Ottawa County Administrator's Digest

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Alan G. Vanderberg, County Administrator
April 11, 2017

Ferrysburg Mayor Pro Tem Receives Ambassador Award

Matt Bach
Director of Media Relations 
Michigan Municipal League
(734) 669-6317; C: (810) 874-1073;

Michigan Municipal League Honors Rebecca Hopp

LANSING, Michigan – The Michigan Municipal League has honored Ferrysburg Mayor Pro Tem Rebecca Hopp with its Ambassador Award for exemplary service. She received the recognition during the League’s annual Capital Conference Awards Gala March 21 in Lansing.

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.

“Rebecca Hopp has been a staunch supporter of the League and active participant in many League programs over the years. Accomplishing the highest level of the League’s EOA program demonstrates her commitment to being the best public servant to her community and the state,” said Lois Allen-Richardson, Ypsilanti council member and chair of the League’s Elected Officials Academy board. “This is a tremendous achievement.”

The goal of the Ambassador Award is to encourage and recognize the exemplary service of locally elected officials to their community, to the communities of the state of Michigan, and to the Michigan Municipal League. The Ambassador Award demonstrates the practical application of acquired education and skills and requires a portfolio of achievement reviewed by the Elected Officials Academy board.

Hopp began her political experience as a write-in candidate, defeating a defense attorney, in November 2009 to get elected to the Ferrysburg City Council. A month later she attended her first EOA training and her involvement with the League grew from there. She served as Region 3 President, EOA Vice and President, past League Board of Trustee member, and currently is President of Michigan Women in Municipal Government. In her comments at the Gala, Hopp thanked the unending support from her husband Jack, daughter Amanda, and her mother.

About the Ambassador Award: The Ambassador Award demonstrates the practical application of acquired education and skills. Hopp demonstrated this through a portfolio of achievement reviewed by the Elected Officials Academy Board (EOA). She is only the seventh person to receive this award.

For photos of Hopp receiving this honor go to this Michigan Municipal League “Award Recipients” album on flickr: Photos can be downloaded from the League’s flickr page for free. We just ask that the following photo credit be given: Flickr Photo Michigan Municipal League/

For additional information contact the League’s Matt Bach, director of media relations, at (734) 669-6317 (office) and

Poor Farm Sesquicentennial Celebration Inspires Documentary (Jessica VanGinhoven)


Click here for more photos.

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.

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.

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

Buy tickets to this event by clicking here

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

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

Buy tickets to this event by clicking here.

Space for each event is limited.

sesq barn
Poor Farm Sesquicentennial event attendees viewing an exhibit in the barn

Photo Contest (Shannon Felgner)

Top Dog Twinning 2017

Ottawa County’s Spring 2016 Step it Up Walking Challenge Featured in National Report (Jessica VanGinhoven)

step it up
step it up

The Status Report for the Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkability was released on April 5 in honor of National Walking Day. Ottawa County’s spring 2016 Step it Up Walking Challenge was featured in the national report as a success story!

“Your success story about the Ottawa County Department of Health and Ottawa County Parks and Recreation certainly adds to the high quality findings that are described in the Status Report,” said David R. Brown, a Senior Behavioral Scientist with the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).

cdc step

Parks Foundation Launch Party (Shannon Felgner)

parks foundation invite

April 20, 2017, 5-6:30 pm - brief program begins at 5:15

Nature Education Center, located in Hemlock Crossing County Park: 8115 W Olive Rd, West Olive 49460

Learn more about the Ottawa County Parks Foundation

Tech Forum

April 28, 2017 Ottawa County Innovation and Technology Forum (Dave Hulst)

I am excited to announce our Fourth Annual Forum.  This year's theme, Work Redefined:  Space, Culture and Technology, focuses on the changing work environment.  Haworth is sponsoring our keynote speaker:  Mr. Rex Miller.  Rex is an author, speaker and co-authored the book Change Your Space Change Your Culture.  Rex will be kicking off this year’s forum with The Culture Advantage | Creating a Workplace that Leads to Transformation and Growth.  The world surprises us weekly with new and novel challenges. Healthy and resilient cultures adapt through innovation. The most innovative organizations approach culture by design.  Our afternoon lead speaker is Mr. David Behen, Director of the Department of Technology, Management and Budget and CIO for the State of Michigan.  David offers an insight into the technology priorities for the State and their efforts to keep Michigan on the leading edge.  Ms. Erin Frisch, Director for DHHS and Office of Child Support along with Mr. Keegan Malone, Policy Analyst for the Office of Child Support will co-present on the Alternative Work Location Program.  We’ll also have vendors present who can provide current information on products and services to meet your immediate needs. Finally, we’ll wrap up the day with Phil Bertolini, CIO and Deputy County Executive for Oakland County, who is back by popular demand, to bring technology in the public sector to a level you can appreciate addressing the day-to-day challenges we all face.  The registration site is open.  I’ve provided the link for more information and to register.  I hope to see you there.

Register here!

Ottawa County Conservation District's Native Plant Sale & Workshop (Carla Kocher)

OCD Plant Sale

Native plants are beautiful and low-maintenance. Their deep roots help hold soil in place, and their flowers provide food for pollinators. Why not add some (or some more) to your garden this year? 

Here are the details for this year's Ottawa Conservation District Native Plant Sale Fundraiser.

Native Plant Workshop with Vern Stephens

April 29, 2017  2:00 - 4:00 p.m.

Hemlock Crossing County Park Nature Education Center
Mr. Stephens is well-known native plant expert. This workshop is free and open to the public.

Native Plant Orders Due

May 2, 2017
Please send order forms with payment to Ottawa CD office

Native Plant Order Pick-up and Sale

May 10, 2017 2:00 - 6:00 p.m.

Hemlock Crossing County Park Nature Education Cente

To assure your first choices, place an order by May 2. A selection of plants will be available the day of the sale.

MAEAP will be offering household water testing at the event, please see the order form for details.

Hemlock Crossing Nature Education Center is operated by Ottawa County Parks and Recreation. The center is located in Hemlock Crossing County Park at 8115 West Olive Road, West Olive, Michigan.

As always, thank you for your interest and support of Ottawa Conservation District.

Strong Towns Workshop – May 18, 2017 (Paul Sachs)

strong towns

Ottawa County and the City of Grand Haven have teamed up to bring nationally-acclaimed speaker Charles Marohn to Grand Haven on May 18.  Charles will explore issues relating to development patterns, infrastructure, financial resiliency, and quality placemaking practices in local communities.  The all-day workshop will open up new ways of thinking about development by examining both new concepts and old-but-forgotten concepts.

Charles “Chuck” Marohn is the author of Thoughts on Building Strong Towns (Volume I) and the forthcoming Volume II.  He is also the author of A World Class Transportation System, and you can hear his voice as the host of the “Strong Towns Podcast.”  He has spoken in dozens of towns and cities across North America.

Thanks to the generosity of sponsors, the cost for the workshop is $15 per person.  Workshop sponsors include the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation, Lakeshore Advantage, Midwest Construction Group Inc., Nederveld, Prein & Newhof, and Williams & Works.

Register Online

If you want to learn more about the Strong Towns Workshop, please contact the Ottawa County Planning and Performance Improvement Department at or (616) 738-4852.

May 18
Main Event: 8:30am to 4:00pm. Lunch provided.
After-Hours Networking: 5:00pm to 7:00pm

Main Event:
Grand Haven Community Center
421 Columbus Avenue
Grand Haven, MI  49417

After-Hours Networking:  
Grand Armory Brewing
17 S. 2nd Street
Grand Haven, MI  49417

$15 per person
$25 per person after May 1
AICP continuing education credits available!
Register online.


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