Myth Busters: Fruitport History Edition

by Brian Zwart

For anyone that has done any amount of traveling, they know that every small town has its fair share of secrets, legends and myths. Well, Fruitport is no different. As I’ve been studying local history, I’ve come across several examples of this in our little town. The Fruitport Historical Society has fielded many of these questions, but I thought it would be worthwhile to dispense with some of the most notorious ones for all to hear.

One of the most popular stories that I’ve heard involves the ‘Fruitport Gold’. Ron Cooper brought me in on this several years ago and I spent some time researching it for myself. The story involves a stagecoach robbery, a death bed confession, and of course, Fruitport’s Pomona House. In August 1874, five men from Muskegon headed north to White Cloud and robbed a stagecoach loaded with payroll for the logging camps. Dressed as Indians, the men got away with $74,000 worth of gold coins. Today, that amount would be worth over $1.5 million. One of the men, Sam Norris, worked as a janitor at the Pomona House and hid his share of the loot in the cellar wall of the hotel. A year later the hotel burned. The story seemed to end there; until Ron Cooper received a letter from a woman in Florida in 1986 that included a copy of the original ‘deathbed confession’ that told the story. The author of the letter was Sarah Norris, Sam’s sister who was filled with shame and regret that her brother would have done such a thing. Apparently, the hotel burned before the gold could be removed. This myth, according to my research and that of Ronn Mann Sr., is true. The robbery really happened and part of the gold was more than likely hidden in Pomona Park as indicated by the letter.

However, it is highly unlikely that it is still there. After extensive renovations, the Pomona House reopened about a year after the first fire, which means carpenters and construction workers would have torn down walls and rebuilt most of the remaining structure. After the second fire in 1876, the cellar was left exposed in Pomona Park for decades. More than likely, someone would have found it and never said a thing about it. In the summer of 2012, I was present for an archaeological dig seeking the foundations of the Pomona House. Many people stopped to ask if we were looking for gold. No, we weren’t; nor did we find any. So, this myth is true. But don’t waste your time looking for it, because it’s long gone.

The next myth is a fun one. It involves secret tunnels that run under the Village Park Bed and Breakfast. The bed and breakfast was at one time the home of Joseph Ford, manager and operator of the Spring Lake Iron Company. Many older residents recall Furnace Town, well, that was it. Ford built his home in the early 1880s and lived there until his death in 1912. While there is no historical indication that the tunnels actually exist, previous residents claim to have found them and even admit to playing in them as children. I was invited by the current owners to investigate this a few years back, and found it very interesting. While I did not find the entrance to the tunnels myself, there is indication that they are there, or once were. Some stories have been floating around about the purpose of these tunnels. One explanation was that they were used by John Dillinger to rob the Fruitport bank. According to local legend, one tunnel ran east from the current bed and breakfast directly under what is now Fifth Third Bank. Well, John Dillinger was born in 1903 and died in 1934. The bank wasn’t built until 1963; so that one is bunk. The next one claims that bootleggers used another tunnel, this one extended south under the road into the basement of the Pomona House, to steal and transport booze. Again, the dates don’t add up. The Pomona House was gone for nearly twenty years before the Ford home was even built. Another version of the story gives a possible use of the tunnels as part of the Underground Railroad. Most northern towns would love to say they contributed to this noble cause, however, it is not likely. Again, the dates simply do not add up. Thanks to the 13th Amendment, slavery was officially ended in 1865. Michigan did play a part in the Underground Railroad, but the furthest stop north was in the Jackson area. Also, the house wasn’t built for another fifteen years. While we haven’t found any tunnels, they very well may be there. However, their purpose was more than likely something innocent and not nefarious. This myth is plausible.


Photo courtesy of the Fruitport Historical Society

The last myth that I’ll cover is one that may strike a chord with most Fruitport residents. It is one of the most impactful and longest lasting of the local myths; the bent Oak tree. For those who don’t know where or what this is, it is a strangely bent Red Oak tree located between the westbound and eastbound sections of I-96 on Airline Road heading south into Fruitport. When the highway was built, the Michigan Department of Transportation supposedly left this tree alone. Legend has it that this tree was bent by Indians and used as a trail marker heading to the trading posts in Grand Rapids. This story has a few problems. Firstly, while Indians did live and trade in the Fruitport area, their presence was very much depleted by the signing of the Treaty of Washington in 1836. This treaty was the formal ceding of most of the state of Michigan to the United States by the Native tribes.


One of the earliest known photographs of the Bent Oak Tree, date unknown. From the Collection of the Lakeshore Museum Center.

By using approximate dating methods, the oak tree in question is roughly 160 years old. This is a working number calculated from multiplying the trees diameter and the growth factor for that species of tree. Many environmental factors could impact this number and change it in either direction. The branch that extends out is smaller and is approximately 100 years old. Assuming the age is correct, that would place the initial growth year of the tree in 1857 and the branch in 1917. These years tell us some things. First, the initial date for the main tree trunk was twenty one years after the land was ceded to the United States government. In that era, when more and more white settlers moved in, the natives quickly moved out. Michigan became a state on January 26, 1837, and by 1860 nearly 750,000 residents were calling themselves Michiganders. The second date, if correct for the branch, puts it way out of the question that it was done by Indians. In 1917 the world was engulfed in World War I and the native presence in Michigan was almost completely assimilated to western culture.

Second, as a matter of respect for the native peoples of the America’s, they were very precise. With a small background in archaeology, I have seen some beautiful and amazing things that were designed and built by native peoples. They were accurate and precise. In regards to the tree, the branch points almost directly east, with an azimuth of about 93 degrees. If a traveler were to follow the direction of the tree branch, it would take them to Rockford, not Grand Rapids. This is about fifteen miles north of their supposed destination. If the tree was bent by Indians, I don’t think their target destination was Grand Rapids. If our tree was just one of many that pointed towards Grand Rapids, the others are long gone.

Now, this is what we do know. Fruitport and the rest of West Michigan was home to loads of Native Americans. When the first settlers came into the Fruitport area, which was officially in 1841, they more than likely still encountered some natives. But they were on the decline and were heading north, west or were beginning to assimilate into western culture. Some historical evidence does exist that might give a reasonable explanation about the tree. Some older residents agree that the tree was bent by school children as a joke. I have seen more than one account of this. I will name this myth ‘plausible’ because the date range of the main tree could have seen its fair share of Indians, but it is highly unlikely that it was bent by them or used as a trail marker.

These ‘myths’ are fun to talk about and certainly give our little town some character. Whether or not they are true is hard to say. While we have the historical process of researching and presenting evidence, it will continue to be the mission of the Fruitport Historical Society to learn as much about the past as we can and preserve it for future generations. If you have another ‘myth’ you’d like mentioned in the future, contact the Fruitport Historical Society. We can be reached online at and on Facebook.

Jodi M. Clock Nominated Finalist for Women Pet Professionals Entrepreneur of the Year

Local Businesswoman was nominated as a finalist for Entrepreneur of the Year in Winter 2017 Magazine Devoted to Women Pet Professionals

MUSKEGON, MICHIGAN DECEMBER 21,2017 – Jodi M. Clock of Muskegon, MI can be seen in the just-released Top Women in the Pet Industry Magazine for Winter 2017.jodiclock

Jodi M. Clock, is a certified pet loss professional who founded, owns, and operates Western Michigan’s only pet parent direct pet loss center that offers private cremation services, burial assistance and grief support. Clock Timeless Pets in Muskegon. Details about her business can be found on page(s) 30-31 of the magazine.

For details on the offerings of Jodi M. Clock, contact her directly at or 231-343-5866. / or @askjodi

Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce – Golf Outing

Congratulations Chamber Classic Winners!

golfteamsAM First Place team: Republic Services (left picture)
PM First Place team: Lincoln Golf Club (right picture)

Longest Drive Men – AM: Ryan Oosting, Morgan Stanley
Longest Drive Men – PM: Peter Medema, Fifth Third Bank – Seminole

Longest Drive Women – AM: Michelle Van Hemert, Workbox Staffing – Whitehall Office
Longest Drive Women – PM: Jean Gallagher, Sonus Hearing Care Professionals

Longest Putt Men – AM: Bruce Smith, Sidock Group, Inc.
Longest Putt Men – PM: Trip Johnson, G&L Chili Dogs

Longest Putt Women – AM: Cathy Ferguson, Blue Cross Blue Shield/Blue Care Network of Michigan
Longest Putt Women – PM: Brennan Hallberg, Manpower

Golf Outing By The Numbers:
  • 50 Teams (Sold Out for the 3rd Year in a Row)
• 120+ Raffle Prizes
• 40 Sponsors
• 35+ Volunteers
• $2,000+ donated to silent observer

Thank you to our sponsors, golfers, raffle donors, volunteers, and everyone else involved for supporting the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce and making this the best outing yet!

Thanks again to our tournament sponsor, Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge!

Lakeshore Art Festival Named Favorite Small Town Art Fair Second Year in a Row

MUSKEGON, MI – The Lakeshore Art Festival continues to raise the bar for fine art and craft events in Michigan. For the second year in a row, the festival was ranked one of the Favorite Small Town Art Fairs by The website ranked festivals based on a survey taken by thousands of art festival attendees.

“I was incredibly excited to hear we made the list again this year,” said Lakeshore Art Festival Director, Carla Flanders. “The Lakeshore Art Festival continues to lead the way in attendance, sustainability, and interactive art. I am thrilled to be part of the great team that makes everything happen.” The art festival has also been recognized as #1 in the state of Michigan for Classic & Contemporary Craft Shows and ranked #27 in the nation by the Sunshine Artist Magazine which is known for high-quality content for the fine art and craft industry.

The rankings are obtained via ballots from art fair attendees across the country. Voters are asked to choose their favorite art fairs and shows in the country as well as in categories, such as Favorite Small Town Art Fair. They were also asked questions about their attendance preferences, festival buying habits, favorite artists and more.

“The recent recognition is bringing positive attention to the Lakeshore Art Festival and Muskegon both locally and nationally,” commented Flanders. “We are incredibly proud of all the work going into this festival, and the artists who play such a big role in this artful event.”

Fine artists and hand crafters can register now for the Lakeshore Art Festival, July 6 & 7, at Deadline is February 1, 2018.

Non-Profit Law Firm Now Open

Low Income Legal Assistance

Muskegon, MI:  On the cutting edge of criminal defense, a new Muskegon non-profit began representing low income clients on Monday, October 9, 2017.  Muskegon Community Legal Defense Center is one of only a handful of non-profits in the country who represent clients on a sliding scale, flat fee retainer, based on client income and the only one focusing on criminal defense cases.  The Muskegon Community Legal Defense Center rates begin at $325 for low income clients charged with a misdemeanor.  Fees increase based on severity of charge and the client’s income.

Previously, Muskegon County’s public defense system regularly handled three time the maximum number of cases recommended by American Bar Association standards, as well as the standards set by other professional groups.  Muskegon CLDC follows all applicable caseload standards. This allows Muskegon CLDC to maintain the highest of professional standards while proactively advocating for the rights of clients.

The creation of the Muskegon Community Legal Defense Center serves two purposes.  First, it provides affordable representation for those who are accused but do not have the financial resources for representation through for-profit firms.  Second, MCLDC will reduce the caseload of the Public Defender’s office.

Joshua EldenBrady, the new organization’s Executive Director, stated, “Operating as a non-profit on an equal pay basis with the Muskegon County Prosecutor’s Office will allow Muskegon CLDC to grow and attract quality legal talent in response to client and community needs.  We look forward to serving our community and our clients.”

Call 231-735-7480 for more information.

Time, Mail and Your Fruitport Post Office

Josh Martin, Officer In Charge (OIC) August 2016- October 2017, sees the local post office as more than just a place to send and pick up mail, it’s a place of running in to friends and neighbors who just happened to be there at the same time as you, as well as reuniting with people that you may not have seen in years.

Martin shares, “I am always amazed at the stories that I hear and witness when those long lost friends see each other for the first time in many years… at the post office. As a 3rd generation postal employee, I can’t begin to tell you how many residents my grandpa knew through working at the Spring Lake Post Office. Even after he retired he would still remember their names and give them a huge smile and friendly greeting when he would see them around town. The story continued as, when I was just a kid, I would ride with my mom, who also worked at the Spring Lake Post Office, through town and she would say ‘“oh, that is where Mrs. (name) used to live.”’

Through my years in the Postal Service “family” I have learned a valuable lesson: though you, our customers, depend on us to deliver and send your mail, it’s you our customers…our friends… that have had the greatest influence on us. We appreciate how you have included your Letter Carrier and the friendly Clerks and the Fruitport Post Office into your lives. You are the reason for us doing what we do!”

When Josh Martin first came to the Fruitport Post Office, as OIC in August 2016, he immediately made some phone calls and began the process of making some much needed improvements to the Fruitport facility. “Because we value you so much” Martin says, “the majority of changes were made to improve your experience here. We have installed new floors, new interior paint, ceiling repairs, a brand new retail counter, new customer-information/work tables for packing and filling out forms, new landscaping and a freshly painted flag pole which displays the pride and glory of our nation. We welcome you to come in and see the new look and feel the difference in your Post Office”.

In addition to seeing the changes in the Post Office, the Fruitport USPS employees would appreciate your input by doing the survey on the bottom of every one of your transaction receipts. Martin said, “I know that it seems like every company these days is asking you to do a survey but there is one difference with this one.

The Fruitport Post Office is Your Post Office. It’s a cornerstone of our Fruitport community and we want to make sure that we are giving you the best service possible! Please let us know how we are doing and hopefully we are meeting your highest expectations. The only way that we will know is if you let us know. Your input is greatly appreciated.”

The United States Postal Service is continuing to enhance our overall Customer Service on a world wide scale. The latest technology has helped improve the variety of services that we offer to all of our customers. For the majority of the years that the USPS has been operating, many people would just think of the postage stamp, the letter and the occasional small package. As we all know, time has way of changing things. In addition to offering the historically valued letter mail delivery, we are now one of the largest and most competitive package shippers in the world!

Check out to discover the latest in real time tracking for packages and mail as well as many other services that we can provide to you. Though time may change the types of services offered and the process in which we deliver those services, there is one important element to the USPS that has never changed…you, our valued customer.

So, whether you visit your Fruitport Post Office to do business, purchase a variety of stamps for your collection, send a greeting card or just to say a friendly “hello”, we truly hope that you will always feel like you are in the atmosphere of friends because of the Fruitport Postal employees who make their top Priority: You!

West Michigan Spay and Neuter Clinic – Staff Spotlight

Our first staff spotlight is a two-for-one special, as these two ladies deserve great praise! 

kimpattersonKimberly Patterson,
Clinic Director

Meet Kimberly! She is no stranger to WMSN, having started here as an LVT several years ago. Her talents do not stop there, as she crossed over into the office side of the clinic, eventually becoming Director of Operations and playing an integral role in WMSNC blossoming into autonomy! Kim is an excellent leader who inspires the staff with her sincere enthusiasm for our mission and a gentle understanding of everyone’s unique perspectives. You will often find her doting upon our many patients.

Outside of the clinic, Kim is a mother to three children and one spunky orange tabby cat. She also has a special place in her heart for Dachshunds, as a special wiener dog named Duke was always by her side until his recent untimely passing.


drjulieeberlyDr. Julie Eberly, DVM,
Medical Director

Welcome our Medical Director, Dr. Eberly! She’s not new to the spay/neuter rodeo either, having garnered thousands of surgeries under her belt as a surgeon for C-SNIP for nearly 10 years.  Julie is the perfect fit for such an important job– her huge heart and genuine demeanor paired with her ingenuity and surgical acuity make her the best at what she does!

When she’s not providing top-notch surgery to 30+ animals a day, Dr. Eberly enjoys a busy, active lifestyle. She is an avid stand-up paddleboarder and loves traveling to the many beautiful sights of Michigan. She and her husband have two children, two poodles, and six cats (one of which is a kitten that Pound Buddies recently brought in for surgery, and ended up going home with her!).

Annual Sell-Out Show Opens Exhibitor Registration

The popular Muskegon Home, Garden + DIY show is returning to Fricano’s Event Center March 9 and 10, 2018.  Last year’s booth spaces sold quickly, so interested businesses are encouraged to apply early.

The 2018 Muskegon Home, Garden + DIY show will feature over 50 exhibitors including everything from windows, siding, gutters, and painting to home décor, furniture, landscaping and much more! Back by popular demand, the Do It Yourself and Educational seminars will highlight floral design, furniture refurbishing, backsplash tiling, gardening and more!

In addition to exhibitors and seminars, the home show will provide fun kids activities, thousands of dollars’ worth of prizes and discounted Fricano’s Pizza with purchase of $5 home show admission ticket. Kids 12 and under are free. Tickets will go on sale February 1, 2018.

Carla Flanders, Event Director, commented, “We’re proud to bring the spotlight to our local businesses that feature anything home, garden and DIY! This show is one of the largest events of this kind on the Lakeshore.  The feedback we received from last year echoed the event’s success and we look forward to building on that for another amazing event in 2018.”

West Michigan Spay and Neuter Clinic – Precious Patient Portraits


The staff can’t resist doting upon our patients every day, and some of them stop wiggling long enough to take pretty cute pictures! Enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at the patients of WMSNC.



Spay It Forward

Would you like to make a lasting difference in the lives of a pet, their owner, and the community? Consider Spaying It Forward by sponsoring another animal’s surgery costs with a donation of $90. Simply call or stop in to arrange your donation.

Donations are tax-refundable, and receipts will be provided. 



We would like to thank Petco Foundation for recently awarding us with a generous grant. This money will allow us to reach more pets in need, and provide the gift that keeps on giving- spay and neuter!

West Michigan Spay and Neuter Clinic Celebrates 20,000 Safe Surgeries

Celebrating 20,000 Surgeries!wmsnccelebrates

Last month, WMSNC celebrated its 20,000th safe surgery. This means that since we opened seven years ago, thousands of responsible owners have decided to say, “my pets don’t litter!”. Between cats and dogs, this has potentially prevented up to half a million puppies and kittens being displaced in the West Michigan area in only seven years.

Spay and neuter is one of the biggest reasons Muskegon County became “no-kill” in 2016. This means that healthy, adoptable animals were not euthanized simply due to overcrowding. Every owner that loves their pet enough to get them spayed/neutered makes a difference in the lives of countless other animals!


West Michigan Wishlist

We are always in need of the following items (priority items are bolded):
• Distilled water (Gallon size)
Cat carriers
• Bleach
70% Isopropyl alcohol
Wet and dry cat food
• Paper towels
• Printer paper
• Live traps (cat size)



Pictures from WMSNC’s annual open house in September.

“Hometown Boy” Thankful For Business Ownership Opportunity

by Alex Rogalla

new ownerNever in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that one day, after 31 years in the retail grocery business, I would become the owner of not one but two grocery stores. And not just any grocery stores but the very ones which I have spent my entire working career learning about the crazy yet exciting retail business. Talk about a true blessing.

It was a little more than three decades ago, when I was a junior at FHS, that I turned in an application at what was then Fruitport Foods in pursuit of my first real job; yep you guessed it a customer service bag boy/carryout. I wasn’t really sure why I wanted to work at the local grocery store but I had a ton of memories of shopping there with my mom and it seemed like a pretty cool job. So after calling and bugging the management staff for weeks on end, I finally must have drove Al Wilson crazy enough to have him ask me to come in for an interview. I did, must have went well, (or he didn’t want me calling anymore), and he hired me…..May 6, 1986.

My gut was right, I loved working there. Every day offered so much variety and so much to learn and the staff I worked with was a great bunch of people who taught me a lot about the grocery business. But my favorite part of the job was and still is my favorite part of my job; getting to know and serve the amazing customers from the surrounding communities and forming lasting, meaningful relationships with them. The saying goes “it takes all types” and believe me I think I have met all types over the years but that’s what makes each day so enjoyable. It’s the people.

Over the years, my knowledge of the grocery business grew as I gained experience working in just about every department within the store. You see, in the grocery world, if you show a solid work ethic and the desire to take on new challenges, it is almost certain that you will advance your way around the store until you have gained wisdom in most all of the departments, many times taking on more than one at a time. But what’s next? Well, when the time is right, like it was for me back in 1992, it was time to graduate to the next level of learning; what it meant to be part of the store management team. And for that, I can thank my longtime manager and mentor Wayne Ferrier. Wayne told me that the company was planning on building a brand new store right next to the current one, and that they wanted me to train to become an assistant store manager, ready to go when the doors opened on the new facility.

So, when the new store opened up in the summer of 1993, I was officially a part of the store management team, along with Wayne, Jack Stevens, and then owner Brian Punches. It was at this time that the real learning started at a whole new level, overseeing the entire store was a much different responsibility altogether. Once again, I gained valuable experience and knowledge from this group of guys who took me in under their wings, taught me what it takes to be a store manager, some through conversations, some by hands on, and some by trial and error. I can honestly say most of what I learned from Brian Punches wasn’t by what he did say but what he didn’t say; his calmness, his approach to situations, his view on taking care of the customer, and how he treated his management team and staff. Character and integrity, he had it and I was drawn to it.

Summer, 1996, the Punches family along with several other individual local investors built a new grocery store in Spring Lake, very similar to the Fruitport location layout and slightly larger. With both stores now under the same banner of Orchard Markets, these changes were about to bring about more opportunity.

August 30, 2004, a couple of years after being bought out by Roundy’s, a corporation out of Milwaukee, WI, Gary Gerlach, then of Hudsonville, MI stepped forward and purchased the two stores from the corporation, once again bringing them back to the community as “family owned and operated stores”. In 2006, we made some changes within the company structure that changed my role going from the store manager at Fruitport to the general manager of both store locations. This was an incredible challenge and blessing at the same time. Like I said earlier, it’s all about people; and getting to really know the staff at Spring Lake and the amazing customers who shop and live around there has been awesome to say the least.

Over the next 11 years, I split my time between Fruitport and Spring Lake, overseeing the operations, daily conditions, staffing needs, and human resources. Gary and I had a great working relationship; he allowed me the freedom to do my job while always providing guidance and support through his many, many years of experience in the grocery business but we also had a special friendship as well. In a lot of ways, we shared many similarities in the career path we chose and the direction the path took along the way. We shared high standards, high expectations, and a commitment to customer service and our communities.

In the early spring of 2015, Gary approached me about my interest in owning the stores one day, after he had decided that he was nearing the end of his career path and felt that he was ready to pass the baton on, not to just anyone, but he specifically said that he wanted to sell the stores to me. Talk about being humbled and blown away at the same time. Over the past 13 years of working for Gary, as his store manager first then as the general manager of both locations, I can honestly say not only did he teach me a wealth of knowledge but that he treated me as if I was part of his family, which I will forever be grateful for.

So, on July 11, 2017, I officially became the new owner of Orchard Markets Fruitport and Spring Lake. My wife Julie and I along with our children Erin and Evan feel so incredibly blessed as we take on this new endeavor. We look so forward to continuing our service to the wonderful people and families that make up the communities of Fruitport, Spring Lake, and the surrounding area. When we look back at this journey that started some 31 years ago and reflect on the life path that weaved, twisted, and turned along the way, we can only say thank you, thank you, thank you for your ongoing continued support throughout the years.

No, I could not have imagined this in my wildest dreams but His ways are higher than mine and for that I am forever thankful.

Dancing into the Sunset

Dancing into the Sunset Dance Party at Pomona Park in Fruitport, Wednesday’s throughout the summer

by Susan Halter

The 1st ANNUAL DANCING INTO THE SUNSET is in the books! With over 550 attending throughout the summer! It was successful enough that The Village of Fruitport and The Fruitport Lions Club has agreed to the 2nd Annual Dancing into the Sunset 2018 to take place again starting Wednesday May 9th. Here is just a recap of the fun we had this summer in Pomona Park at the Bandshell in Fruitport.

twirlIf you wanted to learn how to swing dance we had Steve Zaagman creator of Grand Rapids Original Swing Society teach us how. If you wanted to learn how to line dance Diane Sherman and fellow line dancers taught us how to line dance. If you wanted to learn how to Cha, Cha, waltz or the night club two step then Ed and Gayle Wiers of Grand Haven Dance Lessons stepped up to teach. If you wanted to join in Francine’s Zumba class then all were welcomed for the night. We even learned ballet the rock and roll way from Krista Carlson and how to square dance from Jim of Hi Nabors. If a live band is what you wanted to dance to then we had The Silverado Band not once but twice to entertain us. dancingImpact Entertainment Mobile DJ Service provided a variety of the music eleven of the fifteen Wednesday nights which truly was a family affair who knows how to read a crowd and what type of music needs to be played. Meghan even stepped out into the crowd to help teach a variety of dance styles from all her years of experience being a DJ. Thank you to all of you for giving your time and effort to be part of our first year.

Many thanks to Jeremy from the Village of Fruitport for making sure Pomona Park was in tip top shape each Wednesday night and reminding the community each Wednesday the party was on! Thank you to Ye Old and The Storage Group for providing the brochures and signs, thank you to Fruitport Orchard Market for the delicious 100th Birthday cake for the Lions Club Celebration on June 7th and thank you to Baker Jo’s Cupcakes for the July 5th Cupcakes. Thank you to WayPoint Dock and Deli for advertising on your rolling sign and allowing boats to moor at your docks and walk over to Dancing into The Sunset and thank you to Fruitport Township for advertising on your rolling sign as well. Even Andy O’Riley of Positively Muskegon and the Muskegon Channel on Facebook spent an afternoon with me at Pomona Park showcasing Spring Lake and the Bandshell in the background. He has a soft spot for local community events and supports what he can through his media shows. Thank you to you too, Andy. Mostly thank you to the Fruitport Lions Club for stepping up to the plate and adding this event as a Lions Club sponsored event that we all will continue for many years to come.

lineYes I mentioned a lot of thank you’s just now but it is important to know even though I was the one that started Dancing Into The Sunset it is equally important to recognize those that stepped up as well to make it happen. As you can see this was truly a community supported weekly event that I so enjoyed bringing back to the same location where many memories were made back in the 1940’s and 50’s when dancing and music took place at the “Pavilion” . I heard stories of how husbands and wives met for the first time, and still after 60 years can look into each others eyes with that sparkle and remember as if it was just yesterday. As requested pictures were brought down and given to me to display of the Pavilion as it once stood before flames took it to the ground. The structure may be gone but those memories will stay in the hearts of all those that attended. What an amazing first year! Let’s keep it going!

couplesWatch for announcements after the first of the year for the 2018 Dancing into the Sunset line up of entertainment. If anyone has any suggestions, positive comments or would like to help with the success of Dancing into the Sunset any way you can please do contact Susan at her email of: dancingintosunset or Facebook page of Dancing into the Sunset – Fruitport. Looking for sponsors to keep this a “free” event. So if you or your business would like to sponsor one of our Wednesday nights contact me at the places just mentioned.

Hope you enjoy the photos which were taken by Wendy Press VanKoevering of Picture It Now and Forever. Thank you Wendy! See you in 2018!

Be sure to purchase your tickets for The 10th Year of Dancing With the Local Stars featuring past Alumni Stars and Pro dancers held at the Muskegon Holiday Inn sponsored by Women’s Division Chamber of Commerce ( which raises funds for the local food pantries. Last year alone $126,000.00 were raised which brings the grand total to date (started in 2009) to over $700,000.00 – This year they have added additional performances. There will be six performances over two weekends. Two shows first weekend – Friday February 16th, 2018, at 7:00 pm, and Saturday evening February 17, 2018 7:00 pm, then four shows the 2nd weekend, Thursday February 22, 7:00 pm – Friday February 23nd, 7:00pm – Saturday February 24th with a matinee at 1:00pm and evening performance at 7:00pm

Yours truly was asked back for the Alumni year representing Fruitport Township and the Fruitport Lions Club. I hope many from the area will be interested in purchasing sponsorships or purchase tickets to one of the shows. I will be dancing for $$$ I will receive $1.00 towards my name to put towards the food pantry donation for each vote from the audience. So you see you need to be present to help out this local Fruitport Township dancer. The Women’s Division puts on a terrific show, a full display of hors d’oeuvres as a part of your ticket price. Contact the Women’s Division at the website above or by calling Mary Kendall at (231)-798-4244 or Thank you in advance for your support!

Hackley Community Care 25th Anniversary

“Celebrating 25 Years of Quality Health Care Services in Muskegon County.”

Muskegon, MI – The story began in 1992, with an increased rate of pre-term, low birthweight babies. “No one was addressing this issue and access to prenatal care for low income pregnant women in Muskegon was limited,” says CEO, Linda Juarez.  As a result, Hackley Community Care opened its doors in a renovated, tiny brown house on the Hackley Hospital Campus, and began offering Obstetrical and medical services.

In 1992, Hackley Community Care moved to a building on the corner of Peck and Barney and began the Certified Nurse Midwifery Program that provided prenatal care, delivery and follow-up with pregnant mothers. Soon after, we added home services to pregnant mothers with a licensed social worker, nurse, and a dietician.

Hackley Community Care continued to grow from there, and moved to our current location at 2700 Baker Street, and received Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) status. From these humble beginnings, Hackley Community Care has continuously expanded to provide an array of services that include dental, behavioral health,  a pharmacy (Community Care Pharmacy), and other supporting programs such as Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, and Komen Breast & Cervical services, to name a few. All of our service are designed to meet the needs of those who are disenfranchised. Today, we have locations at the Mercy Health Partners – Hackley Campus, an Integrated Health Center (IHC) at HealthWest, full adolescent Teen Health Centers at Muskegon High School and Oakridge Public Schools, and school based behavioral health services throughout Muskegon.

“We continue our quest to be good for our Patients, Community and Staff. I can speak for the entire Board of Directors in stating that we will continue striving to assure quality services and supports to the residents of Muskegon County.  We are so grateful for the partnerships and support from the community” says Cheryl Nebedum, Chairperson Hackley Community Care Board of Directors.

Ruth, 106 Years Old, Helps Bring Schoolhouse Back to Life

By Lin and Kaerlyn Holtrop

Ruth and kids

Ruth Brifling talks with two homeschooled girls at a pancake breakfast fundraiser in March 2017.

Ruth Brifling, the oldest surviving student of South Evergreen Schoolhouse celebrated her 106th birthday on December 12, 2016. She was one of the first donors and is very active in the renovation project to bring South Evergreen Schoolhouse back to life as a community gathering place, so people now, and in future generations, can experience an authentic one-room schoolhouse.

Renovations for this post-Civil War era schoolhouse began in early 2015, with Jim Fitzpatrick and Jim Key spearheading the project. They are hoping to have it done soon so Ruth can see it in her lifetime. “I would love to see South Evergreen School come so I can go over there, sit and reminisce and think about all the teachers we used to have,” she said in an interview with Fox 17’s Brody Carter. One memorable teacher was Miss Rankins, whose father had a music store on Main Street in Coopersville, and sold Victrolas.

After the Civil War, local area families knew the community needed some improvements; one of those improvements had to be a school. Four families in Polkon Township got together and talked with neighbors about starting a school. About two years later, a one-room schoolhouse opened on the corner of 88th Avenue, and what was then River Road (now Leonard Road). The first teacher was Fanny M. Wilson, a resident of Spring Lake, whose brother was son-in-law to one of the school’s founders. When the school finally closed in 1958 or 1959, all its students were sent to the Eastmanville Schoolhouse.

Some of Ruth’s best memories were at South Evergreen. She was 7 years old when she started school and went there through 8th grade, the highest grade taught in most one-room schoolhouses. “Even when I go by there, I think, ‘That’s my home.’ I’m glad they’re fixing it up,” she also told Carter. Ruth and her seven siblings all attended South Evergreen. “They took real good care of us.”

The South Evergreen Schoolhouse Committee worked for over a year to raise the $20,000 necessary for Polkton Township to buy the property. After the purchase in early 2015, they began the work by repairing the roof, which included removing the belfry and replacing the old shingling. The following summer, the work continued with replacing broken siding, repairing the bell tower and flagpole, and scraping and repainting the exterior, which took through the end of the year. In early 2017, they received one of the school’s original outhouses from a local couple who had used it as a garden shed. The interior work is still in process.

Fitzpatrick and Key have high hopes for the future of the schoolhouse. Once finished, the schoolhouse property will function as a bicyclist waypoint for rest and exploration, with bike racks, water stations, picnic tables, and restrooms. Tours of the schoolhouse will be available for visitors, and the Committee will work with school districts to provide students with an authentic one-room schoolhouse experience. These Living History classes will include genuine antique desks, chairs, tables, a piano, and a pot-bellied stove, just like “a day in 1867.” The schoolhouse will also be a site for festivals, reunions, and other events.

A 150th Anniversary party is planned for this fall. There will be live music, arts and crafts vendors, and food. The Committee hopes that Ruth will be able to attend as well.

To learn more about the restoration project, visit the South Evergreen website at The website also includes more information on the history of the school, updates on the renovation progress, and stories from past students and teachers. There is also a GoFundMe campaign where interested parties can help the project reach the goal of $50,000 toward renovation (

In the words of Ann Spinner Sabo-Jonick, a former student of South Evergreen School, “It was just a one-room school, but it was a place where a lot of us learned how to become outstanding, good citizens. We learned how to respect one another, and we learned how to make just a little positive difference in this great country of ours.”

Does Using Social Media Lead to Divorce?

John A. DeMarr, P.I., a California private investigator, has appeared on the cable television show AMERICA TRENDS with Dr. Gina Loudon, reporting on new research showing married couples aged 18 to 39 who use social media are twice as likely to be contemplating divorce.

DeMarr, a licensed California private investigator since 1988, discussed ways his investigators use social media to unmask cheating behavior, including a new study out of Boston University, showing married couples aged 18 to 39 who use social media are 32% more likely to think about leaving their spouse than similar married couples who do not use social media.

“These results track with our experience,” says DeMarr, “and give our investigators a clear path to identifying and documenting high-risk pre-divorce behavior. The Boston University study confirms our investigative experience. Heavy social media users enlarge their circle of friends, seek out old flames, and hook back up with hometown, high school and college social circles. This behavior gives investigators with many examples of both flirting and outright infidelity.”

Muskegon County Selects Most Advanced Voting System

Verity Voting System from Hart InterCivic Scored Highest in Rigorous Selection Process

MUSKEGON, MI, Mar. 13, 2017 – Following a thorough review of voting system options available to Michigan counties, Muskegon County has selected Hart InterCivic’s Verity® voting system to replace its aging election equipment. County Clerk Nancy A. Waters, with the support of county election staff, information technology (IT) personnel and other local city and township election stakeholders, conducted a rigorous process to compare critical system features.

“This decision was not taken lightly,” Waters said. “The criteria considered included all elements important to election administration, including the voters served. We evaluated the systems for how they would meet the needs of the entire county for the next ten years. Hart came out ahead in every category.”

Categories of comparison included auditability, transparency and security – characteristics that determine voter confidence in election processes and results. The County evaluation team sought the most voter-friendly system with the easiest to use and most full-featured Election Management Software. The team found Verity to meet these criteria and determined that the system is the most low- maintenance, fully certified, modern system available. Its robust supply chain and modular design makes for easy parts replacement. High-speed, precinct-based scanning will help the County Clerk’s Office get election results out to the public quickly.

“We believe Verity best meets the needs of Muskegon County,” Waters added. “We are eager to get started with the new system and use it in our August election. We look forward to working with our city and township clerks along with Hart InterCivic to modernize elections in Muskegon County for the next decade.”

The State of Michigan will be providing Muskegon County with more than $672,000 for this new equipment.

Little River Band Holds Groundbreaking for Unique Housing in Fruitport Township

The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians (LRBOI) and Dirk Stone Real Estate held a groundbreaking ceremony today for their housing development project in Fruitport Township. The development is called Odeno, which means “a place of many hearts” or a “village” in the Tribe’s native Anisinaabe language.


Ogema Romanelli and local Muskegon community leaders put first shovel in the ground.

The event kicked off at 11 A.M. at the site of the future housing development, located just south of the corner of Mt. Garfield and South Sheridan in Fruitport Township. The Little River Band plans to develop the site in five phases, with the first phase including 115 new homes.


Tribal Ogema Larry Romanelli welcomes the crowd to the groundbreaking ceremony.

The housing development is open to the general public and will feature homes ranging from starter homes of $150,000 to larger homes with walkouts and other additional features to $300,000.

The groundbreaking featured several speakers as well as a drum ceremony. Among those speaking were Tribal Ogema Larry Romanelli and Fruitport Township Supervisor Heidi Tice.

Tim Tebow Foundation’s 2017 Night To Shine At The Bridgewater Marriot Had Kids Dancing and Parents Relaxing

BRIDGEWATER, NJ , UNITED STATES, February 13, 2017 / — On February 10th, a chilly, yet clear, Friday evening, the Bridgewater Marriot was, nonetheless, packed and pumping as The Tim Tebow Foundation’s Annual Night To Shine prom party celebrated People with Special Needs. This is the seventh anniversary of the inception of the Night To Shine. Guests were attired in tuxes and evening gowns, dancing and partying in a decked-out ballroom, as bassy tunes vibrated the space.

As the kids celebrated and experienced a night of partying and fun, their families had the option of meeting one another and socializing in a large conference hall. There was coffee and tea, a meal with salad on the side. From here you could still feel the bass, but it was a bit quieter. Liquid Church, one of the sponsors tasked with arranging the event, locally, had Mountainside On-Site Massage Therapy provide seated chair massage to the parents and family.

Of course, everyone was relieved to get a massage. Preparing for a prom is no easy task. And, for Moms and Dads with daughters, the task is all the more time-consuming. Nails must get done. Hair must be styled. And more. Too many details to mention, yet each one important. Parents relaxed and dined as a line formed near the Chair Massage stations.

Chair Massage is performed fully clothed without any oil or lotion. Guests sit on the chair in a manner that resembles how one would sit on a motorcycle. If you haven’t ever ridden a motorcycle, don’t feel confused; that was just a crude comparison, anyway. Your arms do not grip handlebars. Instead, there is a cushioned rest for them. Your face is prone, as your head rests in a padded cradle identical to those found on massage tables. Perhaps you’ve seen chair massage at the mall. If not, there’s always Google and YouTube.

The two Massage Therapists kept busy the entire time as Moms and Dads could finally relax. If you haven’t yet had an adolescent of yours attend prom, think back to your own. Preparation is fairly stressful. Without a doubt, parents left with less tight shoulders, ready to fully appreciate the crowning ceremony led by Pastor John of Liquid Church. The parents definitely appreciated that consideration was made for their comfort.

To learn more about the Tim Tebow Foundation, check out The Liquid Church has a web site of its own at These noble organizations have helped kids all over the United States to have a special night all their own, kids who might not have otherwise had an opportunity for such a wonderful memory and positive experience.


The Ballroom at the Bridgewater Marriott During the Tim Tebow Foundations’ Night To Shine Event

Sign Welcomes Party-Goers To The Night To Shine Event Hosted by LiquidChurch

Chair Massage Stations, Ready For Moms, Dads and Family at the Night To Shine!

Clara Moore, 85 Years Young

by Luanne Peter

On October 4, 2016, Clara Moore, 85 years young, of Fruitport, was able to scratch off a much anticipated item from her “bucket list.”  She was pleasantly surprised when her Grandson, Nic Moore, also of Fruitport, arranged for her to take a ride in the side car of a motorcycle.  Clara, being her comical self, as she stepped into the side car remarked at how “deep it was in there” and was concerned as to how she was ever going to be able to get out!

Clara had a big grin on her face when she left home that day and when she returned, some 30 minutes later, it was still there.  She made comment as to whether she still had her teeth, wondering if perhaps they were out there “flying around somewhere!”

When asked if she would do it again, Clara doesn’t hesitate to respond with an emphatic “YES!”  Next item on Clara’s “bucket list”….a much calmer adventure with a trip to Tahquamenon Falls perhaps?

**We were sorry that we never got the name of the man who so graciously came out on his day off and made Grandma Clara’s bucket list adventure one that she will hold close to her heart always.  Thank you so very much!

clara in a sidecar

PEAK Training Academy’s PEAK Elite Program

PEAK Training Academy Launches Groundbreaking Program with Local Legend at the Helm and Scholarship Guarantee

Peak Training Academy, the newest and most cutting-edge, training facility in downtown Muskegon launched six months ago in downtown Muskegon. PEAK offers high-level training for athletes of all ages while using a 360 approach to growing not only the athlete, but the person. Located in the renovated LC Walker Arena Annex PEAK has a world-class training space with turf, basketball court, weight room, batting cage, hockey treadmill, and much more.

PEAK is launching its cornerstone program, the PEAK Elite Program. PEAK Elite Members will be chosen through an interview and application process from local high schools. Terrence Williams, founder of PEAK said of the program, “I believe this is going to change not only the lives of the individuals that participate, but will change the city as a whole.” The program is designed for student-athletes grades 9-12 with aspirations of using athletics as a vehicle for higher education, life experience, and personal growth. “We are focused on much more than just the athletic ability of the members. This program will prepare them mentally, academically, financially, as well as athletically for the rigors of being a college student-athlete”, Williams continued.


Terrance Taylor

Heading up the program as Executive Director will be local Muskegon legend, Terrance Taylor. A 2005 graduate of Muskegon high school and 2009 graduate of the University of Michigan, Taylor is uniquely equipped to head up the program. Terrance was an All-American at UofM, played in the Rose Bowl, and was drafted in the 4th round by the Indianapolis Colts in the 2010 NFL Draft. After spending time in the NFL with the Colts, Lions, and Carolina Panthers, Terrance has also wreaked havoc on the AFL.

On the addition of Taylor as Executive Director Williams said, “We couldn’t be more fortunate. Terrance is the example of what we want this program to produce. He’s not only had an outstanding athletic career, received a degree from one of the best institutes of higher education in the country, played professional football, but Terrance has a great name and reputation wherever he has been. He is passing on some great opportunities to come home to lead this program, so I hope people recognize and appreciate that. He really cares about West Michigan, and that matters to me.”

The PEAK Elite Program will focus in on four major areas; Philanthropy, Education, Athleticism, and Knowledge (life skills). “My mission is to help student-athletes achieve their goals and vision, not just on the field, but in the classroom and in life,” says Taylor about his goal for the program. Taylor hopes to make the path for up and coming West Michigan student-athletes easier than it was for him. He is excited to motivate student athletes to be all they can be. He tells students, “There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious, but there is something wrong with not taking the path many are afraid to take because you doubt yourself or your vision.” He continued passionately, “It comes down to accountability, mental toughness, and the ability to tackle and manage obstacles in their path to achieve their goals and dreams. It’s about being the best individual you can be in your sport and in life.”

The program will launch with a small test group in mid-march with the official launch set for early June 2017. Williams is so confident in the program that he is offering a money-back guarantee on the program. “If a student comes through this program and completes all of the requirements, we guarantee he or she will earn more in scholarships than the cost of the program. If they don’t we will give them the difference in the form of a scholarship back to them!”

Illnesses are on the rise – How to prevent sickness

Schools, childcare and healthcare providers are reporting the flu and viral gastroenteritis (“stomach flu”) are circulating in the community and increasing.

Prevent sickness:

  1. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.

  2. Stay home when you are sick. If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands if you’ve been vomiting and/or have diarrhea. This will help prevent spreading your illness to others.
  3. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk.
  4. Clean your hands often. It will help protect you from germs. Hand sanitizer is not effective at preventing transmission of some of the most common viral causes of gastroenteritis.
  5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches a surface or object that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth.
  6. Stop the spread of germs. When you are sick, avoid preparing food for others. Clean and disinfect surfaces or objects that may be contaminated with germs.

Get your flu shot! Vaccine Finder


2016-17 Ottawa County Influenza Surveillance Report (updated 1/26/2017)

Muskegon Walk Raises $48,000 for Alzheimer’s

More than 325 Muskegon area residents raise awareness, funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research


 Muskegon, MI – More than 325 residents from the Muskegon area joined the Alzheimer’s Association’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s® and united in a movement to reclaim the future for millions on Saturday, September 24 at Heritage Landing. Participants raised more than $48,000 to fund Alzheimer’s care, support and research programs.

“With over 180,000 people in Michigan living with Alzheimer’s disease and over half a million caregivers, it’s a cause that has touched the lives of far too many Muskegon area residents,” says Elizabeth Donnelly-Johnson, Community Outreach Coordinator for the Alzheimer’s Association, Michigan Great Lakes Chapter. “I think that’s why the community really embraces it every year. It’s inspiring to look out at a sea of purple and know we’re making a difference.”

Walk to End Alzheimer’s participants did more than complete the one or three mile Walk routes. They learned about Alzheimer’s disease and how to get involved with this critical cause, from advocacy opportunities, clinical studies and support programs and services. The event also included an emotional tribute to those who have experienced or are experiencing Alzheimer’s.

Special thanks to Muskegon Hope Riders for being a Platinum Sponsor of this year’s event.

Alzheimer’s disease is a growing epidemic and the nation’s sixth-leading cause of death. As baby boomers age, the number of individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease will rapidly escalate, increasing well beyond today’s more than 5 million Americans to as many as 16 million by 2050. For more information or to make a donation, visit

Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s®
The Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer care, support and research. Since 1989, the Alzheimer’s Association mobilized millions of Americans in the Alzheimer’s Association Memory Walk®; now the Alzheimer’s Association is continuing to lead the way with Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Together, we can end Alzheimer’s – the nation’s sixth-leading cause of death.

Alzheimer’s Association®
The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s research, care and support. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s. Visit® or call 800.272.3900.

Community-wide Remembrance Service

3rd Annual Community-wide Remembrance Service in Muskegon, Michigan


Recently, two of West Michigan’s community hospice leaders, Harbor Hospice and Mercy Health Hospice, hosted another Community Remembrance at Heritage Memorial Garden in downtown Muskegon. The ceremony encompassed a program of music, readings and over 70 bulbs planted to help individuals and families in our community to both mourn the death and honor the life of a loved one.

The Community Remembrance was held on Thursday, September 22, 2016 at 6:00 pm at the Heritage Memorial Garden located at 545 W. Western Ave. Pam Babbitt developed the garden in honor of her late husband. It is a beautiful haven in downtown Muskegon and an incredible representation of the love that remains even after a person dies. Feedback about the event included comments like “I can’t thank you enough for this type of venue and even to keep our loved ones memory alive. It means so much to me” and “I am so happy to have been able to come to this event”. These comments really give expression to the organic needs of grievers. In our culture, mourning is becoming increasingly taboo. Grief is a natural and normal response to loss and mourning is how one heals. It was our privilege to offer an opportunity to share in the midst of grief and loss an opportunity to mourn in an environment of acceptance and understanding.

Thank you to everyone who shared in this special ceremony with us.

Excessive Court Fees on Youth are Examined

From the September 19, 2016 Coopersville Observer article by Mary Kuhlman, MI News Connection.

Young people in Michigan and other states can be pulled deeper into the juvenile justice system because of excessive court related costs. According to a report from the Juvenile Law Center, fees and fines in Michigan include the cost of tests and evaluations, rehabilitation and court operation. These are costs that many families, especially those living in poverty, can’t afford. This may increase recidivism and keep a young person from getting on the right track.

The report recommends that, by establishing better models for funding court systems, states eliminate costs, fines and fees on youth. It also recommends policies of restitution that consider rehabilitation while addressing a victim’s needs.

Credit Union’s First Ottawa County Branch Office

Brownfield Plan Approved to Construct Best Financial Credit Union’s First Ottawa County Branch Office

SPRING LAKE, MI – On August 23, the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners approved a Brownfield Plan that will pave the way for BestFinancial Credit Union (Best FCU) to construct its first Ottawa County branch office in the Village of Spring Lake. The Brownfield Plan will allowBest FCU to utilize Tax Increment Financing to help offset the cost of redeveloping this site at the corner of Savidge and School Streets, just northof Millpoint Park along the Grand River. The site is a current “brownfield” due to the presence of contamination in the area from historic industrialuses at the site and nearby properties.

“We are excited to open our first Ottawa County branch office, and to open it on a site that was in need of redevelopment. Taking a defunctproperty and turning it into a place of employment for local residents is a win for everyone,” commented Morgan Rescorla, President and CEO ofBest FCU. Site plan approval by Spring Lake officials is pending and, if approved, Best FCU hopes to close on the property later this year. Afterleveraging funds provided by state agencies and local authorities for the purchase and improvement of the property, Rescorla anticipates that BestFCU will hire four full-time and three part- time employees at the new Spring Lake location. Best FCU currently has two locations in Muskegon to serve its members. Best FCU offers members a wide range of financial services including loans, savings accounts, checking accounts and creditcards. Formerly Community Schools Credit Union, Best FCU, a not-for-profit organization, has been serving its members since 1955.

The Ottawa County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority (OCBRA) was able to provide two other means of financial assistance for theBest FCU project. First, the Board of Commissioners gave its approval for the OCBRA to request a loan from the Department of EnvironmentalQuality (MDEQ) that will help Best FCU pay for redevelopment at the brownfield site. This is the first time the OCBRA has used this financial tool to assist developers to revitalize brownfields. The loan program is part of the Clean Michigan Initiative legislation under the NaturalResources and Environmental Protection Act. Second, the Best FCU project is one of 34 properties that received funding from an Environmental Protection Agency grant awarded to the OCBRA to perform environmental assessments necessary for responsible redevelopment of brownfield sites in Ottawa County. The funds have now been fully expended and the grant closes on September 30, 2016.

For more information about redeveloping brownfield sites in Ottawa County and the tools available, contact the OCBRA at 616.738.4852or visit

Key Piece of Property to be Added to North Ottawa Dunes

The acquisition of this 80-acre parcel by Ottawa County Parks is part of a property exchange spearheaded by Spring Lake Township.

North Ottawa Dunes Master Plan map

Key 80-acre parcel highlighted in dark green

Ottawa County Parks is thrilled to announce the Board of Commissioner’s approval of an agreement to acquire of 80 acres of property for North Ottawa Dunes. Approval by Ottawa County Board of Commissioners follows the Spring Lake Township Board approval of the agreement on Monday night (September 12).

The privately-owned parcel, locally known as the “Brill Property,” is located on the eastern edge of the park and surrounded on three sides by park property. Because of the parcel’s geography and natural features, it has been considered a key segment for the park by both Ottawa County Parks and Spring Lake Township for a decade.

The land will be acquired by way of a property exchange between Spring Lake Township and David C. Bos Homes, a negotiation spearheaded by Spring Lake Township. Ottawa County Parks will contribute $360,000 from their millage for the property. “We are especially grateful to John Nash, Spring Lake Township Supervisor, who has led the efforts to secure this land for North Ottawa Dunes,” said John Scholtz, Director of Ottawa County Parks.

The property exchange is expected to be finalized in 30 days.

North Ottawa Dunes is part of a unique freshwater dune system that extends along the Lake Michigan shoreline from Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in the southern end of Lake Michigan to Wilderness State Park just south of the Mackinaw Bridge. Immediately south of P.J. Hoffmaster State Park, the park is one of the largest wooded dune assemblages remaining in central West Michigan. These dunes are the biggest and most extensive freshwater dunes anywhere in the world. They formed over the last 5,000 years as westerly winds moved the large amounts of sand on shore where beach grasses stabilized the sand and began the dune building process.
The additional 80-acre parcel will increase the total acreage of North Ottawa Dunes to 593 acres. The property is primarily backdune forest dominated by sugar maple, American beech, Eastern hemlock and red oak. Over thousands of years, these dunes have changed from bare sand to this lush forest through a process called succession. Today, this property features tremendous topography with a number of dunes exceeding 175 feet in height with some formations reaching over 750 feet in height. Land to establish North Ottawa Dunes was acquired in late 2005 and trails and parking were completed in 2009.

Don’t Just Watch Us Go…

Business is on the rise and you can help!

Research shows that beautification of a property or business not only improves your image to attract and retain customers, it can lower neighborhood crime by as much as 35%!

Watch Muskegon Clean

Here is a check list to help you and your staff maintain an attractive business!
First, provide your staff with the following tools.  Plastic gloves, garbage bags or paper recycling bags, broom, dust pan, window cleaner, cleaning rags, paper towel, power washer if possible.

• Wearing Plastic gloves, have at least two individuals circle your property to pick up garbage or items that should  be thrown away or recycled
• Sweep up small items like cigarette butts
• Power wash sidewalks if possible or use broom brush and soapy water at entryways
• Wash outside windows
• Freshen up flower pots and ground cover
• Check signage and banners to make sure they are in good condition
• Wearing work gloves, pull out weeds
• Have grass mowed routinely
• Review paint condition. Plan to repaint as needed
• Reward the employees who help you with these important responsibilities.

If you have other creative ideas about how to maintain an attractive business, please send them our way.

If you need professional services in this area, please review the chamber directory and always buy local whenever possible.

CLICK HERE for more information about the beautification pillar of this Watch Muskegon campaign

Have questions about the campaign?
Contact us at any time – 231.722.3751, email us here, find us on Facebook, or visit our website.

Muskegon Market Report

New Innovations Hub In Muskegon

Grand Valley State Universitygvsu is opening a business innovation center in downtown Muskegon. This new space will help build and launch innovative businesses throughout the region.

The Muskegon Innovation Hub at Grand Valley, formerly the Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center, will provide all types of business support services for entrepreneurs, start ups and growing businesses. The new co-working space, named CoLaunch, is specifically designed to create a community where entrepreneurs and start ups can work in a collaborative environment as they build their businesses. CoLaunch will be available on a drop-in or month-to-month subscription basis and will provide a wide variety of amenities.

The Muskegon Innovation Hub is customer-service oriented and offers a highly personalized experience for each tenant. The Hub has experts available to help with product development, technology, product commercialization, entrepreneurship, business planningand modeling, and more. Tenants also have access to in-house expertise from the Michigan Small Business Development Center, as well as other business resource partners.

The Muskegon Innovation Hub will hold a community open house on June 20 from 5-7 p.m. Refreshments and entertainment will be provided.


Muskegon County Airport Welcomes New Manager!


Jeffrey S. Tripp
Airport Manager

The Muskegon County Airport welcomed Jeffrey S. Tripp as its new Airport Manager.  Tripp has been involved in Airport Management since 1996 performing the full-range of business functions necessary to operate, develop and maintain commercial service and general aviation airports.

He worked his way up the ranks of the airport management field in Arizona at the Prescott Airport, the Scottsdale Airport and the Mesa-Falcon Field Airport. He most recently served as the Airport Director in Redmond, Oregon.

In 2014, Tripp was named “Airport Executive of the Year” by Arizona Airports Association, and the Prescott Airport received “Airport of the Year” honors from the Arizona Department of Transportation Aeronautics Division.

“I am happy to be in Muskegon and look forward to the opportunity to engage with the business and tourism communities to enhance air service opportunities, attract new business to the airport and airport business park,” Tripp said.


$1.1 million Waterfront Development Investments

boatThere is a lot going on in downtown Muskegon, including many projects focused on developing downtown waterfront parks. These projects amount to roughly $1.1 million in investments. Some of these projects include a new Rotary Park, some upgrades to the dock where the cruise ships will be stopping, a new ticket booth and some electric and water upgrades at Heritage Landing.

Rotary Park totals roughly $710,000, which is more than half of the total money invested. This includes a handicap accessible playground, fishing bridge and a kayak launch.

The Cruise Ship dock at Heritage Landing totals about $243,000 and will provide cruise ships a beautiful place to dock during their 10 plus visits this summer.

The ticket booth upgrade and water and electric upgrades total roughly $208,849 and will help to improve Heritage Landing. Both projects are expected to be completed by June 30.

There are many projects being looked at for future possibilities, but they are currently in the fundraising and early planning phases.

Public Comment Sought at Transportation Committee Meeting on August 17, 2016

The Muskegon and Northern Ottawa County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), which is responsible for transportation planning in the area, is seeking public comment on the transportation planning process. The planning process includes the  2040 Long Range Transportation Plan, the Fiscal Year 2014 – 2017 and 2017 – 2020 Transportation Improvement Programs (TIP), Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Program of Projects (POP), corresponding amendments, and other agenda items.

The TIP is developed in a cooperative effort between federal, state, and local officials and serves as the final link in the transportation planning process. Its primary purpose is to identify transportation programs and projects to be funded with federal aid in accordance with federal law and regulations. This plan is an outline of the transportation needs of Muskegon County and Northern Ottawa County for the next four years. The 2014 -2017 TIP (without the project lists) is available here. The 2014 – 2017 TIP project lists are available here. The draft 2017 – 2020 TIP has gone through public review and is in the final approval stages at the state and federal level. The FTA POP includes 5307 and 5308 funds for the Muskegon Area Transit System and Harbor Transit. Recommendations for new construction, safety improvements, congestion (traffic) management, air quality, non-motorized, transit, planning, etc. will be accepted.

A public comment period is scheduled at the Policy Committee Meeting on August 17, 2016 at 1:30  p.m. at the West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission, 316 Morris Avenue, Suite 340, Muskegon, Michigan 49443.  Meeting materials are available at

You are receiving this correspondence because you, your agency, and/or organization are considered important in the transportation planning process. For more information or to view a hard copy of the meeting materials, contact Amy Haack, Program Manager, WMSRDC, 316 Morris Avenue Suite 340, P.O. Box 387, Muskegon Michigan 49443-0387, (231) 722-7878 ext. 19, or by email at

ASSE Expanding Exchange Student Program in West Michigan

ASSE International is one of the oldest and most successful student exchange programs in the United States, and it is cooperating with local high schools to find host families willing to invite extraordinarily bright and talented students from Europe, Asia, South and Central America and even countries that used to make up the Soviet Union, to name a few to become a part of their own families for the academic year 2016-2017. It is certainly not too soon to begin the process.

These intelligent and enthusiastic ASSE International students – all between the ages of 15 and 18 – are especially excited about having a chance to experience American culture as we experience it ourselves, within our own families, living here in resource rich northern Michigan.

Each host family will invite a student to join their own family from a group of several dozen young people represented by their ASSE Area Representative, Nikol Bennett of Muskegon. ASSE exchange students have their own pocket money for personal expenses and health insurance provided. ASSE students are selected for participation in this program based on academics and personality, and host families can choose their student from a wide variety of backgrounds, countries, and personal interests.

To become an ASSE host family or to find out more about the program, please call Nikol Bennett at 231-670-3089 or email her at These delightful young people are all very eager to learn about their new American host families. Begin the process of welcoming your new “adopted” son or daughter today!

To find out more, click here, and go to the ASSE website:

View The ASSE certificate here.



Could It Really Be $1 BILLION??

For the first time in recent history, the Muskegon Lakeshore could experience upwards of $1 billion in new economic investments. A recently compiled list shows nearly $550 million in projects that are currently under construction and another $710 million in proposed projects in the preliminary planning phase.

This development list was compiled by the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, Muskegon Area First, Muskegon County and Downtown Muskegon Now.

Newsmakers of the Year

peopleEach year, the Grand Rapids Business Journal recognizes those making the greatest news impact across West Michigan.

We are thrilled to announce that this year your Chamber President Cindy Larsen, along with Muskegon Area First President Ed Garner, and Downtown Muskegon Now (former) Executive Director, Johnathan Seyferth, were one of 56 newsmakers honored at the Newsmakers event at Fredrick Meijer Gardens and in the annual Newsmakers publication!

This recognition was a result of the successful launch of the three year community-wide image and marketing campaign – Watch Muskegon. Congratulations to other Muskegon newsmakers, Michael Brower of Pigeon Hill Brewing Co.
and Bruce Israel of the Muskegon Lumberjacks.

Fruitport Superintendent – Attempted Changes to Fruitport Government?

• Memorandum to the Citizens of Fruitport Charter Township
• A Journal of my experience with the Fruitport Superintendent issue
• Editorial – In regard to the proposed township Superintendent Agreement and Possible Criminal Implications


TO: The Citizens of Fruitport Charter Township
FROM: Attorney James L. Waters
DATE:  February 16, 2016
RE: Superintendant Agreement/Conflict of Interest

A.Pertinent part of the Agreement:
Agreement: This agreement is effective April 1, 2016.

B. Duties of the Employee:
The Employee shall generally render at least 40 hours of service per week.

F. Compensation:
The Township shall pay the Employee the sum of $72,000.00. (Currently, $59,500.00)

G. Fringe Benefits:
     2. Pension Benefit. The Township shall contribute 10 percent of the Employee’s compensation to a pension plan…

I. Term. The term of this Agreement shall commence on the effective date and shall continue four years, through March 31, 2020, unless terminated or extended as provided in this Agreement.

          5. This Agreement shall be terminated immediately upon the decision of the Township Board, provided that the Township provide the Employee with written notice of the termination, and provided that the Township has just and reasonable cause for such termination.

          6. This Agreement shall be terminated upon the decision of the Township Board, Rendered according to its pleasure. However, if the Township does not have just and reasonable cause for such termination, the Township shall pay the Employee a lump sum equal to 18 months’ wages.

B. Michigan Law Provides:

42.9 Township officers; powers and duties; additional officers, limitations.
The township clerk, township treasurer, justices of the peace, and constables in each charter township shall have and perform the duties and functions required of such officers by state law. The Township Board may, by resolution, upon the recommendation of the supervisor, or of the township superintendent if one shall be appointed, create such additional officers as may be necessary to administer the affairs of the township government, or may combine any administrative offices in any manner not inconsistent with state law, and prescribe the duties thereof. No creation of any additional administrative office or combination thereof shall abolish the offices of township clerk or township treasurer nor diminish any of the duties or responsibilities of those offices which are prescribed by state law.

42.10a Township manager; employment; service; duties.
Sec. 10a If a township has not appointed a township superintendent under section 10, a township board may employ a township manager who shall serve at the pleasure of the township board and perform such duties lawfully delegated to the manager by the township board.

15.322 Public servant; soliciting, negotiating, renegotiating, approving, or representing a party to a contract with public entity prohibited. – Sec. 2. (1) Except as provided in sections 3 and 3a, a public servant shall not be a party, directly or indirectly, to any contract between himself or herself and the public entity of which he or she is an officer or employee. – (2) Except as provided in section 3, a public servant shall not directly or indirectly solicit any contract between the public entity of which he or she is an officer or employee and any of the following: (a) Him or herself.

C. State Ethics Commission provides:
Summary of the Conflict of Interest Law for Municipal Employees – (d) Self-dealing and nepotism. Participating as a municipal employee in a matter in which you, your immediate family, your business organization, or your future employer has a financial interest is prohibited. (See Section 19) – Example of violation: A school committee member’s wife is a teacher in the town’s public schools. The school committee member votes on the budget line item for teacher’s salaries.

D. Definitions:
Ethic: (a) A set of principles of right conduct. (b) A theory or a system of moral values.

Conflict of Interest: A conflict between a person’s private interests and public obligations. The circumstance of a public officeholder, whose personal interests might benefit from his or her official actions or influence.

Political scientists Ken Kernaghan and John Langford, in their book “The Responsible Public Servant”, define self-dealing as “a situation where one takes an action in an official capacity which involves dealing with oneself in a private capacity and which confers a benefit on oneself.

Where a fiduciary has engaged in self-dealing, this constitutes a breach of the fiduciary relationship.

More generally, conflicts of interest can be defined as any situation in which an individual is in a position to exploit a professional or official capacity in some way for their personal benefit.

Frank J. Kelley, Attorney General; Opinion No. 6005; November 2,1981; Conflict of Interest: – B. The Common Law – The common law of the state furnishes the second source of the law of conflict of interest. In People v Township Board of Overyssel, 11 Mich 222, 225-226 (1863), the court stated: – ‘All public officers are agents, and their official powers are fiduciary. They are trusted with public functions for the good of the public; to protect, advance and promote its interests, and not their own. And, a greater necessity exists than in private life for removing from them every inducement to abuse the trust reposed in them, as the temptations to which they are sometimes exposed are stronger, and the risk of detection and exposure is less. A judge cannot hear and decide his own case, or one in which he is personally interested. He may decide it conscientiously and in accordance with the law. But that is not enough. The law will not permit him to reap personal advantage from an official act performed in favor of himself.’

15.342 Public officer or employee; prohibited conduct. – Sec. 2. (3) A public officer or employee shall use personnel resources, property, and funds under the officer or employee’s official care and control judiciously and solely in accordance with prescribed constitutional, statutory, and regulatory procedures and not for personal gain or benefit.

Frank L. Kelley, Attorney General; Opinion No. 6906; June 25, 1996; Conflict of Interest: “1968 PA 317, MCL 15.321 et seq. Section 2 of 1968 PA 317 generally prohibits public servants from being interested in, soliciting, negotiating or approving contracts with the public entity they serve.”

E. Penalties for Self-Dealing/Conflict of Interest:

– 750.505 Punishment for indictable common law offenses. – Sec. 505. Any person who shall commit any indictable offense at the common law, for the punishment of which no provision is expressly made by any statute of this state, shall be guilty of a felony, punishable by imprisonment in the state prison not more than 5 years or by a fine of not more than $10,000.00, or both in the discretion of the court.

750.478 Willful neglect of duty; public officer or person holding public trust or employment; penalty. – Sec. 478. When any duty is or shall be enjoined by law upon any public officer, or upon any person holding any public trust or employment, every willful neglect to perform such duty, where no special provision shall have been made for the punishment of such delinquency, constitutes a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 1 year of a fine of not more than $1,000.00.

Contracts of Public Servants with Public Entities – 15.327 Penalty for violation. Sec. 7. Any person violating the provisions of this act is guilty of a misdemeanor.

I am an attorney and a proud resident of Fruitport Charter Township for 36+ years. I attended the Township Board meeting on Monday February 8, 2016. Numerous angry, upset citizens in the audience requested that I render a legal opinion, regarding self-dealing, conflict of interest, and legality of the proposed agreement.

My opinion is: (1) Any agreement between the Township and a Superintendent or Manager, should clearly provide that the employee is at will and serves at the “pleasure of the board”. – (a) The proposed agreement is for the benefit of only the employee and not in the Township’s best interest and is probably illegal and unethical, at best.

(2) The Supervisor, Brian Weschem, has a clear “conflict of interest: and should not have been involved in the preparation, negotiation, discussion or vote, with respect to the proposed agreement: (a) Since his vote was illegal, the motion to table, fails, since there was a tie, 3 to 3 vote… 3 men voting to table and 3 women voting no; therefore, there is nothing legally before the Board or a Committee to consider.

(3) If the Township, in the future, hires a Superintendent… that person cannot interfere with the legal and statutory Duties of the Clerk or Treasurer.

(4) there has been an inappropriate use and waste of Township time, money, and resources. (a) The citizens obtained nothing, while the new superintendent would receive a $12,500.00 increase in salary, plus costly fringe benefits, including a guaranteed yearly increase in salary, plus a possible 18 month payment for termination (more than $100,000.00 paid by the Township; plus an additional $5,400.00 salary for a new supervisor and health insurance)… the cost to the taxpayers, would easily exceed $30,000.00 per year… with nothing in return. (b) The guilty parties should reimburse the Township for their wasted time, legal fees to the Township attorney, etc.:

      In conclusion, attached are the documents outlining the statutory duties of township officials. I would suggest that a summary of this information be posted on the Township’s website…plus the Charter rules, policies, ordinances, etc.… This information would be valuable to the citizens and help to improve transparency.

I am pleased to provide this information and opinion, at no cost, for the benefit of our citizens.


A Journal of my experience with the Fruitport Superintendent issue

By Fruitport Township Treasurer, Rose Dillon

–Friday, February 5, 2016 (before Monday’s February 8 board meeting)

On Friday afternoon township supervisor. Brian called me into his office. Chuck Whitlow was in the room and they asked me to close the door (that in itself should have raised a red flag for me). They both told me of this new government plan. It is the first time I had heard anything about this plan. Brian told me that he needed job security and this new job of Twp. Superintendant would guarantee him that since he had a family. He did not want to run for Supervisor as there was a chance he could get defeated and the new Supervisor would have no idea what was going on in the township. It occurred to me as he was speaking that this new job of Superintendent was created specifically for Brian. Brian told me he had had a lot of meetings with the Grand Haven and Park Township Superintendents. Chuck and Brian told me that the township needs consistency with our continual growth and the Superintendant position would guarantee us that. I said that there could be a change in that position also, like in Roosevelt Park. Brian said the only reason they had a turnover is because they decided in December of each year if they would keep the City Manager or not, rather than give him the job security of a several year contract.

Brian and Chuck told me they would make the Supervisor a part time figurehead position. The part time Supervisor position had been offered to Trustee Dave Markgraf. He would be appointed and in November would run for office as the incumbent. Dave had told them he was not interested. The job was then offered to Trustee Ron Becklin who was getting ready to retire. They stated that he would take the job, but if Ron did not they had agreed on another person that would take the position.

They told me that as I was doing a good job in my position that I had three choices and that I should “go home and talk to Greg” about what I should do. The three choices they said I have are:

1.  run for the figurehead treasurer

2.  keep the treasurer full time and run for that position

3.  work with them on a contract employee agreement where I would not be the treasurer, but would do the work of a treasurer. If I decided to run for the full time treasurer they would not make a change in that position until I left the township.

I was amazed to see that everything had all been planned out. I stated that I felt the department directors and the board, clerk, treasurer and supervisor were all working together as a team and that’s why we were doing so well. I stated that Brian would not have that much trouble getting reelected. I learned in that meeting that Brian was pretty much the sole reason for the success of the township and we need to hire him as Superintendent to keep the township going in this direction.

They told me the Clerk was wishy washy in trying to decide if she would retire or not. As others were doing some of her duties, the Clerk should go to a figurehead position and Carol could run for that if she wanted to. If she wished to continue as a full time Clerk she would be given additional duties that she should be responsible for anyway according to State Statute or something.

At some point in the meeting I was given a copy of the Superintendent’s contract. I left the room wondering what had just happened!

–Tuesday, February 9, 2016 (after the board met where the issue had been tabled because Becklin decided not to vote for it)

Chuck came into my office the day after the board meeting and asked if I would call Carol and have her come into my office, too.

He began to tell Carol and I that at the next board meeting work session we would be working on Brian’s contract. He would not be there as he will be on vacation. When it came time to discuss Brian’s contract, we were to vote to go into closed session as this would be some kind of employee confidence and should not be discussed in front of the public.

Chuck stated that he wanted us to be very clear that Carol’s and my jobs would not go into a figurehead position until we were ready to retire or leave the township, but upon us leaving the full time position it would go to figurehead and we could run as part time figurehead at that time.

I received a phone call from one of Chuck Whitlow’s restaurant customers and they told me they heard him telling other customers that Carol and I were confused at the meeting, but now he had talked to us and we were no longer confused and understood the entire process they have been working on.

February 12, 2016 (after the February 8th meeting)

Trustee Marge Nash came to the township hall. She wanted to ask township Supervisor, Brian, some questions and asked me and Carol to go into his office with her. Carol said she could not go into his office because more than three was considered a township meeting, but could stand outside the office.

Margie asked Brian why she was kept off the Public Safety Committee. Brian said it was because she had done something that it would make it illegal for her to be on a Public Safety Committee (which I doubt). He also stated that Ken Doctor had demanded that she not be placed back on the committee.

In the meeting Brian talked quite nicely to Margie and did not talk down to her like he usually does. He apologized to her profusely. He said he had gotten too busy the Friday before the board meeting to talk to her about the “change in Government” plan. This was sickening to me as Brian and Chuck had both stated that Margie was worthless on the board, she did not ever participate and they would not waste their time talking to her about their plan.

At one point in the conversation Brian pointed his finger at me and said that I was the one responsible for the problem on the board on this issue. He stated that I spoke with a county commissioner and had made several phone calls and visited several people to stir up a problem. I was the reason the board room was packed for the meeting. I thanked him for giving me all the credit for filling the board room. He must have been surprised that I would say that to him and changed his tune by saying that most of the people were there to celebrate with Brian Michelli’s promotion and Ken Doctor’s retirement. I stated that I had called Trustee Ron Becklin and had visited Trustee Dave Markgraf over my concern about pushing the new plan of government and the contract we had been given on the Friday before the Monday board meeting. Brian had met with both Trustees the Thursday before the board meeting behind closed doors. He told me he had went over Brian Michelli’s contract with them and did mention that he had talked to them about the new plan of government. Ron told me when I called him that Brian told him about the new plan of government Thursday, February 4, 2016.

Brian was going on about the meeting he had Friday, February 5, 2016, first with me and then with Carol. I disagreed on several things he told Margie and told him so. Carol asked me to leave the room so she could go in. She was angry at what Brian was saying and told him he was not saying the truth. Carol and Margie were in the room with Brian. I was sick of listening to him and went back to work.

–This statement from Fruitport Township Clerk Carol Hulka, Treasurer Rose Dillon, and Trustee Margie Nash, was read at the March 28 township board meeting by Rose Dillon.

On March 14, 2016 the township board of trustees met at 6:15 p.m. for a work session.

Trustee Chuck Whitlow stated that before the session began he would like to say something. He proceeded to get out of his seat and walk around to the front and face the board. He began talking about the Superintendent position and township government reorganization and how it was simply up for discussion. He proceeded to bully each one of us starting with Margie, then myself and then Carol.

This topic is not up for discussion when the Superintendent contract had already been drawn up by the township attorney with a start date of April 1st. It is not up for discussion when it had already been determined who the figurehead Supervisor would be, that he would begin April 1st and that he would be paid $5,500. It is not up for discussion when we are told that when Brian abstains from voting on his own contract that Chuck will make sure he has to vote so they will have the four votes they need to get their plan though.

Scolding and harassing us is unacceptable behavior. There is no hierarchy on this board. No one has more authority than another. This entire board is elected by the residents of Fruitport Township. We should never have to worry about coming to a meeting to be harassed or bullied by one of our peers on this board.

Every board member at the February 22 meeting voted to be done with this issue, why was he picking on just the three of us?



In regard to the proposed township Superintendent Agreement and Possible Criminal Implications

April 7, 2016

Proposed changes to our township management should be guided by what is best for the township – not what is best for any particular individuals on the township board. For Werschem and Whitlow to try to sneak it through before anyone could stop it, is especially troubling!

I can understand why Brian Werschem would like a $12,000+ raise a year, not have to run for re-election, and a contract that’s unchangeable, and that takes authority for him and away from the township board. It’s basically a Dictator’s contract.

Particularly troubling is the additions to Brian’s anticipated Superintendent’s agreement:

“In addition, the Employee shall be the Township representative on the Muskegon County Central Dispatch and Coordinating Committee. The Employee shall also be the Township’s primary contact and liaison with the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, and the Township’s representative on the Revenue Sharing Board and the Seventh Generation Fund Board, or the functional equivalents thereof, as established by the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians.”

By putting this in the contract, Brian and Chuck would take this authority away from the township board. It would put Brian and Chuck in a position to extort favors and money. The only way the board could get this authority back and away from Brian would be to cancel the Superintendent’s contract which would be very difficult and costly to do.

I can understand why Trustee Charlie Whitlow would work hand in hand with Brian to construct a contract like that with The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians affairs locked into it so he could have a good shot at some of the Indians’ money and business. He has property and a business close to the Indians’ property and it’s easy to see that he is looking out for himself. Neither one should have been able to vote on this self-serving issue and they knew it! Knowing it, puts them at risk of being charged with a Felony.

What I can’t understand is why Trustee David Markgraf and Trustee Ron Becklin would be expected to go along with Werschem’s and Whitlow’s shenanigans. They are supposed to represent what is best for our township, not what is best for Brian and Chuck. To Ron Becklin’s credit he did decide to not vote for it after becoming more informed, and Werschem and Whitlow lost the votes needed to make it done and final.

People have voiced concerns about corruption associated with projects like the casino. Could this be the first known attempt in that direction?

Another coincidence:  Normally the number 6 item on the township board meeting agenda is public comment. It comes before unfinished business and new business on the agenda. For the first part of the February 22, 2016 meeting Brian removed public comments, which is very unusual. That was the meeting after the first attempt to force the superintendent contract and changes through. It indicates that Brian was going to give it one more try and didn’t want any comment from township citizens to mess up his plan. Concern was raised from the floor and the board voted to insert it in its usual place. The public responded with numerous concerns and the board ended up voting to remove the superintendent issue permanently from further consideration.

This is another example of Brian’s disrespect of his fellow board members and the citizens of our township.

The township attorneys, Scholton & Fant, represented by Ron Bultje, billed the township a half hour for this issue. It takes that long just to read the Superintendent’s contract much less to construct it, with all the thinking, consideration and conspiring that went into it. Obviously, some costs were camouflaged or covered some other way which may create additional criminal legal problems for both Brian and Charlie and possibly  Ron Bultje. By coincidence, Ron Bultje has not attended a meeting since this issue came to light and has instead sent a different attorney to the meetings.

Attorney Jim Waters in his Memorandum to the Citizens of Fruitport Charter Township offers information which suggest that Brian Werschem and Chuck Whitlow may be able to be prosecuted for their self-serving “conflict of interest”. Since Brian seems to find pleasure in persecuting other township citizens, maybe it would be fitting to give him some of his own medicine.

– Ron Cooper, Editor

National Speaker to Appear at Muskegon Home Show


j schwanke

J Schwanke

This year the Muskegon Home, Garden + DIY show welcomes, national speaker J Schwanke to the show. Schwanke is a flower expert, flower content producer and professional speaker, known throughout the flower industry and beyond. He is regarded as the most trusted voice in the flower industry. He will be presenting “Fun with Flowers and J” – six unique seminars during the two day event. Schwanke has written numerous books which will be on sale during the event with an opportunity for personal book signing.


After a successful first year, the Muskegon Home, Garden + DIY Show is returning to Fricano’s Event Center March 25 and 26, 2016. This year’s show will feature 40+ local businesses exhibiting their best home and garden information, an expanded yard and garden section, educational and DIY sessions, celebrity guests and more!

“Adding a national speaker to this event, really helps bring the caliber of the show to the next level,” says Carla Flanders, Show Director. “This year we are also expanding the yard and garden section for the event and currently seeking local businesses and individuals such as; garden nurseries, landscapers, architectures, floral experts, tree/shrub designers and anyone with a green thumb willing to show off their talents.”

In addition to an expanded garden section, the Home + Garden Show is continuing its seminar series with educational speakers and hands-on “Do It Yourself” (DIY) sessions. These seminars feature local and national experts sharing their knowledge including time and money saving techniques. Back by popular demand, Wasserman’s Flowers and Gifts will be featuring a DIY seminar on bouquet arrangements. Guests will be provided with fresh cut flowers and Wasserman’s will provide step-by-step instructions on how to create a beautiful arrangement that you get to take home!

With the show’s successful first year, exhibitor space is going fast! To reserve a booth at the show, businesses should fill out the registration form located at General admission tickets are also available online at for $3. Each ticket is also valid for $3 off Fricano Pizza during the Home Show. Advance tickets are recommended. Tickets will also be sold at the door.

The Home, Garden + DIY event is a production of the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce with support from the Lakeshore Home Builders Association, Fricano Place, Shepherd Shoreline Gutters and Garage Doors, Keene Lumber and Staples. For sponsorships or additional information about the show, contact Carla Flanders at 231.724.3176 or

How I Found the Jefferson Highway

By Jerry Alger, Fruitport, MI, JHA Board Member

from the Newsletter of the Jefferson Highway Association

Hello, my name is Jerry Alger. I have in recent years become an enthusiastic fan of the Jefferson Highway and in 2015 was elected delegate-at-large to the JHA board of directors. But before explaining how I “found” the highway, I’ll say a little bit more about myself. I was raised in Fruitport, a small western Michigan village of about 1,300 people, and have lived there ever since. This was a great place in which to grow up. I’ve been a trustee on the village council for many years and am proud of my accomplishments there.

I have also lived along a vintage two-lane highway all my life—US 16, which carried travelers from Detroit to Yellowstone Park. After 1963, the highway bypassed Fruitport, but the village didn’t die, and we now have more cars passing through than ever before, many originating in nearby towns and suburbs.

Fruitport has a lot of interesting history, some of which I’ve undertaken to tell with stories inscribed on interpretive panels placed around the village. Fruitport’s name came from all the fruit (mainly peaches) shipped from the shores of Spring Lake, whose waters reach Fruitport. My pride and joy is a steel “peach tree,” about eight feet in height, for which I raised donations and that was constructed by a local craftsman in a park fronting the lake.

But now, on to my discovery of the Jefferson Highway. Every year since 2004 my wife Lynda and I have taken a month-long road trip along a historic highway. Our trips have taken us through all 48 lower states.After driving the length of Route 66 for the fourth time in 2011, we went on to San Francisco to begin our return trip following the route of the Lincoln Highway. Lynda had done a lot of research on places and sights along that route, and we greatly enjoyed our journey eastward. Eventually we came upon some intriguing cement markers with Lincoln’s bust on them out in the corn fields . . . we were in Iowa. It was also time to eat, so we were looking for a restaurant. The next one up happened to be Niland’s Café at Reed/Niland Corner in Colo. We pulled up and went inside.

The first thing that caught my eye in Niland’s was the 1939 Cadillac coming out of the corner of the dining room. I owned a 1939 Cadillac 60 Special just like that one! Then we looked around at the pictures and historical exhibits on the walls. At that point, I had never heard of the Jefferson Highway, so the Jefferson Highway stuff still didn’t sink in. But while waiting for my Reuben sandwich to be served, I picked up a JHA brochure from the counter and began to read it. Finally it dawned on me to look into the Jefferson Highway. We loved Reed/Niland Corner, and once we were back home, we joined JHA, I began to research the highway, and Lynda began to lay out a plan for a future trip along the highway.

In 2012 we finished the Lincoln Highway trip to Times Square and then drove down the Jersey Shore to Ocean City, MD, where we picked up US 50 and followed it to Indiana. In 2013 we finished US 50 to its end in Sacramento, returning via Route 66 (our fifth complete trip on that highway). But in 2014 the time had come for a tour of the Jefferson Highway. We had only the map from the JHA brochure, which didn’t tell us what roads were the old Jefferson alignment, but Lynda prepared a route guide by listing all the cities and towns on the Jefferson and then identifying the two-lane roads connecting them. This is what we used as our basic map, but I had also succeeded in locating some JHA members—first, Glenn Smith, who hooked us up with Scott Berka, who in turn put us in touch with Lyell Henry—who provided additional information about portions of the old route.

In September, 2014, we drove to Winnipeg, found the beginning marker of the Jefferson Highway, soon were on our way, and . . . three weeks later, we were in New Orleans. That trip down the Jefferson Highway was about as exciting as it gets. Lynda and I agree: this was one of our favorite road trips, and it certainly has left us both as enthusiastic fans of the Jefferson Highway. I now look forward to helping the highway become better known so that more people will jump in their cars and enjoy driving portions or the full length of it.

Fruitport Named Among “To 10 Safest Cities” in MI analyzed FBI and Census Bureau data to create an interactive map displaying the safest cities in the United States, and Fruitport is ranked number 6 in MI for most police officers per capita!

Get the “Quick Facts” card for Fruitport here:

The FBI’s annual report Crime in the United States revealed the estimated number of violent crimes reported by law enforcement during 2014 dropped by 0.2% and the estimated number of property crimes decreased 4.3% when compared with 2013 data.

Here are some additional highlights from Crime in the United States, 2014:

•   An estimated 1,165,383 violent crimes and an estimated 8,277,829 property crimes were reported by law enforcement
•   Financial losses suffered by victims of these crimes were calculated at approximately $14.3 billion
•    Larceny-theft accounted for 70.8% of all property crimes reported, burglary for 20.9%, and motor vehicle theft for 8.3%

Even though crime rates are dropping, those numbers are still alarming. So where’s the good news? Fruitport, MI is one of the safest cities in the U.S.

Fruitport Charter Township Board of Trustees Meeting Minutes of November 9, 2015

A work session of the Fruitport Charter Township board began at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, November 9, 2015, in the township board room.

Members Present: Carol Hulka, Clerk; Rose Dillon, Treasurer; Trustees Ron Becklin, Dave Markgraf, Marjorie Nash and Chuck Whitlow Member
Absent: Supervisor Brain Werschem–excused

Also Present: 0–employee; 0-residents; Public Safety Director, Doctor; and DPW Director, Farrar

At 7:00 p.m., Clerk Hulka opened the regular meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance followed with a prayer by Treasurer Dillon.

The motion byChuck Whitlow, seconded by Ron Becklin , was carried unanimously, to appoint Dave Markgraf as the Supervisor Pro Tem to chair the board meeting in the absence of the Supervisor.

The meeting minutes of October 12, 2015, regular meeting, were approved as presented.

The motion by Carol Hulka, seconded by Rose Dillon, was carried unanimously, to approve the meeting agenda of November 9, 2015, with the following addition under New Business, (D): Street light proposal for DeFeyter

1) Michigan Townships Association legislative updates
2) An article regarding funding for new voting machines
3) Parks and Recreation meeting minutes of October 27th
4) Planning Commission minutes dated October 20, 2015
5) Revenue and Expenditure Report for period ending 10/31/2015
7) Muskegon County Chapter of Michigan Townships Association quarterly meeting is at Egelston Township on November 30th

PUBLIC COMMENTS – PART 1 None received.


15-101 Great Lakes Comnet Metro Act Permit
Rose Dillon moved, seconded by Ron Becklin, MOTION CARRIED, to approve a five year Unilateral Metro Act Permit with Great Lakes Comnet, Inc. that includes the following two exhibits- Exhibit A: a map showing the rights of way granted and Exhibit B: a copy of the liability insurance certificate. The purpose for the permit is for access to and on-going use of public rights-of-way within the Township of Fruitport for the purpose of constructing a fiber optic network extension to service its customers.

Ayes: Dillon, Becklin, Nash, Hulka, Markgraf, Whitlow
Nays: None

15-102 Parks and Rec Master Plan
Marjorie Nash moved, seconded by Ron Becklin, MOTION CARRIED, to adopt the Fruitport Charter Township Parks and Recreation Master Plan for the period of 2015-2019.

Ayes: Nash, Becklin, Dillon, Hulka, Markgraf, Whitlow
Nays: None

15-103 Public Safety Director Ken Doctor Contract Extension
Ron Becklin moved, Marjorie Nash seconded, MOTION CARRIED, to add one year extension to Public Safety Director Ken Doctor’s contract with no change in pay.

Ayes: Becklin, Nash, Dillon, Hulka, Markgraf, Whitlow
Nays: None

15-104 Street Light Proposal for DeFeyter Street
The motion by Rose Dillon, supported by Carol Hulka, was carried unanimously, to authorize the Clerk to contact Consumers Energy for a street lighting quote for the end of DeFeyter Street, off Heights Ravenna.

15-105 Payment of Bills
Marjorie Nash moved, seconded by Ron Becklin, MOTION CARRIED, to approve bills for payment in the following amounts: General Fund & Parks $73,575.04; Public Safety $178,414.19; Water 388,648.45; Sewer $34,912.84. Totaling: $675,550.52

Ayes: Nash, Becklin, Dillon, Hulka, Markgraf, Whitlow
Nays: None

REPORTS – Santa Claus will be at Fire Station #2, Black Creek Road, on December 5th.


The motion by Ron Beciklin, supported by Dave Markgraf, was carried unanimously, to adjourn the meeting at 7:13 p.m.



Karson Kriger Overcomes Limb Difference Through Sports And Family

By Jim Goorman
Local Sports Journal


Karson Kriger play basketball on the Fruitport freshman team. He also plays football, baseball and enjoys out door sports like fishing and hunting.

Karson Kriger has the will and the desire to succeed.

Karson Kriger plays basketball on the Fruitport freshman team. He also plays football, baseball and enjoys out door sports like fishing and hunting.

The freshman on the Fruitport High School freshman basketball team has had a challenge his whole life.

Kriger was born with no circulation in his upper arm. The lower part had to be amputated shortly after he was born. But yet he makes the catches, dribbles with his right hand and tosses in 3-pointers one-handed.

Despite some limitations, feeling sorry for himself has never been a part of the 14-year-old’s vocabulary. He has shown the desire to attempt every single activity any young person could undertake.

He plays baseball, football, skis, hunts for deer and turkey, fishes, weight trains and plays basketball for coach Dale Grimm’s team.

“Karson should be lifting more to make himself stronger,” Ken Kriger, Karson’s father, said.
And the only limitation Karson sees in that statement has nothing to do with his arm.
“But I tell my Dad, I just do not have enough time for lifting,” Karson said.
Karson also has been involved with wrestling. From ages 9-11, he wrestled for the Fruitport Youth Wrestling Club and for the Michigan Youth Wrestling Athletic Association.
So what drives this tough kid from a solid family to want to succeed at all of these activities? The biggest factor is his family, which includes Dad, his mom (Kristi) and his younger sister, Katlyn.
Following his adoption from Bethany Christian Services, Karson was always treated like any other son from any other family.

Karson Kriger sports a prosthetic arm which enables him to bat in baseball. The Fruitport freshman anticipates being a consistent contributor for his Trojans this Spring.


Karson Kriger sports a prosthetic arm which enables to him to bat in baseball. The Fruitport freshman anticipates being a consistent contributor for his trojans this Spring.

“My mom and dad never babied me,” he said. “They kept me going to try harder. I usually can hear my dad encouraging me in the stands, but I try to tune him out. That’s because my coach says stay focused so I do what he says.”

Kristi is always supportive, but like a true mother, she is concerned about protecting her son. She especially is concerned about his right shoulder since injuring that shoulder would affect his pitching.

“As a parent of a limb different child, we have had some ups and downs,” she said. “Karson has rarely had days where he feels sorry for himself, and those days were from frustration with struggling to figure out how to do things ‘his way.’ Other kids have been supportive of Karson as well, but still, his one arm is out of the ordinary,” Kristi said.There was one incident she recalls from when Karson was three years old.

“He fell off a stool and broke his ‘nub’ arm,” Kristi said. “Because it was a hair-line fracture, his arm was in only a soft cast. While at a local park, another child asked Karson what had happened to his arm. Karson nonchalantly told the boy that he had broken his arm. The boy’s eyes became as big saucers. I realized, he thought Karson had completely broken his arm off.”
Karson is quick to state that his coaches also have helped him to succeed.

“My coaches, Grimm in basketball and (Dean) Six and Coach (Greg) Vargas in football have really been big encouragers for me in sports,” Karson said.

One of his more rewarding experiences came from attending a three-day Nubability Camp in DuQuion, Ill., last summer.


Karson Kriger attended Nubabilty camp in Delaney, Ill. and is pictured with coaches Eddie Delany (L) and Kevin Crafton.

They taught all the sports for grades 4-11. But for Karson, he quickly realized something really important.

“I found out at the camp that there were not only many like me, but also found that there were many who had worse conditions and limb differences than me,” he said.The camp’s creed is “to encourage, inspire, and instruct congenital and traumatic amputee kids who want to get out of the stands, off the bench, and into the game.

“I think the camp was great because it encouraged everybody to give your best shot. The older counselors really helped me,” Karson said.

Being confident beyond his 14 years, Karson quickly found he can be a huge encouragement to others.At Mary Free Bed Hospital, where he has received medical assistance, he met a family who asked for his advice.

“The family had a daughter with a limb difference, like me, and wondered if she should play sports. The parents had reservations, but I said, basically, to keep your daughter in sports and she will have friends and it will teach her to never give up and she will have coaches that she can trust,” Karson said.

Baseball is his biggest love and Karson, like most boys, wants to play major-league baseball. He smiles as he relates one of his favorite baseball experiences.

“I struck out a friend of mine three times in one game,” he said. But then he was quick to point out that he also “struck out the side, but walked four batters.”

Nick Reed, Fruitport’s baseball coach, is excited about Karson joining the high school baseball program this spring.


Kriger wields back to throw a strike. The Fruitport freshman has a first love for baseball and looks to former MLB pitcher Jim Abbott for inspiration.

“He has a prosthetic for batting and it is quite remarkable watching him,” Reed said. “He is going to be a main contributor on the freshman baseball team. He is really accepted by his teammates and his parents push him and do not put restrictions on him. He is a great kid.”
Karson also is signed up to play for West Michigan Riptide, an elite travel team, this summer.

He’s had the unique experience of meeting former major-league pitcher Jim Abbott, who also is limb different. Abbott was a left handed pitcher who played for the University of Michigan and then for four major-league teams including the California Angels and the New York Yankees.

Abbott overcame his condition with hard work and then wrote a book entitled, “Imperfect. An Improbable Life.” At a book signing in Grand Rapids 2 years ago, Karson was able to meet him and was granted 5 minutes of Abbott’s time.

“He encouraged me and that has meant a lot to me and my parents,” said Karson. He also had his picture taken with Abbott. And, he received advice about being careful about batters who like to gain an advantage by lay down bunts.

“I am ready for bunters because I have my glove off already when fielding a bunt,” he said. “If opponents try harder against me I do not care.”

Karson also relies on prayers and faith to encourage him through his sports experiences.
“I believe in God and other people and that helps me to do the job,” Karson said. “I know God is watching over me, and if it is a close game, the fans help as well.”

He is presently going through confirmation at his church, Fruitport Congregational United Church of Christ.


Former MLB pitcher Jim Abbott signs Karson Kriger’s book.

For others in similar circumstances, check out the Nubability Camp and the “Lucky Fin Project.”

It is a good resource for individuals with limb differences. Their motto is “Ten Fingers are Overrated” and it is run by Molly Stapelman in Royal Oak.

Austin G. Selle, Eagle Scout

austinAustin G. Selle received the rank of Eagle Scout on April 26, 2015. Austin is a member of troop 1127, which is sponsored by the Fruitport Lions Club. His Eagle service project was building a children’s play stage and shelving units at the Muskegon Rescue Mission Women’s Shelter.

Austin is a senior at Fruitport High School where he is a member of the National Honor Society. Austin plans on attending Michigan Technological University next fall. Austin is the son of Glen and Janell Selle of Muskegon.