Ottawa County Administrator's Digest for March 31, 2016

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Alan G. Vanderberg, County Administrator
March 31, 2016

Big Data & Innovative Thinking

Ottawa County is thrilled to be delivering you some of the hottest and most meaningful topics at the annual Innovation & Technology Forum. Our theme this year is "Big Data & Innovative Thinking." Lifelong learners from both public and private sector industries are encouraged to attend. 

April 29 | 8:30am - 4pm | Ottawa County Administration Building | West Olive. 

Speakers include nationally known expert, Kevin DeSouza to talk about The Promise and Challenge of Big Data. To supplement Kevin's presentation, there will be a panel discussion  about the topic. Zak Tomich from the State of Michigan Department of Technology Management and Budget will be delivering a presentation on the State of Michigan’s Big Data Initiative. The innovation component of our forum will be presented by Seth Starner, President of New North Center for Design in Business. Seth's topic, The Half-Life Assumptions: Bringing Empathy to Big Data, fits this year’s theme and he will also lead participants through an exercise to enhance the experience. The day will finish with a presentation by Phil Bertolini, Deputy County Administrator/CIO for Oakland County. Phil is a dynamic speaker who promises to deliver an entertaining and thought provoking perspective on Technology in Government.

Throughout the day, sponsors and exhibitors will be presenting and demonstrating the latest products and services that can assist your organization in achieving its goals. We hope you will join us on April 29. If you have questions, please contact Dave Hulst at 616-738-4831 or Shannon McGoran.

Tech Forum

Ottawa County budget-in-brief (Shannon Felgner)

Ottawa County is pleased to present its 2016 Budget-in-Brief. The new, online format provides an overview of County finances. Those interested in learning more can dig into the Budget Book or Summary.

Ottawa County provides a variety of services to residents including Public and Mental Health; Judicial System and Courts; Adult and Juvenile Corrections; Law Enforcement; Mental Health, Parks; Elections; Public Records and more. Prudent leaders, continuous improvements, program evaluations and innovative partnerships have enabled the County to meet the needs of its citizens while maintaining the fourth lowest millage rate among the state's 83 counties. For 2016, the County levy is a total of 4.8565 mils. Of that total: 3.6 mils stays with Ottawa County for the services it provides; .44 mils is transferred to the Ottawa County Central Dispatch Authority (9-1-1); .3165 mils is extended to the Ottawa County Parks and Recreation Commission; and .5 mils is forwarded to the Ottawa County Road Commission.

Ottawa County is the location of choice for living, working and playing. Ottawa County is committed to excellent, cost-effective public services. For more information, visit

Step it Up (Jessica VanGinhoven)


Join us for a free, 8-week walking challenge!

We will cover 288 miles as we “virtually walk” from St. Ignace (over the Mackinac Bridge) to Connor Bayou in Grand Haven.

Simply track and report your steps for 8 weeks to be eligible for weekly raffle prizes (including Fit Bit fitness trackers, free Ottawa County Parks passes and more). A downloadable step tracking form and more information will be available upon registration, visit

Join us for one or all of our group walks as we explore the different parks in Ottawa County. Each walk will have a naturalist to help participants enjoy the natural beauty of the park at a leisurely pace.

Group walks are not required as part of the walking challenge. They are free and open to the public!

This program is designed to help you commit to getting fit after a long Michigan winter.

Registration required, click the link to register before April 11, free-of-charge.

The walking groups have been added to the Ottawa County Parks Facebook Page, click the link to join (joining the group on Facebook does not register you for the challenge click "Registration required" to register at

Sponsored by Ottawa County Department of Public Health & Ottawa County Parks Department, Tri Cities YMCA and Friends of the Parks.

Ottawa County Population Growth Continues in 2015 (Shannon Virtue)

The 2015 County population estimates were released by the U.S. Census Bureau on March 24, 2016.  Some of the Ottawa County highlights are provided below:  

Ottawa County remains the 8th most populated county in Michigan

Ottawa County was the fastest growing county in the State between 2014 and 2015 (1.2% growth)

Ottawa County was also the fastest growing county in the State between 2010 and 2015 (6.1% growth)

55% of Ottawa’s population growth between 2010 and 2015 was the result of a natural increase, meaning there were more births than deaths in the county (natural increase of 8,801 people)

45% of Ottawa’s population growth between 2010 and 2015 was the result of a positive net migration, meaning more people moved into the county than moved out of the county (net migration of 7,256 people)

The County Statistics page has been updated to reflect the latest population estimates.

More County Statistics, including Labor Force & Unemployment, Housing, and Construction Activity data, can be viewed on the Data Books page.

State Pop

Ottawa County is the healthiest county in Michigan, according to new national rankings (Kristina Wieghmink)

health map

Ottawa County ranks 1st out of 83 counties in Michigan for health outcomes, according to the 2016 County Health Rankings (CHR), released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. Annual rankings show where counties do well and where there are opportunities for improvement. Since 2014, Ottawa County improved or maintained in 85% of the 35 indicators that make up the ranking. While Ottawa County is the healthiest county in Michigan, the state ranks 35th out of 50 states, according to the 2015 America's Health Rankings

Click here for comments from Marcia Mansaray, OCDPH Epidemiologist

Ottawa County’s overall rank and sub-rankings have not changed much from the 2015 CHR study, with the exception of: 

  • Health Behaviors went from 3 to 4,
  • Clinical Care went from 3 to 7 (typically ranked 7 or 8),
  • Social and Economic Factors are a 1 from a 3,
  • and Physical Environment is a 39 from a 40 (Ottawa County’s best score ever in this sub-ranking, which has been as low as 78 in 2012). 

Other Ottawa County results to note are:

  • maintained or improved in 69% of the 35 measures,
  • met or exceeded 34% of the target values for the 35 measures,
  • and did as well or better than the State of Michigan in 80% of the 35 measures.


  • low overall mortality 
  • low numbers of low birth weight babies
  • low adult smoking and low unemployment

Opportunities for Improvement

  • highest score in excessive drinking (worse than both MI and the target value for excessive drinking)
  • population to healthcare provider ratios have improved, but are still worse than both MI and the target values  
  • highest score in the average number of poor mental health days in the past month  
  • Physical Environment continues to be the lowest sub-ranking (due to air quality and higher housing costs)

Get Involved!

Check out the Ottawa County Community Health Improvement Plan to see where you can help create even better health outcomes!


County Health Rankings 

Ottawa County rank

Ottawa County Community Health Needs Assessment Summary

Ottawa County Youth Assessment Survey

Ottawa County Health Improvement Plan

Ottawa County Department of Public Health 2016 Annual Report

Other Ottawa County reports

March 2016 Election (Justin Roebuck)

On Tuesday, March 8th, Michigan voters went to the polls to select their party’s presidential nominee. Ottawa County voters were also asked to decide whether or not to collect a 0.3 mill property tax increase to fund the Ottawa County Community Mental Health Agency.

Ottawa County saw record turnout for this election with 43% turnout across the county, or over 81,000 ballots cast. The previous high-water mark for a Presidential Primary was in 2008 when we had just shy of 27% turnout, and a total of 46,146 ballots cast.

The Community Mental Health millage passed easily, with 59% of voters approving. The millage received strong support from throughout the County, winning 82% of all precincts. Grand Haven Township residents also renewed their millage for the Harbor Transit System with a 72% approval. 

On the Republican side of the Presidential Primary, Ottawa County countered the statewide trend. Donald Trump won the Michigan Primary with 36.5% of the vote, but received only 19.5% in Ottawa County. The top vote-getter in Ottawa County was Ted Cruz, who received 40% of the vote. This was nearly double Cruz’s statewide total of 24.9%.

The Democratic primary was split nearly evenly across Michigan, but Bernie Sanders out-performed his statewide results by a large margin. Sanders received 64% of the vote in Ottawa County as opposed to 50% statewide. Sanders’ 13,959 votes nearly doubled the 7,472 received by Hillary Clinton.

Ottawa County Central Dispatch (9-1-1) marks 25 years “On the air” (Tim Smith)


On Sunday March 27, 2016 the Ottawa County Central Dispatch Authority recognized its 25 year anniversary of going live “on the air”. 

Ottawa County Central Dispatch is the largest County-wide 911 dispatch organization in the State of Michigan.  OCCDA answers all 911 calls (wireless and landline) for all of Ottawa County and the entire City of Holland, including the portion located in Allegan County.  They also perform all dispatching for 21 Fire agencies, 6 Law enforcement agencies, and 4 EMS agencies.  Central Dispatch employees also provide pre-arrival medical instruction to callers.  In 2015 OCCDA answered 106,239 emergency 9-1-1 calls and 116,959 non-emergency calls, resulting in dispatching 102,968 Law incidents, and 15,244 Fire/EMS incidents. 

The Ottawa County Central Dispatch Authority was formed after a vote of the Citizens of Ottawa County in 1989.  The 3 founding governmental entities were the City of Grand Haven, the City of Holland and Ottawa County.  The 3 founding organizations performed their own dispatching prior to the founding of OCCDA, and additionally Fire dispatching in the eastern portion of the County was handled by Grand Rapids Fire Dispatch.  Over the next 2 years representatives from the public safety community worked hand in hand with OCCDA to establish a County wide 9-1-1 central dispatch system.

A few of the employees who were here on March 27, 1991 when OCCDA went live, still work at Ottawa County Central Dispatch.  Initially OCCDA had 18 employees in 1991, and today they employ 38 full time, and 2 part time employees.  Originally housed in 5,000 square feet of area in the basement of the Grand Haven Public Safety facility, the organization moved to a new 17,000 square foot facility in June of 2009. 

One of the biggest changes that Ottawa County Central Dispatch has faced over the years has been the proliferation of cell phones.  In 1991 there were no cell phone calls into 911.  With the growth of the cell phone industry and people dropping their landline telephone service, the percentage of 911 calls from cell phones rose from zero in 1991 to almost 90% of all incoming 9-1-1 calls being from cell phones in 2015

A public open house will be held on Saturday May 21st to highlight emergency communications and public safety partners in Ottawa County.  The open house will be from 11am to 2pm rain or shine. 

Please remember when you call 911 that you will be asked your location, phone number and nature of your emergency.  If you have a non-emergency call that requires attention, please call 1-800-249-0911.  You can also visit for more information about the Ottawa County Central Dispatch Authority.

County health report shares video stories, not just numbers (Lisa Stefanovsky)

PH Ann Report
Ph Ann Report 2

As you read our 2015 Annual Report, you will find we took a different approach. Instead of simply submitting our budget and highlighting the happenings of our department, we shared our stories and demonstrated how we collaborate with our community. The articles written by our health department staff members were a heartfelt and extensive endeavor. We show how we collaborate with numerous people from schools, mobile home parks, hospitals, physician and dental offices, nonprofit organizations, law enforcement agencies, universities, businesses, Realtor agencies, restaurants and so many other areas throughout our community.

To make these experiences come to life, we provided video stories (click the play buttons within the report). We want you to see the people who are working for the county, engaging with our community and making a difference in their lives. We included stories from nurses, who met with parents to address their concerns about vaccines, when they were deciding whether to waive them. We included the challenges we had with the Real Estate Transfer Evaluation program, and how working with local Realtors and the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners helped us reach our goal to improve customer service. In addition, we shared so many other stories from working with babies to preventing substance abuse.

I thank the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners and the Ottawa County Administration for their commitment to the health of our citizens. In addition, I commend our department staff members for their expertise and passion to help improve people’s health. In keeping with the theme of this report, I extend my deep appreciation to our community members and partners for their shared vision of a healthy community. It is the collective impact of this shared vision, common values and hard work that allows us to remain seated as the healthiest county in Michigan.

City Flats Hotel Recognized at the State Capitol for Hiring and Supporting Employees with Disabilities

city flats
Pictured Left to Right: Jess Paauwe, Michael Barnes, Ian Kirkwood, Senator Arlan Meekhof, Josh Ebbens, Bethany Vukusic

Sixteen companies were recognized at Michigan’s Capitol building on Wednesday, March 2, 2016 for choosing to diversify their workforce by employing adults who have mental illness with the support of Clubhouse employment and recovery centers across Michigan. Thirteen state legislators presented awards to the companies in recognition of their leadership in choosing to give people who have mental illness an opportunity to re-enter the workforce with support. The awards were presented in front of a crowd that included over 100 people including Clubhouse members, employers, legislators, family members and allies.

Ian Kirkwood, the Assistant General Manager at City Flats Hotel, was on hand to receive the award from Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof. 

Josh Ebbens, a member of Lakeshore Clubhouse and an employee at City Flats Hotel for the last 6 months, shared his journey toward employment and the importance of working.  Josh volunteered in the community and shortly after joining the Clubhouse he began to contemplate the possibility of obtaining paid employment.  When a Transitional Employment opportunity opened up at City Flats Hotel Josh was excited to be given the opportunity to work the position.  Josh stated that working has given him a sense of purpose.  Having meaningful work to do each day is a strong motivator and helps him manage his mental health symptoms. 

Clubhouses are community centers for men and women recovering from mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and major depression.  Clubhouse members volunteer their time and talents to run the Clubhouse while working side by side with staff colleagues.  Many members become interested in paid employment, and so the Clubhouse provides Transitional Employment and Supported Employment through partnerships with local businesses.  In Transitional Employment, members work for 6-9 months and receive training and absence coverage from the Clubhouse staff.  In Supported Employment, an established connection between the Clubhouse and the employer helps the member get the job, and training and ongoing support is also available.  Estimates put Clubhouse members’ combined earnings at nearly $1.5 million per year in Michigan. 

Lee Kellogg, Program Officer for Clubhouse International, was in attendance at the event. Clubhouse International represents over 335 Clubhouse Model programs around the world.  Mr. Kellogg stated, “I cannot thank all of you wonderful employers with us today enough for leading by example and taking a chance on our members.  I do not think I am overstating it when I say these opportunities are saving lives.”

Ottawa County Department of Public Health Pinwheel Garden Event Thursday, March 31, 1 p.m. - 12251 James Street, Holland Pinwheel Garden locations and planting schedule For more information, contact Leigh Moerdyke at or 616-396-2301 ext. 127

Grand Rapids comes out of the sewer

by Pat Shellenbarger
Bridge Magazine contributor

Outside his window in the Grand Rapids Wastewater Treatment Plant, Mike Lunn can see the Grand River across the street.

A moderate rain was falling, the kind that in years past might have caused him to worry that once again the city’s sewer system would spill millions of gallons of untreated sewage into the river and, eventually, into Lake Michigan.

To read the full Bridge Magazine Article, click here.


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