Thursday 05.28.2020

Thursday 05.28.2020

Bridge maintenance may slow traffic in Grand Haven

Drivers may have problems navigating in the Grand Haven area today.

From 9AM to 3PM M-DOT will be doing work on the lighting along the Grand Haven drawbridge. This will mean lane closures on northbound US-31 between Jackson street and M-104 in Spring Lake.

Dancing on the Grand: June events cancelled

Dancing on the Grand, an open air music and dancing event held at the Lynne Sherwood Waterfront Stadium, has cancelled some of their upcoming schedule.

Officials say they are cancelling the June concert schedule due to concerns over COVID-19. They add that they are still optimistic about the July and August concerts, but say that decision will be made at a later date.

Updates and band schedule revisions are available on the Dancing on the Grand Facebook page.

A new program in Ottawa County designed to feed hungry and boost economy

Both families and farmers in West Michigan are facing economic challenges of historic scale as the impact of COVID-19 has washed over the region. Now, "Ottawa Food" is working with four local food pantries to purchase produce directly from local farmers to feed local families.

This is a pilot program being introduced in the Holland/Zeeland area, and with the intent to replicate it in other areas within Ottawa County. Beginning July 1, the Lakeshore Food Rescue - Farm Relief Effort will purchase food from local farmers to feed local families. The program will run through October 31, 2020.

Local food purchases help to keep small farm families financially solvent while also providing fresh, healthy produce to food-insecure families of local communities. These purchases also keep dollars in west Michigan, with the goal of creating multiple positive economic ripple effects.

Huizenga files suit against remote voting for congress

Congressman Bill Huizenga has joined in filing a lawsuit in the D.C. Federal District Court challenging the constitutionality of proxy voting for congress.
This action is a direct response to the House enacting H. RES 965 which authorized proxy voting on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Huizenga argued that proxy voting in Congress would allow laws to be passed with as little as 20 members physically present for the vote, a situation which has not occurred even during previous pandemics.

Although the new rule allows laws to pass with less members of congress physically present, the rule does not change how many votes are necessary to make a law.

Details available here: https://www.c-span.org/congress/bills/bill/?116/hres965

Wednesday 05.27.2020

Wednesday 05.27.2020

How to salvage some of Chinook Pier before it's demolition

Chinook Pier is slated for demolition beginning June 1st.

On Thursday May 28th  from 10am-3pm, the City is hosting a salvage day onsite for existing downtown businesses to have an opportunity to see if there are any materials or fixtures that could be reused. These salvaged materials and items are not intended to be for resale. 

To sign up for salvage day you must contact Ashley Latsch at alatsch@grandhaven.org or call 231-719-5675 ahead of time in order to schedule a time to go through the buildings.

Ottawa County officially the fastest growing county in Michigan

Ottawa is now Michigan's fastest growing county.

The 2019 population estimates for townships, cities, and villages were released by the U.S. Census Bureau last week. The greatest growth was seen in Allendale (29%), Jamestown (26.5%), Spring Lake (26.1%), and Blendon (17.8%) townships. Between 2018 and 2019, Jamestown Township experienced the greatest population growth (3.5%).

The County population estimates, which were released in March, showed Ottawa County as the fastest growing in the State and the 8th most populous.

Local man sentenced to 20 years for death of infant

A 21-year-old Grand Haven Township man will spend at least two decades in prison for the 2018 death of his girlfriend's baby.

A judge handed down two concurrent 20-year sentences for Cameron Toppen this week after he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and first-degree child abuse. Officials say eight-month-old Scarlett Burroughs died in the hospital in November 2018, two days after Toppen violently shook her.

The little girl was healthy before the incident, and Toppen admitted to shaking her.

More COVID-19 testing is available

Another change is in place to expand who can get a test for coronavirus in Michigan.

The state's chief medical officer, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, explained some of the relaxed regulations during yesterday's COVID-19 briefing with Governor Whitmer. Doctors orders are no longer necessary to recieve a test, and nurses, pharmacists and physician's assistants may now administer tests without a doctor's order.

Testing is also now available for anyone who has to leave home for work. Tuesday's move is the latest bid to expand COVID-19 testing, which is seen as critical to slowing the virus.

Tuesday 05.26.2020

Tuesday 05.26.2020

Produce recall from local farmer's market

The Ottawa County Department of Public Health has a warning for shoppers: If you purchased flat-leaf parsley on Saturday from "Future Days Farm" at the Holland Farmers Market, don't eat it!

The Ottawa County Department of Public Health has been notified by the Holland Farmers Market that another plant was mixed into the farm's flat-leaf parsley crop and it is not safe to eat. If you purchased flat-leaf parsley from them within the first hour and a half of the market (8:00 - 9:30 am), please contact the market immediately at info@hollandfarmersmarket.com.

Future Days Farm was located on the south side of the Eighth Street Market Place, close to Maple Avenue near the Civic Center Building.

Ottawa County Board of Commissioners meeting today

The Ottawa County Board of Commissioners provides leadership and policy direction for all County activities. Today, they'll meet at 1:30 PM for the regular May meeting of the Board via Zoom. Among the items on the agenda: Authorizing the Board Chairperson and Clerk to sign a Resolution of Intent to increase the 2020 Millage Rate for several county necessities.

Golf cart crash in Zeeland sends teen to hospital

A golf cart crash on Saturday has a 19-year-old woman fighting for her life at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids.

She was airlifted from Zeeland Township Saturday night after she was thrown from the cart she was riding in. The teen is currently in critical condition, and the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department has not released any information about the driver.

Retail stores reopen in Michigan

All retail businesses in Michigan are allowed to reopen today, so long as their employees are trained on COVID-19 health guidelines. The retailers now allowed to open up will have to limit the number of people in their stores to ten customers at a time, in order to help prevent restarting the spread of the disease.

Auto dealerships are also allowed to be open by appointment only as part of the rolling back of the stay-home order by Governor Whitmer. It was announced last week prior to her extension of it through June 12th late Friday afternoon. More medical, dental, and veterinary procedures will be allowed starting Friday.

Whitmer recall petition denied due to unclear language, factual errors

Recall petitions against Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel won't be going out for signature collections.

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers rejected the petitions filed by Chad Baase of Albion, saying the language wasn't clear and noting factual errors.

Baase wanted to recall the governor over her COVID-19 executive orders and her refusal to remove Jackson County Sheriff Steve Rand from the job, despite Jackson officials asking her to do so. He also sought to recall Nessel over the criminal cases linked to the Flint water crisis, which she is not handling.

Friday 05.22.2020

Friday 05.22.2020

A look at local Memorial Day celebrations

Grand Haven's Memorial Day events will start with lowering of the flags at sunrise on Monday. Then at 11 am, church bells will ring throughout the city. Chris Streng is with the Grand Haven Memorial Day Association.

The Waterfront Ceremony will start at 11:30 am Monday and will be closed to the public, but streamed live on Facebook with the City of Grand Haven.

West Michigan health care organization offers antibody testing

West Michigan's Spectrum Health is now offering coronavirus antibody tests to the public.  Adam Caulfield, Spectrum Health's technical director of microbiology, cautions it's still not known if having antibodies means someone is immune to getting COVID-19 again.

The healthcare system says it is hoping the tests shed more light on how the virus has spread around the region. The test uses two different mechanisms to confirm the presence of antibodies, which Spectrum says improves accuracy.

Most insurance plans should cover the 45-dollar cost of the procedure, but anyone hoping to be tested for COVID-19 antibodies must get an order from a doctor or advanced practice provider.

FEMA approves Michigan state of emergency

FEMA has approved Governor Whitmer’s request for a federal emergency declaration that will provide additional resources to Midland County to respond to the extreme flooding. This initial approval is limited to certain direct assistance from federal agencies to deal with immediate challenges, but could be expanded as the state and FEMA completes the damage assessment.

Beginning on May 16 a storm system moved through the State of Michigan, resulting in six to eight inches of rain over a 48-hour period. Due to the heavy rainfall, the Edenville Dam and subsequently the Sanford Dam were breached on May 19 which required over 10,000 Midland County residents to evacuate their homes due to the imminent danger from the flood event.

On May 19, Governor Whitmer declared a State of Emergency in Midland County. The following day, Governor Whitmer sent a letter to President Trump requesting federal aid in responding to the catastrophic flooding in Midland County.

Court rules extending stay-at-home order within Governor's rights

A Michigan court is upholding Governor Gretchen Whitmer's power to extend COVID-19 stay-at-home orders.

A ruling Thursday by Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stevens said Whitmer does have the authority to extend the state of emergency. The ruling rejects a Republican lawsuit that claimed Whitmer doesn't have the authority to extend without approval from lawmakers.

Following the ruling, the governor's office released a statement saying the decision "recognizes that the governor's actions to save lives are lawful and her orders remain in place."

Thursday 05.21.2020

Thursday 05.21.2020

Governor Whitmer lifts some COVID-19 restrictions

During a live address earlier today Governor Whitmer announced major changes to the restrictions that had been put in place to fight COVID-19.

Some changes that are being made include a repeal of the rule requiring non-essential medical and dental services to be temporarily delayed, the state-wide opening of auto showrooms will be permitted by appointment only, and allowing retail state wide, but by appointment only and limiting stores to 10 customers at any given time. Governor Whitmer said that the requirement that these businesses open by appointment was to ensure that stores do not become crowded.

The orders also allow gatherings of 10 people or less, so long as they are still following social distancing.

The Governor did say that the stay at home order is likely to be extended further, but clarified that it will continue to be phased out in stages.

Ottawa County limiting beach parking

Parking will be deliberately limited at all Ottawa County lakeshore parks due to smaller-than-usual beaches.

Visitors will be ticketed for parking in an area that is not a designated parking spot or in any area marked No Parking. This includes roadside and parallel parking.  Some "open" spots have also been blocked off to not overcrowd the beaches.

Authorities stress that the limited parking is temporary.

Beaches are smaller this year than they have been in the last two decades. Authorities are asking the public to prepare for less room on the beach to spread out. With COVID being a concern in the community, smaller beaches have the potential to become more problematic.

Peak beach times are 11 am-1 pm every day, but especially on the weekends. To avoid the park during busier times, officials are asking beach goers to consider an early morning visit or an evening visit.

Emergency Human Needs Fund closes

The community coalition created to respond to the COVID-19 crisis is shifting their priorities from the emergency human needs in Ottawa County to the longer-term efforts of stabilization and recovery.

The collective Emergency Human Needs Fund has closed. All future donations will go to the individual community recovery funds held at the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation, the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland area, and Greater Ottawa County United Way. Details about the new funds will be announced in the coming weeks by their respective organizations.

Donations to these individual funds are strongly encouraged by their leadership, as the need in our community has risen exponentially since the outbreak of COVID-19.

Governor Whitmer requests federal emergency declaration to deal with Midland flooding

Governor Whitmer is asking President Trump for a federal emergency declaration to help the response to this week's catastrophic flooding in Midland County. The area was flooded by six to eight-inches of rain over 48 hours, causing two dams to fail on the Tittabawassee River and empty Wixom Lake.

The President is coming to Ypsilanti today to tour a Ford factory that has been making respirators to help with the COVID-19 response efforts.

President Trump has previously stated that he will withhold federal emergency aid to Michigan over his disapproval of the state's vote-by-mail policy, but has since backed off that threat as he prepares to appear in person at the Ford plant today.

Wednesday 05.20.2020

Wednesday 05.20.2020

Ottawa County flood warning remains in effect

A Flood Warning remains in effect for Ottawa County along the Grand River with an expected crest occurring late Thursday into Friday of this week. Ottawa County declared a local state of emergency on Sunday, May 17th in response to flooding impacts from a large rain event.

The county currently has 280 structures that have been added to the damage assessment system. The first round of damage assessment was conducted with jurisdictional representatives in the City of Grand Haven, Grand Haven Township, the City of Ferrysburg, Spring Lake Township, the Village of Spring Lake, and Crockery Township on Tuesday. Another round of damage assessment is expected to occur on Saturday to assess the impacts from river flooding.

Ottawa County Emergency Management has worked closely with the Ottawa County Water Resources Office to conduct emergency pumping efforts for inland flooding, the Red Cross for emergency sheltering assistance, and Ottawa County Emergency Management Volunteers for sandbagging efforts.
With the Grand River forecasted for the moderate flood stage near 16ft at the Robinson Township Gauge, we continue to urge residents to take measures to limit any damages to their property from flooding.

COVID-19 outbreak in Grand Haven nursing home

Christian Haven Home, an assisted living facility in Grand Haven, has recently felt the effects of COVID-19.

Several residents have recently tested positive; one employee had tested positive in April, another was tested early Monday and is awaiting results. The employee who had tested positive notified management immediately when feeling symptoms, was not working when symptomatic and has not yet returned to work.

The facility has been in close contact with the Ottawa Department of Public Health and has worked to follow their guidance on prevention and treatment since the arrival of COVID-19 in west Michigan. To prevent further spread of the disease, the facility has begun the process of having all residents and staff tested.

Repeat tests for those testing negative will be conducted next week.

West Michigan not yet ready to reopen, data says

Governor Gretchen Whitmer says the data coming from west Michigan counties is indicating the area isn't yet ready to have all businesses reopen like what will be happening at the end of the week up north. Restaurants and bars can reopen at 50-percent capacity on Friday in the Upper Peninsula and in much of the northern Lower Peninsula, including Traverse City, Alpena, and Mackinaw City.

Whitmer is expecting to extend the state's stay home order before it expires on May 28th, but also hopes to relax some parts of it.

Michigan being given another option to vote in November

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is encouraging as many people as possible to vote by mail in August and November. Her office will be sending out absentee ballot applications to every registered voter for the two elections, saying it will protect public health and provide equal access for all voters during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Benson says even if conditions improve by late summer or fall, she doesn't want anyone to have to choose between their health and the right to vote. In the May 5th elections held in 33 counties, 99% of the ballots were cast by mail or put in a drop box and turnout was double the normal level.

Tuesday 05.19.2020

Tuesday 05.19.2020

Grand Haven Sewer Authority providing some relief to city budget

In some good financial news for local government, Grand Haven's sewer authority requested a net zero change in expenitures during Monday's city council meeting.

Superintendent Ryan Vredeveld did make some budget amendment requests but the total expenditures, even as the community is dealing with rising water levels, was zero.

The budget ammendments for the sewer authority were approved by the city council.


Ottawa County charities get a big boost

The community coalition created to respond to the COVID-19 crisis has granted an additional $22,000 from the Emergency Human Needs Fund to five area nonprofit organizations that are helping the community during the coronavirus pandemic.

Nonprofit agencies in Ottawa County have committed to keeping people fed, housed, and healthy as best as they can. But these organizations face challenges as they balance their missions with the additional workload of managing the threat of COVID-19. This latest grant round brings the total granted from the fund to $873,310. Funding is provided on behalf of the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation, the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area, and the Greater Ottawa County United Way.

The community coalition has created a website to help with the rising need for volunteers, donations of both goods and funds, and ongoing updates: CareOttawaCounty.com.

More shoreline communities declare a state of emergency

Earlier this week Ottawa County declared a local state of emergency due to heavy rainfall. Now another shoreline community, Muskegon county, has followed suit.

A local state of emergency is being declared in Muskegon County due to flooding caused by the weekend's rainfall.  County officials made the declaration yesterday due to serious flooding in Muskegon, Norton Shores, and other cities on Sunday.  Multiple roads have had to be closed due to pooled water or broken culverts, and some homes were said to be completely surrounded by water in Lake Township.

Michigan takes the first steps towards lifting quarantine

Retail businesses and restaurants will be allowed to open on Friday in all of the Upper Peninsula and much of the northern Lower Peninsula.

Governor Whitmer says offices can also reopen in those regions, but all businesses must provide COVID-19 training to employees, and restaurants and bars will be limited to 50% capacity.  Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association president and CEO Justin Winslow was among several who joined the governor for the announcement, and told the northern Michigan establishments the rest of the state was counting on them to get it right.

Monday 05.18.2020

Monday 05.18.2020

Local state of emergency declared for Ottawa County

Heavy rainfall over the weekend has put a flood warning in effect for Ottawa County, and Ottawa County Emergency Management has declared a local State of Emergency to assist in coordination of additional resources.

The area is currently experiencing inland flooding caused by the rain. Several homes in Ferrysburg have already experienced flooding, and a Flood Warning has been issued in the area of Robinson Township until Sunday, May 24. The Grand River is expected to crest around 14 feet later this week.

The office of Emergency Management is urging residents to take measures to limit any damages to their property from flooding. For more information on this weather event, visit their FaceBook page at Facebook.com/OttawaEM.

Grand Haven State Park to reopen parking lot for Memorial Day

Looking ahead to the Memorial Day holiday weekend, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has announced it plans to reopen Grand Haven State Park’s Channel parking lot (also known as Fisherman’s parking lot) to public parking starting at 8 a.m. on Friday, May 22.

Those using the parking lots or visiting the park are reminded to follow COVID-19 guidelines at all times, for their own safety and the safety of others. Both the Channel parking lot and campground area at Grand Haven State Park were temporarily closed to vehicle traffic May 3 due to public health and safety concerns after large groups congregated and failed to practice proper social distancing over the busy weekend.

When the Channel parking lot is at capacity, visitors are encouraged to seek alternative, legal parking locations throughout the city and enter on foot. Visitors are asked to be mindful of local city parking requirements.

Grand Rapids ballet offers virtual performances

Michigan’s only professional ballet company, Grand Rapids Ballet, will release two “new” virtual program performances online, one of which will include a world premiere piece from Choreographer-in-Residence Penny Saunders.

This exclusive content (which will also showcase video from past performances) will be made available to those who make a tax-deductible donation of any amount to the organization between now and June 11. Donations can be made online at GRBallet.com/donate.

Michigan seeking applicants for new panel on education

A new panel of students, parents, teachers, public health officials, and school administrators will be formed by Governor Whitmer to formalize the process for determining how schools might be able to reopen this fall.

Whitmer says the "Return To Learn Advisory Council" will send its recommendations to the COVID-19 Task Force on Education, which is part of the State Emergency Operations Center and was formed a few months ago. The new panel will have up to 25 members, and applications to serve on it can be sent in now at Michigan.gov/Appointments.

Friday 05.15.2020

Friday 05.15.2020

COVID-19 infections in Grand Haven nursing home

MediLodge at the Shore, a nursing home in Grand Haven, has more than 20 positive cases of COVID-19 according to virus collection data released by the state. As of Thursday morning the state says the nursing home has 21 confirmed cases.

Officials from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services say that nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are now required to send daily reports to the state. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nursing homes have been asked to restrict visitors with few exceptions.

The CDC also recommends canceling group activities, social distancing, and using face coverings.

Some west Michigan leaders speak up in support of HEROES act

Some west Michigan city officials have called on Michigan’s members of Congress to support the pending HEROES Act, which would allocate $375 billion to cities around the nation.

Mayors, council members and other west Michigan leaders joined Michigan Municipal League CEO & Executive Dan Gilmartin in a media call to highlight the plight of communities that are on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle, providing emergency medical and other essential services as revenues decline. The National League of Cities projects Michigan cities will lose 37 percent of revenues, which puts the Great Lakes State as fourth highest in the nation in projected revenue losses.

Initial action by Congress, the CARES Act, only provided relief to governments in Michigan having populations above 500,000 and all communities under that population threshold were excluded.

Man accused of killing mother in law in Ottawa County

A man has been accused of killing his mother-in-law in Ottawa County.

Authorities were called to perform a wellness check on a woman at the StayBridge Suites in Holland Township early Thursday and found the 52-year-old victim dead. The suspect fled the scene, but was later arrested in South Bend, Indiana.

The investigation is ongoing.

Meijer extends store hours

Meijer is extending its store hours after having to reduce them because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Starting today, Meijer stores will open at six a.m. and close at midnight, while Meijer Express locations will open at 6 a.m. and close at 11 p.m.

Dedicated shopping times are also being lengthened from six a.m. to eight a.m. for essential workers and Meijer employees on  Mondays and Wednesdays, and for shoppers over 60 and people with chronic conditions on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Meijer is normally open 24/7, but the Walker-based retailer started limiting hours from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. in March to free up more time for cleaning and restocking overnight.

Thursday 05.14.2020

Thursday 05.14.2020

Davenport University offers new scholarship

Davenport University is offering a new opportunity for those who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Grand Rapids-based school has created the Launch Scholarship for workers who became unemployed or were furloughed on or after March 1st. The scholarship will provide up to eight-thousand dollars a year for up to four years for students who enroll in bachelor's degree, graduate degree, or professional development programs this summer and fall, and the deadline to apply for it is September 8th.

This is the second round for the opportunity, as the school first offered it to almost 65-hundred businesses earlier this month.

Numbers show the impact of 'Safer at Home' order

After weeks of dealing with COVID-19 and the accompanying preventative measures, estimates are coming in that may paint a clearer picture of what an unchecked infection might look like in Michigan.

During a press conference Wednesday, Governor Whitmer shared estimates of what the situation would look like without the order in place. She said "Without the 'Stay Home, Stay Safe' order the median estimate is that we would have had 32,000 more cases today, and at least 3,480 more deaths."

Even with a quarantine in place, Michigan has the highest death rate from coronavirus in the nation. The state has also conducted among the fewest tests per capita of states hit hardest by the pandemic.

Michigan officials take steps to offset budget deficit

Michigan officials have announced that the state will participate in the federal Unemployment Insurance Agency Work Share program to help offset budget implications as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of this program, impacted state employees will take two temporary layoff days per pay period beginning Sunday, May 17th until July 25th resulting in up to $80 million in decreased wage costs.

This federal program allows the state to keep employees working with reduced hours, while employees collect partial unemployment benefits to make up a portion of the lost wages. Over 31,000 state employees will be impacted. Impacted employees will retain their health insurance and other benefits and will be automatically enrolled into the unemployment process to help ensure they have the support they need.

Last month, Governor Whitmer announced she was taking a 10 percent pay cut and directed her executive team and cabinet appointees to take a 5 percent pay cut for the remainder of the fiscal year. Additionally, the Executive Office of the Governor will participate in the Work Share program.

Ferrysburg cancels 4th of July parade

The Ferrysburg 4th of July parade has been cancelled for this year.

The event usually involved activities like pancakes with the Mayor at Ferrysburg City Hall and a party in the park at William Ferry Park for music, food, games and prizes following the flag raising ceremony. For more information, click here!

Therese Buck, one of the parade organizers, says the cancellation is due to concerns relating to COVID-19. Her message for the tri-cities: plan on a great 4th of July comeback next year!

Wednesday 05.13.2020

Wednesday 05.13.2020

Community coalition gives to local nonprofits

The community coalition created to respond to the COVID-19 crisis has granted an additional $115,000 from the Emergency Human Needs Fund to nine area nonprofit organizations that are helping the community during the coronavirus pandemic. The majority of this round of emergency funding went to organizations that support housing and shelter.

Nonprofit agencies in Ottawa County have committed to keeping people fed, housed, and healthy as best as they can. But these organizations face challenges as they balance their missions with the additional workload of managing the threat of COVID-19. This latest grant round brings the total granted from the fund to $851,310. Funding is provided on behalf of the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation, the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area, and the Greater Ottawa County United Way.

The community coalition has created a website to help with the rising need for volunteers, donations of both goods and funds, and ongoing updates: CareOttawaCounty.com.

West Michigan company has solution for a major COVID-19 problem

A ventilator shortage has been a major problem in fighting the coronavirus. Now, a west Michigan company has invented a device which may provide some relief.

Kentwood-based Autocam Medical partnered with researchers at the University of Michigan and a 3D printing company to develop a device that allows ventilators to safely treat two patients at once. The partners developed VentMI from prototype to market in under a month.

Previous splitters could deliver only one pre-set pressure to patients, which was problematic because each COVID-19 patient requires a unique pressure tailored to their lung size and degree of disease, according to Autocam Medical. The company said excessive volume or pressure can cause lung trauma, thereby limiting the ability to share a ventilator.

Lawmaker says 2021 school funding may be reduced

A Republican state lawmaker says Michigan schools could be facing a major cut in state funding.

Senator Wayne Schmidt of Traverse City said Tuesday that there's no way to avoid cuts to the amount of money the state provides to K-through-12 schools per student. Michigan currently provides over eight-thousand dollars per student, but with less revenue coming in due to the coronavirus, Schmidt said it's time to prepare for the worst in the next fiscal year.

Tuesday 05.12.2020

Tuesday 05.12.2020

Ottawa County survey helps fight COVID-19

Ottawa County is implementing a new strategy to slow COVID-19: A survey.

County health officials say they've created an automated text message survey system designed for people exposed to positive cases of COVID-19. Starting with a phone call, the automated contact tracing system then asks potential coronavirus carriers to share their health status through text. The survey asks about symptoms and whether or not respondents are isolating. If the respondent is not isolating, they are asked why.

The Ottawa County Health Department has sent over 6,000 surveys since it began using the software for COVID-19.

West Michigan doctors are struggle to diagnose children

Three children in west Michigan have been diagnosed with an inflammatory condition that may be related to COVID-19.

Doctors in the region say three children under the age of ten either have Kawasaki disease or a coronavirus complication known as Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Illness. The exact location of where the children are being treated has not been disclosed, but doctors are still trying to figure out whether or not their conditions are linked to COVID-19.

Doctors at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids say the complication can become severe and even deadly if it is not treated.

Fatality in Holland crash

The Ottawa County Sheriff's Office is investigating a two vehicle fatal traffic crash that occurred Monday in Holland Township.

Investigation revealed that a Dodge Grand Caravan, being operated by a 76 year old man from Leroy, was entering onto Butternut Drive from a private driveway when he collided with a Ford pick-up truck, being operated by a 47 year old man from Hudsonville. The Ford had the right of way.

The driver of the Dodge died as a result of his injuries and the female passenger in the vehicle suffered injuries that aren't considered to be life threatening. She was transported to Holland Hospital by ambulance.

The driver of the Ford suffered minor injuries and declined transport to the hospital.

Holland website may set the bar for west Michigan e-commerce

In a move to encourage west Michigan commerce, Downtown Holland has launched two new websites to make it easier for customers to shop online and order take-out from their favorite Holland businesses while COVID-19 restrictions are in place.

The new “Shop Downtown Holland” and “Dine Downtown Holland” websites are a one-stop destination to easily connect customers with locally-owned businesses in Downtown Holland.

On the “Shop Downtown Holland” website, customers can decide which category of merchandise they are shopping for, select a particular retailer and then be immediately linked to that retailer’s online store or Facebook page for information on placing an order for curbside pick-up, shipping or local delivery. Similarly, the “Dine Downtown Holland” website allows customers to see which Downtown Holland cafes and restaurants are currently open for takeout services, with direct links to information for placing takeout orders online or over the phone.

Most Downtown Holland retailers offer online shopping on their store websites or via their Facebook or Instagram pages. Customers can shop directly online, comment on social media or contact the store via phone or email to place an order for curbside pick-up, shipping or local delivery.

Monday 05.11.2020

Monday 05.11.2020

Lilley Cares of Spring Lake pledges a major donation

In an effort to offset the loss of income due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the owners of Spring Lake's Seven Steps up, Gary and Michelle Hanks, set up a GoFundMe page. Now, the Lilley Cares Board of Directors have announced all funds donated to the Seven Steps Up page will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $10,000, through June 28th.

Matching funds are provided by donations given to Lilley Cares through their members and members of the general public. Lilley Cares considers Seven Steps Up to be a cultural cornerstone of The Village, and believes losing it would be detrimental to the overall economic and social atmosphere of Spring Lake.

Michigan AG's opinion on guns in the capital building

The state attorney general is planning on issuing a formal opinion that the Michigan Capitol Commission can ban guns from Capitol grounds.

Dana Nessel made the announcement Sunday, underlining the letter she sent to the commission Friday.

Democratic lawmakers are pushing to have weapons banned after demonstrators, many of whom were armed, protested the governor's state of emergency extension request April 30th.

In an interview Nessel called the armed protesters occupying the capital a "scary scene."

Lowest number of COVID-19 deaths in weeks

Michigan has seen its lowest number of deaths linked to the coronavirus in more than a month.

Michigan saw just 25 COVID-19 deaths on Sunday, bringing the total to 4,551. As per new data, there were 382 new cases of coronavirus confirmed in the state, pushing the total north of 47,000.

Kent County has just fewer than 2,300 total cases, while Ottawa County has 450.

COVID-19 fighting anti-viral drug arrives in Michigan

Michigan is in possession of a shipment of Remdesivir.

The anti-viral drug has shown to help coronavirus patients recover faster in preliminary trials. Overall, Michigan is expecting to get about 1,600 vials from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The state Health and Human Services Department is now working on a strategy for distributing the drug.

Friday 05.08.2020

Friday 05.08.2020

Mental health: Momentum Center to host virtual town hall

The Momentum Center in Grand Haven is hosting a virtual town hall to explore the impact of COVID-19 on mental illness.

The town hall will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday, May 11, via Zoom. Panelists will discuss mental health issues, including Brett VanTol from Pine Rest, Jody Sprauge from Spectrum Health, and Lynne Doyle from Ottawa County Community Mental Health. Momentum Center has hosted town halls related to mental health issues in the past, but this will be the first one held virtually.

The event is free, but registration is required in order to receive the link and password for the meeting. Downloading the Zoom app is necessary to participate in the full town hall.

To register, visit momentumcentergh.org/covid-town-hall.

Grand Haven man critically injured in motorcycle crash

Thursday the Ottawa County Sheriff's Office responded to a personal injury traffic crash in Georgetown involving a Ford Taurus and a Harley Davidson Motorcycle.

The Harley Davidson was driven by a man from Grand Haven and the Ford was driven by a woman from Hudsonville.

Investigation has shown that the Harley Davidson was traveling e/b on Vanburen St. The Ford Taurus was w/b on Vanburen St. and turned into the path of the Harley. The Harley struck the front passenger quarter panel of the Ford causing no injuries to the driver of the Ford, but the driver of the Harley was taken to Metro hospital with critical injuries.

There has been no indication from police as to whether or not the Grand Haven man was wearing a helmet, and the names of those involved are not being released at this time.

Local company selling UV light based disinfecting system

GHSP, a Grand Haven based global technology supplier, has announced the launch of a new line of UV-C treatment products for use in emergency services vehicles.

These are the first products to be launched under the company’s Grēnlite brand and are also industry firsts for mobile UV-C treatment and safety. The new Grēnlite units can be installed into emergency service vehicles and provide disinfecting through the use of UV-C light. The lights are designed to help disinfect vehicles throughout shifts through a continual cleaning approach, even while in-service.

GHSP is working on multiple new Grēnlite products with several additional product launches planned for this year.

Goodwill once again taking donations

Goodwill locations in west Michigan are once again accepting donations after shutting down the donation system due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Goodwill of Greater Grand Rapids spokeswoman Jill Wallace says they will start accepting donations via a touchless drive-thru system starting today. The organization previously said that not all of the drive-thrus will open at once, so people should call their local Goodwill before leaving their homes.

Thursday 05.07.2020

Thursday 05.07.2020

Harbor Island to benefit from EPA Brownfields Program

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced that Ottawa, St. Joseph and Calhoun counties in western Michigan will receive a total of $1.7 million to assess and clean up contaminated properties under the agency’s Brownfields Program.

A brownfield is a property where the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. It is estimated that there are more than 450,000 brownfields in the U.S.

Ottawa County will use community-wide grant funds to conduct 13 environmental site assessments. Grant funds will also be used to update a brownfields inventory, prepare two cleanup plans, and conduct community involvement activities. Priority sites include the 10-acre Board of Light and Power property on Harbor Island in the City of Grand Haven and a 1.15-acre site containing former auto sales and service properties in the primary commercial corridor of the City of Hudsonville.

Local egg farm accused of endangering workers

Sunrise Acres, a producer of eggs located in Ottawa county, has been accused of endagering their workers by not providing proper protection from COVID-19.

Migrant Legal Aid senior attorney and director Teresa Hendricks says they've taken multiple employee complaints, including  reports that many were offered an additional three-dollars an hour to keep working without masks or social distancing. Sunrise Acres has had seven of its 170 employees test positive last week for COVID-19.

The firm argues that while there is a financial incentive for employees to continue working they have told employees if they're not comfortable, they don't have to come in.

Officials from the Ottawa County Health Department have been in contact with Sunrise Acres about the complaints, and are monitoring the situation.

New guidelines in place for The Taste of Muskegon

The Taste of Muskegon will have new guidelines in place this year due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Officials say the event will now be held virtually, and participating restaurants and food trucks will provide takeout service only. The festival runs from June 19th until the 28th.

Founded in 2006, The Taste of Muskegon is an outdoor food festival featuring local restaurants and local food trucks in Hackley Park in downtown Muskegon. Over 20 food vendors serve up their specialties in sample sizes.

You can find a list of eateries taking part at tasteofmuskegon.org.

Republican legislative leaders file suit over emergency powers

Republican legislative leaders argue in a new lawsuit that Governor Whitmer's interpretation of a 1945 emergency powers law is unconstitutional.

This week House Speaker Lee Chatfield and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey announced the lawsuit challenging the state of emergency declaration of April 30th. Whitmer says she has the authority to continue to issue executive orders because of the need to respond quickly to the threat presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chatfield said he believes several of her executive orders are "legally questionable," but added he's not encouraging any civil disobedience or mass chaos.

Wednesday 05.06.2020

Wednesday 05.06.2020

Lori's Voice delays one of their biggest fundraisers

Lori's Voice, a non-profit organization run by Lori and Dave Hastings that helps children with special needs get medical equipment, has announced that they are delaying one of their biggest annual fundraisers.

Lori's Voice Walk for the Challenged has been postponed from June until sometime this summer. No date has been set yet for the event to resume.

For more information on Lori’s Voice or to donate go to lorisvoice.org.

Ottawa County Road Commission wins award for innovation

The Ottawa County Road Commission (OCRC) won the Michigan LTAP 2019 Great Ideas Challenge, which seeks to promote and celebrate innovation in the state of Michigan by asking transportation agencies to submit unique innovations used by their agencies.

The mechanics at the OCRC designed a box tailgate extension to solve a problem frequently faced by local road agencies when using dump trucks to transport materials. Material can often get caught in the chains of a tailgate, making unloading difficult or even causing the tailgate to fall off. The OCRC had the idea to attach a solid side plate to the tailgate pins to extend the wall of the tailgate, preventing material from being caught in the chains and allowing the material to slide out of the truck bed smoothly.

Emergency Human Needs Fund grants additional help to local nonprofits

The community coalition created to respond to the COVID-19 crisis has granted an additional $84,250 from the Emergency Human Needs Fund to eleven west Michigan nonprofit organizations that are helping the community.

The majority of this round of emergency funding went to organizations focused on helping the migrant and immigrant members of the community. Despite the fact that migrant workers pay taxes, many are choosing to forgo the federal stimulus resources that come through unemployment insurance so as not to risk their chance at citizenship or renewed visas.

Nonprofit agencies in Ottawa County have committed to keeping people fed, housed, and healthy as best as they can. But these organizations face challenges as they balance their missions with the additional workload of managing the threat of COVID-19.

Republican leader considering banning guns in state capital

The Michigan Capital Commission, including Republican leadership, is considering a ban on guns inside the Capitol following last week's armed protest of Governor Whitmer's "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order.

Commission vice chairman John Truscott says while they do have jurisdiction over the building, the Legislature would still have to pass a law to ban guns there. He wants to see that happen, even as a Second Amendment advocate, a Republican, and having been press secretary for former Governor John Engler.

Truscott says the protesters who carried weapons into the Capital and into the Senate gallery had no need to do so.

Tuesday 05.05.2020

Tuesday 05.05.2020

Ottawa County adds drop box for offline customers

Ottawa County has installed a drop box for customers who cannot do business online.

The box is outside the Fillmore Administration Building at 12220 Fillmore Street, West Olive. Payments or correspondence for any County office in the Fillmore Administration building may be deposited in the box, but the public is discouraged from leaving cash in the drop box. Last month, Ottawa County closed most public buildings and suspended many in person services to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the community and to protect the health of its employees. Like other businesses, the County awaits direction from Michigan on a reopening timeline.

Residents should visit the website at miOttawa.org/closures to access services online, and to learn how they can do business by phone, email or other means.

West Michigan prepared for voting despite COVID-19

The first elections in Michigan since the state's first recorded COVID-19 cases will be held today.

Officials say the state is doing everything possible to hold the elections safely, and most ballots will be cast through absentee voting. Ottawa County Clerk Justin Roebuck said west Michigan was already preparing to count more absentee ballots than previous years due to the 2018 law that allows no reason absentee voting.

One polling location will be open in every precinct in the 33 counties where there are elections on Tuesday for those who are unable to vote by mail.
Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says as of Monday, voter turnout through the mail was around 20-percent, far above the 12-percent that is normal for a May election.

For more on today's election from Justin Roebuck, listen to last week's Sunday Morning Forum.

West Michigan superintendents make fall coronavirus plans.

Summer has not started and yet west Michigan school superintendents are making plans for what classes might look like in the fall, focusing on contingencies for COVID-19.

Jenison Public Schools superintendent Tom TenBrink says many of the administrators are part of a committee considering options such as staggering class times and alternating days in the classroom. Other ideas include taking the temperatures of students and staff members upon entering school in a way similar to South Korea's early efforts.

When asked last week during one of her briefings what was under consideration from the state level for the fall, Governor Whitmer said it's too early to tell.

Senator Victory introduces MiHEROES act

Sen. Roger Victory has introduced legislation to provide a four-month state income tax holiday for medical professionals and first responders protecting the public during the COVID-19 emergency. The MiHEROES Act of 2020 is modeled after federal legislation introduced by Congressman Bill Huizenga.

The act would allow eligible first responders who provide services to a county with at least one confirmed case of COVID-19 to deduct wages earned between Feb. 15 and June 15 from their 2020 state income taxes. Eligible first responders would include firefighters, doctors, nurses, paramedics, EMTs, law enforcement and corrections officers, pharmacists, and members of the Michigan National Guard activated during the coronavirus outbreak.

The MiHEROES act does not address other people working essential jobs, such as truck drivers, grocery store workers, or sanitation workers.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration.

Possible COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon

Pfizer Inc. has announced that the first participants have been dosed in the U.S. in a clinical trial for the BNT162 vaccine program to prevent COVID-19 infection. While the vaccine would not help those already infected, it would mean the end of a need for quarantine measures.

The company also announced that initial manufacturing for the COVID-19 vaccine will be conducted in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Pfizer is making additional at-risk investment to actively scale up their manufacturing capacity and distribution infrastructure to bring a promising vaccine candidate to the world. The company’s clinical trial supply will be made at sites in Andover, Massachusetts and Chesterfield, Missouri, and the initial manufacturing will be conducted in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

The trial is part of a global development program, and the dosing of the first cohort in Germany was completed last week.

Monday 05.04.2020

Monday 05.04.2020

Grand Haven State Park closes

The city of Grand Haven has asked people to stop going to public spaces in large numbers.

The parking lot of Grand Haven State Park had to be closed for the first time in history on Sunday because of big crowds for two straight weekends. Mayor Bob Monetza says they're asking people to stay away until COVID-19 is no longer a threat.

Monetza says the city has been supportive of and following the executive orders from Governor Whitmer to try to halt the spread of COVID-19. Currently, there is no indication of when the parking lot at the state park will reopen.

Ottawa County man has murder conviction affirmed

The murder conviction of an Ottawa County man who told police that he killed a woman because she was a nuisance has been affirmed by the Michigan appeals court.

Crockery Township resident Sheila Bonge was shot while snowblowing the day after Christmas in 2017. Wendell Popejoy did not dispute whether or not he killed her, but argued in his appeal that jurors should have been allowed to consider the lesser charge of manslaughter.

The appeals court did not agree, saying Bonge's death was not an instant crime of passion.

Governor Whitmer criticizes protesters

Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she'll continue doing her job in spite of protests targeting her stay-at-home order. The comments came only days after armed protesters entered Michigan's state house.

On CNN's State of the Union, Whitmer said she's working to protect the lives of Michiganders. She was critical of protesters at the Michigan Capitol last week, especially those who had swastikas and Confederate flags.

The first-term governor advocated for listening to what public health officials have to say as America's fight against coronavirus goes on.

Friday 05.01.2020

Friday 05.01.2020

Governor Whitmer's stay at home update

Today Gov. Gretchen Whitmer held a briefing giving updates on the state's efforts to fight the coronavirus and addressing her decision to extend the emergency declaration.

Thursday Gov. Whitmer extended the State of Emergency through May 28 by executive order. The Republican-led Legislature had refused to extend the declaration, but were overidden by the executive order. Whitmer used the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945 to extend the order. She also extended the State of Disaster through May 28. Some business is being allowed to resume with extra safety precautions, such as doctors offering elective surgery and work that is done primarily outside.

She called Thursday's armed protest at the Capitol "disturbing," and stressed that the decision of when and how to reopen would not be political.
Michigan’s stay-home order remains in effect through May 15.

Tribute to essential workers lit on Dewy Hill

The city of Grand Haven has worked with local lighting officianato Brad Boyink to light up the Dewy Hill anchor in recognition of the thousands of essential workers who have perservered throught the COVD-19 lockdown.

According to Grand Haven city manager Pat McGinnis the anchor represents an outpouring of community respect, appreciation, and admiration for those who have continued to work through this historic struggle. It's also a statement of confidence in the public to finish this fight and support each other.

The Dewy Hill anchor will stay lit up through the month of May as a reminder of community support.

Flooding in Spring Lake warns of need for infrastructure repair

Spring Lake residences and businesses are dealing with flooding after two days of rainfall.

The rain had some roads inaccessible Thursday and has forced some businesses to close their parking lots, including the Holiday Inn. Village President Mark Powers said that part of the problem is that the nearly century old drainage system under the village is in need of update and repair.

Exaserbating the issue is Lake Michigan, which tied its 1986 record for highest measured water levels last year, and is set to surpass that this year.

Ferrysburg bridge one of many in Michigan with problems

Smith's bridge in Ferrysburg is not the only Michigan bridge in need of attention.

Michigan's 2019 Roads and Bridges Annual Report shows nearly four percent of the state's bridges fall into the "severe category." Published by the Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council, the report shows Michigan also has the highest volume of Severe bridges among Great Lakes states.

The report says the bridge life cycle reflects that deteriorating bridges outpaces the ability to repair and replace them.

In late 2019, Ferrysburg leadership reopened Smith's bridge after deeming it safe to drive on with a reduced weight limit.

Thursday 04.30.2020

Thursday 04.30.2020

Streets closed in Spring Lake

Spring Lake has several streets closed due to an accumulation of water.

The recent rains coupled with already high water levels have overtaxed Spring Lake's drainage system, which village president Mark Powers says is nearly a century old. As a result, the intersetction of School street and Exchange street is closed due to water over the road. Lake and Beach street are also inacessible due to water.

Officials are asking the public to avoid these areas for the time being.

North Ottawa Community Health to resume treating cases delayed by COVID-19

North Ottawa Community Hospital is evaluating the cases that were delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Chief Communications Officer Jen VanSkiver says they have the ability to keep patients safe and to address their time sensitive cases in the hospital. Hospitals throughout Michigan are now facing a similar situation, as some cases that have gone untreated have worsened during the wait.

VanSkiver says if you have a condition that has developed or worsened to please contact your physician.

Federal charges filed for alleged PPE scam

A 24-year-old Muskegon man is facing federal charges for an alleged scam related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California has charged Rodney Stevenson the Second with wire fraud for allegedly selling N95 masks online and never actually sending customers their products. The complaint alleges Stevenson's company, EM General, made $140,000 in sales, but that at least four people never received the masks or the mask filters they ordered.

The Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan says it has received over 180 complaints about EM General since March 9th.

Essential Workers in Michigan to receive GI bill equivalent

A new program to create a tuition-free pathway to college or a technical certificate for essential workers without a college degree is coming to Michigan.

Governor Whitmer says "Futures for Frontliners" will be able to be used by healthcare, grocery, childcare, manufacturing, public safety, delivery workers and others. The program is modeled after the federal G.I. Bill, developed to help those returning from World War Two earn a college education.

During Wednesday's briefing, Whitmer said "Futures for Frontliners" is being paid for by the federal government.

Michigan independent launches presidential bid

Congressman Justin Amash says he's serious about his chances to both secure the Libertarian Party nomination for President and beat both President Trump and Joe Biden in November.

The Grand Rapids-area independent, who was elected to the U.S. House five times as a Republican, says he stopped his campaign for the U.S. House in February. He announced the creation of an exploratory committee on Tuesday.

Trump became the first Republican candidate to win Michigan since 1988 when he edged out Democrat Hillary Clinton by roughly ten-thousand votes in 2016. 

Wednesday 04.29.2020

Wednesday 04.29.2020

No Tulip Time this year

Officials in Holland have a message for anyone thinking of coming to see the city's famous tulips: Please don't.

The annual Tulip Time festival set for Saturday has been canceled for the first time in 91 years because of the coronavirus crisis. Mayor Nathan Bocks is worried that people will head to Holland this weekend anyway, straining the city's infrastructure.

In a news release, Bocks reminded everyone that "...the tulips will bloom again next year."

Motorcycle crash in Tallmadge injures two

Tuesday afternoon the Ottawa County Sheriff's Office was dispatched to Fennessy Dr west of 2nd Avenue in Tallmadge township to a two motorcycle personal injury traffic crash.

A group of motorcycles were westbound on Fennessy Dr. when one of the motorcycles in attempted to turn around in the roadway. Another motorcycle in the group collided with the vehicle attempting to turn around.

One driver was transported to Spectrum downtown with non-life threatening injuries. The other had minor injuries but decided to seek his own treatment.

Both operators were wearing helmets at the time of the crash.

Car insurance may be cheaper this summer

Michigan drivers are likely going to be saving more money on their auto insurance rates than initially projected when lawmakers overhauled the state's unique no-fault insurance system.

The changes will take effect on July 1, and the first six companies to have their rate filings approved by the Department of Insurance and Financial Services have slashed rates by at least 16.5% for drivers who keep the current unlimited medical coverage. For those who drop their coverage to $50,000, the insurance rate savings will be just over 54% compared to current prices.

Those first six filings cover around 25% of the market.

Good news at the gas pump

The bottom could be near for gas prices in Michigan.

GasBuddy.com analyst Patrick DeHaan says while prices nationally will keep falling for a little longer, the Great Lakes region is likely to stop its decline soon and start adding a few cents to the per-gallon price. There are stations in suburban Detroit down to 93 cents a gallon and in South Haven in southwest Michigan that were at 95 cents per gallon late Tuesday afternoon, while GasBuddy puts the state average at a dollar 39.

DeHaan says Wisconsin's rock-bottom Great Lakes region prices are starting to turn higher, and he's advising anyone who might need to fill up and has prices around a dollar or lower per gallon nearby to do so now.

Michigan politician considering a presidential run

Congressman Justin Amash could be getting ready to join the race for the White House.

The Michigan Independent announced on Twitter his launch of an exploratory committee to seek the Libertarian Party's presidential nomination. Amash argued "Americans are ready for practical approaches based in humility and trust of the people."

Amash has been a harsh critic of President Trump and even left the Republican Party last year.

Tuesday 04.28.2020

Tuesday 04.28.20

Local Post Office hosts food drive

The employees of the Grand Haven and Spring Lake Post Offices will be conducting their own 1-day food drive today.

The Post Office's national food drive has been postponed, so leaders at the local offices made the decision to have one to help local food pantries during the coronavirus pandemic. Their slogan is "Just Leave 1," as they're are asking customers leave just one nonperishable food item in, on or near your mailbox today.

There will also be a hamper located in the lobby at the Post Office at Washington st for anyone that would like to donate.

Ottawa County Central Dispatch Authority expands capabilities

The Ottawa County Central Dispatch Authority has announced the completion of Ottawa County’s 800MHz public safety radio system. The system is now being utilized for Police, Fire, EMS and Emergency Management communications within Ottawa County.

The 800MHz construction project was initiated in January of 2016 and includes new central dispatch radio consoles, 11 tower sites located within the county and approximately 2,000 new mobile and portable radios for first responders. The system allows for improved coverage, better quality radio transmissions, durability and redundancy. The 14.2 million dollar project is being financed through Motorola Solutions.

The cost of the project will be paid for utilizing the existing Ottawa County 911 Millage funds from the 20-year 911 millage passed in 2008.

Personal protection orders expanded due to COVID-19

Active personal protection orders in Michigan will last until at least mid-July.

This week Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order extending the PPOs through July 21st. Holly Jasinski is the Spaces Coordinator for Resilience Advocates for Ending Violence (formerly the Center for Women in Transition). She says isolation can make a victim feel more fearful. The organization is based in Holland with a satellite office in Grand Haven. Their hotline is 1-800-848-5991.

Governor Whitmer says the move allows victims of domestic violence to remain safe in their homes, even after their orders were set to expire. The state Supreme Court has ruled that the orders should be extended to 90 days after the state of emergency in Michigan is lifted.

Whitmer requests an extension on Michigan's state of emergency

A request is being made of the state Legislature by Governor Whitmer to extend Michigan's state of emergency due to COVID-19 by 28 days.

The current state of emergency expires on Thursday, and is different than the executive orders that Whitmer has issued, including the "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order that runs through May 15. In her briefing Monday afternoon, she noted the Flint water emergency was extended twice for over 122 days and the current one has only been extended by 23 days.

Whitmer added protections for healthcare workers that are included in the state of emergency are dependent on legislative action.

Plans to restart Michigan's economy

Re-engaging Michigan's economy will be slow and measured.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Monday announced the MI Safe Start Plan and says she will be looking at several factors in reopening business sectors. Up first will be outdoor businesses, including construction. Whitmer says there is no on-off switch, and the process should be looked as a dial with the ability to ramp up re-openings or pull back based on the spread of COVID-19.

She said she is cautiously optimistic based on a decline in the number of new cases of coronavirus over the past several days, with Monday's new cases coming in under 500.