mom. I take pride in each of those names. However, legally I am Artemisia Clark, therefore on November 6th that will be the name that is on the ballot for Newaygo Public School Board. I am asking for your support and would be honored to represent our community and families as a member of the School Board.
I am a K-12 Newaygo alumni and a proud wife to a lifelong Newaygo Lion and local business owner. I’m a mom to a 5thgrader and future graduate of NPS. I believe strong schools make strong communities and I want my daughter to be as proud of Newaygo as I am. Therefore, I have been a very involved parent in our schools. I have volunteered an average of 25 hours per school year in elementary classrooms. I have attended countless field trips, school board, bond proposal, and Dynamic Planning for NPS meetings. I am actively involved in the continuous improvement of our schools through partnerships with teachers and administration.
I am also a daughter of retired State Police Trooper turned Newaygo Bus Garage Supervisor & a stay at home mom turned Teacher. Growing up with those parents has given me perspective of what our teachers and staff go through as well as what administration is responsible for. I shop our local businesses, attend many local events, use our walking trails and paths and spend my extra time on the boat on Croton pond. I am an active member of the Newaygo community.
I am a huge advocate for a better school for all and looking for creative solutions to today’s issues to service all our kids regardless of talents or needs. I am a supporter of our school athletics, because sports are important for teaching children life lessons not necessarily being the best athlete and because those athletic events can bring a community together. I can’t say enough for the amazing talents that are displayed through our arts programs inclusive of the band, dance club and things like an Art Prize entry. I believe having several diverse opportunities that inspire kids to participate in school is important to foster future success.
I am a 14-year employee of General Mills with experience in Human Resources and Supply Chain initiatives. I have experience on local government boards in Big Prairie township. I have been a cheer & gymnastics coach, substitute teacher, YMCA Teen Program Manager and Middle School Drug Prevention Specialist.
I would be honored to add the title of Newaygo Public School Board member and work for our community and schools in this role. Please consider casting your vote on November 6th for me, Artemisia Clark, to represent our community on the Newaygo Public School Board.
Candidates for U.S. House to meet at NHS
U.S. Representative Bill Huizenga and Challenger Dr. Rob Davidson will face off in a debate to be held at Newaygo High School on Monday October 15th beginning at 6pm.
The discourse will pit the incumbent who has served in the Capitol since 2011 following a 6 year run in Lansing as a state representative against the emergency room physician making his first run at political office.
Tickets are free but limited to the first 900 requests.
For more information please go to:
An open letter to the voters of the Second Congressional District and the news media:
Congressman Bill Huizenga has finally emerged from avoiding his constituents in West Michigan since his last in-person town hall more than a year ago. He has recently been knocking on doors and handing out fliers that are full of misinformation and half-truths. Huizenga is spreading lies because he thinks he can fool voters with phony but nice-sounding words. His record is the exact opposite of what he claims and we must set the record straight.
Huizenga claims he opposes “out-of-control spending.” False. Huizenga voted for a massive tax handout to Wall Street billionaires that is adding trillions of dollars to the national deficit. He then voted to pay for this “out-of-control” spending that he supports by cutting Medicare and Social Security.
Huizenga claims he is standing up to “special interests in Washington.” False. Huizenga has taken millions of dollars from corporate special interests. His largest donors are from the insurance industry, which has given him more than $660,000 to date. His second largest donors: Wall Street banks, more than $500,000. Huizenga has voted more than 60 times to raise healthcare costs for people with preexisting conditions, putting more money in the pockets of insurance companies.
Huizenga claims he is working for “safer schools.” Not true. Huizenga has refused to support common-sense gun safety regulations, such as universal background checks on all gun sales. In fact, one of his first votes in the current Congress was to let mentally ill people buy guns, reversing a common sense safeguard.
These are just some of the demonstrably untrue clams Huizenga makes in his handout. Huizenga is telling these whoppers because he hopes people won’t pay attention. They are. Voters deserve real representation in Congress, not someone who hides from constituents and goes golfing instead. West Michigan families demand a member of Congress with the courage to fight for them against Big Insurance and Big Banks. ER doctor Rob Davidson will be a far better, more courageous member of Congress than Bill Huizenga. Davidson is the one who will truly stand up for West Michigan families.
Mary Schumaker, Pentwater
Dena Arner, Holland
Martha Beattie, Holland
Lori Lundy, Kentwood
Nathan Leduc, Kentwood
Heather Alexander, Kentwood
Virginia Pastoor, North Muskegon
ACCOMPANYING VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2bxUcjWrhc
To The Editor:
The Tri County School District is asking for a $40,785,000 bond to upgrade and consolidate the current school system in Howard City. I attended the Informational Community Meeting and heard one excuse, as expected, that I keep hearing about why this proposal should be approved. One lady at the meeting carried on and on, very passionately, about how good this bond will be “Good for the children, good for her children, good for her grandchildren”. She got a loud applause from some of the audience. I would say, a rather knee jerk applause. I do not think anyone of those applauding stopped and thought about the impact this bond will have on our children or how “Not good for the children” it really is. I cannot blame the people applauding. I think people often hear the words “Good for the children” and instantly react approvingly or feel pressured into reacting approvingly, without stopping for just a second and questioning ”Is it really good for the children?”.
I would venture to say this is one of those times that some people are dangerously reacting to that phrase and not really thinking about what that phrase implies. Not everything is “Good for the children”. Especially this bond.
This bond hurts us all by increasing taxpayer indebtedness. This is 25 years of new taxes. Children that are in 1st grade now will be paying for this for 13 years after graduation, 13 years! This will be either passed on to them though increased rent or through higher taxes when they buy their first home. Some of our older children that are still in school may even be paying on this bond until they are in their early 40's!
Over the life of this bond, interest will almost equal principal.
This means that for the proposed $40 million dollar bond, tax payers will be required to pay a little more than $73 million in tax dollars to cover the principal and interest. With $33 million going to interest over the span of 25 years, that’s an average of $1,320,000 a year wasted away on interest. Let that sink in for a minute. One million, three hundred and twenty thousand dollars. All of that interest put into investors pockets and not into the school system. $1,320,000 of your tax dollars and your children's tax dollars, making someone else rich.
What happened to the sinking fund money and repairs? Will there be another?
Another question that needs to be asked and answered, is how all the current maintenance on the existing buildings the school board wants to upgrade (and close), was allowed to pile up in the first place so as to require a large loan to facilitate the repairs? A couple of years back, a sinking fund was proposed and passed, but not even half of the proposed repairs have been completed. If there isn’t enough money in the annual operating budget to maintain and repair existing facilities, how do school officials expect to maintain the new larger facilities and equipment? Will they allow the new buildings to fall into disrepair and start asking for another bond to repair those buildings in a few years?
This bond is wasteful and teaches our children to spend foolishly. Yes, we all went to schools paid for by taxpayers, but we did not go to school to be in elaborate buildings, we went to be educated! Most community members, including many of us opposed to this bad proposal, do feel we need to upgrade our schools, but we should upgrade them in a way that is smart and cost effectively. There is no doubt that education is a worthy investment, but lets carefully consider new ways to ensure we are getting an outstanding return on our investment. Taking out a loan that could end up costing taxpayers more in property taxes is not the way to accomplish this. Let’s not burden our children and our community with 25 years of excessive debt just because some people in the community feel the need to compete with neighboring districts for “modern looking” schools.
This bond proposal is not good for our families, not good for the community nor is it “Good for the Children”.
To the Editor;
The Midterm elections are just a few weeks away and the seat for Michigan’s 2nd Congressional District, which includes Newaygo County, is on the ballot. As a relative newcomer to Newaygo County, in order to get familiar with the local candidates, I have been making an effort to attend their events. Western Michigan is growing quickly, so I’m sure there are many other new 2nd District voters who are also vetting unfamiliar candidates.
Our current Congressman, Rep. Bill Huizenga, is running for re-election. Unfortunately, he has not held a town hall or an open event in the district for over a year. Representative Huizenga wants our vote, but he is not offering us the opportunity to hear him speak and ask him questions. In contrast, Representative Huizenga’s opponent, Dr. Rob Davidson, has held several events in the area. I have listened to Dr. Davidson speak at town meetings, and had the opportunity to ask direct questions at a “Coffee with Dr. Rob” event at the Koffee Kuppe in Fremont.
Dr. Davidson holds a campaign event almost every week. Dr. Rob Davidson is working hard to meet and listen to the 2nd District residents. His events are well advertised, frequent, and, most importantly, open to the public. Representative Huizenga apparently does not want to talk to us. When we cast our ballots in November, we are hiring the candidate to be our representative in government. My message to Mr. Huizenga is, why should we hire you if you won’t even show up for an interview?
To the new and veteran subscribers to our weekly,... well, actually more like periodic than weekly of late…. Newsletter.
Those of you who may have subscribed in recent months, say, like since mid-July or so may have been wondering why not a shred of evidence had arrived verifying this much-appreciated-by-us action on your part.
It seems some people are just barely technologically savvy enough to get themselves in trouble and the publisher of N3 happens to fall smack dab in the center of this category.
With the greatly appreciated help of those who possess skills significantly more sophisticated than those of said publisher the situation has hopefully been corrected. The publisher has also agreed to seek counsel before embarking on any new cyber-related adventures.
Please spread the word.
Those of you who have followed us for awhile may have noticed a bit of a drop off in the regularity of our email missives. What follows is what amounts to a rather weak but ultimately sincere explanation.
At times it becomes easy to focus on the much enjoyed task involving the inclusion into our pages the new material arriving into N3WH all the while neglecting other duties such as cleaning the garage ( even after numerous requests) or not getting a newsletter out in a timely fashion.
We, (actually, more like me since the others all do what they do very well) vow to do better though considering the track record on vows made about the garage this will be no easy undertaking.
N3 will continue to provide you with articles, columns, stories, photos, and sports. To deliver information while providing an ever changing picture of this remarkable region those of us privileged enough to live here can call home.
As always our hope is to engage our readers. To entertain, enlighten,and encourage healthy dialogue.
And we value your opinion so please send us a note, reply to an article, submit a letter to the Pulse section or just wave as you drive by.
And thank you for taking the time to check out our latest offerings.
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Near North Now welcomes original letters from readers on current topics of general interest. Simply fill out the form below. Letters submissions are limited to 300 words.