Muskegon County

New “Travel-Friendly” United Airlines Schedule

ord-mkgMuskegon County Airport (MKG) is extremely pleased to announce starting October 5, 2018, United Airlines is providing a new travel-friendly schedule to/from Chicago O’Hare (ORD) making it easier than ever to travel from Muskegon for business or pleasure.

tableThe benefits of this new schedule include arriving in Chicago by 6:00 AM, Denver by 9:30 AM, Washington, DC by 9:50 AM, Phoenix by 9:50 AM, and Los Angeles by 10:30 AM. The late evening arrival allows maximum opportunities for return flights connecting from most domestic and international locations such as Mexico and Europe. More connections mean lower prices for our travelers.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for the West Michigan Shoreline region. Every airport wants the best schedule possible to support air travel” said Jeffrey Tripp, Airport Manager “This schedule maximizes connections to/from destinations across the U.S. and around the world from Muskegon.”

Community Election Inspector Training

MUSKEGON COUNTY CLERK
Nancy A. Waters, Presents a Community Election Inspector Training
Wednesday, October 3rd , 2018

Election inspectors are people who are paid to assist voters at the polls on Election Day. Join us for a FREE 3-hour training. If the training is completed you will receive a certificate which qualifies you to work any election in the state of Michigan for up to 2 years. Training is offered at 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. or 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Requirements
• Complete and return Election Inspector Application to Muskegon County Clerk, 990 Terrace Street, 1st Floor by 4 p.m. Monday, September 24th
• Registered to vote in Michigan (High school students 16 and older are
eligible)
• Legible handwriting
• Basic computer knowledge
• Bring photo ID to training

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Upcoming Election Dates
• Tuesday, November 6, 2018

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Pick up your application at the Muskegon County Clerk’s office
or at http://www.co.muskegon.mi.us/clerk

Return your application by mail/drop off at the Muskegon County Clerk’s office. Located at 990 Terrace Street, Michael E. Kobza Hall of Justice, 1st floor Muskegon, MI 49442

Election inspectors must commit to working on Election Day from 6 a.m. until approximately 9:30 p.m. or as assigned by municipal clerk

SEATING IS LIMITED! REGISTER TODAY!
REGISTRATION DEADLINE IS MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 24TH, 2018 BY 4 P.M.
MUST PRE‐REGISTER @
http://www.co.muskegon.mi.us/clerk

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Muskegon Innovation Hub at Grand Valley State University
200 Viridian Drive
Muskegon, MI 49442

Rabid Bat Found in Muskegon County, Residents Reminded of Risk

Muskegon, MI – A bat found in a Muskegon County home has tested positive for rabies. This is the first bat to test positive in Muskegon County in 2018. Two bats tested positive for rabies in Muskegon County in 2017.

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Michigan is experiencing an uptick in bats testing positive for rabies this summer. (See July 2, 2018 MDHHS News Release.)

Rabies is a deadly, viral disease transmitted through the bite or scratch of an infected animal. In Michigan, bats are the most common carrier of rabies. Sick bats are more likely to have an encounter with a human or another animal. Sick bats may also display abnormal behaviors such as being active during the day, being found inside a home, or not being able to fly.

Individuals can reduce the risk of exposure to a rabid bat by avoiding picking up or touching bats, keeping rabies vaccinations up-to-date for pets, and bat-proofing the home.

Most individuals will never have contact with a rabid bat, but any direct contact with a bat should be considered a potential rabies threat. Other situations that may present a risk include finding a bat in a room with people who have been asleep, or finding a bat with an unattended child or impaired adult who cannot be sure they didn’t have contact with the bat. In all of these cases, it is important to collect the bat for rabies testing. Post exposure treatment is given to people who are exposed to a potentially rabid bat. Treatment is not necessary if the bat tests negative for rabies.

Muskegon County residents who find a bat in their home should safely confine or collect the bat if possible and call Public Health – Muskegon County at 231-724-1228 to determine if it should be tested for rabies. Information on how to collect a bat safely can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.

Food Forward FARM Incubator/Manufacturing Facility to Open in Downtown Muskegon

(Muskegon, MI) – Another development is in the works for Muskegon County starting this fall, 2018. Joining the over $1 billion in investments is the new Food Forward FARM (Food, Agriculture, Research & Manufacturing) Incubator/Manufacturing Facility, located at the former Muskegon Farmer’s Market on 731 Yuba Street.

This Brownfield Redevelopment Project is a collaboration with CorePark Development and the West Michigan Shoreline Food Processing Initiative. The Initiative was established in 2017 to promote the expansion of the food processing industry in West Michigan including incubation and product development.

The planned food processing facility will offer food-grade industrial space with individual suites ranging from 5,000 sq. ft. to 20,000 sq. ft. The space is designed to offer lease options for entities ranging from fast-growing start-ups to well-established companies in the food industry.

This facility is ideally suited for a variety of food and agricultural-based businesses:

• Dairy
• Food Research
• Fruit & Agriculture
• Beverage & Distillery
• Food Manufacturing & Packaging
• Stage 1 – Start-ups
• Stage 2 – Ready-to-grow, short-term pilot space
• Professionals providing support to the food industry (general office, educational training, etc.)

The development of Food Forward FARM is separated into three phases.

Phase I – 40,000 – 50,000 sf dedicated to the main facility, collaboration center, and a pilot space available for short duration / product launch use.
Phase II – Additional 20,000 – 30,000 sf
Phase III – Additional 40,000 sf (freezer storage)

Phase I is currently available for lease in the following price ranges:

Processing Space –  $5.50 – $7.00 psf
Office Space – $12.00 – $15.00 psf

For more information or leasing details, please contact Bryan Bench or Troy Wasserman of Core Realty. www.CORErealty.com/food-forward-farm

For more information about the West Michigan Shoreline Food Processing Initiative, please visit www.westmifoodprocessinginitiative.com or www.facebook.com/WestMIFoodProcessingInitiative

Fruitport Township’s Hot Potato in the Drain Commissioner’s Office; the Kuis Drain

Brenda M. Moore, Muskegon County Drain Commissioner, May 11, 2018

Bond proceeds for the Kuis Drain have been secured. Contracts have been signed for work to proceed. Because no appeals were made; 10 days after the “Day of Review” the project was solidified—even though I contemplated downscaling the subdivision work. Please read on.

Since the first public hearing for the Kuis Drain project in 2014, significant resources have been used to design and execute drain clean-out and a subdivision storm sewer project. There have been numerous mailings to individual property owners, meetings to discuss design, scope, and timing of the project. All hearings, including one with the state, were in the newspaper and properly posted in public places. Public input after the original hearing was scarce. At the time, few disputed the work needed to be done, most wanted to know the final cost. In 2015, we provided preliminary plans for subdivision work to the township asking for input—nothing. Where did everyone go after the 1st public hearing?

The perfect storm began to brew: 1) numerous homeowners sold their homes and did not tell new owners about the pending project; 2) Many new homes were built–still below the elevations required in recorded Master Deeds; 3) the basement elevations were not checked as part of the building permit process, and; 4) the area does not have sanitary sewer as housing density and groundwater discharges increase.

In the meantime, the project planning team proceeds in good faith. Rather than discharging sump water in their yards, at the road, or to a neighbor’s property the new storm sewer system will give each property owner a direct outlet for discharged sump water—right to the main branch of the Kuis Drain. The design was finalized, bids were taken, and the assessment roll presented. Now the project had a price tag. Numerous residents came out in full force. We made adjustments to the roll after Day of Review based on property owner comments, which seemed to upset even more people.

There were two points of appeal during the 4-year process. Four appeals were generated; all were dropped, one by the township under the previous supervisor, the others by property owners. We believe residents did not want to pay the court-ordered bond to help cover legal fees. It was suggested they “pass the hat” among dozens of vocal property owners to cover the cost. Instead, those opposed to the subdivision project went political in the 11th hour, after bids were let and it was too late to make changes without significant time delays and increased costs. These project opponents, though silent during the initial requests for project input, bombarded the office of the Drain Commissioner with calls, emails, flowers, drop-ins, even recall petitions. They also packed the township hall and County Board chambers trying to sink a ship that had already landed under the legal process.

In an ill-advised attempt to kill the project, all but two County Commissioners chose not to pledge the county’s full faith and credit as part of bond financing. I understood trying to advocate for a vocal public—but second guessing another elected official, her engineers, finance person and legal team, seemed to defy logic—accept for the fact the county does not appreciate their drain assessments either. It is also an election year for County Board members.

We investigated the possibility of cutting out a portion of the subdivision project (e.g., homes built after the petition process). I learned that the Drain Code is very clear about process, which cannot be skirted by the Drain Commissioner, citizens, or the County Board. The intent of the law prevents a Drain Commissioner from suddenly adding work and cost to a project after the Day of Review. This works in reverse as well, by not allowing certain individuals to “opt out” of a project that is already planned, bid, and on its way to financing. Either scenario can bring chaos to a public infrastructure project, put more financial burden on those who are left in the project, and damage future dealings with financial institutions and contractors.

In short the key legal facts are:

• A project cannot be fundamentally changed after apportionments (assessment ratios) after the appeal time sunsets on the “Day of Review”.

• Financing is based on bids received and a computation of costs for the entire project. Under financing rules, when funds are sought for a project, costs must be locked in. Bonds are sold based on a specific project and assessment roll.

• Property owners cannot be charged if they don’t derive a benefit from the work (i.e., the whole district does not help pay for isolated work in the subdivisions).

Other not-so-fun facts:

• PA 222 allows for lawsuits by property owners if public entities are aware of a problem but do nothing—i.e., there is no governmental immunity.

• The township was asked about laying sanitary sewer line while the ground was open for the storm sewer construction. They are not pursuing this because of the high cost of a lift station to serve the area.

• Even if we could legally reduce the scope of the project at this late juncture, those not getting storm sewer services would still be paying thousands for state and federal permitting, attorney and engineering fees. They would get no infrastructure, just a design if they ever needed it.

The Drain Commissioner was put in the unhappy position of making the best decision possible for current and future property owners, their property values, and septic fields. The law limits the options at this late juncture without “starting over”. Doing that is foolhardy.

Alternative financing has been secured for the entirety of this project despite the County Board vote. We were able to get a 20-year term vs. 10 years, but the interest rate is somewhat higher because the County Board did not pledge “full faith and credit” on the bond. All the efforts made outside of the law’s appeal process simply added cost to assessments in the entire drainage district. Finally, the people who disagreed with the project that remained quiet until the end, or sold their property without disclosure, and/or built without knowing proper base floor elevations helped create this unfortunate situation. For most, it’s too late to go after the contractor. Now, the office of the Drain Commissioner is in a “cursed either way” situation. However, the project must continue as planned.

Muskegon County Clerk to Offer Free Election Inspector Training

Election inspectors are people who are paid to assist voters at the polls on Election Day. Join us for a FREE 3-hour training. If the training is completed you will receive a certificate which qualifies you to work any election in the state of Michigan for up to 2 years. Training is offered at 9 a.m. to 12 a.m. or 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. In an attempt to have election inspectors ready for the  November election due to the elimination of straight party voting, Muskegon County Clerk, Nancy A. Waters is offering a free three-hour training to become a certified election inspector.

When: Monday, July 16, 2018 from 9 a.m. to noon or 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Muskegon Innovation Hub at Grand Valley State University
200 Viridian Drive, Muskegon, MI 49440

Applications are available at the Muskegon County Clerk’s office or online at http://www.co.muskegon.mi.us/clerk

The requirements for this event:
-Complete and return Election Inspector Application to Muskegon County Clerk, 990 Terrace Street, 1st Floor by 4 p.m. on Wednesday, July 11th
-Registered to vote in Michigan (High school students 16 and older are also eligible)
-Legible handwriting
-Basic computer knowledge
-Bring photo ID to training
-Must commit to working on Election Day from 6 a.m. until approximately 9:30 p.m. (or as assigned by municipal clerk)

Anyone interested must return your application by mail/drop off at the Muskegon County Clerk’s office. Located at 990 Terrace Street, Michael E. Kobza Hall of Justice, 1st floor Muskegon, MI 49442.

Seating is limited. Pre-registration is required.

Register at: http://www.co.muskegon.mi.us/clerk
Registration Deadline: WEDNESDAY, JULY 11, 2018 at 4 p.m.

Upcoming Election Dates:
Tuesday, August 7, 2018
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

MTA Local Chapter Meeting – Muskegon County Drain Commissioner

Hello everyone-

I plan on attending on the 29th– and welcome dialog on some of the stuff flying around regarding the Drain Commissioner’s office– including:

• The County Board’s consideration to not pledge full faith and credit for bonds to fund the Pierson and Kuis Drain projects. Not pledging FF&C does not prevent my office from continuing a project but it will likely shorten terms and increase interest rates if we have to finance by other means. This only costs property owners more by making everyone’s annual payments higher (including townships). Unfortunately, if the Board does not pledge full faith and credit, and has a consistent stance in the future, it will have a harder financial impact for those in the Black Creek Consolidated Drain, the Ribe Drain, perhaps the Holland Drain, and any other large projects in the future. We are looking to be on the Board’s January 23rd agenda for the Pierson and Kuis decisions.

• Despite comments suggesting this may be a means of getting the county out of their court-sustained assessments, it does not.

• The Kuis underdrain project spectacle: all of the homes in the project area were built at or below the seasonal high groundwater table. Most are also below what was required in the Master Deed—primarily because the road was built 1.5 feet too low and basement elevations were, in part, taken from the road. The area has septic systems and Public Health records reflected groundwater at an average of 3 feet from the ground’s surface. Most people say they don’t need the project, but science suggests otherwise. They also don’t want the assessment but then; how many people have cheered public sewer, street, and water assessments?

• I view citizen actions for Kuis project #2 as an “end-run” attempt on due process. There is an appeal process under the law, but the citizen(s) pushing on my office, dropped the appeal and took the cause to TV17, the Township Board, and most recently, the County Board to “stop the project” –costing everyone in the project area more money. If the original appeal process was honored, it would not have cost property owners any additional money.

• Despite political shenanigans, Facebook frenzies, and loads of misinformation, I do not intend to walk away from the time and financial investments already made on any existing project, nor will I cower from my duties and legitimate citizen petitions. Please remember that I do not make decisions in a vacuum. I have experienced attorneys, engineers, excavators, and environmental consultants who do work all over the state that bring their expertise to the table, which adds to my training and experience. Everything is done according to the law and with consideration of current and future citizens.

• We are pursuing partnerships that bring funding to drain projects. We have secured hundreds of thousands in support already. Every political distraction that we have to address takes time away from this endeavor. I also worry that grant funders may decide to invest in areas that have better reputations regarding inter-governmental and inter-departmental teamwork.

• We have completed several drain projects that many citizens have complained about (no one wanted an assessment and many questioned the need) but most are still supportive of the completed work (e.g., Kent, Laurene Taylor, Stewart, Wooley) to name a few. We even get calls complimenting our work!

OK—I’m off the soapbox. 😀 Hope to see you on the 29th.

Muskegon County Airport Passenger Activity Climbs 28% in May

The number of passengers choosing Muskegon County Airport (MKG) for air travel continues to climb. The total number of passengers flying United Airlines (operated by SkyWest Airlines) to and from MKG was 3,636 for the month of May, compared to 2,840 during May 2016, up 28%. The June numbers are looking strong and the July reservations are shaping up to be a record setting month.

These passenger numbers are coming on the heels of Muskegon SkyWest Airlines station receiving the United Airlines Quality First Award for the first quarter of 2017. The MKG station was selected #1 out of approximately 350 small airport stations nationwide served by United Airlines. This highly competitive award is a true testament to our local team’s commitment to operational excellence and customer service.

“We are very pleased to see more regional travelers choosing to fly locally on United,” said Jeffrey Tripp, Muskegon County Airport Manager. “SkyWest Station Manager James Perri and his team provide the highest level of service to all customers and are to be commended. The United Quality First Award is based on many performance goals, including on-time, flight completion, customer service and safety, and the improvements are showing in our passenger numbers.”

United Airlines offers daily round trip flights to Chicago O’Hare on 50-seat regional jet aircraft providing passengers with convenient connections to anywhere in the world. To sign up for the airport e-blast, go to www.flymkg.com. The e-blast contains special airfares on United Airlines and monthly Casino Packages to Laughlin, Nevada.

Boys & Girls Club of the Muskegon Lakeshore – Best Summer Ever 2017

The Boys & Girls Club of the Muskegon Lakeshore (BGCML), the City of Muskegon, and local school districts are holding nothing back in creating a brighter future this summer for youth, ages 6-18, in the Muskegon community. For years, the City of Muskegon Summer Parks Programs have been a saving grace to youth and families during the summer months. As the school year comes to an end the Best Summer Ever is nearly here!

The Boys & Girls Club will provide FREE day camps, at various locations, to serve the youth of Muskegon County this Summer. Summer Day Camps will be offered for youth ages 6-18 from June 13th-August 18th.

  This program will be offered Monday through Friday from 9:00am-4:00pm at the following park sites. FREE breakfast and lunch will be provided each day:

• Seyferth Park (2250 West Sherman Avenue)

     • Breakfast:  9:00am

     • Lunch: 12:00pm

• Reese Park (1345 East Forest Avenue)

     • Breakfast: 9:30am

     • Lunch: 12:30pm

• Smith Ryerson Park (650 Wood Street)

     • Breakfast: 10:00am

     • Lunch: 1:00pm

  This program will be offered Monday through Friday from 12:00pm-6:00pm at the following Club Sites. FREE lunch and dinner will be provided each day:

• Boys & Girls Club Nelson Site (550 W. Grand Ave)

     • Lunch: 1:00pm at Love Community Garden (437 Monroe Ave)

     • Dinner: 5:00pm at Clara Sheperd Park (Southern Avenue)

The Boys & Girls Club Muskegon Heights Site will also provide FREE teen day camps with summer brain gain, recreation and character development activities to middle and high school students, ages 12-18.

  Starting on June 26th, these programs will be offered Monday through Friday from 12:00pm-6:00pm at the following Club Sites. FREE lunch and dinner will be provided each day:

     • Lunch: 1:00pm

     • Dinner: 5:00pm

BGCML will be hosting a Parent & Member Orientation and kick-off event June 13th at each park site (12:00pm-4:00pm) and our Nelson location (12:00pm-6:00pm). There will be games, a cookout, the ability to meet the BGCML summer staff, face painting and additional family-fun activities. An invitation to these events is extended to all in the community who would like information about summer programming.

To enroll or inquire about the Summer Parks Recreation Program, the Summer Club Enrichment Program or participation in both, please contact the Boys & Girls Club of the Muskegon Lakeshore Staff at 231-375-5576 or info@bgclubmuskegon.com. Online enrollment is available at www.bgclubmuskegon.com/online-member-application.

*In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English. To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at: http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by: (1) mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights 1400 Independence Avenue, SW Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; (2) fax: (202) 690-7442; or (3) email: program.intake@usda.gov. This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

**All sites will be closed July 3rd and July 4th for the Holiday.

Visitors Guide and Discount Coupon Book 2017

MUSKEGON COUNTY CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU RELEASES 2017 VISITORS GUIDE AND DISCOUNT COUPON BOOK

Muskegon, Ml – The Muskegon County Convention &Visitors Bureau (CVB) recently released its 2017 Visitors Guide and Coupon Book, both targeted to visitors outside the area who may be considering this shoreline community as a vacation, meeting, or event destination.

“We’re very pleased with this year’s Visitors Guide and Coupon Book,” said Bob Lukens, director of the Muskegon County CVB. “The visitors guide features Muskegon County’s many attractions, outdoor activities, and annual events that make Muskegon County such a special place for visitors. The Discount Coupon Book offers great deals on many of the county’s attractions, restaurants, and golf courses. I encourage people to call or e-mail the CVB for a complimentary copy of each guide.”

The 52-page, full-color guide features attractions like Michigan’s Adventure – the state’s largest amusement and water park, located in Whitehall – and the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex, USS Silversides Submarine Museum, and Muskegon Museum of Art, among many others. Muskegon County’s beaches, festivals and events, hotels, cottages, restaurants, and cultural attractions are also included in the guide.

The Muskegon County Discount Coupon Book offers 70 coupons from area restaurants, retailers, golf courses, and attractions.

Complimentary copies of both publications are available from the Muskegon County Convention & Visitors Bureau by calling 800-250-9283 (toll-free) or by e-mail at info@visitmuskegon.org. Guides may also be ordered on the home page of the CVB website at www.visitmuskegon.org.

2016 Muskegon County Day of Caring

Day of Caring-2016 Kicks Off United Way’s Human Service Campaign:
Pacesetters’ Solid Early Results Mark 15% of Goal

MUSKEGON – Hundreds of volunteers came together Friday, September 9, at the Muskegon Farmers Market for United Way of the Lakeshore’s 2016 Muskegon County Day of Caring and campaign kickoff. The volunteers met for a breakfast at the Farmers Market, before heading out to work sites to address projects identified by nine local agencies: Kids Food Basket, The Salvation Army of Muskegon, Community enCompass, Pathfinders, Muskegon Area Land Bank Authority, Muskegon Area Transit System, Love INC, Mission for Area People, and Brookhaven Medical Facility.

Christine Robere, President and CEO, United Way of the Lakeshore said, “The agencies each provide services that help ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) families meet their basic needs when issues arise. ALICE represents 1 in 4 Muskegon County families—approximately 15,000 households—led by men and women of all ages and races who get up each day to go to work, but are one unexpected expense away from crisis.” Robere added, “Every dollar from individual donors through the United Way annual workplace campaign goes to fund human service needs related to education, income stability, and health, right here in our community—while corporate and grant funding helps to cover our administrative costs, for which we thank those corporate sponsors.” “Today, we thank all of you and we salute each and every volunteer who gives their time, talent, and treasures as they care for our community and help to kick off the United Way Annual Campaign to fund human service needs in Muskegon County,” Robere underscored.

Erik Jepsen, Campaign Chairman for 2016, recognized the volunteer effort and said, “The Day of Caring also serves as the official launch of the United Way of the Lakeshore’s fundraising campaign with a goal to raise $2.27 million to invest in Muskegon County. To meet that goal, we expect 6,000 donors from 350 workplaces to participate this year, many who know the plight of ALICE and want to support United Way priorities that help kids succeed, improve healthy living and increase financial stability and independence.” Jepsen added, “We’re proud of the giving spirit in Muskegon County where over the past decade we have raised close to $30 million from individuals; this funding has helped to leverage an additional $10 million local matching dollars to invest in human service needs of area children and families.”

Jepsen said, “Based on our early results from Pacesetters, we can reach that goal to help ALICE.

 

Pacesetter campaigns begin about a month ahead of campaign kick- off to help “set the pace” for the entire campaign. Preliminary results from the 2016 Pacesetter campaign efforts are strong showing the combined Muskegon County pacesetter campaigns totaling close to 15% of the overall goal at $338,935.

 

The following Pacesetter companies all ran great campaigns, according to Jepsen:

 

  • ADAC Automotive raised $40,200 (27% increase over 2015)
  • Cannon-Muskegon raised $89,520 (12% over 2015)
  • First General Credit Union $7,183 (591% over last year)
  • Hooker DeJong Architects Engineers $4,176
  • Knoll raised $78,000
  • LifeCircles raised $4,823

 

-more-

  • McKenzie Price raised $1,926 (30% increase)
  • Muskegon Area ISD has raised $36,000 so far (11% increase)
  • Parmenter O’Toole raised $6,152
  • The ARC Muskegon raised $1,616 (more than 40% increase over 2015)
  • Tyler Sales raised $11,617 so far
  • United Way Human Service Complex raised $11,617 (9% increase over 2015)
  • West Michigan Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 174 raised $2,781 thus far

 

Jepsen also introduced key volunteers who are assisting with this year’s campaign. Loaned Executives include:

    • Debbie Anderson, Child Abuse Council
    • Steve Barnard, Wastewater Management System, Muskegon County
    • Jessica Chandler, Merrill Lynch
    • Alex Conrad, Y-Knot Embroidery & Screenprinting
    • Jennifer Grinnell, LifeCircles
    • Stacy Hollenbeck, Huntington
    • Brian Kammerzell, Comerica Bank
    • Steve Keglovitz, Community Volunteer
    • Jackie Knowlton, Fifth Third Bank
    • Cyndi Langlois, Muskkegon Community College
    • Jeff Malec, Malec Engineering Solutions
    • Lauren Meldrum, HealthWest
    • Lori O’Brien, Community Volunteer
    • Kim Parmer, Cannon Muskegon
    • Ben Reider, Parmenter O’Toole
    • Doniele Routt, Nowak Machined Products
    • Farrah Staff, Edward Jones
    • Skyler Vaughn, CWC Textron

 

The Campaign Cabinet includes:

    • Alcoa Employees – Jackie Johnson, Christie Hill & Chelsea McEntaffer
    • Mercy Health Partner – Blaire Moreau & Dave Webber
    • Manufacturing – Erik Gentzkow (Cannon Muskegon) & Brendan Bolhuis (Beacon Recycling)
    • Construction/Utilities – Rich Houtteman (Consumers Energy)
    • Education – John Severson (Muskegon Area ISD)
    • Human Service agencies/churches –Penny Albertie & Mike Mitchell (American Red Cross)
    • Professionals – Josh Reece (Parmenter O’Toole)
    • FIRE (Finance/Insurance/Real Estate) – Brett Burza (Raymond James)
    • Commercial/Retail – Jonathan Pittman (Muskegon Mall)
    • Labor Chair – Bob Barnett (UA 174)
    • Loaned Executives & training – Jessica Chandler (Merrill Lynch)
    • Leadership Circle – Brad and Janice Hilleary (Webb Chemical)
    • Tocqueville – Jim & Kristine Tyler (Tyler Sales)
    • Retirees – Bob Carter

Individuals may donate securely online to help working families at www.unitedwaylakeshore.org  Any workplace that would like to have an employee campaign, please contact Nancy Robbins, Resource Development Director, United Way of the Lakeshore, at (231) 332-4003 or nancy@unitedwaylakeshore.org

Newaygo County and Oceana County Day of Caring and kickoff for campaigns in those counties are scheduled later in the fall.

United Way of the Lakeshore is uniting to inspire change and build thriving communities. Our Bold Goal – 10,000 more working families meet their basic needs by 2025. For more information, contact United Way of the Lakeshore at 231-332-4047 or visit www.unitedwaylakeshore.org

Drain Commissioner Day of Review Summary

Brenda Moore, Muskegon County Drain Commissioner

The annual “Day of Review” for drain district boundary changes and assessments was rough this year!  It was no picnic last year—my first in office.  To sum up the input and frustrations I’ve heard from the public, township board members, and county officials; I would call it “culture shock”.   We are—and have to—do things so much differently now.  If I had to summarize the key issues (in order of frequency of comments) it would go like this:

·         “When was this drain district created—I’ve never heard of it.”

Response:  Most of the 100+ open channel ditches in Muskegon county were created in the late 1800s and early 1900s to facilitate property drainage for new development and agriculture.  Many of these drains are merely altered creeks, so the drain in your district may look very much like a stream.

·         “I’ve lived in my home for __ years and never had a drain assessment!”
 
Response:  For most of the drains that have been worked on in the last several years we have found no formal record of assessments or major work for 30-40 years.

·         “I don’t have flooding problems on my property so I should not have to pay an assessment.”

Response:  (Respectfully) The rainwater and snow melt from your property goes somewhere.  In a catastrophic rain or melt event, not all of the water soaks into the ground.  It runs off to other properties, and (eventually) to the county drain.  If you received an assessment you are in the watershed of the drain.

·         “Why don’t the taxes I pay take care of drain work?”

Response:  General fund tax dollars do not go to support county drain work.  Any maintenance work has to be supported by a special assessment.  The assessment process is outlined in the state Drain Code.  Any work conducted from the drain office must be supported by special assessments placed on the properties in the district.  General funds do, however, cover the salaries of our staff: myself, the deputy and a secretary.

·         “How are assessments decided?”

Response:  Local and county government pay a portion of the bill.  There is no standard formula and percentages range from around 5% to over 45% around the state; depending on the specifics of the project.  For property owners, it is generally based on acreage.  In some counties property owners who engage in conservation practices can realize lower assessments.  We are working toward this incentive in the future.

Please note that the only time a public notice must be given on an assessment is when the district boundaries are changed, when a petition is given to this office, or when apportionments (assigned percentages of cost) are changed.  Maintenance assessments of under a certain amount do not require a notice, although we will make every reasonable effort to alert people of pending assessments in the future.

·         “The ditch in front of my house is a mess.  How can you charge me for maintenance when it is in such poor condition?”

Response:  Although some road drains are also county drains most county Drain Commissioner drains run cross country.  Most roadside ditches are maintained by the County Road Commission.  Both entities are collaborating more to work together if we can, however, I have no authority to engage in work outside an established county drain.

·         “We used to dig out the ditches ourselves.”

Response:  Not only is that a bad environmental practice because random digging can cause more problems downstream, but in 2013 state environmental protection law was changed to require Drain Commissioners to get permits for their work from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.  Previous to that work in drains was not monitored.  Private property owners now engaging in such work expose themselves to all kinds of liability and potential penalties under state law.

·         “The work you are doing seems more expensive than ditch cleaning should be.”

Response:  Certainly nothing is getting cheaper, but we are not digging the entire ditch line (creek) with a backhoe as was generally done in the past.  That simply causes too much environmental damage.  Much of our work now also comes under Michigan Department of Environmental Quality scrutiny and they often require “best management practices” as a condition of permitting our work.   Now, rather than digging out trees by the roots and casting aside soil spoils we must stabilize waterway banks through a variety of means including seeding, blanketing steep slopes, and using rip rap.  Also, engineering plans have to be provided to the state as part of the permit process.  This includes survey work and ditch profiles.  We are obligated to use “best management practices” to reduce environmental impact and protect water quality. The state decides if the proposed environmental conservation practices are appropriate.

Even with routine maintenance we are selectively trimming trees, and when we have to take trees out of the flow channel, they are “flush cut” rather than pulled out by the roots with heavy equipment.  Leaving root systems in place helps keep the ditch bottom and banks in place.  True, exercising more finesse does take more time and money in the short term—but doing things more carefully requires much less work and expense in the long term.

·         “We never receive notice of the work being done and we had no time to plan for the extra expense.”

Response:  Point well taken!  Because the Drain Office has easements and right of access to work on the drains, notice may not have been provided in the past.  During my tenure, we alerted property owners along the drain and the supervisors of each township but, truthfully, we can do better.

In the future, unless there is a need for emergency work, we will send a letter to all property owners in the district before work is done to invite questions and input. We will also send a letter to the community and a press release to the local paper.  In some cases a town meeting may be in order. Information on all pending projects will also be posted on our website.

·         “Some people will have a hard time paying the assessment!”

Response:  The Drain Commissioner has the option of spreading an assessment over time, or assessing smaller amounts to build up a reserve for future maintenance work.  The amount that can be “built up” is limited by the law and all funds are dedicated and held in a special account for each district.  Based on comments heard at this year’s “Day of Review” some of the assessments will be spread over two years.  Others will be lowered to collect less “set-aside” money, but that means catching up with maintenance backlogs will take longer.

For more information about drain office operations call us at 724-6219 or see www.co.muskegon.mi.us/drain