Ottawa County Administrator's Digest

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Alan G. Vanderberg, County Administrator
August 7, 2017

NACo Flag Retirement Box

(By Al Vanderberg)

Through a partnership with the National Flag Foundation and the National Sheriff’s Association, NACo (the National Association of Counties) is providing free flag retirement boxes to member counties such as Ottawa. Flags deposited in the boxes will be collected and respectfully disposed of according to the U.S. Flag Code. We will work with veterans organizations to do this in Ottawa.

If we get a good response, we will rotate the box on a monthly basis among County facilities and advertise its availability. To start, it will be placed in the lobby of the Fillmore Administration Building near the Board Room.

Commissioner Disselkoen brought the idea and the box back from the recent NACo Summer Conference in Franklin, OH (Columbus).

Ottawa County's Ranked 9th in Nationwide Survey

Digital County Award 2017

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. Commissioners Kuyers and Disselkoen were presented the award at the recent NACO Conference.

“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.

Two Furry New Recruits Added to the Force

The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office introduced two new K9 members of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office, thanks to generous donations from the community. 

K9 Kyan, donated by JoAnn & Lannie Hassel of Accurate Automotive Engines, is partnered with Deputy Jeremy Osbun. Kyan came from the Netherlands partial trained and Deputy Osbun completed the training here. Deputy Osbun has been with the Sheriff’s Office since 2000 and has been involved in the K9 Team since 2006.    

K9 Pappy, donated by the Holland Kennel Club, has been assigned to Deputy Tony Stariha. Papply was named after Deputy Arlyn “Pappy” Gort who lost his life in the line of duty in 1989. Deputy Stariha has been with the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office since 2014 and he is the newest Deputy on the K9 Team. Deputy Stariha and his K9 recently completed 5 weeks of training at Mid-Michigan K9.

The Sheriff’s Office K9 unit was started in 1985 with one dog.  Over the years the unit has grown to 4 dogs allowing the Sheriff’s Office to have a patrol dog on each shift. Completing the K9 Unit are Deputy Mark Busse with K9 Andy and Deputy Mike Williams with K9 Blitz.

The K9’s are used for a variety of tasks, such as suspect tracking, drug detection and lost person searches.  The K9 is a valuable tool in our day to day operations of providing for safe and secure communities.

New K9s

M23.1k Run and 4 Miler

m231 2017

(Submitted by Shannon Felgner)

Registration is OPEN for the M23.1k Run and 4 Miler scheduled for October 21. The purposes of the event are to raise funds for West Michigan trails and promote the trails; advocate for wellness; build community; and showcase West Michigan as a healthy, active, growing and thriving community. There have been some positive changes to the run this year.  We have a great team planning the event, including staff from the Parks, Public Health, Community Mental Health, Sheriff’s Office, Road Commission, MDOT and others. We also are hosting the event at the beautiful Connor Bayou County Park. Finally, along with the 23.1k run, a 4-mile event was added. Space is limited to the first 300 runners. Register early. Volunteers will also be needed on the day of the event. Opportunities to sponsor the event and the trail projects are also still available

Integrated Credit Card Vendor – Innovation Fund Recipient

(Submitted by Brad Slagh)

The County Board of Commissioners recently approved a request from the County Treasurer’s office to use $75,000 from the Innovation Fund to seek out a vendor that can help us implement an integrated credit card processing solution for the County. 

Over $5 million of credit card transactions are processed annually by the County offices, at 32 different locations. Current processes include divergent practices of transaction handling, applying of technology fees, and potential dual entry of data as our customers interact with our offices or our technology.

The project as approved, is designed to acquire a third party software to act as a bridge between Tyler Cashiering Point of Sale and the credit card transaction processor with anticipated goals including:  

  1. Single entry of information by staff
  2. Increased security of customers credit card data
  3. Provide an automated pay by phone option for credit card transactions
  4. Consistent technology fees applied through every credit card payment option
  5. Standardize credit card processes, technology, and fees (using Tyler) across all county and court offices    

The first phase that is just kicking off is seeking the vendor through an RFP and has an anticipated completion, with a recommendation for the next step to the Board of Commissioners, by December 15, 2017. The project team is just forming for this first phase and if your court or office would like to assist in determining the outcome by having a member on the project team please contact David Cook in IT who is the Project Manager. 

Need Data Viz?

(Submitted by Shannon Virtue)

Do you ever wish your reports, studies, outreach materials, or presentations had better visual appeal and data clarity – but you just don’t have the time or expertise to make the enhancements you’d like to see?  If you answered yes, then Ottawa County’s Planning and Performance Improvement Department is here to help!

The Department’s experienced staff is available to assist local units of government, non-profit agencies, and county departments with transforming their programmatic and organizational/administrative data into highly effective visualizations.  Enhanced Data Visualizations can help you and your stakeholders to:

  • identify patterns in your data
  • communicate your information clearly
  • engage with your audience 

Check out these two sample graphs.  They both use the same data, but one is obviously clearer.

data Viz

Samples of our data visualization creations are available for you to review:                            GIS Customer Survey Results         Annual Unemployment Rates

If you’re interested in utilizing and/or learning more about our Data Visualization services, please contact us at (616) 738-4852 or  We’d love to talk with you about how we can help!

Running for Recovery

(Submitted by Anna Bednarek)

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.

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.” 

2017 penal fines

young ag

The Ottawa County Agricultural Preservation Board is seeking a young adult to serve on its membership. This position is open to all high school and college students who are residents of Ottawa County. The board see the position as a mutually beneficial relationship. A young member on the board will bring fresh ideas and perspective to agricultural planning while gaining valuable experience. Applications are currently being accepted.  The term is for one year.

The Board oversees the Purchase of Development Rights program, which 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.


(Submitted by John  Weiss)

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