Ottawa County

Ottawa County Parks is Hiring for the 2018 Summer Season!

These employment opportunities are a great way for college students, senior citizens, graduating high school students (age 18+), and others who enjoy working outdoors to learn from industry experts and gain valuable work experience in a team-oriented atmosphere.

Seasonal employees work varied shifts ranging from 10-40 hours a week, depending on the position. Shifts may include weekends, evenings, and holidays from late April through Labor Day. Work locations are available throughout the county.

To view job descriptions, hourly wages, and application requirements and qualifications, visit: Applications are accepted and may also be completed at Ottawa County Human Resources.

job descriptions

Best Financial Credit Union Opens Its First Ottawa County Branch Office in Spring Lake

A small, aging industrial building had long occupied the corner of School and Savidge Streets in Spring Lake Village, but on January 16, 2018 Best Financial Credit Union (CU) will open the doors of their first Ottawa County branch office in that location. Best Financial CU’s President, Morgan Rescorla, commented “We are very excited to become a part of the Spring Lake community and better serve our Ottawa County members”. Best Financial CU constructed a brand new, 2,500 square foot building that will be the workplace for seven full time and two part time employees. They offer their members a wide variety of financial services, including checking, savings, loans, and retirement vehicles. A grand opening event is slated for January 26, 2018 at 3:00pm.

Long before Best Financial CU noticed the property, a number of different types of businesses were operated at this corner, from industrial wood working to metal fabrication. As a result of the chemicals used in those processes, the site had soil and groundwater contamination that needed to be addressed by Best Financial CU when they purchased property. The environmental contractor working with Best Financial CU advised them to contact the Ottawa County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority (OCBRA) for financial assistance for the environmental assessments and clean-up planning that would be needed in order to redevelop the site.

The OCBRA was able to help Best Financial CU access multiple financial incentives to offset the additional costs of redeveloping a brownfield site. The $1.15 million price tag for the project was supplemented by grant funding from the Environmental Protection Agency, a loan from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and the capture of incremental property taxes. Rescorla stated that this site was exactly right for their Ottawa County location, but being a good steward of member funds is a priority, so securing these incentives were make or break for choosing this site over a non-brownfield site. The incentives offset added projects costs stemming primarily from the removal of approximately 800 tons of contaminated soil, 5 million gallons of contaminated water, and the installation of a vapor intrusion barrier.

In addition to the added jobs and services brought to the community by this project, Village Manager Chris Burns says, “Village Council and staff are thrilled to welcome Best Financial Credit Union to the Village! Best Financial CU and Ottawa County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority’s commitment to the remediation of this (formerly) blighted property serve as an example of an outstanding redevelopment project. We are optimistic developers can use this site as an example of successful public/private collaboration that can be replicated elsewhere within the Village.” The project site is immediately adjacent to a wetland, and one block away from a public park situated on the Grand River.

For more information about brownfield redevelopment, contact the Ottawa County Redevelopment Authority at 616.738.4852,, or by visiting


Grand River Greenway & Explorers Trail

A primary focus of Ottawa County Parks has been the Grand River Greenway Initiative. Over 2,400 acres of land has been preserved and 13 parks and open spaces have been created along the Grand River Greenway. Grand River Explorers Trail

Ottawa County Parks proposes to invest in additional land (including land for the Bend Area) and the construction of 27 miles of new, multi-modal pathway connecting Grand Rapids to Grand Haven.

This investment will create recreational, educational, conservation, and historic attractions by protecting some the highest quality land remaining along the river. It will connect the greenway properties to each other and complete the most critical remaining unfinished link in the regional pathway system – the Grand River Explorers Trail.

Prepare Your Child for Success in School

Children’s hearing and vision impacts their success in school. An undiagnosed hearing problem may impact a child’s ability to pay attention or follow directions. An undiagnosed vision problem may affect a child’s ability to read and learn.

Have your child’s hearing and vision tested by your local health department beginning at age 3 and again just BEFORE the start of kindergarten at no cost. Michigan law requires screening PRIOR to kindergarten entry. If your child is enrolled in school, continuous screenings begin in kindergarten. If your child is not enrolled in a formal school setting, he or she can receive free screenings at your local health department by appointment. Call (616)396-5266 to schedule an appointment with the Ottawa County Department of Public Health at any one of our three locations (Grand Haven, Holland or Hudsonville).

Hearing & Vision Screenings

Michigan Law requires local health departments to offer no cost hearing and vision screening at least once between the ages of 3 and 5; in kindergarten; 2nd and 4th grades (hearing only); and 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th grades (vision only).

For more information, visit watch this short video about our screening process at to play video

County to Acquire Historic House in Bend Area Park

Moss House, aerial view

Moss House, aerial view

The Ottawa County Board of Commissioners took action at its September 28 meeting to approve a purchase agreement with the estate of Joyce Carle to acquire 1.28 acres including a historic house located on 12th Avenue in the Bend Area, a county park property on the Grand River in Georgetown Township.  The Bend Area Open Space is currently 258 acres and a grant project pending is expected to add up to 240 additional acres later this fall. The 1.28 acre house parcel is surrounded on all four sides by the pending grant acquisition property.

The Ottawa County Parks Foundation will be assisting the Parks Commission with the $160,000 purchase price with a $17,000 grant. The Parks Commission will explore adapting the house for weddings and other public gatherings, similar to the Weaver House located at Pine Bend..

The house was built in 1913 by Cornelius John “CJ” Moss, the father of Joyce Carle, who passed away in recent months. CJ Moss was a dairy farmer who also spent time as the “town sheriff” of Jenison before he was tragically killed along with his wife at age 45 in a car-train crash in Jenison.

The long-range vision for the Bend Area park property is to acquire 700 acres with park improvements to provide opportunities for swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, biking and picnic facilities. The Parks Commission’s work on the project began in 2000 when it worked with gravel mine operators to develop a master plan for the area that doubled as both a mine reclamation plan and a long-range parks plan.

Volunteers Making a Difference in Ottawa County

The Detroit Free Press published an in-depth article, submitted by the Michigan DNR sharing information about the fight against Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA). Estelle Charroud, a Holland-native and dedicated Ottawa County Parks volunteer was featured in the article.

Estelle Charroud

Estelle Charroud

“Holland’s Estelle Charroud regularly meets with her neighbors urging them to look for signs of HWA and coordinate treatment in their subdivision. ‘It’s a complicated problem to tackle,’ she said. ‘But we owe it to our children to try, we owe it to the majestic forest that surrounds our homes, and, most importantly, we owe it to the amazing wildlife for whom it is home.'”

Read the article here.

More information about the fight against HWA can be found online:

Photo from Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Ottawa County Road Commission – Snowplow Roadeo

Road Commission Employees Prepare for Winter at The 2017 Snowplow Roadeo

roadeoRoad Commission employees participated in the Annual Snowplow Roadeo on October 11th. The event is hosted by the Mid-Michigan Chapter of the American Public Works Association and representatives from Road Commissions, MDOT, and Public Works Departments from around the state participated. The event included contests for “Pride of the Fleet”, “Innovative Ideas”, and a snowplow driving course. The Roadeo also provided seminars on best practices for supervisors and drivers, as well as presentations from leaders in the industry on current trends and innovations for tackling the snow season.

The event is a great way for public organizations to collaborate, compete, and learn from each other in preparation for winter. It is one of the many ways in which the OCRC prepares for the snowplowing season.The snowplow truck, with fabrications from Road Commission staff, and the plow blade painted by local high school students won Pride of the Fleet. The Innovative Idea was an invention that helps make loading and unloading trucks more efficient through modifications to the tailgate, which will help Road Commission workers year-round.

Events, like the Snowplow Roadeo, are a great way to demonstrate the hard work and innovation of Ottawa County Road Commission staff, as well as learn from other agencies.

Preparing for Winter at 2017 Snowplow Roadeo!

roadeoprepDrivers from Road Commissions and Public Works Departments from across the state practiced and competed in a snow plow driving course.




guyandplowOCRC Equipment Supervisor, Randy Nagelkirk, stands next to the Road Commission’s winning entry for “Innovative Idea”.





plowpicsOCRC’s winning entry for “Pride of the Fleet”

Identifying HWA – Hemlock Woolly Adelgid

You can identify Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) by looking for a white woolly substance found on the base of the needles. This woolly substance is actually a mass of eggs.

HWA close up

These small adelgid insects suck on the sap of hemlock trees causing a tree to slowly lose its vigor over time. As the insect continues to feed and spread throughout a tree, the needles will turn gray and begin to shed. From a distance, a tree will look very stressed and unhealthy as its foliage thins out and bare branches are exposed. Over time, severely infested trees will die.

Close-up photo from the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.


Ottawa County Road Commission – Snowplow Safety

Seven Snowplow Safety Tips

plowingWinter in Ottawa County usually means lots of snow, and that means snowplows on the road to help keep them clear of snow and ice. The Road Commission wants to keep everyone safe on the road, and so here are seven tips for this winter:

1. Always give snowplows plenty of room on the road. It’s best not to drive next to a plow, or too close behind it. Visibility is limited for snowplow drivers.

2. Don’t park your car on the side of the road or on the shoulder. This can limit the snowplow driver’s ability to clear the road.

3. Make sure your children don’t wait too close to the edge of the road for the school bus. In the mornings, especially during a snowstorm, snowplow driver’s sight is limited and small children in the road can be hard to see. Also, snowplows push up a lot of snow, so make sure your children stay back from the edge of the road.

4. Never play in or leave items in roadside piles of snow.

5. Since snowplows push snow to the right, pile snow on the right-hand side of your driveway (looking towards the road). This will help reduce the amount of snow that can be pushed back into your driveway.

6. When placing your garbage can, don’t place it on the street. When shoveling out your driveway, dig out a spot for your garbage can that is clear from the road.

7. Remember to be patient and drive safely during winter storms. The Road Commission clears the highest volume roads first. Consequently, during major snow events some local roads can take longer to be plowed. Drive cautiously on all roads with ice or snow.

If you follow these tips, you can help keep the roads clear and safe for everyone.

Watch For Green Lights!

greenlightsChanges to Michigan law in 2016 allowed for municipalities and Road Commissions to use green lights on their maintenance vehicles. OCRC has been transitioning its trucks to have green flashing lights. Green lights on the road, especially during the winter, are a signal to slow down and be careful of snow plows. You can read more about the decision to switch to green lights HERE.

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Grant Awarded to Help Eradicate Hemlock Woolly Adelgid in West Michigan

In October, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission (WMSRDC) a $600,000 grant through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

WMSRDC will partner with its West Michigan Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (CISMA) partners, which includes Ottawa County Parks, to launch efforts to control and eradicate Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA), a devastating invasive species now established in Michigan that has damaged forests along the east coast over the past decade.

Distribution data from Michigan Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) will be used to begin treatments, but grant funds will be used to survey and record other infestations throughout Lake Michigan’s coastal zone. The project also includes outreach and education for public and private landowners; effective data management; early detection, rapid response and treatment of infested sites.

“The Eastern Hemlock tree plays a crucial role in the forests in Michigan. Hemlock trees are long-lived and provide habitat for a large variety of birds and animals, offering both shelter and forage. The heavy shade given by hemlock trees keep the forest temperatures lower and rivers and streams cooler, which allows for more robust fisheries,” said Kathy Evans an Environmental Program Manager at WMSRDC.

Stand of hemlocks at Port Sheldon Natural Area in Holland, MI

Stand of hemlocks at Port Sheldon Natural Area in Holland, MI

In 2016, eradication efforts led by CISMA and Ottawa County Parks transitioned from a few contained escapes from nursery stock to a more widespread problem. “After speaking with biologists from the east coast, there are many factors that lead us to believe that early efforts can contain the infestation and prevent the major loss of forest, but immediate action must occur if we are to remain optimistic,” said Melanie Manion, Ottawa County Parks.

See video of Allison Kanoti, a forest entomologist with Maine’s Forest Service presented at the Ottawa County Parks Nature Education Center at a public meeting in March. 

The effort to slow the spread of the HWA and protect stands of hemlock trees will strengthen Michigan’s natural forest ecosystem. The loss of the hemlock tree would increase the effects of climate change by allowing the forest temperatures to rise, which would be detrimental to wildlife, as well as the beauty of our natural forests. It would also adversely affect the outdoor recreation economy, especially in northern Michigan. Source: MSU Extension

Public outreach and education will be conducted in Oceana, Muskegon, Ottawa, and Allegan Counties in an attempt to obtain information on additional infested trees. New sites that are discovered through outreach efforts will be recorded and inspected. The outreach campaign will also educate the public about the spread of HWA by birds at bird feeders and infested yard waste; best practices will be taught to mitigate these modes of spread.

This grant will allow for the treatment and protection of 65,405 acres of Lake Michigan shoreline and coastal zone from the effects of HWA. It will also help to cover treatment costs for private landowners.

“Funding at this critical point, in which HWA is not yet widespread, is crucial to start the outreach and treatment,” said Evans. “In order to keep management costs low and the possibility of eradication high, the immediate initiation of control efforts is of the utmost importance. We are grateful for the support of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to help contain this forest pest before it spreads across the state.”

The Grand Ravines Suspension Bridge is Now Open

The Grand Ravines Suspension Bridge

The Grand Ravines Suspension Bridge spans 275′ across a 70′ ravine in Jenison, MI

Ottawa County Parks is pleased to announce the Grand Ravines Suspension Bridge is open to the public as of this morning.

Until recently, a suspension bridge in the Ottawa County Parks system seemed like a pipe dream. “When the master plan was created for Grand Ravines, those beautiful, deep ravines made it challenging to design a viable hiking trail system. We were fortunate to get a permanent trail easement donated by neighboring landowners, which helped in navigating the steep terrain. For a full loop, crossing a major ravine with a trail was unavoidable and a suspension bridge was added into the plan, knowing it was an amenity that may never be financially feasible,” said David VanGinhoven, President of the Parks Commission.

Thanks to a generous individual, with great interest in the Parks’ “pie in the sky” idea, that dream has become reality. “Beatrice Aldrink Idema, known by most as Bea, has very generously donated the funds needed to construct a suspension bridge, allowing a trail connection between the north and south sides of the park,” said VanGinhoven at an event this spring.

Bea was in attendance at a small unveiling event on September 14 and was the first person to cross the officially completed bridge. She will be honored at the Grand Ravines Dedication Event on October 5, 2017 (see below for details).

The Grand Ravines Suspension Bridge is 275′ feet long and 70′ in the air; it’s believed to be the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in Michigan, and, the greater midwest region. It is fully ADA accessible, with paved, accessible paths leading to the bridge on both sides (both segments of pathway that connect to the bridge were covered by yet another donor).

The bridge was constructed by Anlaan Corporation, based out of Grand Haven. “We were incredibly impressed with their work and their timeline. They completed the bridge in three months, right on schedule. It will be a great spot to see fall color,” said Parks Director, John Scholtz. “Grand Ravines is already such a beautiful place and this bridge makes it a true Michigan destination. We are confident that this bridge, and the Grand River Explorers Trail that will run through the park, will bring visitors from near and far, eager to enjoy everything this area of the county has to offer.”

The Parks Commission has received many donations, both large and small, from the community throughout the years. Many parties are to thank for making Grand Ravines the special park it is today. The ravine overlook was built with a gift from the Aldrink family. The dog park has received support from park users, Chow Hound Pet Supplies, the Hudsonville-Jenison Community Foundation, local veterinarians and businesses, most recently WorkSmart Database Masters, LLC and many others.

Masko Family enjoying overlook

Pictured: Masko Family enjoying overlook


Ottawa County Awarded $600,000 for Water Quality Improvements

The Ottawa County Water Resource Commissioner’s Office has been awarded $600,000 from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Grants Program. The funding will reduce Nonpoint source pollution within the upper Sand Creek watershed, located in Wright and Chester Townships in northeast Ottawa County. Sand Creek flows into the lower Grand River and ultimately Lake Michigan.

Nonpoint source pollution is caused when rain, snowmelt or wind carry pollutants off the land and into lakes, streams, wetlands, and other water bodies. Officials will reduce this polluted sediment reaching the Sand Creek by stabilizing the unnaturally eroding stream banks, restoring the filtering wetlands and promoting the farm bill pollution prevention practices. The improvements along the creek will reduce sediment by an estimated 1,250 tons per year, improving water quality throughout the watershed.

The Sand Creek has been identified among the top ten priority Grand River sub‐watersheds for restoration.  The creek is a coldwater and designated trout stream.  Unfortunately, the coldwater fishery is no longer supported due to excessive sedimentation, siltation, nutrients, temperature and flow regime alterations. 

Ottawa County Water Resources Commissioner, Joe Bush, oversaw the Upper Sand Creek Restoration Assessment Study conducted in 2014-2015 by GEI Consultants. The assessment was funded by a $260,919 grant from the MDEQ. The study laid the groundwork for the work that will be completed with the assessment, planning, and design of best practices to improve the health of Sand Creek.

The grant is funded under the federal Clean Water Act – Section 319 and the Clean Michigan Initiative – Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Grants Program.

Over $800,000 Distributed to Ottawa County Libraries

If you have ever wondered what the fine for a speeding ticket supports, look no further than your local library. A portion of the fines collected through the courts from criminal violations and civil infractions supports libraries. Today, Bradley Slagh, Ottawa County Treasurer, announced that the funds heading to the nine local libraries total $826,633.

The Michigan State Constitution of 1963 requires that all penalties collected for violations of the state penal laws be divided into court costs, statutory fees and penal fees. The penal fines are placed in a library fund to be used for the support of public libraries and a county law library. The distribution of these dollars is based on the size of the county population that is served by each library.

“In Georgetown Township, penal fines are an important source of funding for the Library, and as a revenue source, rank second only to the Township’s appropriation to the department,” said Pamela Myers, Director of the Georgetown Township Public Library. “The Library utilizes revenue from penal fines to support programs, services, and collections (e.g., books, DVDs, music CDs, eBooks, audiobooks, etc.). In short, funding from penal fines assists the Township in providing invaluable access and service to Georgetown Township residents through its public library.”

“In recent years the total has ranged from $700,000 to over $900,000 depending on the citations written using the state penal code and the fines levied by the court,” said Brad Slagh. “This year the total fines collected and disbursed are very close to the amounts that were dispersed in 2016.”

Road Commission Video

The Ottawa County Road Commission has released its first video!

We hope to use videos to help keep the residents of Ottawa County better informed about the Road Commission. All of our videos will be uploaded to our YouTube Channel and will be used on our social media and website. So be sure to follow, subscribe, and share!

Our first video highlights one our preventative maintenance programs: Chip Sealing

Ottawa County’s Ranked 9th in Nationwide Survey

The Center for Digital Government and the National Association of Counties announced the winners of the 15th annual Digital Counties Survey. Ottawa County, Michigan was named 9th in the nation compared to counties with populations from 250,000 – 499,000. The survey identifies the best technology practices among U.S. counties, including initiatives that streamline delivery of government services, encourage collaboration and shared services, enhance cyber security and even reduce carbon emissions.

“It is an honor to be recognized nationally. 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. Citizens in Ottawa County are actively visiting for those online services. By the close of business on June 30, Ottawa County topped the ten million dollar mark in total transactions conducted via Its first e-service was property tax searches beginning in December of 2005.

Along with services, residents can stay connected through technology. Ottawa County added email subscription services in 2015 as a way to push information to residents. To date, 26,000 people are subscribed to receive county news via email.

“Though we have consistently been recognized for having a top website, we are never finished. We continue to grow our online services, increase transparency and work in creative ways using technology. Our website is always a work in progress. A new design with improved functionality and accessibility is scheduled in the coming months,” Felgner added.

“Digital counties are leveraging technology to improve the ways they conduct business and engage with citizens in increasingly innovative and exciting ways,” said Todd Sander, executive director, Center for Digital Government. “The Center for Digital Government congratulates this year’s winners for their work to reduce costs, encourage citizen engagement, increase efficiencies and proactively address citizen expectations.”

Ottawa County Clerk/Register Appointed to State Commission


Justin F. Roebuck, County Clerk/ Register of Deeds

Governor Rick Snyder this month appointed Ottawa County Clerk/Register Justin Roebuck to the state’s Electronic Recording Commission.

The Commission, formed in 2011 within the Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget, is tasked with enforcing standards for the electronic recording of documents by county registers of deeds.

Michigan law requires that public records are kept of all property sales and transfers so that there is a clear chain of title. Documents recorded must be original and signed in order to verify their legitimacy.

State legislation in 2010 allowed for electronic documents and electronic signatures to be considered the same as the originals for recording purposes. The Electronic Recording Commission developed standards as the use of such documents expanded and continues to oversee those standards today. Members serve two-year terms.

“I am honored to receive Governor Snyder’s appointment to this commission and look forward to serving with my fellow members,” Roebuck said. “As the electronic recording of documents becomes a more nationally accepted practice, we must ensure that Michigan remains at the forefront by maintaining standards across each county that ensure our public documents are accurate, properly preserved and secure from potential alteration or tampering. By accomplishing these tasks we not only ensure further convenience for our residents but contribute to a healthier Michigan economy.”

Young Adult Board Member Applications Now Being Accepted

The Ottawa County Agricultural Preservation Board is pleased to announce a new, Ad Hoc Young Adult position for the Board. This position is open to all high school and college students who are residents of Ottawa County.

The purpose of recruiting young adults for the Agricultural Preservation Board is two-fold:

• To provide board leadership training for young adults
• To encourage young adults to bring fresh ideas to agricultural planning in Ottawa County

The Board oversees the Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) program. This is a voluntary program that preserves farmland by purchasing or receiving donations of development rights from actively farmed properties. The first farm preserved by the program was the Hehl Farm, a 34.9 acre hog and cattle farm in Polkton Township. This year the Board will close on a 55.6 acre cattle farm in Chester Township.

Farmland preservation adds to our quality of life in West Michigan, providing access to a local food supply and employment.

Applications for this non-voting position are currently being accepted. The term is for one year.

Running for Recovery 3rd Annual 5k

Join Lakeshore Clubhouse for our 3rd Annual Running for Recovery 5K, August 26 at 9:00am. Registration begins at 8:30am. This year’s event will be officially timed by Michiana Timing Company and will begin at 490 Century Lane in Holland, MI. You can register online by clicking HERE. The fee is only $20 per participant or $75 for a family of 4 or more!

Although nearly one-in-five people will be affected by serious mental illness this year, misunderstanding and stigma still abound. Eighty-five to ninety-five percent of adults with serious mental illness are chronically unemployed, and traditional treatment continues to focus on maintenance instead of recovery.

The Lakeshore Clubhouse is a Clubhouse International accredited program with the singular mission of assisting people in their recovery from mental illness and reintegration into the community.

Join us on August 26 for our 3rd Annual Running for Recovery 5K and help make a difference in the lives of Ottawa County residents living with mental illness!

ACRE AgTech’s Newest Client Extracts Drinking Water from Manure

ACRE AgTech welcomed Digested Organics LLC as a new client on May 15, 2017. Digested Organics provides the agribusiness sector with sustainable waste management, alternative energy, and water reclamation solutions. ACRE AgTech will use its resources to connect Digested Organics with agricultural and food processing operations that can benefit from their product line.

Digested Organics, an Ann Arbor based company, was founded in 2013 with the goal of improving the way society manages organic waste. Simply put, their system can take all different kinds of organic waste—manure, vegetable scraps, beverage waste—and digest it into a fiber component, a nutrient component, and a reusable water component. Initially targeting food waste from grocery stores and food processors as well as solids from municipal wastewater treatment systems, owner Bobby Levine soon saw the tremendous opportunity to help dairy and swine operations manage their manure and nutrients more effectively. With 425,000 dairy cows and 2,000 swine farms in the State of Michigan, Levine began looking for ways to connect with those producers and reached out to ACRE AgTech for assistance.


Ben Brancel, Wisconsin Secretary of Agriculture, and Bobby Levine, CEO of Digested Organics, drink water extracted from manure

ACRE’s Business Development Manager, Doug Huesdash, got to know Levine, his team, and their products in order to determine how ACRE’s services could benefit their organization. It soon became clear that this would be a mutually beneficial relationship. Levine commented “The ACRE team has been responsive to our needs before and since becoming a client. They helped us secure a Michigan based sales representative almost immediately as well as several new customer contacts. We value the connections and business expertise they have and look forward to continuing to work with ACRE to reach our goals.” ACRE will continue working alongside Levine and his team to help them achieve their business goals while helping producers and food processors solve their waste and nutrient management issues.

Digested Organics has successfully installed their technology onsite at Majestic Crossing Dairy, a dairy farm in Wisconsin. As a result of using Digested Organics’ technology on their farm, Majestic Dairy is able to process their 20,000 gallons of manure per day into clean water for farm use and surface water discharge, while at the same time harvesting energy through biogas generation. The water that is produced from the manure is so clean that Majestic Dairy has obtained a surface water discharge permit from the DEQ, a permit that has stringent requirements.

Digested Organics will be onsite at Michigan State University’s Anaerobic Digestion Research and Education Center through June 23 demonstrating how their technology functions by running test samples from food processors, farmers with manure management issues, and anyone with wastewater challenges. For more information about Digested Organics LLC or if you are interested in providing a sample, please contact Dan Morton, their sales representative, at 616-437-3294 or visit their website at

ACRE AgTech, formerly the Great Lakes Ag-Tech Business Incubator, has been providing connections and resources to agtech entrepreneurs in Ottawa County and across Michigan since December, 2014. For more information about ACRE AgTech, please visit our website,, or contact us at 616-994-4745 or

Step It Up! Walking Challenge

Ottawa and Allegan County…lace up your walking shoes and get ready for a free 6-week walking challenge. Registration opens on Friday!

Ottawa and Allegan Parks and Recreation and Department of Public Health are teaming up to bring the community another Step it Up! Walking Challenge this fall.


Parks Naturalist, Kelly Morrissey, leads a walking group at Paw Paw County Park in Holland. Last spring, over 800 participants walked 106,609.6 miles – four times around the world!

This fall, participants will “virtually walk” 210 miles along regional trails in Michigan. The challenge begins on Monday, August 14 and registration opens on Friday, July 14!

This free 6-week program is designed to encourage participants to stay active as summer comes to a close. Participants of all fitness levels are invited to join – weekly prizes are available.

Optional group walks will be offered for those interested in getting their weekly steps in with a group while checking out Ottawa and Allegan County Parks (schedule below). Each walk will be led by a naturalist guide. Different pace groups will be available.

Participants will be able to track their individual progress online, including their cumulative steps taken. The Ottawa County GIS Department designed a map to see progress along the virtual trail. “When you login to track your steps, you’ll be able to track your individual progress. It was great to team up with GIS again to create an interactive component,” said Ottawa County Parks spokesperson Jessica VanGinhoven. “The tracking program is also mobile-friendly, so you can record your activity from your phone. These changes were made based on participant feedback and should make tracking activity much easier.”

“We were so pleased with the results of Step it Up last year,” said Ottawa County Department of Public Health educator Amy Sheele. “It really motivated participants to get moving and visit more parks. Of the individuals who completed our program surveys, nearly 40% reported an increase in their level of physical activity from the beginning of the Step It Up Challenge to the end! The average participant walked 216 miles over seven weeks.”

Past participants also enjoyed the program. In a survey following the program walk participants reported:

• Great program to encourage people to exercise and use the county park system.
• I loved this program! It motivated me to get walking again! I moved back to Holland two years ago and I learned a lot about the parks in Ottawa County through this program! I will be buying a pass and keep visiting our parks! Thank you very much!
• It has helped us lose weight and feel so much better.
• Prior to this challenge my daily steps were closer to 5,000 and since doing program I’m between 7,000-10,000 and some days way more. It challenged me to park further away and keep pedometer with me when walking around my house for a true count of my steps. Thanks for the motivation.

Registration opens this Friday, July 14!


Group Walk Schedule

August 14: Pigeon Creek Park, 5:30 PM
August 19: North Ottawa Dunes, 10 AM
August 19: Outdoor Discovery Center, 10 AM
August 22: New Richmond Bridge Park, 10 AM
August 24: Paw Paw Park (East), 5:30 PM
August 30: Grand River Park, 5:30 PM
September 6: Allegan Sports Complex, 10 AM
September 9: Rosy Mound, 10 AM
September 14: Upper Macatawa Natural Area (84th Ave entrance): 5:30 PM
September 21: Hemlock Crossing, 6 PM
September 23: Bysterveld Park, 10 AM

Grand Haven Area Community Foundation Awards the Ottawa County Parks Foundation $125,000

The grant was awarded for the Grand River Explorers Trail – Stearns Bayou Connector and is payable over two years.

Over the past two decades, a primary focus of the Ottawa County Parks Department has been its $41 million Grand River Greenway Initiative, with the goal of protecting thousands of acres of natural lands, creating green infrastructure, developing new recreational opportunities, and connecting communities.

grandr“So far, $20 million in mostly public funding has been invested to preserve over 2,400 of land and create 13 parks and open spaces along the Greenway. Over the next five years, Ottawa County Parks proposes to invest an additional $21 million to acquire 1,000 acres of land and construct 27 miles of new multi-modal pathway,” said Ottawa County Parks Director John Scholtz.

This investment will create recreational, educational, conservation and historic attractions by protecting some the highest quality land remaining along the river, connecting the greenway properties to each other, and completing the most critical remaining unfinished link in the regional pathway system – a trail, the Grand River Explorers Trail, connecting Grand Rapids, Grand Haven, and Grand Valley State University.

Summer Meals for Kids

Meet Up and Eat Up sites in Ottawa County

The Meet Up and Eat Up Summer Food Service Program was created to provide anyone 18 years of age and younger free nutritious meals during long school vacations. The program is available at locations throughout Ottawa County; serving breakfast, lunch and/or snacks during the summer months.

For more information and locations throughout Michigan, go to, or see the Ottawa County locations & times flyer here.

“Meet Up and Eat Up is a great way to ensure all children receive healthy and nourishing meals, even when school is out of session. This important program is free and open to all children 18 years and younger. We work with a variety of community partners to provide activities at many sites as well. It’s exciting to offer food, educational enrichment, physical activity and social engagement throughout the summer months,” said Amy Sheele, health educator with the Ottawa County Department of Public Health.

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is a Child Nutrition Program that uses meal patterns similar to those used in other federal child nutrition programs. The SFSP is operated at the local level by program sponsors and is administered in Michigan by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE), Office of School Support Services. To receive meals at a Meet Up and Eat Up site, participants must be 18 years of age or younger or (regardless of age) disabled. An individual is determined to be mentally or physically disabled by the MDE or a local public educational agency (school district or public school academy).

Amy Sheele, Health Educator
(616)393-5799 or

Ottawa County Commissioners Recognize Ferrysburg Mayor Pro-Term

The Ottawa County Board of Commissioners started off its recent board meeting congratulating Ferrysburg Mayor Pro Term Rebecca Hop for earning the Ambassador Award from the Michigan Municipal League. The Ambassador Award is given to Michigan Municipal League members who successfully complete all four levels of the League’s Elected Officials Academy program. Hopp is among just a handful of leaders to complete all four levels.

Commissioner Roger Bergman presented Hop with a proclamation recognizing the achievement. He commented that Hop was an exemplary leader. As a member of the city council and other volunteer roles, she went beyond her duties to learn all she could about how to best govern and lead her community.


Pictured: District 10 Commissioner Roger Bergman and Ferrysburg Mayor Pro Term Rebecca Hopp.

View the Proclamation:

CMH Announces Launch of Social/Recreational Programs for Adults with Disabilities

Community Mental Health of Ottawa County (CMHOC) is pleased to announce the launch of four new social and recreational programs for adults with disabilities who live in Ottawa County.  Social and recreational activities help to enhance an individual’s health and well-being and play an important role in bringing meaning to one’s life.  These programs are being funded by the mental health millage that was passed by Ottawa County voters in March, 2016 and will help to replace some of the opportunities lost due to funding cuts.  “Staying connected to friends and avoiding isolation is important for all people, especially the most vulnerable in our community.  We are excited to be able to offer new options for people with disabilities to access social and recreational opportunities throughout the community” said Lynne Doyle, CMHOC Executive Director.  The passage of the mental health millage was the first of its kind in the state.  

CMHOC has selected four agencies to run the social and recreations programs.  A program will be located in each of the four quadrants of Ottawa County and will offer a variety of activities.  Each program will have their own calendar and advanced registration is required.  Some of the activities being offered include dance and exercise classes, bowling, movie nights, sporting events, and museum visits.  If someone is interested in attending one of the programs they can contact that organization directly.  The contact information is listed below. 


Grand Haven/Spring Lake – Momentum Center (714 Columbus, Grand Haven, MI 49417) Check out the website to learn more about happenings at  Momentum Center will be celebrating their grand opening on April 20, 2017.  Visit their website or Facebook page to learn more or call 616-414-9111.  

Coopersville/Allendale – Heritage Homes Social Rec Program is offering a variety of activities.  If you are interested in attending check out their Facebook page or website to learn more about what is being offered.  If you are interested in attending, visit their website to learn how to get connected to their program at or call 616-384-3479.

Ottawa County Ranked 1st in Health Outcomes 

Ottawa County ranks 1st out of 83 counties in Michigan in Health Outcomes, according to the 2017 County Health Rankings The Rankings, released every year by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, show us that where we live matters to our health and that good health is influenced by many factors beyond medical care including jobs, housing, education, poverty and more. Ottawa County has maintained or improved in 71 percent of the 35 measures, and did as well or better than the State of Michigan in 86 percent of the 35 measures.

Ottawa County’s overall rank and sub-rankings have not changed much from 2016. Ranks can be influenced by new measures or a change in the methods for current measures. A rank may also improve or worsen not due to changes in Ottawa County’s measures, rather from changes in other counties that experienced health gains or losses.

Ottawa County Strengths

  • Lower overall mortality
  • Lower adult smoking
  • Lower teen birth rate
  • Lower physical inactivity
  • Lower unemployment
  • Lower injury deaths

Ottawa County Opportunities for Improvement

  • Adult obesity (28% Ottawa County compared to 26% top U.S. performers)
  • Excessive drinking (21% Ottawa County compared to 12% top U.S. performers)
  • Sexually transmitted infections (chlamydia is the highest reportable disease in Ottawa County)
  • Ratio of population to primary care physicians, dentists and mental health providers
  • Physical Environment continues to be the lowest sub-ranking (as a result of higher housing costs and long commute/driving alone)

“The County Health Rankings show how the Ottawa County community works together to improve health outcomes. This is evident in the Community Health Improvement Planwe’ve been implementing and making much progress,” said Kristina Wieghmink, Ottawa County Department of Public Health spokeswoman.

“For example, the Ottawa Pathways to Better Health program was created to assist people with accessing community services to improve health outcomes.”

Vanderberg Appointed to State Lead Elimination Commission

alvanderbergAl Vanderberg, Ottawa County Administrator, has been appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder to serve on the newly created Child Lead Exposure Elimination Commission.

“One of our beliefs in Ottawa County is that this won’t be a great county for any of us until it is a great county for all of us, which is adapted from a Theodore Roosevelt quote. We have a zip-code area in Ottawa County where children have high lead levels. There are other areas in West Michigan where this is true, as well. I believe that it is good government to find and eradicate sources of lead contamination so that West Michigan can be great for all residents, especially children,” said Al Vanderberg.

The multi-disciplinary team will focus on implementing strategies to eliminate lead exposure in children and monitoring the state’s progress toward that target. Vanderberg will serve a three-year term, expiring December 15, 2019.

Al Vanderberg also serves as Chair of the Grand Valley Metropolitan Council. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and a master’s of public administration from Michigan State University. In the past, he has held posts leading local governments in Greenville, South Haven, and Kent County.

The Poor Farm: A Documentary

Inspired by the success of the recent Poor Farm Sesquicentennial Celebration in October, a documentary film on the facility was created and will premiere this spring in Holland and Grand Haven.

poor farm logo

When the Ottawa County Poor Farm received its first resident in 1866, no one could have imagined the benefits it would provide over the decades. The Poor Farm was a haven for indigent people who, due to the happenstance of birth, misfortune, or poverty, were in dire straits and needed a place to call home—a sanctuary staffed with people who could nurse them to better health. Now, as Eastmanville Farm County Park, it provides hiking and equestrian trails to outdoor enthusiasts.

The Poor Farm: A Documentary, was made in association with the Ottawa County Parks Foundation and Ferris State University. Co-producers Assistant Professor, Joshua Pardon and local historian, Marjie Viveen gathered additional research following the October Sesquicentennial celebration event and many of the re-enactors who participated in that event were also interviewed for the film. FSU students edited the film to profile the iconic property and its amazing people.


Poor Farm Sesquicentennial event attendees viewing an exhibit in the barn

Viveen has dedicated the last year to recruiting a volunteer committee and planning the very successful Sesquicentennial event, researching more stories from the farm, and coordinating with the film crew to preserve the memories and the legacies of the people who worked and lived there. “The words ‘Poor Farm’ conjure up stereotypical images and beliefs in many people,” says Viveen. “‘Poor folks’ may not seem as smart or hardworking as we perceive ourselves, but years of researching the individual lives of Poor Farm residents has erased any ill-conceived notions I might have held. One need only ask, ‘Who would I become if I were unable to live independently?'” She thinks these stories might change your mind too, which is why the documentary project is so important to her.

“I entrusted the life stories of Poor Farm residents to Ferris State University film-maker Joshua Pardon. The resulting documentary is respectful, honest, heartfelt, and masterfully produced – a testimony to the professionalism of Joshua and his dedicated students. Every life is a story and a lesson. These will not be forgotten,” says Viveen.

There will be a special movie premiere event in both Holland and Grand Haven. At each event, guests can expect light snacks and a beer and wine cash bar. There will be a small silent auction and live music. The documentary will be introduced by the co-producers and its run time is about a half an hour. DVDs will be available for sale.

Tickets for the premiere events are now on sale ($10) on the Ottawa County Parks website: All proceeds benefit the Ottawa County Parks Foundation.

Holland Movie Premiere: May 24, 6-8 pm

Park Theater, 248 S River Ave, Holland, MI 49423

Grand Haven Movie Premiere: May 31, 6-8 pm

Grand Haven Community Center, 421 Columbus Ave, Grand Haven, MI 49417

Bending the Healthcare Cost Curve

New Study from Center for Healthcare Research and Innovation Documents Dramatic Cost Savings

(LANSING, Mich. – March 21, 2017) – The Center for Healthcare Research and Innovation, the research arm of the Michigan Association of Community Mental Health Boards (MACMHB) today released a new study underscoring the cost-effectiveness of Michigan’s behavioral health system.

The study, titled Bending the Healthcare Cost Curve: The success of Michigan’s public mental health system in achieving sustainable healthcare cost control, details the monetary and health-quality savings that the state of Michigan has realized from its public mental healthcare system. This study can be found at:

Critical components from the report included:

• When compared against Medicaid rate increase in the rest of the country, Michigan’s public mental health system saved over $5 billion dollars ($5,273,089,686) since 1998, when this public system became the managed care organization for the state’s Medicaid mental health, intellectual/developmental disability, and substance use disorder services benefit

• When compared against the rate increases of commercial health insurance companies, Michigan’s public mental health system saved over $13 billion dollars ($13,992,156,714) since 1998, when this public system became the managed care organization for the state’s Medicaid mental health, intellectual/developmental disability, and substance use disorder services benefit

The new study shows how Michigan’s public community mental health system – the state’s Community Mental Health centers, the public Prepaid Inpatient Health Plans (PIHPs, formed and governed by the CMHs), and its provider network – delivers exceptional benefits while using sound and creative methods to keep costs significantly below national Medicaid per enrollee costs and those of commercial health insurers. These methods include:

• Very low administrative costs
• Comprehensive and closely aligned provider networks
• Applying person-centered planning approaches to care
• Addressing a range of social determinants of health through a whole-person orientation by working closely with a range of healthcare and human services in the consumer’s home community
• Weaving the services offered by the CMH and provider network with the care that families and friends provide
• Using other consumers as peer supports and advocates on behalf of the persons served
• Using an array of both traditional (psychiatric care, psychotherapy, inpatient psychiatric care) and nontraditional services (housing supports, employment supports, homebased services).

Ottawa County’s Farmland Preservation Program Gains Momentum with Farms – Food – Forever Fundraiser

The Ottawa County Agricultural Preservation Board is pleased to announce the results from its recently released Farms – Food – Forever fundraising campaign. To-date, $26,125 has been donated in support of farmland preservation in Ottawa County. 

The Board’s short-term goal is to raise a total of $36,000 in order to help permanently preserve its second local farm.  The more money that is raised, however, will allow more local farming operations to be preserved.

The Board permanently preserved its first farm in September 2016, which was a 35 acre hog and cattle farm in Polkton Township. The second farm that has applied to be preserved as part of the County’s farmland preservation program is a 55 acre operation in Chester Township.  

The County’s Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) Program, which is administered by the Preservation Board, is a voluntary program that preserves farmland through the purchase and donation of development rights for actively farmed property. The PDR Program is funded through individual and corporate donations, as well as contributions from foundations and federal grant awards. Without these sources, the Program would not be able to continue to preserve and protect local farmland. 

“It has never been more important that we provide future generations with a legacy of productive farmland that will continue to supply fresh, quality local food,” stated Cliff Meeuwsen, Chair of the Ottawa County Agricultural Preservation Board and President of Zeeland Farm Services.  This need is underscored by the fact that Ottawa County is not only the fastest growing county in the State of Michigan in terms of population growth, but also the most agriculturally diverse county in the State as well as ranked in the Top 100 of all counties nationwide for its value of agricultural products sold.

If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation to the Ottawa County Farmland Preservation Fund, contributions can be made online at  The Fund is managed by The Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area.

Local Drug Court Recognized Nationally

Ottawa County’s Adult Drug Treatment Court Nationally Recognized for Exemplary Practices.

The 20th Circuit Court has given Ottawa County another reason to boast. Its Adult Drug Treatment Court, a specialty program for non-violent felony offenders with substance use disorders, has been selected as a “mentor court” by the United States Department of Justice and the National Association of Drug Court Professionals. This distinction is awarded to high-performing drug courts that demonstrate exemplary practices and operate with fidelity to the drug court model. Only 9 of 3,000 courts in the US were chosen for this award.

An award ceremony will be held on Thursday, April 13 at 11AM in Courtroom 3B of the Ottawa County Grand Haven Courthouse. The ceremony is open to the public.

“With thousands of drug courts in operation across the United States, this honor really speaks to the quality and integrity of the work our drug court is doing,” said Judge Mark A. Feyen. “Even more affirming is that this award comes on the heels of being nationally recognized by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in 2016 in a webinar discussing how drug courts are leading the way in criminal justice reform,” said Feyen.

The drug court will hold the “mentor court” distinction for the next three years. “As a mentor court we will have the opportunity to host other drug court programs from around the United States, provide consulting and technical assistance to drug courts, and participate in national drug court planning and policy initiatives,” said Drug Court Coordinator, Andy Brown. “This is an outstanding opportunity to showcase the work of our drug court and advance the reputation of Ottawa County and the 20th Circuit Court,” said Brown.

The Ottawa County Adult Drug Treatment Court is an alternative to traditional incarceration or probation and is eligible for only certain offenders. The method saves money, lowers recidivism and changes lives. A study conducted by Grand Valley State University in 2014 demonstrated the adult drug treatment court significantly reduced new crime and repeated drug and alcohol use among offenders. Drug court participants were 73% less likely to commit a new crime within three years of discharge from the drug court when compared to a similar group of people who were sentenced to traditional probation.

The drug court is funded by time-limited grants annually awarded by the Michigan Supreme Court, Department of Justice, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Ottawa County Parks Step It Up! Walking Challenge

Ottawa & Allegan County, lace up your walking shoes & get ready for a free 6-week walking challenge.

Ottawa and Allegan Parks and Recreation and Department of Public Health are teaming up to bring the community another Step it Up! Walking Challenge this spring.


Parks Naturalist, Kelly Morrissey, leads a walking group at Paw Paw County Park in Holland. Last spring, over 800 participants walked 106,609.6 miles – four times around the world!

This spring, participants will “virtually walk” 240 miles along regional trails in Michigan. The challenge begins on Monday, April 3!

This free, 6-week program is designed to help participants spring into fitness and get moving after a cold winter. Participants of all fitness levels are invited to join – weekly prizes are available.

Optional group walks will be offered for those interested in getting their weekly steps in with a group while checking out Ottawa & Allegan County Parks (schedule below). Each walk will be led by a naturalist guide. Different pace groups will be available.

Participants will be able to track their individual progress online, including their cumulative steps taken. The Ottawa County GIS Department designed a map to watch progress along the virtual trail. “When you login to track your steps, you’ll be able to see the weekly goal markers and also track your individual progress. It was great to team up with GIS again to create an interactive component,” said Parks spokesperson Jessica VanGinhoven.

Ottawa County will also release its new and improved tracking system for participants that was developed over the winter. “Participants will be able to track their progress on a weekly basis, just like before, but we’ve added the option to track progress daily,” said VanGinhoven. “The tracking program is also mobile-friendly, so you can record your activity from your phone. These changes were made based on participant feedback and should make tracking activity much easier.”

The county is hoping for another successful year of the Step it Up program. “We were so pleased with the results of Step it Up last year,” said Ottawa County Department of Public Health educator, Amy Sheele. “It really motivated participants to get moving and visit more parks. Of the individuals that completed our program surveys, nearly 40% reported an increase in their level of physical activity from the beginning of the Step It Up Challenge to the end! The average participant walked 216 miles over seven weeks.”

Past participants also enjoyed the program. In a survey following the program walk participants reported:

•  Great program to encourage people to exercise and use the county park system.
•  I loved this program! It motivated me to get walking again! I moved back to Holland two years ago and I learned a lot about the parks in Ottawa County through this program! I will be buying a pass and keep visiting our parks! Thank you very much!
•  It has helped us lose weight and feel so much better.
•  Prior to this challenge my daily steps were closer to 5,000 and since doing program I’m between 7,000-10,000 and some days way more. It challenged me to park further away and keep pedometer with me when walking around my house for a true count of my steps. Thanks for the motivation.

Registration is now open- register today!


Registration closes April 10.

Group Walk Schedule

April 8: Pine Bend Park, 10-11 AM

April 8: Outdoor Discovery Center, 10-11 AM

April 13: New Richmond Bridge Park, 10-11 AM

April 13: Rosy Mound Natural Area, 5:30-6:30 PM

April 22: Riley Trails, 10-11 AM

April 22: Bysterveld Park, 10-11 AM

April 27: Grand Ravines (North), 5:30-6:30 PM

May 2: Hemlock Crossing, 5:30-6:30 PM

May 6: Kirk Park, 3-4 PM

May 8: Allegan Sports Complex, 10-11 AM

May 11: Connor Bayou 5:30-7 PM – This walk will be followed by a family-friendly party at the Connor Bayou cabin!


Ottawa County – Where You Belong

Operations, improvements and programs are funded by grants and a parks millage. If you own a $150,000 home, you pay $26 annually investing in opportunities for outdoor recreation and nature education today and for future generations. Thank you. Learn more about the 6,530 acres of park land in Ottawa County at

Ottawa County Honors Employees for Customer Service

On Monday the office is cold. Call maintenance. On Tuesday the office is hot. Call maintenance. On Wednesday, John says the office is hot and Jane says the office is cold. Call maintenance. Surely it takes a special personality to successfully carry out the role of Maintenance Technician at West Olive’s Fillmore Complex, serving hundreds of demanding customers. Meet Tom Camburn.

Similarly, a unique demeanor is required to fill the role of Environmental Health Food Service Specialist. Inspections are required to ensure that food service establishments are adhering to safety standards designed to protect public health. As you can imagine, not every food service employee is delighted to see an inspector walk through the front door. Some inspectors, however, have just the finesse it takes to balance educating and inspecting. Those who have this skill put their customers running busy, past paced kitchens at ease. Meet Jessica Voglewede.

Voglewede and Camburn, along with other Ottawa County employees are trained to present a friendly, professional demeanor treating customers with integrity and respect. This behavior is what earned both Camburn and Vogelwede each Outstanding Customer Service Awards from leaders in Ottawa County.

You can read the nominations which earned each recipient an award plus learn more about them at

“Tom daily demonstrates the power of a cheerful smile, a positive outlook, dedication to his craft and a sincere joy of working with the many customers he serves. Tom Camburn truly exemplifies the Ottawa County Way,” said John Borgerding, Buildings and Grounds Supervisor.

“Jessica always maintains a patient and empathetic attitude and a high level of professionalism. Jessica has been nominated approximately 20 times for this award which further demonstrates how outstanding her customer service is,” said Spencer Ballard, Environmental Health Team Supervisor.

Implemented in 2012, the Customer Service initiative is one of the County’s Four C’s, along with Communication, Cultural Intelligence and Creativity. Customers can nominate an Ottawa County employee for an Outstanding Customer Service award at

Access county services and learn more at or @miOttawa on twitter.

tom jessica
Tom Camburn Jessica Voglewede

2017 Ottawa County Parks Passes Available!

It’s cold today, let’s take a break to think about future beach days!

Of the 38 parks and open spaces in the Ottawa County Parks system, only five require a parking fee during the summer season and a sixth requires a boat launch fee.

Parking fees are collected at North Beach Park, Kirk Park, Tunnel Park, Olive Shores and Rosy Mound Natural Area from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. A boat launch fee is collected at Riverside Park from May 1 through Labor Day.

An annual motor vehicle permit is an economical choice for frequent visitors or launch users. Annual permits may be purchased at park entrance gates when fees are in effect (limited annual permit sales available at Rosy Mound and Olive Shores trail heads when park attendant present; day passes always available), at the Nature Education Center or from the county parks office. Boat launch permits can be purchased at the Oaklea Store, near Riverside Park.

Park users are invited to attend a free open house before the summer season at the newly renovated Kirk Park Lodge on May 6 from 2-5 pm. The lodge is available to rent for events in the summer and for organized groups to rent for overnights in the off-season. Park passes will be available for pre-sale at the open house. “We encourage park users to buy their passes early, so the lines move quicker on nice summer days,” said Parks spokesperson Jessica VanGinhoven.

Wondering why Ottawa County Parks charges fees at the lakeshore parks and boat launch?

“The boat launch and lakeshore parks are so busy during peak season that they require more supplies, maintenance, and on‐site staff,” said VanGinhoven. “County residents receive discounted rates as they are contributing to the parks millage. These fees also give non-residents a way to support the parks system, since they often use our parks in the summer, but do not contribute to the county millage.”

Annual Permit Pricing for 2017

  • Resident: $15
  • Resident Seniors: $7
  • Resident multi-vehicle*: Annual pass + $5
  • NEW! Resident hang tag**: $20
  • Non-resident: $25
  • Daily passes are available

*Only one additional multi-vehicle permit will be issued per family. Residents only. 

**Hang tags are new in 2017! These are great options for families with multiple vehicles, rental cars, or anyone hosting guests in the summer months. They do not affix to the windshield like permits do, but they must be displayed in the vehicle when the vehicle is at the park. Residents only. 

Please note that a Michigan State Recreation Passport is not valid at Ottawa County Parks.

hang tag

The Road: Seasonal Weight Restrictions

“All-Season” roads are those that have been designed and built with the appropriate width and pavement thickness to withstand truck traffic loads all year long. Thus they are not subject to the Seasonal Weight Restrictions that are placed on most roads during the early spring.

Roads not constructed to “All-Season” standards are subject to a reduction in allowable loading and speeds. During spring, thawing of the ground below these roads softens the roadbed and makes the surface susceptible to damage from heavy loads.

As a general rule, primary roads are constructed to all-season loading standards. However, there are a few primary roads that require reduced loading during Seasonal Weight Restrictions. All residential subdivision streets, most local roads, and all gravel surfaced roads in Ottawa County are subject to a 25 percent reduction in allowable loading when Seasonal Weight Restrictions are in effect.

Seasonal weight restrictions are legal limits placed on the loads trucks may carry. During late winter and early spring, when seasonal thawing occurs, the maximum allowable axle load and speed is reduced to prevent weather-related deterioration of roads.

Roads thaw out from the top down each spring and moisture is trapped on the surface. Heavy loads cause the deterioration of gravel and bituminous surfaces during this thawing period.

Seasonal Weight Restrictions are very important for the longevity of roads. The Road Commission employs two weighmasters for enforcement of Seasonal Weight Restrictions on county roads.

For more information on Seasonal Weight Restrictions in Ottawa County and throughout Michigan, visit

Key piece of property 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

Key 80-acre parcel highlighted in dark green

On Thursday, January 12 Ottawa County Parks closed on an 80-acre parcel expanding North Ottawa Dunes in Spring Lake, increasing the total acreage of the park to 593 acres.

The additional land is located on the eastern edge of the park and surrounded on three sides by park property. Because of its geography and natural features, it has been considered an integral piece to add to the park by both Ottawa County Parks and Spring Lake Township for a decade.

“This expansion has been part of our planning for some time now and we couldn’t be more pleased to complete this park. We also want to recognize the all of the effort John Nash, Spring Lake Township Supervisor, and his board have made over the years to help secure this land for the public,” said Parks Director, John Scholtz.

Land to establish North Ottawa Dunes was acquired in late 2005 and trails and parking were completed in 2009. Ottawa County Parks will survey the new property in early 2017 and plans to develop and mark the trails during the spring and summer. The new addition is approximately one-mile in length.

The land was 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 contributed $400,000 from their millage for the property.

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 lush forest through a process called succession. North Ottawa Dunes features tremendous topography with a number of dunes exceeding 175 feet in height.

More information about North Ottawa Dunes:

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 two parks are some 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.

Ottawa County’s Top Dog Names for 2016

Rin Tin Tin blazed a trail on television in the late 1950’s as a heroic figure in children’s programming and became a household name. Rin Tin Tin, however, was not a popular name among licensed dogs in Ottawa County. “Bella” and “Max” were the most common names on licenses purchased in 2016. The top names of 2016 were:

  1. Bella
  2. Max
  3. Lucy
  4. Charlie
  5. Sadie
  6. Buddy
  7. Molly
  8. Bailey
  9. Sophie
  10. Maggie & Daisy (tied)

In addition to compiling the list of top dog names, Slagh’s office also compiled a list of the more creative names licensed in 2016. “We have a number of dogs licensed in Ottawa County with names that are a bit more out of the ordinary,” said Brad Slagh, Ottawa County Treasurer. Some of those names were Tuna, Pavlov, Worf, Hawkeye, Miracle, and Astrid Fransworth. 

Michigan Law requires that all dogs have a current county license with the tag displayed, yet the Ottawa County Treasurer’s office estimates that less than half of all dogs in the county are licensed. 

“Licensing your dog is one of the most important things you can do as a pet owner. The health of our community and our pets is protected when all dogs are licensed,” said Slagh. “A license lets everyone know that your pet is not homeless or a stray, and it helps quickly reunite you and your pet should your dog become lost. A license also helps to protect the public from rabies, since licensed dogs must have a proof of vaccination.”

Not only is having a license for your dog the law, it can save time, money and emotional distress. In the event that a dog is lost, the license will make the return of the pet much smoother. When a stray is reported, an animal control officer will respond. Animals who are wearing their license tag will be returned quickly their owner. Very few taxpayer resources are used during this reunion. If the dog is unlicensed or does not wear its tag, the officer will bring the animal to the shelter. Not only are the owners of an unlicensed pet at risk for a citation, the shelter will require the owner to pay a redemption fee of $50-$190. Additional fees could be added to the redemption fee for boarding, vaccines and vet services. If an owner is not identified, the animal may be put up for adoption in just four days. A three-year dog license can cost as little as $25. Having dogs licensed and the tags displayed is best for the owner, the dog and the community.

Dogs must be licensed at four months of age. In Ottawa County, dog licenses can be purchased at any time but are issued to expire the month of the dogs’ rabies vaccination. New licenses are available for either one or three years and will expire in the month of the rabies vaccination.  

Dog licenses can be purchased quickly and easily from the online miOttawa Service Center, by mail, or in person at the Ottawa County Treasurer’s office, many township and city offices or at participating veterinarian offices. See the complete list and print mail-in forms. Online, you can also change the information associated with your dog’s tag or look up owner information if you find a lost dog wearing a license.

Thank You Ottawa County Restaurants and Retailers

Thank you for working to keep alcohol & tobacco from minors!

The Ottawa County Department of Public Health, Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office, Grand Haven Police Department, Holland Police Department and members of the ROADD Coalition recruit and train underage youth to go into establishments that sell alcohol and/or tobacco to attempt to make a purchase.

These compliance checks, partially funded by the Lakeshore Regional Partners, are an ongoing effort in Ottawa County to prevent the sale of alcohol and tobacco to minors. They help law enforcement and partnering agencies identify areas within the county that may need additional support, education and monitoring. The checks also serve as a tool for establishments to identify needs for additional staff training.

Sixty-six compliance checks were conducted countywide, during the last round. Twenty of the 29 checks in Holland passed and 35 of the 37 checks in Grand Haven passed. The locations that did not pass the alcohol check received a fine, and so did the staff member(s) who sold the alcohol. In addition, the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC) was also notified of the alcohol sale. For the locations that did not pass the tobacco check, the clerk was fined and the MLCC was notified if the establishment also sells alcohol.

“Our goal is to support establishments in their effort to responsibly sell alcohol and tobacco. We value these partnerships and they are critical to keep alcohol and tobacco out of the hands of minors,” said Health Promotions Supervisor Rebecca Young with the Ottawa County Department of Public Health.

Ottawa County Parks – Parks PSA

Parks PSA: Avoid bittersweet in your holiday wreaths

It’s festive, but it’s a “gift” that keeps growingbittersweet

Wouldn’t it be great if all of the invasive plants we work to eradicate were terribly unattractive? It certainly would make the job easier.

One of the most popular plants for holiday decor is the very lovely, but very invasive, Oriental bittersweet.

Birds will eat the berries, but they can’t fully digest them. When they dispose of the partially digested berries, it spreads the plant to other places.

Eastmanville Bayou is one of our properties where Oriental bittersweet has flourished. It grows rapidly, wrapping itself around trees, girdling them. It is so strong it can choke out and bring down a full grown tree.

The plant is so prolific there, it inspired our Prescribed Browsing Project. Luckily, the goats think it’s delicious.

There is a native bittersweet, but it can be difficult to find and identify. There is only one American bittersweet recorded in our park system, and it has only flowered once in five years.

Below is a photo of Allendale Middle School students attempting to remove bittersweet at Eastmanville Bayou and a guide to identify bittersweet berries.

bittersweet taking over eastmanville bayou


On the left is the invasive plant; on the right is the native, which is uncommon in the area.

Is there hope in fighting invasive plants?

Yes, only because of our volunteers!edrr

Our volunteers and school groups help us fight the worst infestations in the county. Without volunteers, treatment of these larger infestations would be incredibly expensive and time consuming. Sometimes it may feel as though the battle against invasive plants is hopeless, but invasive species are a threat that all individuals can do something about.

What is EDRR?

Early detection, rapid response is a nationally-recognized strategy used to manage and treat invasive plants. Detecting invasive plants early significantly decreases the time and cost of treatment.

We employ a dedicated staff, the Stewardship Crew, who focus on early detection and treatment. One of their most important tools is a GPS unit they use to constantly survey and map-out where invasives pop up. They then turn to volunteers to start pulling.

Success storiesstew crew
Over the summer our Stewardship Crew detected a small patch of buckthorn at Hiawatha Forest. Buckthorn is one of the worst invasives in the state, but through monitoring and removal of small infestations, we have been successful at keeping it in the early detection stage in Ottawa County

Before: Honeysuckle taking over Olive Shores


After: Olives Shores has been managed by volunteers from Harbor Industries and Consumers Energy for three years, nearly all of the honeysuckle has been removed.


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