Administrator's Digest - June 10, 2022

Bookmark and Share

Digest Header

June 10, 2022

In this issue:

  • Family Justice Center
  • Unemployment Rates
  • Population Estimates
  • Trails & Parks
  • Election Process
  • Art Trust
  • And More

A message from the Administrator

Greetings! My name is John Shay, and the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners appointed me as the new County Administrator on March 24, 2022. Prior to my appointment as County Administrator, I worked as the Deputy County Administrator for Ottawa County since July 2018. Before that, I was the Ludington City Manager for over 15 years. I have been married for over 27 years to my wife, Carla, and we have three children (Bethany, Evan and Molly). When I am not serving the citizens of Ottawa County, I spend some of my time as a Division 1 college football referee.

During my time working for Ottawa County, I have been impressed with the spirit of collaboration with the Administrator’s Office, Board of Commissioners, the elected officials and other organizations throughout Ottawa County. People in Ottawa County truly care about their community and are understandably proud of living in the fastest growing county in Michigan.

As I become acclimated to my new position, I have noticed that not everyone is familiar with the services that the County provides to residents. In addition, there has even been some misconceptions about what the County does and does not do. Please allow me to set the record straight.

Misconception #1: One misconception is that the Ottawa County Department of Public Health (OCDPH) is “pro-abortion.” This is false. We do not promote abortion, we do not provide any abortion services and we do not provide funding to any abortion providers. We are prohibited by federal law from advising pregnant patients toward OR away from any option. Our goal is to assist individuals and couples in achieving their desired number and spacing of children by providing a broad range of high-quality, voluntary, client-centered family planning and related preventive health services.

Misconception #2: The second misconception is that the OCDPH requires sex education in schools regardless of the parents’ desire. This is false. The OCDPH has no authority over sex education or any other curriculum in school. Our role is only as a consultant to the schools seeking information about evidence-based sex education. OCDPH supports equipping parents to provide comprehensive sex education to their children and offers educational materials for parents to voluntarily obtain. Parents may choose to use or omit portions of the guide based on their own discretion and values.

Misconception #3: The third misconception is that the County’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Office promotes racism. This is false. We are working to ensure all residents, regardless of background, language, age or abilities, have equal access to County services. For example, in 2019, our DEI Office partnered with our 58th District Court to conduct both a facility and procedural audit – assessing adequacy of signs, language expressed, appropriate privacy, disability barriers and other attributes. Our DEI Office similarly partnered with our Family Justice Center planning team and our Parks Department to ensure customers with different abilities and cultural backgrounds can access services.

My goal is to provide factual and transparent information to the citizens of Ottawa County. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions.

John Shay
Ottawa County Administrator

County breaks ground on Family Justice Center

-by Shannon Felgner, Communications Manager

Ottawa County broke ground on the new Family Justice Center with a ceremony on June 9 at 10 a.m. The new 56,000-square-foot facility will bring all of the departments of the 20th Circuit Court's Family Division under one roof on the West Olive campus. This includes Juvenile Court, Friend of the Court and other related offices to provide coordinated and centralized services to residents.

Ottawa County awarded the project as an Integrated Project Delivery agreement with Granger Construction, DLZ Michigan, Steel Supply & Engineering, Allied Mechanical Systems, Buist Electric and Accurate Controls. Including designers, contractors and key subcontractors in early project planning is intended to keep costs on target, incentivize savings and result in a well-designed and thoughtfully-constructed facility. 

Facilities studies dating as far back as 2006 had identified inadequacies in the court facilities in West Olive including insufficient courtroom space and acoustics; lack of privacy for clients and attorneys; no separate waiting spaces for victims or witnesses; lack of ADA compliant restrooms; and other shortcomings.

The anticipated completion date of the new Family Justice Center is Spring 2024. Stay tuned for updates.

Family Justice Center Updated

Architectural rendering

Ottawa County Ground Breaking Commissioners

Ottawa County Board of Commissioners in attendance, left to right: Al Dannenberg, Frank Garcia, Matt Fenske, Phil Kuyers, Roger Bergman, Jim Baumann, Jim Holtvluwer, and Greg DeJong

Low unemployment continues in Ottawa County

-by Shannon Felgner, Communications Manager

The preliminary unemployment rates for April 2022 were released recently by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget. Ottawa County's unemployment rate measured 2.8%. This unemployment rate is currently the second lowest in Michigan, with rates ranging from 2.7% in Livingston County to 13.7% in Mackinac County.

Fifty-nine Michigan counties exhibited jobless rate declines over the month. Unemployment rates rose in 17 counties and remained unchanged in seven counties since March. 

Unemployment data for the entire state is available from the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. The press release from the the State of Michigan is also online.

Five Year April 2022

Ottawa County tops growth into the new decade

-by Department of Strategic Impact

Ottawa County saw continued growth in 2021 with an estimated increase of 2,957 residents from 2020. This is a 1.0% growth, the highest growth of the ten most-populated counties in Michigan.

Of the local city, township, and village units in Ottawa County, Jamestown and Holland Township saw the greatest growth, with each township growing an estimated 2.8% in 2021.

2020-2021 Population Growth for Michigan's 10 Most Populated Counties

Spoonville Trail recognized for design, contributions to public good

-by Department of Strategic Impact

When it comes to awards, three times is truly a charm for Spoonville Trail - a 4.2-mile nonmotorized pathway which safely guides cyclists and walkers over the MDOT M-231 Grand River Bridge crossing, hugs the picturesque Terre Verde golf course, and ends in Nunica.

Since the trail's completion just a year ago, the Department of Strategic Impact and its project partners have been recognized twice for excellence in management and administration with awards from the regional and statewide branches of the American Public Works Association (APWA); and with an Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement award from the Michigan branch of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

Constructed in two phases by Ottawa County, project consultant Prein & Newhof, and contractor Anlaan Corp., Spoonville Trail is an important north-south connector in the County's growing non-motorized network of pathways because it provides cyclists, runners, and walkers access to two trail systems: the North Bank Trail in Spring Lake and the still-developing Idema Explorers Trail, which will run from Grand Haven to Grand Rapids.

To read more about how Spoonville Trail was constructed, visit, click on 'Land Use', and navigate to the 'Spoonville Trail' section. To learn more about Ottawa County's expanding network of trails, visit

Spoonville Trail

Ottawa County showcases local artists

-by Shannon Felgner, Communications Manager

Planning for the fifth annual Art Trust Exhibition is underway by Ottawa County and the Holland Area Arts Council. The Art Trust is a tangible way to demonstrate the importance of culture and creativity in our community. We are honored to have Maggie Bandstra, Grand Haven Artist, as juror for the show. At the same time, the trust will preserve a legacy of art for generations of residents to come. Please join us for the  reception on June 21 at 4 p.m. at the Fillmore Administrative Complex (12220 Fillmore, West Olive) where purchase awards will be announced. The artwork will remain on display through August 23 and the public is welcome to view the exhibit on Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more details visit

Subscribe to Ottawa's open bid updates

Those looking to do business with Ottawa County can now subscribe to receive notices on new bids and changes to bids via email.

Open Bids Subscribe

Department of Strategic Impact project updates

-by Department of Strategic Impact

The first edition of the Department of Strategic Impact's 2022 Projects Update Bulletin can be found HERE.

DSI Project Update

Ottawa County Clerk's office launches information campaign ahead of election

-by Katie Sims, Elections Coordinator, Ottawa County Clerk - Register of Deeds

Your elections are a transparent, bi-partisan multi-step process run by trained professionals. Over the next several weeks, the Ottawa County Elections Team invites you to #StepIntoElections by learning more about the process that we use to choose our government!

Beginning today and through the month of August you can follow our office through each step of the election cycle as we share information through email updates and on Facebook and Twitter. Each week, we’ll be doing a deep dive on a different step of the process and talking about how our elections are managed.

When you step into the voting booth on Election Day or drop your absentee ballot in the mail, you can know that hundreds of people have taken many steps to get to that point, and there is much more to be done following the election to ensure that results are verified before certification and audited before the election is truly complete. To illustrate this process, we use a graphic we call the Lifecycle of an Election:


The lifecycle graphic highlights each step in the process that election administrators across the state follow ahead of every election. While some of these steps take place months ahead of an election, others happen days and weeks after the election. We're excited to share this process with you and we look forward to having you join us as we all #StepIntoElections together!

Motor vehicle parking permits

-by Jessica VanGinhoven, Coordinator of Interpretive & Information Services, Ottawa County Parks

motor vehicle permit reminder

Background photo by: Joshua Bachand, @joshjem20

Vehicle Permits

A motor vehicle permit (daily or annual) is required Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day at:

  • North Beach Park
  • Olive Shores
  • Kirk Park
  • Rosy Mound Natural Area
  • Tunnel Park
  • Riverside Park boat launch

Without one, you will be ticketed. Learn more about pricing and where you can purchase your annual permit here. Please note that the Michigan State Parks Recreation Passport is not valid at Ottawa County Parks properties. 

Pay Stations

Pay stations will be available this season at North Beach Park, Rosy Mound Natural Area, Olive Shores, and Riverside Park. Next season (2023), pay stations will also be implemented at Tunnel Park and Kirk Park.

Important changes:

  • Cash will no longer be accepted at parks with fee stations.
  • Annual permits will not be available for purchase at the pay stations
  • Staff will be available at North Beach Park on the following days and times throughout the summer to process annual permit sales: Wednesday-Thursday, 1-3 pm Friday-Sunday, 12-4 pm

The pay stations will shorten time spent waiting in line and help with the shortage of seasonal park staff.

FREE motor vehicle parking permits available for Bridge Card Holders

Bridge Card holders in Michigan can receive a free annual motor vehicle permit. The Ottawa County Parks fee waiver program launched in the mid-2000’s in partnership with the State of Michigan and the Natural Resources Trust Fund. Cardholder must present both their Bridge Card and ID when picking up their permit. Limited to one permit per household. Free annual permits are available to Bridge Card holders at any location that also sells annual passes: