Ottawa County

Ottawa County Administrator’s Exit is ‘Bittersweet’

Al Vanderberg, Ottawa County Administrator, submitted an official letter of resignation on July 27.

On August 27, 2021, Al Vanderberg will serve his final day as Ottawa County Administrator. Vanderberg began his tenure in 2003 and is the longest serving Administrator in Ottawa County history.


“This decision was bittersweet,” said Vanderberg. “My family and I love Ottawa County. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as County Administrator. Ottawa County is in a very strong and stable condition. I felt I could leave and accept one more major challenge in my career.”

Vanderberg accepted the position as Kent County Administrator/Controller and will begin duties there on August 30.

“From the County’s elected officials and judges through department heads and down through the employee ranks, Ottawa County is blessed with an exceptionally competent, dedicated and collegial workforce,” adds Vanderberg. “I am confident that Ottawa County will continue to provide top notch governmental services and be a leader among Michigan’s counties.”

“We will miss Al a lot,” commented Board Chairperson, Roger Bergman. “Al exemplified the best of Ottawa County’s values and did innumerable things to springboard Ottawa County Government into the 21st Century. We know our neighbor to the east will find his services extremely valuable as we have for the past 18 years. We wish them well. We will take our time to find the best replacement to open the next chapter in Ottawa County Government.”

The County is engaging in a national search to replace Mr. Vanderberg.

Ottawa County Begins Citizen Survey This Evening, August 3 at 5PM.

Telephone calls will be made through August to residents’ landlines and mobile phones. Help make Ottawa County a better place by taking 15 minutes to answer the call and provide valuable feedback. 

Starting this week, Ottawa County adults will have the opportunity to give input on their satisfaction with local government services, priorities, tax burden, communication preferences and more. Ottawa County will begin its citizen survey on August 3. The survey was initiated in 2006 to monitor citizen satisfaction. The survey, originally planned for 2020, was delayed for one year due to the pandemic.

A total of 400 residents will be randomly selected and surveyed via phone by Lansing-based EPIC ▪ MRA. The telephone calls will be made through August to residents’ landlines and mobile phones. Participation is voluntary and anonymous. The survey will take less than 15 minutes to complete. If selected and called, resident participation is very important to the County. The information from the survey will help County leaders improve services, develop strategic plans, prioritize programs, allocate funds, and improve communication. Results are expected to be available early in the fall and will be reported at an Ottawa County Board of Commissioners meeting. Reports from surveys completed in 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018 are available at

“Information from this survey is an excellent gauge of whether or not our residents are satisfied. Are we meeting their needs? Are our priorities aligned with their priorities? And, are we doing this all within a financially acceptable means?” said Shannon Felgner, Ottawa County Communications Manager. “Our hard data shows we are doing things well. We have top credit ratings. We can boast one of the lowest tax rates among Michigan’s 83 counties. Our crime rates are low. We rank well in health behaviors and outcomes. Our population is growing. But we also want to hear from our people. That’s why we’re asking residents who receive a call to please contribute 15 minutes of their time. The answers help make Ottawa County a better place for all of us,” added Felgner.

Sample questions: 

  • Overall, do you think Ottawa County is headed in the right direction, or, do you think things are pretty seriously off on the wrong track?
  • What is the single most important issue facing your community that the county government must address?
  • How would you rate the job that Ottawa County does in managing county finances?
  • How would you rate the quality of the Ottawa County website?

For statistical purposes, the surveyors will also ask demographic questions such as year of birth, the number of children the home, educational attainment, race/ethnicity, and household income.

Spokes Fighting Strokes on the Grand River Greenway, July 25, 1-3 pm

Rain date: 7/27
Location: Connor Bayou, 12945 N Cedar Dr, Grand Haven, MI 49417

Join us for a dose of inspiration and a trike ride! Dan Zimmerman will share how he’s changing lives across the nation with recumbent trikes. Followed by our speakers, local stroke survivors can test out a trike. We’ll wrap up the day with a social ride along the Idema Explorers Trail. This event is free; light refreshments will be served.

DOOR PRIZE – A generous individual has donated a TerraTrike to giveaway at the event!

View and share the flier here!

1 pm • Speaker & Trike Test – Dan Zimmerman, Spokes Fighting Strokes

Dan will assist stroke survivors and attendees with physical or balance limitations to experience riding a recumbent trike. Text Dan to pre-arrange a ride: (602) 558-0820

Dan Zimmerman suffers from Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telanglectasia, a disease in which the lungs fail to filter clots efficiently. At the age of 41, the disease caused a stroke that damaged the left side of his brain, paralyzing his right arm and leg. Doctors told him he would never walk or talk again. After intensive rehabilitation, Dan was barely walking within a year, but severe aphasia kept him from talking. He continued to receive outpatient therapy at HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital. Dan found freedom when he bought his first trike and four years later founded Spokes Fighting Strokes with a mission to reach every stroke survivor and show them that recovery is possible!

Click here to read the rest of John’s story about using trails to recover and why he supports the Ottawa County Parks Foundation’s Grand River Greenway Campaign.

2 pm • Social Ride with Betsy Cech, Michigan Recumbent Trikes

Meet at 12945 N Cedar Dr, Grand Haven

Leaders from the Michigan Recumbent Trike group will be offering two rides on local bike paths:

  1. 8 miles (approx) out & back on the Idema Explorers Trail to Riverside Park
  2. 10 miles (approx) out & back on the Idema Explorers Trail and the Spoonville Trail to Nunica

If a short and sweet ride sound better to you, there are plenty of spots to turn around along the way.

Thank you to our event partners: Ottawa County Parks Foundation, Poplar Ridge Partners, Angletech, Grand Haven Chamber of Commerce, Michigan Recumbent Trikes, West Michigan Bike & Fitness

Help spread the word!
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Ottawa County CMH Awarded Federal Funds to Support Behavioral Health

Community Mental Heath of Ottawa County Awarded Federal Funds in Support of Behavioral Health

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has awarded Community Mental Health of Ottawa County (CMH) a total of $3,805,542 over the next two years enabling CMH to become a Certified Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC). CCHBHC’s provide a robust set of coordinated, integrated and comprehensive services to all persons with any mental illness or substance use diagnosis. 

The funding will increase access to evidence based mental health and substance use treatment services, including 24/7 crisis response services.  Other critical elements included but are not limited to: strong accountability in terms of financial and quality metric reporting; formal coordination with primary and other care settings to provide intensive care management and transitions; linkage to social services, criminal justice/law enforcement, and educational systems; and an emphasis on providing services to veterans and active-duty services members.

“We are very happy to receive this funding from SAMHSA to become a CCBHC. This funding will strengthen our mental health services and allow CMH to improve the health and wellbeing of more people in our community.” said Lynne Doyle, CMH Executive Director.

Free Hearing and Vision Screenings for Kindergartners This Summer

Schedule now before the back-to-school rush!


Free hearing and vision screenings are now available at the Ottawa County Department of Public Health. Children entering Kindergarten in Fall 2021 are eligible for appointments and will be prioritized in accordance with school entry requirements.

Screenings are by appointment only. Please call (616) 394-5266 to schedule your child’s free screening today. The department’s technicians meet the State of Michigan Hearing and Vision Technician Certification criteria and will provide a comprehensive screening with each appointment.

“An undiagnosed hearing and vision problem may interfere with a child’s development,” said Leslie Ver Duin, child health team supervisor with the Ottawa County Department of Public Health. “Early detection and treatment of hearing and vision problems can help children succeed in school.”

To uphold COVID-19 safety precautions, only one parent/guardian may accompany a child. Masks are required per the MDHHS guidance for healthcare settings. Learn more about the screenings at

The ability to hear and see–the ability to learn–is the key to a child’s success.

Michigan’s Public Health Code requires screening during pre-school (ages 3 to 5) and again prior to kindergarten entry. Once a child begins elementary school, free screenings continue on a regular basis.

10% of children screened for vision and 5% of children screened for hearing are referred to specialists

Messy Neighbors in Ottawa County!

Gypsy moth outbreaks are being observed across the State

Frass from gypsy moth caterpillars

Gypsy moths made their debut in Michigan in 1954 and got quite out of hand during the 1980s and 1990s before an effective biological control was deployed. But in the last couple of years, significant outbreaks have been observed once again, here in Ottawa County and across the State. But if you are blissfully unaware of what ‘frass’ is, then you probably don’t have these unwelcome guests camping out in your trees! During June and July, gypsy moth caterpillars are in a feeding frenzy before they spin their cocoons. And if they are munching all the leaves off of the oak, aspen, and other trees in your yard, well, we know what comes next – poop, or frass, as the scientists call it. And a lot of it.

Gypsy moth caterpillar

While they can be unpleasant to live with, gypsy moth caterpillars are not typically harmful to your trees in the long term. With regular watering, some trees that have been defoliated by these pests will actually re-flush and produce another set of leaves this year! Some landowners may choose to just ride it out, but if you want to take action to get rid of them and learn how you can prevent or reduce outbreaks next year, here are a couple of resources you can check out:

Visit Michigan State University Extension’s Gypsy Moth page
Contact your local forester, Ben Savoie – | 269-908-4134

2020 County Population Estimates – Ottawa is Fastest Growing County in MI

The 2020 County population estimates were released by the Census Bureau on May 4. Some of the Ottawa County highlights are provided below. Please note that this data is not a 2020 Census release, but part of the Census Population and Housing Unit Estimates program. 2020 Census county population data will be released later this year.

Data release highlights
• Ottawa County is now the 7th most populated county in Michigan, with a 2020 population of 294,635. This is the first time since 2010 that Ottawa has ranked above 8th.
• Ottawa County was the fastest growing county in the State between 2010 and 2020 (11.7% growth).
• Ottawa County was the 2nd fastest growing county in the State between 2019 and 2020 (1.1% growth).
• 47% of Ottawa’s population growth between 2010 and 2020 was the result of a natural increase, meaning there were more births than deaths in the county.
• 53% of Ottawa’s population growth between 2010 and 2020 was the result of a positive net migration, meaning more people moved into the county than moved out of the county.

Additional information can be found on the Planning and Performance Improvement webpage, which includes data for the 10 largest and 10 fastest growing counties in Michigan as well as the above map.

Fourth Annual Ottawa County Art Trust Exhibition

Ottawa County and the Holland Area Arts Council invite local artists to enter their Ottawa County themed works in a juried exhibition located in the County’s Administration Building. This is the fourth annual exhibition to build the Ottawa County Art Trust. The Ottawa County Art Trust will build a permanent library of artwork created by resident artists.

Artist Christi Dreese will serve as juror and will select the works which will select from the exhibition and be purchased to become part of the permanent art collection of the Ottawa County Art Trust. Individuals and businesses can also purchase art from the exhibition to donate to the Art Trust in honor of others.

A selection of works in the Ottawa County Art Trust Collection on display.

Artists must be 18 years of age or older and reside or own property or work in Ottawa County. The complete prospectus including entry deadlines, fees and more is online at

The exhibit will open to the public for viewing following a reception on June 15 from 4:30 to 5:30PM. (Subject to change and limitations based upon COVID-19 restrictions.) The exhibit will remain installed at the Ottawa County Fillmore Administration Building until August 20. The purchase awards will be announced at the reception.

Culture and creativity are important to Ottawa County leaders. As a government organization, the County has taken what may be considered a unique position for government, forging a creativity and innovation program. Establishing an Art Trust is a very tangible way to demonstrate the importance of culture and creativity. At the same time, the trust will preserve a legacy of art for generations of residents to come.

Historically, government has taken an active role in preserving and promoting the arts. Art preservations and trusts were at one time considered a civic responsibility. Experts know that art

stimulates business and tourism;
cultivates imagination and creativity among young minds, enhancing academic achievement;
fosters mental and emotional health, contributing to overall well-being; and
creates a sense of place and a desirable quality of life.

“We know that that the Ottawa County Art Trust alone will not achieve all these benefits of art, but we do believe that the Art Trust will contribute to the vision of Ottawa County being a welcoming place. A place where everyone can belong, ” said Shannon Felgner, Communications Manager.

Ottawa County leaders plan to hold the exhibition annually to grow the County’s fine art collection. As the collection grows, the works will be on display in various county locations.

Ottawa County Leaders Honor Deputies and Corrections Officers

In 1962, President Kennedy proclaimed May 15 as “National Peace Officers Memorial Day” and the calendar week in which May 15 falls, as “National Police Week.” In 1984, President Reagan proclaimed the week beginning May 6, 1984, as “National Correctional Officers Week.”

Since then, these two weeks have been allocated to honor the service and sacrifice of law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty, law enforcement officers actively protecting our community, and corrections officers who serve in and secure our facilities.  

Roger Bergman, Board Chairman, poses with representative from the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office, Zeeland Police Department, Holland Police Department, Michigan State Police and GVSU Department of Public Safety.

At the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners Meeting on May 11, the leaders honored West Michigan’s police officers, corrections and sheriff’s deputies. The board signed a resolution recognizing National Corrections Week, May 2-8, and National Police Week, May 9-15. Every single day, 24 hours a day, sheriff’s and corrections deputies and police officers, risk their lives to safeguard our communities. Their dedication, professionalism and unwavering assistance when called upon does not go unnoticed. 

The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office also held private honor guard ceremonies and set a wreath in memoriam of those who have died in the line of duty in Ottawa County: 

Office William Glerum – Zeeland Police Department – End of Watch: 07/18/1933
Res. Deputy Arlyn Lee Gort – Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office – End of Watch: 08/22/1989
Officer Scott Anthony Flahive – Grand Haven Dept. of Public Safety – End of Watch: 12/13/1994
Officer Trevor Parker Slot – Walker Police Department – End of Watch: 10/13/2011

Ottawa County Parks & Recreation is Hiring


Ottawa County Parks & Recreation is searching for candidates interested in working outside this summer!

The opportunities are perfect for students (18+) who are home on break, retirees who want to spend more time outside, or anyone interested in parks who would like to earn extra money during the summer months. 

“Ottawa County Parks has received far fewer applications than in past years and we are in urgent need of qualified candidates that have the availability to work the whole summer,” said Parks spokesperson, Jessica VanGinhoven. 

Opportunities exist at parks in Holland, Grand Haven, Ferrysburg, Spring Lake, West Olive, and Jenison (near Allendale and Hudsonville). Seasonal employees that return for the next season are guaranteed a pay raise every year for the first four years.Interested candidates should review open positions and apply online. 

Current Open Positions

  • Grounds Attendant (Seasonal, non-benefited) – $11.40 Hourly
  • Park Attendant (Seasonal, non-benefited) – $10.90 Hourly


Road Closure: 48th Ave., Fillmore St. to Bauer Rd., Starts May 17

from the Ottawa County Road Commission

WHEN: Starting on Monday, May 17, 2021

WHERE: 48th Ave., between Fillmore St. and Bauer Rd.

WHY: Culvert Replacement

BACKGROUND: Starting on Monday, May 17, 2021, the Ottawa County Road Commission (OCRC) will begin a culvert replacement project on 48th Avenue between Fillmore Street and Bauer Road in Georgetown Township.

There are 3 culverts being replaced. The 1st location is about 1,000 feet south of Fillmore St. can be reached from the north to address 9441 and 9421 from the south. This closure will be from May 17 to May 21.

The 2nd location can be reached from the north to address 8701 and the Riverstone Apartments, and can be reached from either direction. This will happen May 24 to May 27.

The 3rd location can be reached from the north to address 8840 and from the south to 8701 and Riverstone Apartments. This will happen June 1 to June 4.

DETOUR: The detour route for all three replacements is Fillmore St. to 56th Ave. to Bauer Rd.


Ottawa Conservation District Receives Federal Funding

Regional Conservation Partnership Program funds will jumpstart Farmland and Water Quality Conservation Initiative, which aims to address regional natural resource concerns

WEST OLIVE — In a win for West Michigan, the Ottawa Conservation District (OCD) has been awarded project funding through the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) for their Farmland and Water Quality Conservation Initiative.

This project aims to benefit the long-term economic, social, and environmental health of Ottawa County and the surrounding area by protecting surface and groundwater quality, improving aquatic and wildlife habitat, and preserving manageable farmland in the Macatawa, Lower Grand, and Pigeon River watersheds. Along with NRCS, the OCD will be partnering with Ottawa County’s Farmland Preservation Program, the Ottawa County Groundwater Sustainability Initiative, the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council, Ottawa County Farm Bureau, neighboring conservation districts, and local townships.

This project will leverage nearly 7 million federal, state, and local dollars over the next 5 years to address the unique natural resource concerns in West Michigan, and simultaneously addresses an objective of the Groundwater Sustainability Initiative’s Proactive Strategy Index, an action plan to achieve water sustainability in Ottawa County.

Through RCPP, conservation partners such as OCD work in collaboration with NRCS to help farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners throughout the nation to implement systems that conserve water and soil resources, improve the health of wildlife habitats, and increase climate resilience. OCD and partners will offer value-added contributions to amplify the impact of RCPP funding. These projects offer impactful and measurable outcomes. Throughout its history, RCPP has leveraged partner contributions of more than $1 for every $1 invested by USDA, resulting in nearly $3 billion collectively invested in natural resource conservation on private lands.

“The Regional Conservation Partnership Program is public-private partnership working at its best,” said Terry Cosby, Acting Chief for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. “These new projects will harness the power of partnership to help bring about solutions to natural resource concerns across the country while supporting our efforts to combat the climate crisis.”

This is the first time OCD will be partnering with NRCS on an RCPP project. The project is expected to begin in the fall of 2021 and will involve numerous other partners throughout Ottawa, Kent, Muskegon, Newaygo, and Allegan counties. OCD is thankful and excited for this new opportunity to continue its mission of helping people conserve, maintain and improve natural resources and the environment for future generations.

About the Ottawa Conservation District
Ottawa Conservation District is a locally controlled resource management District created by concerned landowners and administered by a publicly elected board of directors. It was organized as a local unit of State government on May 9, 1938, under Michigan Law. The District provides local coordination for many State and Federal land and water management programs, cooperates with local government units to positively influence private land management decisions, and provides management assistance to landowners in Ottawa County. To learn more about the Ottawa Conservation District, visit

Ottawa County Partners with Merit Network to Launch Phase I of Digital Inclusion Strategy

Research and educational network will assist in data collection and analysis of broadband landscape

WEST OLIVE — It’s not surprising that high-speed internet has become a necessity. But in Ottawa County, broadband service remains inconsistent. Members of the public regularly report difficulties with connectivity, reliability, and affordability.

Ottawa County remains committed to tackling these persistent issues – and is partnering with Merit Network, a research and educational organization owned and run by Michigan’s public universities, to thoroughly understand the County’s broadband landscape. This vital first step is part of a larger, four-phase Comprehensive Digital Inclusion Strategy, a new initiative to ultimately establish universal access to affordable, reliable broadband across all areas of the County.

“Following a thorough interview process with multiple organizations that responded to a Request For Proposal issued by the County, it was clear Merit was the right choice to launch our Phase I effort,” said Paul Sachs, Ottawa County Planning & Performance Improvement Department director.

The County anticipates the extensive data collection process to commence as early as June 2021, with the analysis and reporting completed by the end of the year. With Merit’s collected data, the County can move on to the next three phases of its Digital Inclusion Strategy.

“Communities have been struggling with the ‘digital divide’ for decades, and while some progress has been made in closing the gap, inequities persist across the country. We are excited to partner with Ottawa County to take the next step in helping underserved (residents) achieve broadband internet success,” said Charlotte Bewersdorff, vice president of Marketing and Member Engagement for Merit Network.

To help cover the costs associated with Phase I, Ottawa County is being supported by a diverse group of partners from the local business, education, municipal, and nonprofit sectors.

“Our broadband strategy has to start with better data,” said Sachs. “The financial support from these community stakeholders has provided the boost we need to get started.”


The Data Problem

Why are Ottawa County and its partners taking the lead? Because state and federal regulators, as well as national providers, are under the mistaken impression that reliable, high-speed broadband service is consistently available in nearly all corners of the County.

The source of the data problem is inaccurate maps. The Federal Communications Commission maintains maps that illustrate broadband coverage across the U.S. based on Census blocks. But Census blocks vary widely in size based on population density. For example, a Census block in the city of Holland can be dramatically smaller than a block in a less densely populated township.

No matter the square mileage, if one home in a Census block has access, FCC maps record the entire block as having access, skewing the data. Additionally, the FCC relies upon internet providers to self-report where they have coverage. If a provider completes just one hookup in a given community, it is deemed the community is fully covered by that provider. These inaccurate maps have delayed and in some cases disqualified Ottawa County from qualifying for grants to improve service.

‘A grass-roots effort’

Ottawa County is developing a true public/private partnership to achieve its broadband goals. Post-pandemic, communities can no longer wait for federal and state governments to act.

“Taking steps now to improve broadband access will ensure all Ottawa County families and businesses have the tools to compete now and in the future,” said Sachs.

In addition to Phase I financial partners, the County is collaborating with an array of area businesses and public organizations, such as:
OAISD, which has been involved from the project’s inception;
Urban Wireless Solutions and KLA Laboratories, which are aiding to strategize and develop the broadband system;
Representatives from the City of Holland Board of Public Works; Lakeshore Advantage; Spectrum Health; and community leaders and strategists

The County is also planning to share resources and methods with neighboring counties during this effort. Planning & Performance Improvement Director Sachs recently discussed these opportunities with the Allegan County Board of Commissioners.

“This Digital Inclusion Strategy is unique because it’s a grass-roots effort – we’re taking this on locally,” said Douglas Weber, president of Urban Wireless Solutions. “Ottawa County officials grew tired of simply talking about the problem and realized that it was time to take meaningful action. They have sought assistance from all corners of the community to develop a plan. Data collection is just the first step.”

New web page offers strategy insights

Concurrently with the kickoff of the Phase I data collection effort, Ottawa County has created an all-new web page that thoroughly breaks down the local broadband situation and the comprehensive Digital Inclusion Strategy.

Through a series of tabs, visitors can review past initiatives, walk through each phase of the strategy, and connect with resources. And, to increase transparency, phase updates will be posted periodically under the ‘Taking Action’ section of the Digital Inclusion Strategy tab. Explore the initiative today at

Tulip Time COVID-19 Testing & Vaccination

Tulip Time Festival in Holland will have no-cost COVID-19 testing and vaccination available starting tomorrow

The Ottawa County Department of Public Health (OCDPH) and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), in partnership with the City of Holland and Tulip Time Festival, are offering no-cost COVID-19 testing and vaccination opportunities. Through the HHS Community-based COVID-19 Testing program, rapid testing will be offered at an outdoor walk-up site. The OCDPH will also provide COVID-19 vaccination opportunities to community members and visitors. More information about the events and requirements is listed below.

“Testing for COVID-19 is an important tool to identify where the virus is circulating in our community,” said Dr. Paul Heidel, medical director with OCDPH. “It is particularly crucial for those who’ve recently traveled.”

“Partnering with the City of Holland and Tulip Time Festival gives us a great opportunity to meet people where they are and offer vaccination,” said Toni Bulthuis, immunization supervisor with OCDPH. “We will be administering the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine to make it as convenient as possible for people to get vaccinated.”

“Tulip Time is thrilled to partner with the Ottawa County Department of Public Health to provide testing and vaccines to residents and guests,” said Gwen Auwerda, executive director with Tulip Time Festival. “This is the first large festival in the state in the last 15 months. We encourage people to take advantage of both of these services to stay safe so we can stay open.”

Click for more information about Tulip Time’s COVID-19 Update.

Click for more information about the MDHHS Gatherings and Face Mask Order.

Click for more information about Ottawa County’s COVID-19 Updates.

COVID-19 Testing Site

The soccer field at 61 E 6th St, Holland, MI 49423

Saturday, May 1 – Saturday, May 8
Walk-up between 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Thursday, May 6
Walk-up between 4-8 p.m.

Rapid antigen testing available to anyone (parental consent required for minors). Samples are taken by nasal swab. Results within 15-30 min.

No appointment needed No doctor’s order needed No insurance needed
No Fee Please bring a form of ID No pets allowed Wear a face covering

Find other COVID-19 testing locations here.

COVID-19 Vaccination Site

The soccer field at 61 E 6th St, Holland, MI 49423

Saturday, May 1
Walk-up between 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Option to Pre-register

Monday, May 3
Walk-up between 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Option to Pre-register

Wednesday, May 5
Walk-up between 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Option to Pre-register

Thursday, May 6
Walk-up between 4-8 p.m.

Option to Pre-register

These dates and times are all for the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine for anyone aged 18 years or older. Please wear a mask, bring a photo ID and wear clothing that allows vaccine administration in your upper arm.

Additional Walk-in Vaccination Opportunities

OCDPH Clinic at GVSU Holland Campus

515 S Waverly Rd, Holland, MI 49423

Tuesday, May 4
Walk-in between 10 a.m.-12 p.m.

Option to schedule an appointment to ensure vaccine availability and for more available times. 10 a.m.-12 p.m. or 1-5 p.m. This is the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine for anyone aged 16 years or older. Please only schedule this first-dose appointment if you’re able to receive your second dose on June 1. Please wear a mask, bring a photo ID and wear clothing that allows vaccine administration in your upper arm. Minors will need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Holland Hospital – Urgent Care

3232 N Wellness Dr, Holland, MI 49424

Monday, May 3
Walk-in between 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Option to schedule an appointment to ensure vaccine availability. This is the first dose of the Moderna vaccine for anyone aged 18 years or older. Please only schedule this first-dose appointment if you’re able to receive your second dose on May 31 (to be scheduled after receiving your first dose). Please wear a mask, bring a photo ID and wear clothing that allows vaccine administration in your upper arm.

Tuesday, May 4
Walk-in between 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Option to schedule an appointment to ensure vaccine availability. This is the first dose of the Moderna vaccine for anyone aged 18 years or older. Please only schedule this first-dose appointment if you’re able to receive your second dose on June 1 (to be scheduled after receiving your first dose). Please wear a mask, bring a photo ID and wear clothing that allows vaccine administration in your upper arm.

Wednesday, May 5
Walk-in between 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Option to schedule an appointment to ensure vaccine availability. This is the first dose of the Moderna vaccine for anyone aged 18 years or older. Please only schedule this first-dose appointment if you’re able to receive your second dose on June 2 (to be scheduled after receiving your first dose). Please wear a mask, bring a photo ID and wear clothing that allows vaccine administration in your upper arm.

Thursday, May 6
Walk-in between 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Option to schedule an appointment to ensure vaccine availability. This is for the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine for anyone aged 18 years or older. Please wear a mask, bring a photo ID and wear clothing that allows vaccine administration in your upper arm.

Friday, May 7
Walk-in between 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Option to schedule an appointment to ensure vaccine availability. This is for the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine for anyone aged 18 years or older. Please wear a mask, bring a photo ID and wear clothing that allows vaccine administration in your upper arm.

Ottawa County Preliminary Unemployment Rate for March 2021

The preliminary unemployment rates for March 2021 were released recently by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget. Ottawa County’s unemployment rate has decreased from a high of 20.4% in April 2020 to 4.3% in March 2021. This is currently the third-lowest unemployment rate in Michigan, with rates ranging from 16.2% in Mackinac County to 3.2% in Livingston County.


Read more from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget

Medication Take Back Event at Spectrum Health Zeeland Community Hospital on April 24th

Remove the Risk from your Home – Participate in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

The United States is currently experiencing an epidemic of prescription drug misuse and abuse. Opioid overdose deaths in Michigan have almost tripled in five years. To help turn the tide on this epidemic, Community Mental Health of Ottawa County and Spectrum Health are partnering with Michigan OPEN and the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department to host a medication take-back event on Saturday, April 24th from 10am-2pm.

This will be a drive thru event to ensure the safety of everyone participating. Please bring any unused or expired medications including over-the-counter, prescription, liquids, inhalers, ointments and pet meds to be properly disposed of. We will also be taking back used needles for proper disposal.

Did you know?
Every 10 minutes a child visits the emergency room for medication poisoning
12.5 million people age 12 and older misused opioids in the last year
Three in five teens say prescription pain medication is easy to get from their parents’ medicine cabinet

Community opioid medication take-back events provide a safe process for disposing of unused medications and used needles while protecting our communities, children and environment.

Please, remove the risk from your home and bring your unused medications and used needles to Spectrum Health Zeeland Community Hospital at: 8333 Felch Street, Zeeland, MI 49464 on Saturday, April 24th between 10am-2pm.

If you would like more information please contact Jessica Irvin at 616-494-4489 or

Michigan 20th Circuit Court’s Online Parenting Time Complaint Resolution

Getting Tech Friendly: Ottawa County Friend of the Court Offers Online Parenting Time Complaint Resolution

The Ottawa County Friend of the Court has expanded its ground-breaking online dispute resolution platform to include parenting time complaints. Parents may now initiate and resolve parenting time complaints online from a smartphone, computer or tablet. The 20th Circuit Court in Ottawa County is the only court in the state of Michigan and in the nation to offer this option.

“Online dispute resolution of parenting time complaints can happen outside of court hours,” said Chief Judge Jon Van Allsburg, “and the parties do not have to appear at the same time, to solve transportation and scheduling issues. Technology provides access to the court to parents who cannot attend court in person, and we believe that is important.”

Jennell Challa, Ottawa County Friend of the Court, said “we encourage parents to prevent misunderstandings by putting their parenting time schedules in writing and by adjusting them as their circumstances change. If a parent misses scheduled time with their child, we seek to address the issue in a way that is convenient for both parents.”

Matt Schmid, Assistant Friend of the Court, notes that “this online process will work the same as it does in person. Any parent will get the chance to explain the problem or the circumstances. We can then create makeup parent time agreements or refer the parents to mediation via the platform, just as we would in person. Additional options are helpful during this difficult time.”

The platform works by enabling any parent with an existing court case to electronically contact their caseworker. That person can provide information, and the caseworker then invites the other parent to respond. The other parent has various options for how to respond, including proposing make-up parenting time. The caseworker can assist by offering ideas and suggestions. If the parents reach an agreement, the case worker will prepare the legal document for all parties to review and sign. The agreement is then submitted electronically to the judge for signing. When the agreed upon order is signed, any hearing on the dispute is canceled if all disputed matters have been resolved. The parties need not come to court to finalize the agreement and the entire process can be completed in a few days, whereas filing a motion and scheduling a hearing on the same dispute can take several weeks.

This process is similar to “in-person” parenting time complaint resolution, is free of charge and convenient for people who cannot come to court for any reason, including work, school, health, or quarantine.

The 20th Circuit Court has long been a national leader in improving outcomes for families via online access. In 2016, it was the first family court in the nation to launch an online child support compliance platform. In 2020, the court launched an online dispute resolution process, which has now been expanded to offer parenting time complaint initiation and resolution.

The platform is powered by Matterhorn by Court Innovations, an online dispute resolution provider based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “Congratulations to the Michigan 20th Circuit Court for taking a proactive, public-centered approach to working with families. We are proud to provide the technology platform for their great work,” said Court Innovations CEO, MJ Cartwright.

Visit to see the platform.

Ottawa County Preliminary Unemployment Rate for February 2021

The preliminary unemployment rates for February 2021 were released recently by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget. Ottawa County’s unemployment rate has decreased from a high of 20.4% in April 2020 to 4.2% in February 2021. This is currently the fifth-lowest unemployment rate in Michigan, with rates ranging from 17.5% in Mackinac County to 3.1% in Livingston County.


Read more from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget

Ottawa County Preliminary Unemployment Rate for January 2021

The preliminary unemployment rates for January 2021 were released recently by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget. Ottawa County’s unemployment rate has decreased from a high of 20.4% in April 2020 to 4.8% in January 2021. This is currently the third-lowest unemployment rate in Michigan, with rates ranging from 19.5% in Mackinac County to 3.8% in Livingston County.

Read more from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget

Ottawa County Adopts ‘Focus on Agriculture’ Plan

WEST OLIVE —Travel the scenic backroads of Ottawa County, you will notice one common denominator: farming. Whether it’s corn fields, fruit orchards, or livestock, you can easily see local agriculture at work.

With nearly 9,500 employed in ag-related businesses and $506 million worth of products sold annually (2017 Ag Census), Ottawa County’s agricultural sector is strong. During National Agriculture Week, we recognize the great economic, cultural, and nutritional impacts farming has on Ottawa County. We also recognize our farmers face challenges.

Just as local producers keep an eye on their operations to ensure a successful season, Ottawa County keeps a pulse on the local ag industry. It’s because of this careful observation that on March 23, 2021, which was National Agriculture Day, the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners showed its support for the Focus on Agriculture Plan, a new four-part economic development action plan to address some of the issues our farms face.

Focus on Agriculture was developed as a result of the 2019 Ottawa County Farmland Preservation Survey, which asked County agricultural landowners and producers how best to protect and support farmland in Ottawa County, and, by extension, our local farming industry.

“Industry data, the farmland survey, and anecdotal reports all point to the same challenges — farmland is being lost to development, aging farmers are retiring and not being replaced, financial and property hurdles are preventing young farmers from entering the industry,” said Becky Huttenga, Ottawa County Economic Development Coordinator. “With Focus on Agriculture, we have identified ways that the County and industry partners can work together to help address these issues.”

The action plan targets these challenges through four focus areas:

Succession Planning – develop an incentive pilot program, private sector partnerships, and host events

Comprehensive Land Use Vision – improve planning and zoning efforts with improved data, mapping, and, when possible, encourage brownfield redevelopment over new construction

Economic Viability – addressing barriers to financial success by supporting and promoting the use of development rights agreements, farmer income diversification, tax incentives, high-speed internet expansion, and technology

Agricultural Easements – continued promotion of and investment in farmland protection through the Purchase of Development Rights Program as well as pursuing additional funding avenues and protection methods

Supporting this important initiative are a robust group of partners, including Lakeshore Advantage, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Homestead Orchards, LLC, the Ottawa County Farm Bureau, as well as local farmers and food processors.

“For years, Ottawa County and its partners have worked together on numerous different ag industry issues,” said Erin Moore, District Director for Michigan State University Extension (MSUE). “The Focus on Agriculture plan helps zero in on some key actions that can help support the local farm economy by slowing the loss of farmers, farms, and ultimately farmland.”

To learn more about Ottawa County’s efforts to support its agricultural industry and keep updated on Focus on Agriculture as it develops, visit and, contact, or call 616-738-4852.

Locally raised meat, like these cattle at Maple Hill Beef, grew in popularity during the pandemic.

— Photo credit: Rich Lakeberg

About National Agriculture Day
Promoted by the Agriculture Council of America, National Agriculture Day recognizes and celebrates the immeasurable impact agriculture has on our everyday lives through awareness and education. For more information, visit

Seasonal Weight Restrictions to be Lifted at 6 a.m. Wednesday, March 24

The Ottawa County Road Commission gives notice that at 6 a.m. Wednesday, March 24, 2021, spring weight restrictions will be in lifted on all county roads under their jurisdiction.

The Road Commission has implemented a 24-hour-a-day recorded answering system for the public to use to check the status of the seasonal weight restrictions. To access this message system please call (616) 842-0086 or 1-800-394-0290.

You can also visit our website,, to find the latest information about seasonal weight restrictions.

For a statewide list of roads affected and the current weight limit, visit the County Road
Association of Michigan’s website at

Ottawa County Road Commission Wins the Michigan LTAP 2019 Great Ideas Challenge

The Ottawa County Road Commission (OCRC) won the Michigan LTAP 2019 Great Ideas Challenge, which seeks to promote and celebrate innovation in the state of Michigan by asking transportation agencies to submit unique innovations used by their agencies.

tailgateThe mechanics at the OCRC designed a box tailgate extension to solve a problem frequently faced by local road agencies when using dump trucks to transport materials.

Material can often get caught in the chains of the tailgate, making unloading difficult or even causing the tailgate to fall off. The OCRC had the idea to attach a solid side plate to the tailgate pins to extend the wall of the tailgate. Therefore, the box tailgate extension has a wall that prevents material from being caught in the chains and allows the material to slide out of the truck bed smoothly. The innovation also includes a tailgate lock that keeps everything rigidly in place.

According to recently-retired Equipment Supervisor Randy Nagelkirk, a mechanic can make the box in three to four hours.

“The task involves welding, drilling holes for the tailgate pin, and cutting off bolts,” he said.

The expected cost is $400. Nagelkirk said he encourages innovations such as this one at tje Road Commission because they “save time, save money for the road commission, and make life easier for the people doing the work.”

For winning the state-level Great Ideas Challenge, Nagelkirk received a monetary award for the OCRC to put toward attending employee training conferences and events. Additionally, the design was automatically submitted to the Federal Highway Administration’s LTAP Build a Better Mousetrap national competition. There, the OCRC will compete with transportation agencies from across the nation.

Community groups rally to help during COVID-19

March 14, 2020 – New website,, connects residents with volunteer needs during COVID-19 outbreak

As individuals, we are all taking steps to prevent spread of COVID-19: washing our hands, avoiding close contact with others, and staying home when we are sick. During this time, we also have an impulse to help our neighbors. To make helping easy, Ottawa County community groups have mobilized to create a website: Those wishing to assist will be connected to a variety of opportunities to make an impact: volunteering, donating goods or making a financial gift. The hub was developed by a community coalition including the Greater Ottawa County United Way, The Grand Haven Area Community Foundation, Lakeshore Nonprofit Alliance, Community Spoke and The Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area.

There are vulnerable populations in our community who will need ongoing care and support, and as COVID-19 spreads these individuals will face increased barriers in accessing vital services. Nonprofit agencies in Ottawa County have committed to keeping people fed, housed and healthy as best as they can. But these organizations face challenges as they balance their missions with the additional workload of managing the threat of COVID-19.

In addition to the increased need for services, COVID-19 is creating a gap in the volunteer workforce as older citizens, many of whom donate their time, are being advised to remain at home. New volunteers are needed to help fill that gap and avoid any interruptions in service provision.

Those who are not able to volunteer can also consider financial gifts, either directly to the nonprofit of their choice, or through community-wide funds housed at the Community Foundation for Holland/Zeeland, Grand Haven Area Community Foundation or Greater Ottawa County United Way. Financial gifts help local agencies offset the unexpected costs due to COVID-19, including an increased service demand, logistical challenges, and cancellation of fundraising events.

Ottawa County Road Commission Statement on State Road Bonding Plan

The Board of County Road Commissioners, County of Ottawa, has released the following statement regarding Gov. Whitmer’s bonding proposal for road improvements:

“While we appreciate the effort by the Governor and state leaders to find a funding solution to fix the state’s roads and bridges, we are disappointed that funding for county roads seems to be left out of the most-recent proposal.

“The Governor’s campaign promise was to ‘Fix the Damn Roads,’ and that should mean all roads within Michigan. The Governor’s proposal will address needs of the state trunkline system – which makes up just 8% of the statewide road network. However it fails to address the critical needs of our county and local roads and bridges.  The local road system is as important to Michigan tax payers as the state system, and as such, any proposal that doesn’t include funding for roads at the local level will lead to further deterioration and make it difficult for us and other county road agencies to bring our roads up to the same goals as MDOT.

“We’re also concerned that using bonds to maintain the existing system isn’t fiscally responsible, as the bond repayment schedules have historically exceeded the life of these improvements.  For example, payments are still be made on the road bonding that was taken out during Governor Engler and Granholm tenures.

“Our continued hope is that the Governor and Legislature can continue to work toward finding a funding solution that will benefit all roads and bridges in the state, not just the state trunkline, and that uses the Act 51 distribution, which is sustainable, Constitutionally-protected and fair.”

Protecting the Farm: Applications to Preserve Land Now Being Accepted

WEST OLIVE — In the past five years, Ottawa County has lost more than 14,000 acres of farmland. This contraction is no coincidence considering Ottawa is the fastest growing county in the state. Add in the fact that roughly 30% of the nearly 2,000 Ottawa County producers are of retirement age, and less than 10% are under 35, and it’s easy to see why valuable agriculture acreage is disappearing.

To combat this loss, Ottawa County has a powerful tool: the Purchase of Development Rights program. Interested parties can apply now through April 30 to preserve their eligible, agriculturally zoned property by selling its development rights. Creating easements through the sale of development rights guarantees the land is used for agricultural purposes or remains in a natural state in perpetuity. Landowners are compensated for lost development potential, yet still own the land and retain all other rights associated with it.

Across Ottawa County, support for the PDR program is growing. In 2019, Olive, Robinson and Zeeland townships approved resolutions of support, bringing the total number of participating townships to 10.

“For our agricultural industry to thrive, it’s vital we work together to protect our productive farmland from development,” said Cliff Meeuwsen, Ottawa County Agricultural Preservation Board chair and Zeeland Farm Services president. “This program is a valuable tool in the County’s long-term strategy for farmland preservation.”

Interested landowners can start the process for the PDR program by completing the newly simplified Pre-Application available at

Not sure if it’s right for your farm? Learn about PDR program basics and the full application process from farmland preservation specialists at either of these two open houses set for 6 p.m.-7 p.m. Monday, March 16, and 9 a.m-10 a.m. Tuesday, March 17, at the Ottawa County Fillmore Street Complex, 12220 Fillmore Street, West Olive. RSVP by calling 616-738-4852 or

To learn more about the program, complete a Pre-Application, and more, visit Interested parties are also welcome to contact our Farmland Preservation staff directly. Contact Julie Lamer at or call 616-738-4852.

Proactive Strategies Index Tackles Ottawa County’s Groundwater Crisis

WEST OLIVE — It started with phone calls. It was the mid-2000s, and something was amiss with the water wells in Allendale Township’s Highland Trails subdivision. Homeowners were complaining of low water pressure or even dry faucets. Then, area farmers chimed in – soybean leaves had been ‘burned’ because their irrigation water was salty. These reports were concerning, especially since Ottawa County is the fastest growing county in the state and one of the most agriculturally diverse. As groundwater complaints mounted, the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners requested a water study be conducted to understand the long-term sustainability of the County’s aquifer system.

The County hired Michigan State University in 2012 to conduct a two-part groundwater study. Phase I, completed in 2013, validated the anecdotal reports: water levels in the deep bedrock aquifer system have been declining for 20 years, and in certain areas, sodium chloride (salt) levels are rising above recommended standards. The Phase II study, which assessed how the groundwater supply could be impacted in the future, was completed in March 2018. Phase II demonstrated parts of the aquifer will continue to decline, and sodium chloride levels will continue to increase if proactive steps are not deployed to manage withdrawal rates.

“Groundwater issues aren’t just an ‘out-west’ problem anymore” said Paul Sachs, Planning and Performance Improvement Department Director. “Based on seven years of scientific study, we’ve learned that drinking water in the deep bedrock aquifer below Ottawa County isn’t being replenished as quickly as it’s being removed.”  The geologic findings contained in the study are also an indication that drinking water from groundwater sources in Michigan as a whole may not be as abundant as previously thought.

Armed with the data, the Department has spearheaded a partnership with local scientists, policymakers and stakeholders to develop a plan for practical solutions to protect this vital resource. The County is pleased to announce the release of the Proactive Strategies Index, a guidebook highlighting steps oriented toward alleviating the water crisis.

“With a dedicated group of partners working in conjunction with our department’s land planners, we’ve created an Index that outlines the many ways we can tackle this groundwater issue,” added Sachs. “This guidebook goes a long way to not only address the crisis with mitigation strategies, but also to offer common-sense solutions residents and businesses can implement.”  One of the solutions identified in the Index that offers significant opportunity to improve the use of water resources is the conversion of turf-grass to more sustainable, native landscaping strategies.

Some of the other Index highlights include:

• Outreach campaign: In collaboration with the Department of Public Health and partners, educational materials and messaging are being developed for distribution across the County to the public and select stakeholder groups.
• Online resources: In 2018, the Ottawa County Groundwater website was launched as a place for visitors to access detailed information and data related to the County’s challenges.
• Youth education partnerships: Officials will work with local educators to introduce groundwater education into existing science classrooms, as well as other hands-on learning exercises with community partners.
• Stakeholder integration: Partnerships with homeowners, landscapers, realtors, developers, farmers and more will allow for conservation and awareness measures to be implemented.
• Model Zoning Guidelines and a Coordinated Future Land Use Plan: Thoughtful zoning practices will be developed with local units of government to reduce strain on our groundwater supply without stifling development.
• Groundwater Monitoring Network: The County is working to identify the best groundwater solutions by establishing a network of sensors to analyze long-term trends in the bedrock aquifer.

Index in hand, it is the County’s hope stakeholders, experts and the community can make water conservation a priority in West Michigan. For more information on Ottawa County’s groundwater issues, visit

Ottawa County Adds Vaping to Smoking Regulations

On Tuesday, January 14, 2020, at the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners regular session, officials approved the Ottawa County Health and Human Services Committee’s proposed revisions to the County Operations Ordinances (Article 4, Section 400.1.1 Smoking Regulations) to include vaping regulations on or within county property AND proposed revisions to the Ottawa County Regulation Eliminating Smoking in Public and Private Worksites and Public Places to also regulate vaping. Any individuals found in violation of the ordinance shall be guilty of an infraction, leading to a warning and fines.

“Numerous studies have found that tobacco and marijuana smoke are major contributors to indoor air pollution, and that breathing secondhand smoke is a cause of disease in healthy nonsmokers,” said Health Officer Lisa Stefanovsky, Ottawa County Department of Public Health. “Secondhand smoke is a toxic air contaminant and exposure to secondhand smoke has serious health effects. There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.”

Vaping is the act of using electronic smoking devices to deliver an inhaled dose of nicotine or other substances. Existing studies on electronic smoking device aerosol emissions and cartridge contents have found a number of substances known to cause cancer in humans, including formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, lead, nickel and chromium. Inconsistent labeling of specific components and nicotine levels in electronic smoking device products exacerbates this issue. Multiple studies have concluded that exposure after exhalation of aerosol from electronic smoking devices likely results in passive or secondhand and thirdhand exposure to product components.

Lakeshore Nonprofit Alliance, Ottawa County Partner on First-ever Nonprofit Community Assessment

submitted by Shannon Virtue

With hundreds of nonprofits operating in the Ottawa County area, there’s no shortage of organizations seeking to give back. To help these organizations fulfill their mission, a group of local executive directors founded the Lakeshore Nonprofit Alliance (LNA) in 2006. Since then, LNA has strived to provide area nonprofits with the tools and knowledge needed to make an impact in the communities they serve.

To gain better insight into the needs of local nonprofits, LNA decided to conduct a first-ever Nonprofit Community Assessment. “We weren’t necessarily looking to measure the direct impact that nonprofits were having in the community, but rather how well the nonprofits themselves were functioning,” LNA Executive Director Patrick Cisler said. This in-depth survey measuring the health of area nonprofits would be unprecedented for the region. “We knew immediately that if we wanted the assessment to be conducted well and with integrity, we needed to partner with a third party,” Cisler said.

LNA turned to the Ottawa County Planning & Performance Improvement Department for assistance. Having worked with the Department’s experienced analysts on the Community Health Improvement Plan and Ottawa Food-related projects, LNA knew they would be up to the task. “This survey was a major undertaking,” said Ottawa County Planning & Performance Improvement Department Assistant Director Shannon Virtue. “We worked closely with LNA staff every step of the way.” County analysts reviewed the organization’s draft questions and provided feedback, ensuring the survey was well-written and easy to understand. Once the questionnaires were completed, the Department collected responses and carefully analyzed the data. Department staff then crafted three highly visual reports — a Summary Report, a Main Report, and a Supplemental Report. “The PPID kept the data collected private, analyzed the results for us, and ultimately produced a beautiful report,” Cisler said. LNA presented the Nonprofit Community Assessment results at Nonprofit Next 2019, the LNA’s annual meeting.

LNA is now employing the survey results as part of their strategic planning. “We have been able to share (the reports) widely in our community,” Cisler said. Individual nonprofits can utilize the results as a way to compare themselves to peer organizations and set benchmarks. The work is ongoing — with plans to conduct the survey every three years.

The County’s experienced analysts are ready to assist local government units, nonprofit agencies and other County departments with their data and presentation needs. “We bring information to life,” said the Department’s Shannon Virtue.

The LNA Nonprofit Community Assessment Summary Report can be viewed HERE. If you’re interested in learning more about the County’s services, please contact the Ottawa County Planning and Performance Improvement Department at (616) 738-4852,, or visit To learn more about LNA’s services, please contact LNA at (616) 594-7133 or visit

Vaping is a Serious Health Threat

Health Advisory

Severe Lung Injury Associated with Electronic Cigarette Product Use or Vaping

lunginjuryThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), state and local health departments, and other clinical and public health partners are investigating a national outbreak of e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury (EVALI). As of January 7, 2020, a total of 2,602 hospitalized EVALI cases or deaths have been reported to CDC from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and two U.S. territories (Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands). Fifty-seven deaths have been confirmed in 27 states and the District of Columbia (as of January 7, 2020).


The Ottawa County Department of Public Health and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services recommend the following for the public:

People should not use THC-containing e-cigarette or vaping products, particularly from informal sources like friends, family or in-person or online sellers.
E-cigarette or vaping products should never be used by youths, young adults or women who are pregnant.
Individuals who do not currently use tobacco products should not start using e-cigarette or vaping products.
Vitamin E acetate should not be added to e-cigarette or vaping products.
Additionally, people should not add any other substances not intended by the manufacturer to products, including products purchased through retail establishments.
While it appears that vitamin E acetate is associated with EVALI, there are many different substances and product sources that are being investigated, and there may be more than one cause. Therefore, the best way for people to ensure that they are not at risk while the investigation continues is to consider refraining from the use of all e-cigarette or vaping products. Most EVALI cases in Michigan and nationwide reported vaping THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) alone or in combination with nicotine.
Adults who continue to use an e-cigarette or vaping products should carefully monitor themselves for symptoms, such as such as shortness of breath, chest pain, cough, fever and/or nausea and vomiting, and see a healthcare provider immediately if they develop symptoms like those reported in this outbreak.
Adults using e-cigarettes or vaping products as an alternative to cigarettes should not go back to smoking. They should weigh all available information and consider using FDA-approved cessation medications. They should contact their healthcare provider if they need help quitting tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes are not FDA approved as a smoking cessation device.

Free help is available for individuals who are interested in quitting tobacco:

Michigan Quitline 1-800-QuitNow for adults
MyLifeMyQuit for youth 18 years and younger.

Fifth Judgeship Recommended for Ottawa County

The Michigan Supreme Court, through the State Court Administrative Office (SCAO), released the 2019 Judicial Resources Recommendations for the State of Michigan. The report concluded that an additional circuit judgeship be added to the 20th Circuit Court in Ottawa County. These recommendations were based on SCAO’s most recent biennial review of the judicial needs of Michigan courts, and have been forwarded to the legislature. New judgeships must be created by legislation and then approved by the County Board of Commissioners before a new judge can be elected.

The review of trial court judgeships begins with a statistical analysis by SCAO. Case filings are weighted to reflect the amount of judicial time necessary to handle each case type. For each jurisdiction where the statistical analysis indicated a significant judicial need, the SCAO conducted a secondary analysis focusing on the specific needs of the court, and other factors not accounted for in the weighted caseload formula.

The results of this extensive analysis demonstrated an overall need of 10.0-10.3 judgeships in Ottawa County. Since 2005, when the last judgeship was created, Ottawa County has covered the judicial workload with nine judges (four Circuit Court, four District Court, one Probate Court). The 20th Circuit Court handles serious criminal cases, business court cases, civil cases where more than $25,000 is in dispute, appeals from District Court and state agencies, juvenile delinquency cases, child welfare cases, and domestic relations cases (including divorce, child custody and parenting time disputes). During the past 15 years, the population of Ottawa County has significantly increased and the courts’ caseload has also increased in size and complexity.

20th Circuit Court Chief Judge Jon A. Van Allsburg expressed his thanks to the Michigan Supreme Court and SCAO Administrator Milton L. Mack, Jr. for this recommendation, and noted that it is supported by the 20th Circuit Court. Based on caseload increases, especially within the Family Division of the Circuit Court, it is likely the 5th Circuit Judge will be assigned to the Family Division to help provide timely services to the children and families of Ottawa County.

Vanderberg Reappointed to The Child Lead Exposure Elimination Commission

adminvandenbergGovernor Gretchen Whitmer reappointed Ottawa County Administrator Al Vanderberg to the Child Lead Exposure Elimination Commission with a term expiring December 15, 2023.

“I am pleased and honored to be reappointed to the Michigan Child Lead Exposure Commission. This work must remain a priority until lead levels in children are abated and eliminated,” said Vanderberg.

Alan G. Vanderberg, of Grand Rapids, is the County Administrator for Ottawa County, a position he has held since 2003. He holds a Master of Public Administration from Michigan State University and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Michigan.

The Child Lead Exposure Elimination Commission focuses on implementing the recommendations of the former Child Lead Poisoning Elimination Board and monitoring the state’s efforts to eliminate lead exposure in children. The Commission acts in an advisory capacity to the Governor and department director to coordinate and collaborate with all levels of government and stakeholders regarding programs and policies related to the elimination of child lead exposure.

Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board Recommends $300,000 for Grand River Greenway

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) board recommended $300,000 in development funds to be allocated to Ottawa County Parks & Recreation for development and construction of a 1-mile segment of the Idema Explorers Trail in Jenison at their annual meeting in December.

December 18, 2019 — The Idema Explorers Trail is a key feature of the Grand River Greenway which is comprised of 9,000 acres of public land between Grand Haven and Grand Rapids. The preservation of this land provides scenic natural spaces and high quality habitat for both wildlife and recreation. Currently, 13 miles of the 36.5-mile Idema Explorers Trail have been constructed with another 12 being engineered.

This Jenison Mill segment will connect a portion of the Idema Explorers Trail along Cottonwood Drive  to existing trail in Kent County. It allows users easier access the Grand River; great recreation areas like Millennium Park, which has 20 miles of paved pathway; and, many miles of regional trail, including seven miles of riverfront trail in Kent County, the Grand Rapids bike lane network, Kent Trails, and the Fred Meijer Standale Trail.

“One of our goals is to connect with neighboring communities and to connect to our waterfront,” said Jim Wierenga, Georgetown Township Supervisor. “We were excited the Idema Explorers Trail created a connection to Allendale last fall and look forward to connecting with Kent County, as well as to the Grand River. We are a community with a river that runs through it and that resource is often overlooked. The more the Grand River Greenway project moves forward, the more this asset in our community begins to capture the attention of our citizens. I get many thanks from the people within our township for the Grand River Greenway,” said Wierenga.

Other partners in the project are thrilled about this news. “We are working hard to raise the funds needed to make the vision of the Grand River Greenway a reality. Having the support of the Trust Fund and the community makes our work that much easier. We believe in what we’re doing, but it is great to hear that they do too,” said Bobbi Jones Sabine, President of the Ottawa County Parks Foundation. “Giving everyone access to the scenic spaces and connected trails along the Grand River Greenway will improve the quality of life for current and future West Michigan residents.”

Recreation Opportunities

In addition to opening up recreation opportunities on land, it also creates more access for anglers. “Connecting Georgetown Township and Ottawa County trails to the Kent County trails on the east side will provide anglers an easy path to access quality shorefishing sites,” said Dr. Dan O’Keefe Michigan Sea Grant Coordinator at MSU Extension in a letter of support for the project. “Certain areas are also wadeable in summer due to the hard substrate. Wading is very popular upstream in Grand Rapids, but virtually unheard of in Ottawa County due to the lack of access to rare hard-bottomed areas such as this.”

Don’t Lose Your Health Care Coverage

Do you have Medicaid coverage through the Healthy Michigan Plan?
Starting January 2020, there is a new work requirement. Many will have to take a moment to report 80 hours a month of work or other activities like job search to keep coverage. Some will be excused if they are unable to work due to health or other reasons.

Will this change affect you? Get the details at
1-800-642-3195 (TTY: 1-866-501-5656)

Ottawa County Libraries Awarded Grant for Mobile Broadband Hotspots for Patron Check-Out

Access to the internet is a necessity in today’s world. It opens doors to education, employment, and opportunity. With just the click of a mouse, the world is at our fingertips. For well over a decade, Ottawa County has experienced an impressive growth in broadband coverage resulting in the majority of people in the County being connected. Despite this widespread coverage, a technology gap still exists. Ottawa County survey data shows 22% of county households do not have a fixed broadband connection, and 35% say home internet access is unaffordable.

Together, area libraries and Ottawa County officials are bridging that information resources gap with a pilot program: the Mobile Hotspot Device Lending Initiative. Mobile hotspots are small, portable devices that provide wireless Internet access for any device that can connect to a wireless signal, such as a laptop, smartphone, tablet, or gaming device. Now, all nine libraries within Ottawa’s borders have been awarded a Library of Michigan Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant, which is administered at the federal level by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, totaling $81,450 to go toward expanding the program. The need is clear: three of nine Ottawa County libraries (Herrick District Library, Howard Miller Library and Coopersville District Library) have offered mobile hotspots on loan free-of-charge to patrons for several years. These three libraries cite a continuous waiting list as long as 30 people for use of the hotspots.

“Herrick District Library launched their respective Mobile Hotspot Device Lending Initiative in 2016,” Herrick District Library Director Diane Kooiker said. “It’s been an overwhelming success. The numbers speak for themselves ­– I can’t stress enough how valuable this service is to our patrons.”

With the LSTA grant money and matching funds, Ottawa County will work with local libraries to fill the void in internet accessibility and affordability. Starting in October 2019, 100 T-Mobile hotspots were acquired and distributed, making the devices available for loan to the county’s more than 283,000 residents through all local libraries.

Ottawa Stop Child Abuse & Neglect

Council partners with local hotels to provide safe sleep resources

The Ottawa Stop Child Abuse and Neglect Council (SCAN) has partnered with local hotels to provide a safe sleep option for hotel guest traveling with an infant.

In Michigan, each year approximately 150 infants pass away due to unsafe sleep conditions. Safe Sleep is defined by the American Academy of Pediatrics as an infant sleeping alone, on their back on a firm sleep surface such as a crib or pack and play with a tight fitting sheet. Breastfeeding and a pacifier without strings or attachments is recommended and parents/caregivers are encouraged not to smoke around their baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends that parents/caregivers share the same bedroom but not the same sleeping surface until the baby turns one but at least for the first six months.

City Flats Hotel Holland and Fairfield Marriott Holland are partnering with the Ottawa SCAN council to provide a Safe Sleep option and educational materials for parents/caregivers requesting Safe Sleep for their infant. We can all play a role in keeping the infants in our community safe. This partnership is doing just that, and is another avenue to encourage parents to practice Safe Sleep at all times, even when traveling. If your hotel would like to participate please contact For families who are in need of a Safe Sleep option at home, please contact or call 844.233.2244.


The Ottawa Stop Child Abuse and Neglect Council is a community-based effort to prevent child abuse and neglect in Ottawa County through the Michigan Children’s Trust Fund. SCAN coordinates child abuse prevention efforts to ensure we work together as a community to protect children. The Ottawa County Department of Public Health and Arbor Circle partner with SCAN to raise awareness of child abuse and advocate for children who are at risk of abuse or neglect.

Ottawa’s 58th District Court Focuses on Access for All Citizens

pledgeoffairnessAt a recent day of professional development, 58th District Court staff were administered a “Pledge of Fairness” by Chief Judge Bradley S. Knoll. Under oath, all court staff pledged to each litigant, defendant, victim, witness, juror and person involved in a court proceeding to, “listen to you; respond to your questions about court procedure and treat you with respect.”

The events of the day were organized by the 58th District Court judges and leadership team who partnered with Robyn Afrik, Ottawa County Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Director and Lucia Rios, Disability Advocate and Access Consultant. The curriculum was geared toward a recognition by all court staff that their pledges of fairness require extra and more strategic efforts to assure equal access to all court users, including those with disabilities.

Prior to the training, court staff inspected the three courthouses, attempting to view the experience through a diverse citizen’s perspective. Employees noted both facility and procedural characteristics, adequacy of signs, languages expressed, appropriate privacy, disability barriers and other attributes. These observations were discussed at the training and action plans were initiated to improve both functional and operational access to the 58th District Court.

Ms. Jeannette Johnson, a Rights Representative from the Division on Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, also presented on understanding and serving the needs of the Deaf/deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing population.

Moving forward, District Court will continue this important work by collaborating with and working alongside Afrik in the Ottawa County Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Office. The Court also plans on engaging Lucia’s expertise to remove identified barriers for people with disabilities in the courthouses as well as provide additional training on accessibility standards and sensitivity training under Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“We are very grateful for the contributions of Robyn and Lucia to the staff training on this very important issue and look forward to continuing to partner with them to help us recognize and accommodate the needs of all person having business with the Court,” said Chief Judge Knoll.

Ottawa County began its Cultural Intelligence initiative in 2013 with the formation of an internal committee tasked with educating employees, hosting an annual forum and getting more involved in community diversity initiatives. Five years later, the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners established the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion office on December 11, 2018. The DEI office will lead the development of an equity plan for not only the courts, but for all departments and offices of Ottawa County. A key initiative will be identifying implicit bias in internal policies, procedures, practices, and in external service delivery. This work is critical to continuously improve County services.

Ottawa County Offering Citizen Police Academy & Active Shooter Response Training

Apply Now for the Citizen Police Academy

Ottawa County now accepting applications for the 2020 Citizen Police Academy. The 9-session Citizen Police Academy offers 25 citizens an inside look at law enforcement. Sessions are from 6PM to 9PM on Thursdays from March 5 through May 7. (No class during spring break week.)

Potential candidates for the Citizen Police Academy must meet the following criteria:

Minimum age of 18
Live or work in Ottawa County
No Misdemeanor arrests within one year of application
No prior felony arrests

Applications will be processed on a first-come-first-serve basis. Pending a background check and eligibility, applicants will be notified of their acceptance into the academy near February 15.

For more information on the Citizen Police Academy and the selection process please contact Sergeant Ryan DeVries at (616) 738-4038


Topics covered in the academy include Road Patrol, Corrections, 911 Central Dispatch, Undercover Investigations, Narcotics, Marine Patrol, Dive Team, K9 Unit, E-Unit, Criminal Scientific Support Unit, Crime Scene Investigation, Firearms, Range, Simulator, Special Operations, Legal System, Accident Investigations and Community Policing. Most sessions will be held at the West Olive Fillmore Complex 12220 Fillmore Street, West Olive, MI 49460. The location of the session may vary depending on the topic.actionpics

Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events

There is also space in the Sheriff Office’s Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events sessions. The Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events (CRASE) course provides strategies, guidance, and a plan for surviving an active shooter event.

Participants must be at least 18 years of age; please bring picture ID such as a driver’s license or state-issued identification.

Kathy Winston Named Outstanding Supervisor of the Year

kwinstonThe 20th Circuit Court, Friend of the Court (FOC), which serves Ottawa County, has long been recognized as one of the highest performing in Michigan. At the recent annual State Child Support Conference, Assistant Friend of the Court Kathy Winston earned the honor of “Outstanding Supervisor of the Year,” given by the Michigan Family Support Council. This award is given to only one supervisor from the Michigan Child Support Program, which includes staff from the Michigan Office of Child Support, and from county Friend of the Court offices and Prosecuting Attorney offices statewide.

Winston has served the people of Ottawa County for 32 years, first as a Data Processing Specialist then Friend of the Court Investigator and now as Assistant Friend of the Court. Drawing from her professional experience and personal knowledge, Winston has crafted creative solutions to improve efficiencies in operations, suggested relevant technologies and maintained a budget that is mindful of the needs of the office and local taxpayers. The FOC in Ottawa County is characterized as “high performing” based on both State and Federal performance measures, due to a dedicated staff who work to help families mediate cases, collect court-ordered funds and settle disputes between parents involving minor children.

Since becoming Assistant Friend of the Court in 2012, Winston’s positive attitude has led the FOC to take on new challenges, including implementation of mandatory electronic filing and the Alternative Work Location program which allows staff to work remotely. She is committed to making the Child Support Program better for families and for employees working within the program. Says one of her staff, Winston is “approachable and willing to find the right solution even if she has to do the work herself. She has done almost every job in the office; she keeps up to date on trends in the field and moves our office forward. She also is exceptionally fair and does not take sides.”

Ottawa County Website Ranks 10th in the Nation

The Center for Digital Government (CDG) and the National Association of Counties (NACo) announced the winners of the 17th annual Digital Counties Survey on July 11, 2019. Ottawa County, Michigan’s technology practices and website,, were named 10th in the nation compared to counties with populations from 250,000 – 499,000. The award, given by CDG in partnership with NACo, identifies US counties with the best practices, including initiatives that streamline delivery of government services, encourage collaboration, and enhance cybersecurity.

“It is an honor to be recognized nationally for our technology. Offering a secure website, robust in services is simply good customer service. Citizens can access permits, records, and other needs 24-7 without leaving home. It is efficient for citizens and the County.” said Shannon Felgner, Ottawa County’s Communication Manager.

The 2018 citizen survey found support for Ottawa’s online presence as well:

• 76% of residents who had visited offered a positive assessment.
• 81% of citizens aged 18-49 said they would prefer doing business online versus visiting an office.

Citizens in Ottawa County are actively visiting for those online services. During the fiscal year 2018, a total of 79,781 transactions were completed online, translating to $2,540,274 worth of services. Online services are efficient for both customers and the County.

The County’s first e-service was property tax searches, initiated in October of 2005.

Along with services, residents can stay connected through technology. Ottawa County added email subscription services in 2015 to engage and inform residents. To date, more than 37,000 people are subscribed to receive county news.