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.


The Parmenter O’Toole Law Firm Announces New Associate Attorney

MDMMUSKEGON, MICHIGAN – Parmenter O’Toole is proud to announce the addition of Matthew D. Mills as a new Associate Attorney.

Matthew is involved in all practice areas of the firm with the intention to concentrate his practice in the areas of litigation, business, and employee benefits. He received his law degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 2014.

While in law school, Matt’s comment regarding the legalization of sports gambling was published in the University of Denver Sports and Entertainment Law Journal. Upon graduation, Matt received a certificate in criminal law with honors. Matt spent both his law school summers clerking at Parmenter O’Toole and a fall semester as an extern at the Muskegon County Prosecutor’s Office.

Prior to attending law school, Matt graduated Cum Laude from Western Michigan University in 2012 with a degree in Political Science. Matt is from North Muskegon, and could not be happier to begin his career in West Michigan.

When not practicing law, Matt enjoys being outdoors, golfing, and the company of his family and friends.

“Matt brings exceptional skill and energy to our firm and we are excited to have him on board,” adds Chris Kelly. “We are all especially thrilled when we can bring home grown talent back to West Michigan.”

Matt can be reached at (231) 722-5419 or


Muskegon’s Future 15 Emerging Leaders Recognized

future 15Fifteen of the Muskegon Lakeshore’s up and coming young professionals were recognized for contributing to the growth and success of their company/organization and the positive impact they are making in the Muskegon Lakeshore community. Now in its third year, the Future 15 awards program recognizes emerging young leaders making a difference along the Muskegon Lakeshore.

More than 40 nominations were submitted for young professionals that live or work in Muskegon County.  “This awards program is really flourishing,” says Cindy Larsen, President of the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce. “As the next generation of professionals is becoming more influential in our community, it is important that they are recognized for the contributions being made to the area’s economy and quality of life.”

A selection committee, consisting of seven young professionals that were among the 2014 Future 15 award recipients, gathered to determine who this year’s Future 15 would be. After careful review of the nominations, this year’s Future 15 emerging young leaders are as follows:

  • Joseph Crowley, Anderson Global
  • Frank Peterson, City of Muskegon
  • Andrew
  • Josh Wallace, McKenzie-Price Agency, Inc.
  • Brittany Lenertz, Michigan Works! Muskegon-Oceana
  • Jonathan Wilson, Muskegon County Economic Development
  • Amber Cahill, Orchard View Adult Education
  • Don Kalisz, Revel
  • David Matuzeski, Riversedge Photography
  • Jennifer Vanderstelt, Service 1 Federal Credit Union
  • Kristi Kettler, Sparrow Boutique
  • Jamie Helsen, United Way of the Lakeshore
  • Mark Gongalski, Unruly Brewing Company and Rebel Pies
  • Laurel Sass, Watermark 920
  • Adam Zuwerink, West Michigan Law, P.C.

These 15 finalists were recognized at a Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours on June 18, 2015 at The Deck at Pere Marquette Beach.

This After Hours event was unique in the way it brought together our area’s young professionals. Not only were theFuture 15 awarded, but more than 50 area interns from 25 Muskegon companies attended as part of Interns on Deck.

In its sixth year, Interns on Deck gathers summer interns from Muskegon Lakeshore businesses and provides them with an opportunity to meet one another and tour the Muskegon Lakeshore community.  The goal is to showcase what Muskegon has to offer in hopes that the interns will consider moving to or staying in Muskegon upon graduating college and completing their internship. The event is hosted by the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by Alcoa Howmet.



Ottawa County is Healthiest in Michigan

Ottawa County is healthiest in Michigan according to new rankings released today

OTTAWA COUNTY – Ottawa County ranks 1st out of 82 counties in Michigan for healthy people, according to the sixth annual County Health Rankings (CHR), released today by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI). A snapshot of Ottawa County’s overall rank is at and the CHR summary report is at

Annual rankings show where counties do well and also where there are opportunities for improvement. Since 2014, Ottawa County improved or maintained in 85% of the 35 indicators that make up the ranking. While Ottawa County is the healthiest county in Michigan, the state ranks 34th in the nation.

“The County Health Rankings is a great opportunity to show how Ottawa County’s community members, hospitals, schools and agencies partner together; all contributing to our #1 rank,” said Lisa Stefanovsky, Health Officer with the Ottawa County Department of Public Health.

Additionally coming this May, the 2014/2015 Ottawa County Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) report will be presented at the Ottawa County Fillmore Complex. The CHNA is a study that helps to identify health and health service issues; by gathering feedback from individuals, health care professionals and other community leaders. Results from the CHNA are similar to the CHR report, but more defined for Ottawa County. The public and media are encouraged to attend to discuss the results and start planning on ways to improve residents’ healthy outcomes.

More information is to come at or call Marcia Mansaray, OCDPH Epidemiologist at (616) 494-5598 or to register for the May CHNA report release and forum.

• Residents enjoy longer life expectancies and better overall health.
• Higher child and adult immunization rates.
• Lower obesity rates.
• Lower smoking rates in adults.
• Higher activity levels.
• More mothers seek prenatal care.

Opportunities for Improvement
• Access to primary care; medical, dental and mental health.
• Binge or heavy drinking.
• Death rates from Alzheimer’s.
• One in four youth report depression; 34% females and 15% male.
• One in four teens pregnant (15-19 years of age).
• Increase in chlamydia cases.

County Health Rankings and Ottawa County rank
Ottawa County CHNA Summary or
Ottawa County Youth Assessment Survey

Muskegon Vying for America’s Best Community

The Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce is working with local stakeholders to win Muskegon the title of “America’s Best Community”.  The group has submitted an application for the America’s Best Communities (ABC) Prize, an economic revitalization program sponsored by Frontier Communications, DISH Network and CoBank.

This multi-stage, multi-year competition will provide support and seed money to winning communities with the grand prize winner receiving $3 million towards their community growth and revitalization plan.

Local stakeholders who partnered to submit the application include the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, the Cities of Muskegon, Norton Shores, and Muskegon Heights, along with local businesses Parkland Development, Alcoa, Parmenter O’Toole, and agencies such as the West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission and others.

A panel of independent judges will be reviewing the application and announce the 50 quarter finalists on April 29, 2015.  If selected as a quarter-finalist, the community will be awarded a prize of $35,000.  The stakeholders plan to use this prize to develop a corridor beautification plan to better access Muskegon’s Lakeshore.

“Muskegon Lake and the region’s Lake Michigan Shoreline are world class,” says Chamber President Cindy Larsen.  “Our application centers on the need to visually enhance the community’s main arteries with access to the waterfront.”  Access to water is an economic driver that will benefit the entire region attracting new visitors, residents and investment. If chosen, the community will be awarded prize money in 2017 to begin implementing the plan.

Check out the website: to learn more.

Click here for an America’s Best Community Video filmed about Muskegon.

Click here for a video from Country Superstar Vince Gill that features Muskegon.


Tom Hickman Announced as Michigan’s 2015 Big Brother of the Year

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lakeshore Honored for Dedication to Big Brothers Big Sisters Youth Mentorship Program

Muskegon, MI, April 8, 2015 – Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lakeshore is proud to announce that local mentor Tom Hickman has been named Michigan’s 2015 Big Brother of the Year. Each year, mentors from across the state are nominated by local Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies for their commitment to changing the lives of children facing adversity – for the better, forever. Hickman has been a Big Brother for 5 years and has dedicated countless hours to helping his Little reach his fullest potential.

Tom & Jake State Award

Tom & Jake

“Jake knew that he wanted a positive male role model in his life, so he took the initiative after hearing a presentation at school to go to his teacher and get the agency contact information himself. That shows how badly these young men want mentors in their lives” stated Big Tom Hickman in a recent letter to the agency. “Our relationship has developed over the last five years we’ve been together. The Big Brothers Big Sisters program says you should get together at least two times a month. Jake said you cannot develop a relationship with only two meetings a month, so we meet once a week or more. If Jake is involved in any activity I enjoy being present. We will spend day-long activities (athletics, movies, parks, library) but a great deal of the time is spent just talking for a couple of hours about what he and I have done that week, and what will be going on the following week. At other times he will call and suggest he wants to speak to me about a concern.”

Jake’s mother Ann states “Jake has come a long way since 2010. Not only has he strived to be the best student, making honor roll all of last year, he puts his all into sports, his teammates, his friendships and in life itself. He has helped others achieve goals, mentoring another young friend, encouraging him to get into sports and he’s been playing ever since. I’m very proud of my son and all of his accomplishments.”

“All of our Bigs are special people, but these statewide Bigs of the Year go above and beyond to help enrich the lives of our youth,” said Pam Iorio, President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. “We thank Tom Hickman for his countless hours and his utmost passion and dedication to Big Brothers Big Sisters.”

This annual recognition is not only a part of the national Big Brothers Big Sisters Michigan competition, and Mr. Hickman will also be considered as one of two Bigs to be honored at the national Big Brothers Big Sisters of America National Big Brother of the Year Award, which will be announced at the 2015 National Conference June 2 – 3, 2015, sponsored by Comcast NBCUniversal. Mr. Hickman’s service to his Little is also under consideration for the 2015 Governor’s Service Awards to be announced by Governor Rick Snyder’s office in June 2015.

Members of the media and area legislators, staff and members of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lakeshore Board of Directors are invited to honor Big Tom Hickman for receiving the 2015 Big Brothers Big Sisters Michigan Alliance award at the agency located at 4265 Grand Haven Road, Suite #201, Muskegon MI 49441 from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 6, 2015.


Lee A. Beaton, Eagle Scout

Eagle ScoutLee A. Beaton obtained the rank of Eagle Scout January 25, 2015. He is a member of troop 1127, which is sponsored by the Fruitport Lions Club. His Eagle service project was cleaning out the drainage ditch and installing new drain tile at Farr Field, Fruitport.

Lee is a senior at Fruitport High School where he is a member of the National Honor Society. He will again be a counselor at Gerber Boy Scout camp this summer before attending CMU in the fall. Lee is the son of Julie Beaton and AI Beaton, both of Muskegon. Grandparents are Vicki Beaton of Muskegon and Roger and Betty Barry of Jackson/Michigan Center.

Draft Muskegon County Recreation Facilities Master Plan

Available for viewing, the “Draft Muskegon County Recreation Facilities Master Plan 2015-2019 Update” and “Draft Maps”. Please click on the links:

Draft Recreation Plan:

Draft Maps:

Brenda M. Moore
Muskegon County Drain Commissioner
141 E. Apple Avenue
Muskegon, MI  49442
FAX 231.724-3480


Free Community Glaucoma Screening Held

There are approximately 2.2 million Americans age 40 and older who have glaucoma, and half of those are at risk for going blind because they do not know they have the disease. You could be one of them.

Glaucoma is a condition in which the optic nerve, responsible for transmitting visual information from the eye to the brain, is damaged. Although the nerve damage is usually associated with elevated pressure inside the eye, other factors can be involved. It may begin with the loss of peripheral vision and then advance to a reduction in central vision. Glaucoma can potentially lead to vision loss or blindness.

This January 31st, from 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM, Shoreline Vision in Muskegon, MI held a Free Glaucoma Screening for anyone who has concerns of glaucoma. For more information please call 231-739-9009.

“Most people who have glaucoma don’t notice symptoms until they begin to lose some vision. But vision loss from glaucoma can be prevented if it’s detected and treated in time,” said Dr. Mark Kinziger, ophthalmologist at Shoreline Vision. “As part of Glaucoma Awareness Month in January, we urge you to get a complete eye exam if you’re at risk for developing glaucoma.”

So, who’s at risk? “African-Americans over age 40, Hispanics, people with a family history of glaucoma, individuals over age 60, people with other health conditions, such as diabetes and those who have experienced a serious eye injury are considered at risk,” says Dr. Kinziger. Anyone who falls into one or more of these categories should talk with an eye doctor about how often an eye examination should be conducted to ensure good vision.

Although glaucoma cannot be cured, early detection and treatment can usually preserve vision. Know your risk factors and have your eyes examined at the intervals recommended by your eye doctor. This 6th Annual Glaucoma Screening was completely free and open to the public.

For more information, call Jennifer Scofield, Shoreline Vision Marketing Director at (231) 739.9009

David and Unholy Mackerel

By Emily Guiles

Yet again coffee drinkers at Jumpin’ Java in Grand Haven, Michigan are given a show by David Lampman and fellow performer, Unholy Mackerel. Prior to the show Lampman let slip that Unholy Mackerel and himself have a unique connection, but until now would not let go what the connection was. Mackerel had been the guitarist in Lampman’s old band, Chelicera. Not only were they bandmates but Mackerel also taught Lampman to skate.

Before Chelicera Mackerel and Lampman were also involved in a band together called James and the Giant Peach. Which was later transformed into Chelicera. It has been about six years since the two had seen each other before running into each other a few times in 2014; and now they find themselves performing together again for a joyful audience at Jumpin’ Java.

This performance at Jumpin’ Java was dedicated to Compassion International. It is through this organization that Lampman sponsors a seven year old girl named Vicki, from Ecuador. Lampman can be seen sporting an “ask me about Vicki,” sticker.

Compassion International’s mission statement is to “advocate for children, to release them from their spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enable them to become responsible and fulfilled Christian adults,” according to their website.

The goal for the performance this night was to get at least three children sponsored. These three children include: Muneza Jemmy, five years old, Jemmy is considered high priority because he has been waiting for a sponsor for six months and lives in an Aids affected area. Another child is Pablo Sebastian Jimenez Lopez, four years old, who lives in Ecuador, and Patricia Paskalia Gulo, 13 years old, from Indonesia. Although the performance is dedicated to this organization Lampman chooses not to view this as a charity performance. Instead Lampman hopes that this performance will be an eye opener for all involved, and everyone who participated.

Unfortunately none of the children received sponsors that night but there is always hope for the future. For more information on how you can assist or sponsor a child through Compassion International, go to their website at

Fruitport’s Got Talent

By Emily Guiles

Sponsored by the Fruitport DECA program, the sixth annual Fruitport’s Got Talent was sure to be a show stopper. But a horrific accident made this show all the more memorable.

Sep., 29th new Fruitport High School student Cameron Smallegan was hit by a car while walking with her friends; and received severe injuries. Smallegan spent time in DeVos Children’s hospital and has had two surgeries so far, she is still unable to talk. Smallegan is now housed at Mary Freebed to recover. In honor of Smallegan and her family 50% of the proceeds made at the show will go to her and her family.

To make the night even more special, Smallegan’s friends, some of whom were with her when the accident occurred, performed “Hallelujah” as written by Leonard Cohen. The performance was heartfelt and captivated the audience. The group included, Steven Strait, Sierra Helms, Brandon Watkins, Elizabeth Nelson, and Ja’von Collins; all Fruitport High School students. Helms delivered a short speech to kick off their performance dedicated to Smellegan.

There were three faculty judges, along with two student judges: Superintendent Bob Szymoniak, Ms. Briggs, and Mrs. Vanderberg were the faculty judges; and Jeff Campbell and Joleen Cejmer were the student judges.

There were several performers who had participated in Fruitport’s Got Talent the previous year. Performers like: Cain Burling, Keeley Rose, Antonio Stong, Mikel Vaandering, Tyler West and Gabrielle Puente have all performed on the Fruitport Middle School stage before. There were also several newcomers to the stage this year; Kano Rivera, Caia Dibble, the new members of Fruitport’s poetry and writing club Imagery, and senior Miranda Wilson. This was Wilson’s first time performing in front of a live audience, and she delivered a beautiful solo, singing “Probably Wouldn’t Be This Way” by Leann Rimes. Although her nerves understandably got the better of her, the performance was a good one overall.

It was the second time that guitarist Cain Burling, or playfully refered to as El Guapo, had graced the Fruitport’s Got Talent stage. This time around Burling showed his skills not only for playing the guitar, but also for writing his own music as he performed an original composition; and won the trophy for Best Solo Act.

Awards were also given out for Best Dance: which went to Tyler West, who did a dance rendition of “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson, complete with moonwalk and end pelvic thrusts; Best Group: went to Fruitport Imagery Club for their reading of the original poem called, “Poetic Confessions”; and Show Stopper: which went to dancer Caia Dibble for her contemporary piece performed to “Love the Way You Lie” by Skylar Grey. Long-time friends Andrew Netzler and Tom Crotty hosted the event, adding some comic relief to the show as they try to fill the shoes that Sam Cerniglia left behind after hosting the previous years Fruitport’s Got Talent.

Personal Care Product Giveaway

personal-care-productsOn Sunday December 28th, 2014, The Gateway Church will be having its 5th Annual Personal Care Product Giveaway! We are proud to announce that last year we were able to serve over 300 families and individuals in need, with more than 5,000 items!

This year we hope to meet and exceed the number of families and individuals served in previous years! If you or someone you know is in need or could benefit from receiving items such as: shampoo/conditioner, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, toilet paper, laundry detergent, baby products, feminine hygiene products, and or household cleaners, please come or let them know about this event!

Our goal is to help fill in the gap that government assistance does not, and offset costs right after the Holiday season, filling people with hope and removing a financial burden. All items are given away with absolutely no obligation or questions asked.

The distribution of products will begin at 2:30 p.m. on a first come, first served basis, inside the church which is located at 1641 Pontaluna Rd. on the corner of Pontaluna and Harvey, just south of the Lakes Mall. For more information please call 231-799-2141.