Administrator's Digest - July 25, 2022

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In this issue:

  • Elections
  • Cops & Cones
  • ARPA survey
  • Broadband internet
  • And more

Greetings from the Administrator

August 2 is the Primary Election and we encourage you all to to exercise your right to vote. You may still register to vote, however this must be completed in person at your local clerk's office.

The Ottawa County Clerk/Register of Deeds, Justin Roebuck, and Elections Coordinator, Katie Sims, have put together a thorough website for voters: The site has helpful information such as sample ballots, polling locations and absentee voting resources. Their educational campaign, Step into Elections, details the procedures and policies through the entire election process. They are even hosting community Q & A sessions (highlighted below in this digest.)

Finally, I thought it would be interesting to share the statistics from past election cycles in Ottawa County:

Figures from 2020 Election Cycle:

  • March Presidential Primary – 61,571 ballots cast, 30% turnout, 63% in-person vs. 37% absentee
  • May Special Election – 18,636 ballots cast, 27% turnout, 1% in-person vs. 99% absentee
  • August Primary Election – 72,213 ballots cast, 34% turnout, 32% in-person vs. 68% absentee
  • November General Election – 169,960 ballots cast, 78% turnout, 41% in-person vs. 59% absentee

Trends in voter registration numbers:

  • 2016 – 198,231 registered voters
  • 2018 – 206,160 registered voters
  • 2020 – 221,421 registered voters
  • 2022 (as of 7/15/22) – 224,316 registered voters

John Shay
Ottawa County Administrator

Get your election questions answered at community events

Ottawa County Clerk/Register, Justin Roebuck and Elections Coordinator, Katie Sims will be at three community locations in July and October to discuss elections in Ottawa County:

  • Georgetown Township Hall, July 28, 6-8PM
  • Herrick District Library - North Branch, October 11, 6-8PM
  • Loutit District Library, October 25, 6-8PM
  • Events will be streamed via YouTube; search Ottawa County Clerk Register of Deeds

Justin and Katie will discuss topics like absentee ballots, logic and accuracy tests and post-election audits. They will then take questions from the audience. Questions can be submitted ahead of time to, at the event or online during the livestream.

Online registration is preferred but not required for those attending the in-person event.

Keep up to date and receive election information by email or text Ottawa Votes to 468 311 to receive text messages.

Cops & Cones

Join Ottawa County Sheriff's Deputies at Skoops in Grand Haven for a community meet and greet.

  • July 27
  • 7:30 - 8:30 PM
  • Skoops, 16830 Robbins Road

Follow the Facebook Event for details, discussion and to share with your friends. 

Cops cones

ARPA spending survey closes August 1

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), a COVID-19 relief package, was signed into law in March 2021. This Act includes billions in federal funding for state and local governments. This federal aid is intended to address economic impacts of the pandemic and ensure a strong recovery. Determined to utilize these one-time federal resources wisely, Ottawa County formed the American Rescue Plan Act Committee. Appointed by the Board of Commissioners, the Committee is comprised of 19 community members representing a cross-section of local public and private organizations. The Committee's sole purpose is to guide the Board of Commissioners on how to spend the $57 million that the County will receive from ARPA. 

Complete the survey

To further inform the funding process, Ottawa County is asking for community feedback. ARPA Committee members have identified needs within their area of expertise and are assisting County officials with drafting funding options and priorities. To ensure projects funded by ARPA dollars benefit all who live and work in Ottawa County, the Committee identified categories, or "buckets", of high level priorities. The survey asks the community to rank Affordable Housing; Social and Human Services; Countywide Broadband; and Business Stabilization categories plus welcomes additional ideas. The questionnaire, available in both English and Spanish, takes about 5 to 10 minutes to complete and closes on August 1.


A dedicated website – – outlines Ottawa County’s ARPA plan. It will be updated regularly. The County, through its bucket managers, will begin accepting project applications for a first round of ARPA funding through the summer of 2022 based on the priority areas.


Visitors can sign up for future ARPA updates by email

Survey Button

Broadband internet

The County, through its Department of Strategic Impact (DSI), continues to systematically and thoughtfully move the County Broadband Initiative forward. The Merit Network, Inc. study that was completed earlier this year (and funded through a combination of community partners) revealed that 26% of households in the County do not have access to at least 25/3Mbps high-speed internet service, the minimum broadband speed threshold recommended by the FCC. However, given the ever-increasing use of digital communication technologies, this standard is widely considered insufficient; speeds closer to 100/20Mbps are considered optimal. Even more concerning, according to the survey, 10.5% of residents do not have access to fixed internet (wired or wireless ) at all. These low and sometimes non-existent service speeds put our residents and businesses at a disadvantage.

This unacceptable level of internet access has been precipitated in part by private-sector internet service providers (ISPs) generally avoiding the County's more rural areas. To remedy this situation, DSI is currently in discussions to hire qualified technical consultants that will utilize the abundance of collected survey and internet speed data, and existing infrastructure mapping, to develop a preliminary engineering design for a County middle-mile infrastructure plan.

The primary reason many private-sector ISPs have not been delivering reliable broadband to the County’s more rural areas (of which 47% of the County’s total acreage is farmland), is economics. It is difficult for ISPs to achieve a return-on-investment (ROI) in extending their services to households that have great distances between them. How do we clear these economic hurdles? The County has an opportunity to establish a public/private partnership, a model similar to how the County was able to improve cellular coverage countywide. In the mid-2000s, cellphone service providers were not constructing the necessary cell towers in rural Ottawa County because of the same problem – economics. Beginning in 2007, the DSI worked to establish partnerships with companies such as ATT, Verizon, and T-Mobile. The County then built (and still owns) several cell towers that are strategically located across the landscape. The cell carriers, in exchange, agreed to locate their equipment on those towers to deliver the needed wireless cellular coverage. This unique partnership with cellular service providers resulted in a win for the carriers, residents, and the County. The revenue generated from the co-location lease agreements helped to pay off the capital cost of each tower in less than five years. Revenue collected since then has been utilized for other public technology initiatives.

The model that is being developed/deployed to address the economics of rural high-speed broadband internet service is a similar concept. The County intends to construct the needed middle-mile broadband infrastructure in strategic locations for ISPs to tap into (via lease agreements with the County) to then deliver/provide the last mile internet service to residents.

The County will not be in the business of providing internet service to residents; rather it will provide - for a fee - the “highway” upon which ISPs can use to cost-effectively extend their services to underserved areas. In addition to securing the engineering design services for the middle-mile infrastructure, the DSI recently issued a Request For Information (RFI) to ISPs and other possible contributors to formally identify which companies are willing to partner with the County in this unique and vital public/private partnership. Once the ISP partners are identified, and estimated costs to construct the needed infrastructure are established (based on the impending engineering design work), the DSI will seek the necessary funds to commence this effort. It has been well publicized that there are a number of grant programs out there to facilitate broadband expansion across the Country. Ottawa County is not eligible for all of these programs and some are not well suited for the County’s needs. The Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program, which is administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), may be one of the most promising in its alignment with the County’s objectives. The deadline to submit applications is September 30, 2022. Further complicating other grant opportunities is the State of Michigan’s delays in establishing its broadband grant programs, as the support of the State is needed in order to access some the Federal grant programs. Regardless, the DSI is working diligently with its partners to identify and apply for those grants that best support this initiative. By collaborating closely with ISPs and our strategic partners, the County is confident affordable and reliable high-speed internet access will be attainable for all who live, work, and play in Ottawa County.

For more information on the Digital Inclusion Strategy and how to participate, check the website often, or contact the Ottawa County Department of Strategic Impact at, or Douglas Weber of Urban Wireless Consultants at

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