Ottawa County Administrator's Digest

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Alan G. Vanderberg, County Administrator
October 14, 2016

29th Annual Service Awards Banquet

The Annual Service Awards Banquet was held at the Pinnacle Center on Wednesday evening. 

5 Year Recipients: 42

10 Year Recipients: 37

15 Year Recipients: 39

20 Year Recipients: 17

25 Year Recipients:13

30 Year Recipients: 3

35 Year Recipients: 3

Retirees: 30

Though not all could be in attendance we did have a great group of about 280 Commissioners, Judges, Elected Officials, employees and guests.

The dinner was conceived 30 years ago to standardize recognition over a County that has 33 different departments, offices, courts and agencies.  The dinner is included as an employee benefit and was approved as a de minimis employee benefit way back when in order to conform to accounting guidelines and standards.


I initiated “quadrant” meetings in all four quadrants of Ottawa County and for many years these served as a great purpose to build relationships, hear more about what was happening in our cities, townships and village, and to inform the group on what the County was doing.  In recent years we consolidated this effort to one annual meeting at the Fillmore Administrative Complex.

This year’s meeting was held last week with approximately 65 in attendance. 

Sheriff Rosema and Keith Van Beek kicked things off with a summary of the 500 page Sheriff’s Office Organizational Review and Report that they led preparation of.  The report can be found at the Administrator’s Office page on and is an excellent summary of the history of staffing and collaboration for the Sheriff’s Office with future recommendations.  Patrick Moran from the United Way presented on ALICE and Housing Next and spoke of some of the daunting challenges facing provision of affordable housing in Ottawa County.  Marcie VerBeek and Sarah Salguera presented on GOLD and some of the exciting training opportunities that have been opened up for local units to participate in.  Christine Burns, Spring Lake Village Manager and Gordon Gallagher, Spring Lake Township Manager presented on successful and planned collaborations between those two units of government and Christine then covered Cool Things and also the major financial benefits reaped from the Spring Lake/Ferrysburg collaboration with the Sheriff’s Office for police services.  Shane Pavlak updated the group on new GIS capabilities and Dave Hulst spoke about the FOG-NET initiative that is linking public agencies to a common phone provider as they need to upgrade or purchase new systems.  Prosecutor Ron Frantz provided an update of relatively new service agreements that his office has with the City of Coopersville and Georgetown Charter Township for ordinance enforcement.  Click here to view the material that Ron provided entitled “Prosecutorial Services Agreement Facts,”  If any other local units are interested in contracting for this service they are encouraged to contact either Ron or myself. 

Ottawa County's Eleventh Annual Water Quality Forum

Water Quality Forum alt image


Register Online

Printable Registration

Customer Service Skills Workshop for all Public Sector Agencies (Misty Cunningham)

We are thrilled to announce an exciting opportunity! Ottawa County is hosting a Customer Service Skills Workshop for Public Sector Agencies. The training is provided by Customer Service Advantage, Inc., a California based company. You can learn more about the company by clicking the link above. If you are interested, register soon because the training is limited to the first 25 people. Click on the image below for more details and to register.

cs advantage

Outstanding Customer Service Award recipient Shane Ryke


Join us in congratulating Shane Ryke from the Sheriff’s Office, who has been recognized as Ottawa County’s Outstanding Customer Service Award recipient for the third quarter of 2016. 

Police officers are often lauded as everyday heroes, protecting lives day in and day out. On occasions, however, it is the small unexpected acts of kindness which catch the eyes of residents. Simple acts earned Ottawa County's Deputy Shane Ryke the quarterly Outstanding Customer Service Award. This is the 11th award since the County implemented its customer service initiative in 2012. 

"Deputy Shane Ryke takes great pride in serving others and provides a high level of customer service. Deputy Ryke, in many instances, goes above and beyond to help others through difficult times. Deputy Ryke's compassion and understanding for others are the Ottawa County Way, " said  Sgt. Dennis Luce.

An individual who nominated Ryke wrote:

"Yesterday was my daughter's fourth birthday we went to catch air to celebrate. On the way home to Muskegon we had a tire blowout. We were on the side of the highway for about two hours while my dad came to help and go get a new tire for us. While waiting Deputy Shane Ryke stopped to help and stayed to make sure we were safe because it was the driver side tire. While talking he learned it was my daughter's birthday he had a stuffed animal in his cruiser and gave it to her. I just wanted to share because it helped turn a bad situation into a pleasant one. Thank you Deputy Ryke!

Read a second nomination of Deputy Ryke and more at

Ottawa County employees are trained to present a friendly, professional demeanor treating customers with integrity and respect. Customers can nominate an Ottawa County employee for an Outstanding Customer Service award at  

Customer Service is one of the County’s Four C’s, along with Communication, Cultural Intelligence and Creativity. Access county services and learn more at, or @miOttawa on twitter.

M23.1k Run & Relay


On October 1, 270 runners, 50 volunteers and their cheering fans hit the highway for the Michigan’s Credit Unions M23.1k Run & Relay. The event took place on the new M231 highway which stretches seven miles from West Olive to Nunica through Robinson and Crockery Townships. This is the second year that the event was held under the direction of Ottawa County. New this year was a relay which proved very popular. Three-person relay teams split the 14.35 mile course to tackle between 4 to 6 miles. Following the run, all were invited to the post-race party at the Pipeline Smokehouse. The purposes of the event are to raise funds for and promote paved trails, advocate for wellness and build community. Thanks to generous sponsors, runners, and volunteers, the event raised $9,227 for the Grand Connection, West Michigan’s system of paved bike paths.

M231 Runners cooled by rain

Grand Haven Tribune Photo Galary

Event sponsors included: Michigan's Credit Unions | Chemical Bank | Spring Lake Fitness & Aquatic Center | Ottawa County | WGHN Radio | Michigan Department of Transportation | Ottawa County Sheriff's Office | EcoTrek Fitness | Delta Dental | Priority Health | Merle Boes | ImageSoft | Presidio | Gordon Water Systems | Governmental Consultant Services, Inc. (GCSI) | Grand Armory Brewing | The Pipeline Smokehouse | M & S Storage | fairlife | JR Automation Technologies | Give ‘Em A BRAKE Safety | Michigan Milk Producers Association | Joe Gee Photography | Meijer | Kerkstra Portable Restroom Service.

A special thanks to all the employees, neighbors, friends, spouses, and other individuals who volunteered at the event. Several groups helped collectively including the Robinson Township Fire Department, the Friends of the Ottawa County Parks and the Committee to Elect Vern Helder. 

The online store is still open. Click the image to purchase race swag.

Congratulations to Beth Thomas


Each year the Michigan State Police Emergency Management & Homeland Security Division (EMHSD) honors one Professional Emergency Manager (PEM) at the local level who has contributed distinguished service and demonstrated professionalism. This year it was my honor to nominate Director Beth Thomas, who was selected as the PEM of the Year, which was presented at the MEMA Awards Luncheon, by EMHSD Assistant Division Commander Anthony Katarsky.  

Spoonville Trail Phase I: Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony (Paul Sachs)


On September 16, the Ottawa County Planning and Performance Improvement Department held the Ribbon-Cutting and Donor Recognition Ceremony for the Spoonville Trail Phase I.

Phase I of the Spoonville Trail stretches 1.8 miles from North Cedar Drive to Leonard Road, incorporating the Sgt. Henry E. Plant Pathway located on M-231 over the Grand River.

The Spoonville Trail benefits residents and visitors of Ottawa County in numerous ways. A few of these include: creating greater connectivity among West Michigan’s premier recreational resources, facilitating access to State and local parks, recreational areas, and scenic views of natural features, encouraging of safe non-motorized transportation, and boosting the economy in neighboring communities.

The Trail also offers historical and cultural education opportunities. The Sgt. Henry E. Plant Pathway includes a plaque that commemorates Ottawa County’s first Congressional Medal of Honor recipient.  In addition, the Michigan Department of Transportation will be constructing an educational terrace designed to educate users on local Native American culture and heritage, while displaying images of artifacts found in the area during the construction of the M-231 highway.

Ceremony speakers included:

  • Paul Sachs, Director of the Ottawa County Planning and Performance Improvement Department
  • John Morrison, Executive Director of the West Michigan Trails and Greenways Coalition
  • Mike Smith, Manager of the MDOT Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP)
  • Leon Stille, Supervisor of Crockery Township
  • Al Vanderberg, Ottawa County Administrator

Hehl Farm Preservation (Paul Sachs)


The Ottawa County Agricultural Preservation Board unveiled its first sign recognizing the permanent preservation of farmland in Ottawa County on Thursday, September 29.  The unveiling marked the preservation of the Hehl Farm, a 34.9 acre hog and cattle farm in Polkton Township.  It is the first farm permanently preserved by the Ottawa County Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) Program.

At the event, a number of speakers addressed the benefits and importance of farmland preservation, including Carl Bednarski, the President of Michigan Farm Bureau.  Following the sign unveiling, there was a celebratory picnic on the Hehl property that included information on the PDR Program and the history of the Hehl Farm—a registered centennial farm.

The PDR Program is a voluntary program that preserves farmland through the purchase and donation of development rights for actively farmed property.  Landowners who participate in the program receive compensation for the development potential of the land, yet they still own their land and retain the majority of the rights associated with it.  Development of the land is restricted by a permanent deed restriction, which bars any future residential and commercial development on the land.  The PDR Program is funded entirely through private donations, contributions from foundations, and state and federal grants.

Here’s a link to an article in Michigan Farm News about the Hehls.


Poor Farm Sesquicentennial

poor farm

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.

This year marks the 150th Anniversary of the Ottawa County Poor Farm, and celebrate we did! On Saturday, October 1, the 1,000 guests who attended the Poor Farm Sesquicentennial Celebration took a journey back through Ottawa County history.

The event included over 20 historical re-enactors sharing stories aloud of farm residents. Local musicians played between acts. In addition to modern musicians, the Happy Daze Kitchen Band paid tribute to those who once performed at the farm, singing and using instruments like pots and pans and spoons.

The last standing historical building on the property, a barn constructed around 1928, hosted a variety of tributes to the farm. “Upstairs at the Infirmary” showcased stories affixed to doors, taking you down a hallway, arriving finally at an exhibit demonstrating what a room looked like in the infirmary.

“No One Walks Alone” hung in the far corner – leather panels with hand-lettered calligraphy that named over 500 people who had once lived or worked at the farm.

The Coopersville Historical Museum showcased “Historical Eastmanville” amongst hand-stitched quilts created by Coopersville Crazy Ladies Quilting Society and the Lighthouse Quilting Guild. 

An exhibit in the picnic shelter, known as Keepers Hall for the day, was dedicated to sharing profiles of Keepers and Matrons who worked at the Poor Farm.

Later that evening, a traditional 1899 dinner was served in Keepers Hall. The emcee for the dinner program being none other than Judge Ed Post, posing that evening as Judge David Fletcher Hunton, who spent the end of his life at the farm.

Though the farm has been closed for many years, the land is still used to serve the public. Hikers, equestrians, birders, and cross-country skiers can enjoy the trails year-round at Eastmanville Farm County Park.

Report via Ottawa County Parks

poor farm

School Resource Officer Program Honored

Congratulations to the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office’s School Resource Officer Program which was honored with the Outstanding Unit Award by the Prime Prevention Association of Michigan. The award is a testament to the tireless efforts of ten deputies and their supervisors in and around nearly 130 public, parochial, technical, and alternative schools throughout Ottawa County.  The program focuses on proactive community policing initiatives, prevention, and awareness education. School Resource Officers:

  •  provide education including boater, hunter, and ORV safety classes. 
  • offer class presentations on statutes such as criminal sexual conduct, threatening communication, computer crimes, domestic violence, alcohol and illegal narcotics, bullying and harassment, abuse and neglect, and driver education classes. 
  • coordinate and advise programs such as Students Against Destructive Decisions and other programs to promote positive decisions. 
  • ensure that students, teachers, and school staff are safe in and around their school campuses via patrols, safety drills, emergency preparedness planning, security enhancements, and student handbook/best practices recommendations.
  • support the  Sheriff’s Investigative Services Unit, other law enforcement agencies, and Child Protective Services investigators. 
  • assist crime victims and their families by providing recommendations for counseling through school guidance and external treatment resources.      
  • participate in a variety of extracurricular activities as coaches, mentors, spectators, and fundraising supporters. 


Ottawa County Sheriff's Office in the News

Keeping it cool

Crowd has cones with cops

Ottawa County Board and Commission Vacancies

Ottawa County Board and Commission vacancies have been posted to, please follow the link to view and apply for open positions.

Thank you for your interest in serving on a Board or Commission!

Ottawa Conservation District October 2016 Updates (Carla Kocher, Ottawa County Conservation District)


The projects highlighted here are some of the programs and services offered through Ottawa Conservation District to assist local landowners with managing natural resources.

Hunter Access Program (HAP) land enrollment available to Ottawa County landowners

In early September, the coordinator for Michigan’s Hunter Access Program met with Ottawa Conservation District and Natural Resource Conservation Service staff to provide updates on the program, which offers landowners a financial incentive to allow public hunting on their land. District staff have begun talking with interested landowners in Ottawa County, and are available to answer questions about the program. Enrolled properties must offer a minimum of 40 acres.

Bass River Deer Creek Restoration Project cover crops workshop planned

The Bass River Deer Creek Restoration Project is planning a cover crops workshop for December 13, 2016 at the Allendale Township Library. Watch the Ottawa Conservation District website ( for details as they become available.

West Michigan CISMA identifies aquatic invasive plant new to West Michigan

A technical team from the West Michigan Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (WMCISMA) responded to a request from the Michigan DNR to survey a Grand Rapids area waterway for European frog-bit, an aggressively invasive aquatic plant. This plant, once thought limited to other parts of the state, has now been positively identified in West Michigan. To help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive plants, thoroughly clean waders, fishing equipment, and watercraft before moving to another water body. 

Ottawa Conservation District

16731 Ferris Street

Grand Haven, Michigan 49417

(616) 842-5852

Ottawa Conservation District is co-located with the Natural Resources Conservation District (USDA).

The USDA is an equal opportunity employer, provider and lender.

GVSU Career Fair

career fair

Meeting of Ottawa County and the Road Commission - August 24, 2016 (Keith Van Beek)

LeighAnn Mikesell, Dennis Kent - MDOT

Joe Baumann, Phil Kuyers, Al Vanderberg, Don Disselkoen, Keith Van Beek - Ottawa County

Tom Bird, Tim Grifhorst, Brett Laughlin - Road Commission

231 Bypass - MDOT update, first section is open and includes work currently being done in Holland.  Next steps were discussed about potential future phase(s).  MDOT cannot initiate any environmental and alternatives analysis work or purchase any right-of-way unless and until funding for the project is secured. 

West Michigan Pike - question and discussion about West Michigan Pike markers that came to the attention of the county.  Neither MDOT or the Road Commission was aware of the marker(s), and discussion about if they are noted in the remonumentation program.

Holland 31 Project - MDOT update on the project, currently on schedule.  The southbound course will have a final top course at the completion of the project.

Greenway Trail Connection - there was a question about a section of this proposed project and where the trail could be sited in relation to the road in the right of way.  Evaluations about this project and any requests for final design will be handled later this Fall when the final project design is submitted, and will be reviewed and approved in public session of the Road Commission.

Road Commission Updates - Brett reviewed several reports, including: Salt Purchases, funding from Michigan Transportation Fund, and Programs. (click here for the reviewed reports)

Asset Management - discussed completing and meeting reporting requirements for the state asset management program.

Feedback and Input from Townships - Discussed the use of a survey of townships to allow for feedback for the Road Commission.  Brett also discussed that the road commission is looking to have informal meetings with townships in the coming year. 

Ottawa County Friend of the Court Receives Award

At the Michigan Family Support Conference last week, Ottawa County Friend of the Court received the award for top performance of a large county in four federal performance measure areas. Congratulations to Jennell Challa, to Friend of the Court staff, to the judges, to the referees and to everyone who plays a part in the child support enforcement program in Ottawa County.

foc award


The call volume numbers handled through Ottawa County Central Dispatch for September 2016 were:

Total Incidents –10,914 up 6.3% over September 2015 and down 1% YTD over 2015

Fire Incidents – 1,340 up 2.9% over September 2015 and even YTD with 2015

Law Incidents – 9,574 up 6.8% over September 2015 and down 1% YTD over 2015

911 Calls – 9,324 up 1% over September 2015 and even YTD with 2015
911 Hang Up calls - 980 down 2.8% over September 2015 and down 3.1% YTD over 2015

Wireless 911 calls – 89.5% of 911 calls for September 2016 and 90% of Total 911 calls for 2015

911 calls answered in 10 seconds or less - 90.8% for September 2016 and 90.4% YTD for 2016 

(NENA recommended standard is 90% within 10 seconds)

 Smart 911 Measures:

Profile Pops - 79 up 20.3% over September 2015 and down 15.2% YTD over 2015

Hang up calls resolved by texting - 161 up 85% over September 2015 and up 38.7% YTD over 2015

Cost avoidance via texting - $3,703 up 46% over September 2015 and up 39.6% YTD over 2015                  

Chat success rate - 22% up 27.2% over September 2015 and up 4.8% YTD over 2015


Click here for the most recent update, for older updates click here