Muskegon County

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