Ottawa County Administrator's Digest

Bookmark and Share


Alan G. Vanderberg, County Administrator
August 31, 2017

Ottawa County Employees Recognized for Outstanding Customer Service

Join us in congratulating Elizabeth Lange from Ottawa County Clerks/Register of Deeds Office and Brad Gamby from Innovation & Technology, who have been recognized as Ottawa County’s Outstanding Customer Service Award recipients for the second quarter of 2017. You can read the nominations which earned each recipient an award plus learn more about them at


“Liz’s standard of customer service is second to none. She relentlessly provides excellence in accommodating the needs of each of the Clerk/Register of Deeds guests; often times rising above customer expectations. Her commitment and dedication to promoting the Ottawa Way is a true reflection of her sincere and caring persona,” said Jody Hansen, Clerks/Register of Deeds Office Supervisor.


“Brad incorporates a blend of patience, empathy, vision, and efficiency that allows him to give the customer a great service experience no matter how frustrated they may be with their technology issue,” said Michael Morrow,Manager of Technical Infrastructure.

Housing Next Leadership Council Formed

A new Leadership Council has been formed to collectively focus on workforce housing solutions. The Leadership Council, composed of the area’s top community and business development organizations will work to ensure housing is available for all area workers.

Mike Goorhouse, President of the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area and Holly Johnson, President of the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation will serve as co-chairs of the newly formed Housing Next Leadership Council. The Council also will include representatives from the West Coast Chamber, Chamber of Grand Haven, Spring Lake and Ferrysburg, United Way of Ottawa and Allegan Counties, Ottawa County, Lakeshore Advantage and Community SPOKE.

“Affordable housing was already a big problem in our community and it is getting bigger. Recent estimates of the shortage have grown to between 12,000 and 15,000 units, said Goorhouse, co-chair of the Housing Next Leadership Council.  “Local businesses, government, and nonprofit organizations are all seeing the lack of affordable housing creating tremendous difficulty in many families’ day to day lives and constraining our overall ability to grow and thrive as a community.”

The Housing Next Leadership Council was formed due to the extensive housing research effort lead by the United Way of Ottawa and Allegan Counties – Ottawa Housing Next. The Leadership Council’s first order of business will be to hire a director fully focused on workforce housing solutions. This individual will be the champion for workforce housing solutions in our community.  The position description for any interested applicants can be on the United Way website: The Council plans to have its new director in place by the end of 2017.

“Lack of affordable housing is both a social and an economic issue, and will require government, business and nonprofits all working together to make significant progress towards a solution,” said Johnson “I can’t remember a time when these eight organizations have collaborated so closely to address a key community priority.” In addition to the Leadership Council, there will be a broader Advisory Board which will have representation from developers, businesses, philanthropy, housing nonprofits, government and residents.

Housing Next has identified four strategies to help our community better access these market-driven solutions:

  • Matching private and nonprofit developers’ interests with local housing needs. 
  • Working with local units of government to collectively clarify their vision for the types of affordable housing developments they desire for their communities and establishing the regulatory environment that will allow those developments to happen.
  • Assisting developers in accessing public and philanthropic resources to fill financial gaps that might otherwise prevent projects from moving forward. 
  • Connecting new developments with local nonprofit partners to ensure critical services and supports are available for future residents. This strategy will be accomplished primarily through increased grant funding from the Housing Initiative Fund at United Way. 

In addition to Johnson and Goorhouse, other members of the newly formed Leadership Council include:

Patrick Cisler, Executive Director of Community SPOKE

Jane Clark, President of the Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce

Joy Gaasch, President of the Chamber of Grand Haven, Spring Lake and Ferrysburg

Patrick Moran, President of United Way of Ottawa and Allegan Counties

Jennifer Owens, President of Lakeshore Advantage

Al Vanderberg, Ottawa County Administrator

Lyn Raymond, Director of the Lakeshore Housing Alliance will serve as liaison from the Leadership Council to the broader Advisory Panel.

“United Way is pleased to transition the leadership on this effort to this Leadership Council, while still keeping all the important members of Ottawa Housing Next informed and engaged,” said Patrick Moran, President of the United Way of Ottawa and Allegan Counties.  “This cross sector council is the right group at the right time to increase market driven housing solutions.”

August is Community Health Worker Appreciation Month

(Submitted by Kristina Wieghmink)

Community Health Workers (CHW) seek to promote the community's voice within the health care system. They are a front line public health worker who are trusted members of and have an understanding of the community served. This trusting relationship enables CHWs to serve as a link between health/social services and the community. In addition, they facilitate access to services and improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery.

Meet Glorie

Meet Shandra

Meet Brittney

Meet Judy

Meet Maria

Farms are the Tapas!

(Submitted by Linda Falstad)

The Ottawa County Ag Preservation Board is excited to announce its inaugural fundraising event, Farms are the Tapas.  Your taste buds will be treated to delectable dishes at this tapas dinner that features fresh, locally grown food.  Exceptional local chefs from Butch’s Dry DockThe Farmhouse DeliThe Toasted Pickle, and Ultimate Catering will prepare the evening’s delights during a friendly cooking competition. 

The event will take place at Walters Gardens on Tuesday, September 19 from 6-7:30pm.  The speaker for the evening is Representative Roger Victory of the 88th District.  Roger is the owner of Victory Farms and an advocate for farmers.  Tickets are available for $50 per person.  All proceeds from the event benefit Ottawa County farmland preservation.  A variety of sponsorships for the event are also available. 

Ottawa County Farmland Preservation Program is a voluntary program that preserves farmland by purchasing or receiving donations of development rights from actively farmed properties. Landowners are compensated for lost development potential, yet still own the land and retain all other rights associated with it.  The land must continue to be used for agricultural purposes, or remain in a natural state perpetually regardless of transfer or sale of property.

The Program is funded by a USDA ACEP-ALE grant, a minimum 25% in-kind donation of the fair market value of the parcel by the landowner, and monies raised by events such as this.  All private donations are held at the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area in a non-endowed fund for Farmland Preservation. 

"The Community Foundation is thrilled to support the Ottawa County Ag Preservation Board in their efforts to raise funds for the Farmland Preservation Fund and we are looking forward to this inaugural fundraising event," said Mike Goorhouse, President/CEO at the Community Foundation.

Mark your calendar to attend this event supporting farms and food for future generations. We are limited to 100 people.  Reserve your tickets now

farms are the tapas

Quarterly Road Commission Meeting

(Submitted by Keith Van Beek)

Ottawa County representatives: Don Disselkoen, Joe Baumann, Al Vanderberg, Keith Van Beek and Paul Sachs

Road Commission representatives: Brett Laughlin and Jim Miedema

Meeting at 8:30 AM on Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Review of Michigan Transportation Fund - Brett distributed and reviewed the Michigan Transportation Fund budget (click here).  There are two months left in the fiscal year to receive funding, August and September.  On track to receive budgeted amount of $22,300,000.

Review of Projects - Brett distributed and the group reviewed projects for the year, specifically; primary roads, local roads, bridge improvement, drainage improvements, countywide millage projects, cape seal surfacing, gravel road surfacing, seal coat (chip seal) surfacing, gravel road reconstruction and subdivision resurfacing.  All projects can be seen by clicking here, and almost all projects are already complete as we experienced a good construction season.

Salt Prices and Preparation for Winter - Brett reviewed bids for salt at $36.46 per ton, which projects to a $269,000 savings as cost has dropped from $49.27 last year and $66.63 the previous year.  The Road Commission successfully negotiated a pilot program with MDOT this year for maintaining State roads that makes some positive changes in operations and expectations on the road commission to meet MDOT needs.

State Funding for Zeeland Area - $2 million earmarked in the State budget for property where 231 interchange would intersect in Zeeland, and also $2 million in the MEDC budget for road improvements supporting industry in Zeeland.  Discussions and planning for this funding and projects are underway.

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.

Ottawa Conservation District Updates

conservation district logo

(Submitted by Megan Boos)

The Ottawa Conservation District has been hard at work this summer! The District partnered with the West Michigan Watershed Collaborative, a regional initiative focused on establishing funding opportunities for watersheds and clean water projects throughout 53 watersheds in 13 counties. The Collaborative is in its developing stages; however, the Conservation District is excited to see what opportunities the partnership can bring to the residents in Ottawa County.

invasive species

In the month of August alone, our West Michigan Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (WMCISMA) Strike Crew visited over 100 sites to survey and treat various invasive species including Japanese Knotweed, Chinese Yam, European Frog-Bit, Yellow Floating Heart (pictured on the right) and Oriental Bittersweet. The Crew removed 50lbs of European Frog-Bit and 700lbs of Yellow Floating Heart!

bass river deer creek

Our Watershed Technician for the Bass River and Deer Creek Restoration Project has been out in the community promoting various cost-share opportunities available to farmers and homeowners within the Bass River and Deer Creek watersheds, including cover crops and septic-system replacements. He has overseen two septic system replacements in the month of August in the Bass River watershed (one replacement pictured on the left). The Bass River and Deer Creek tested very high for both human and animal E.Coli bacteria caused by failing septic systems and manure run off. If you or someone you know reside in either of these watersheds and are interested in a septic tank inspection, replacement, or in learning more about the cost-share opportunities available within the Bass River and Deer Creek watersheds please contact the Ottawa Conservation District.

critical dunes

The Ottawa Conservation District lead a program at the Allendale Public Library on Critical Dunes for 26 children. The kids learned about the minerals found in Great Lakes sand, extracted magnetite from the sand with magnets and made their own sand dunes with straws (pictured on the right). The program ended with a discussion about the dangers facing sand dune ecosystems today, including construction, erosion, and vegetation removal. If you or someone you know is planning any construction or landscaping on the sand dunes contact the Conservation District. The Ottawa Conservation District can help obtain the necessary permits for construction on dunes areas from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). 

The Ottawa Conservation District can be reached by:     (616) 842-5852 Ex: 5 


Ottawa Conservation District

16731 Ferris St. Grand Haven, MI 49417 

Telecommunicator of the Year


(Submitted by Tim Smith)

At the APCO convention in Denver this week, Ottawa County Central Dispatch Authority dispatcher Elvita Lewandowski was recognized at the Tele-communicator of the year by NICE Corp.  Elvita was selected out of 40 nominees nationally based on her continued high performance and going above and beyond in her duties here at Dispatch.

Elvita has been with us since 2006.

Please see the link below to the story in the Holland Sentinel.

Ottawa County dispatcher earns national award

Please join us in congratulating Elvia on this achievement.

elvita 2

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

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.

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)

To view the GVMC weekly updates click here