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Current Media Releases

April 20, 2017

Ottawa County Parks to construct suspension bridge at Grand Ravines Park in Jenison.

On Thursday, April 20 the Ottawa County Parks Foundation (OCPF) celebrated its official launch as a 501(c)(3). To demonstrate the impact private donations can have on the park system, the Parks Commission made a major announcement: the construction of a suspension bridge at Grand Ravines Park.

"When the master plan was created for Grand Ravines, those beautiful deep ravines made it challenging to design a viable hiking trail system. We were fortunate to get a permanent trail easement donated by neighboring landowners Ray and Alma Statema, which helped in navigating the steep terrain. Crossing a major ravine with a trail was unavoidable and a suspension bridge was added into the plan, but we knew it was an amenity that may never be financially feasible," said David VanGinhoven, President of the Parks Commission and board member of the OCPF.

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April 20, 2017

Graphic reminder of the dangers of drinking & driving

Zeeland East and West high-school students will be presented with a graphic reminder of the dangers of drinking and driving. This message is not only important during prom and graduation season, but each and every day.

The Ottawa County Sheriff's Office welcomes any media who wish to attend. Broadcasting this story and its startling imagery will help pass the safety message to other communities and provide a catalyst for parent-child communication throughout West Michigan.

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April 18, 2017

Ottawa County Parks offers summer camps to children from pre-k to 8th grade!

Part of the Ottawa County Parks mission is to provide educational programs about the natural and cultural history of Ottawa County. We strive to do that for children all year-round, but especially in the summer months.

Many camps are offered at the Nature Education Center at Hemlock Crossing County Park, the system's "home base" for educational programming, but there are camps at other parks around the county.

Online registration for all camps is required: Nature Education Center staff can answer questions or help families for multiple camps: 616-786-4847

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April 17, 2017

Prescription Drug & Opiate Taskforce Recognizes National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

Ottawa County, Michigan – During the month of April, the Ottawa County Prescription Drug and Opiate Taskforce is encouraging the public to help prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. Citizens can drop off their prescription medications at any one of the sites listed below during regular business hours. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.

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April 12, 2017

River continues to rise - More rain forecasted

Ottawa County Emergency Management continues to monitor water levels in the Grand River and other areas in the county following the heavy rain on Monday evening. “We typically see more rain in April, and when it comes within a short time period, the water levels will rise because the ground is already saturated,” stated Director Beth Thomas with Ottawa County Emergency Management. “With the potential for more rain ahead of us this weekend, we anticipate the Grand River will continue to rise.” Residents along the river should take precautionary measures.

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April 12, 2017

Ottawa County Announces Strong Towns Workshop

Ottawa County and the City of Grand Haven invite you to attend the Strong Towns Workshop on May 18, 2017. Attendees will have an opportunity to learn from nationally-acclaimed speaker Charles Marohn as he explores issues relating to development patterns, infrastructure, financial resiliency, and quality placemaking practices in local communities. This all-day workshop will open up new ways of thinking about development by examining both new and old-but-forgotten concepts.

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April 10, 2017

Sheriff’s K9s Andy & Blitz to get body armor

Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office K9’s Andy & Blitz will receive bullet and stab protective vests thanks to a charitable donation from non-profit organization Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. K9 Andy’s vest is sponsored by Andrew Elliott Rusticus Foundation of Michigan and will be embroidered with the sentiment “This gift of protection provided by Vested Interest in K9s, Inc”. K9 Blitz’s vest is sponsored by an Anonymous Donor and will be embroidered with the sentiment “Be safe my hero, In memory of Lori - M-B”. Delivery is expected within eight to ten weeks.

The program is open to dogs actively employed in the U.S. with law enforcement or related agencies who are certified and at least 20 months of age. New K9 graduates, as well as K9s with expired vests, are eligible to participate.

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April 7, 2017

Learn more about the Ottawa County Parks Foundation, a new, local non-profit support parks and green spaces in Ottawa County.

This month, the newly formed Ottawa County Parks Foundation will launch to the general public. "In order to celebrate, we're offering a special event on April 20 at 5 pm at the Nature Education Center," said Parks spokesperson, Jessica VanGinhoven. "We plan to introduce everyone to the Parks Foundation, discuss some current and future projects, and make a major Parks announcement," said VanGinhoven.

The Ottawa County Parks Foundation officially became a 501(c)(3) organization last year. With funding support from the Grand Haven Community Foundation, the all-volunteer board of directors was able to develop a strategic plan "This Foundation has been a long time coming," said Board President, Tom Werkman. "We wanted to get started on the right foot."

One way the Parks Foundation will support the Parks Commission, and thus, the residents and visitors of Ottawa County is assisting with specific, strategic land purchases that are sometimes out of the Parks Commission's reach. "As the Ottawa County park system grows and develops, much of the millage revenue is used to keep existing parks in the best possible condition," said Werkman. Opportunities for land also often arise quickly, "Millage revenue is carefully planned out in a 10-year budget It can be tough to be flexible."

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April 4, 2017

Inspired by the success of the recent Poor Farm Sesquicentennial Celebration in October, a documentary film on the facility was created and will premiere this spring in Holland and Grand Haven.

When the Ottawa County Poor Farm received its first resident in 1866, no one could have imagined the benefits it would provide over the decades. The Poor Farm was a haven for indigent people who, due to the happenstance of birth, misfortune, or poverty, were in dire straits and needed a place to call home—a sanctuary staffed with people who could nurse them to better health. Now, as Eastmanville Farm County Park, it provides hiking and equestrian trails to outdoor enthusiasts.

The Poor Farm: A Documentary, was made in association with the Ottawa County Parks Foundation and Ferris State University. Co-producers Assistant Professor, Joshua Pardon and local historian, Marjie Viveen gathered additional research following the October Sesquicentennial celebration event and many of the re-enactors who participated in that event were also interviewed for the film. FSU students edited the film to profile the iconic property and its amazing people.

There will be a special movie premiere event in both Holland and Grand Haven. At each event, guests can expect light snacks and a beer and wine cash bar. There will be a small silent auction and live music. The documentary will be introduced by the co-producers and its run time is about a half an hour. DVDs will be available for sale.

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March 31, 2017

Ottawa County Contest: Top Dog & Master-Pet Lookalikes

Ottawa County residents are invited to enter a pet photo contest for a chance to win bragging rights, plus gift cards and prizes! The public will be invited to choose the “Top Dog” plus the best "Twinning" master and canine. The top three vote-getters in each category will win plus a staff pick and a random entry will all receive gift cards and prizes. Local vets and retailers have donated well over $500 in prizes to share among winning contestants. Enter online at from April 1 through April 30th. Voting will open on May 1st and continue through the 15th. The winners will be announced on May 16th. There is no fee to enter the contest but there are some rules and entries must be photos of Ottawa County licensed dogs. If your dog is unlicensed or ‘fetching’ with an expired license, now is a good time order your license. Once you have your license number, you can enter the contest and be in the running for some great prizes.

Dog licenses can be purchased from the online miOttawa Service Center, or in person at the Ottawa County Treasurer’s office, at many township and city offices, or at participating veterinarian offices

The fees collected from dog licensing help to support the Harbor Humane Society, who serves as the County’s animal shelter, and Ottawa County Animal Control Officers.

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March 20, 2017

Vanderberg Appointed to State Lead Elimination Commission

Al Vanderberg, Ottawa County Administrator, has been appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder to serve on the newly created Child Lead Exposure Elimination Commission.

“One of our beliefs in Ottawa County is that this won’t be a great county for any of us until it is a great county for all of us, which is adapted from a Theodore Roosevelt quote. We have a zip-code area in Ottawa County where children have high lead levels. There are other areas in West Michigan where this is true, as well. I believe that it is good government to find and eradicate sources of lead contamination so that West Michigan can be great for all residents, especially children," said Al Vanderberg.

The multi-disciplinary team will focus on implementing strategies to eliminate lead exposure in children and monitoring the state's progress toward that target. Vanderberg will serve a three-year term, expiring December 15, 2019. Al Vanderberg also serves as Chair of the Grand Valley Metropolitan Council. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and a master’s of public administration from Michigan State University. In the past, he has held posts leading local governments in Greenville, South Haven, and Kent County.

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March 9, 2017

No Body Contact Advisory LIFTED

The No Body Contact Advisory issued on February 27, 2017 (for the Grand River from a point 1 mile east of the US 31 bridge, downstream to the Grand River inlet to Lake Michigan) has been lifted. The Ottawa County Department of Public Health confirmed with the Grand Haven/Spring Lake Sewer Authority that the leak has been repaired and the line has been placed back in service. As a reminder, all natural bodies of water contain microorganisms that can cause illness no matter how clean they appear.

March 7, 2017

Drug Court Recognized Nationally

The 20th Circuit Court has given Ottawa County another reason to boast. Its Adult Drug Treatment Court, a specialty program for non-violent felony offenders with substance use disorders, has been selected as a “mentor court” by the United States Department of Justice and the National Association of Drug Court Professionals. This distinction is awarded to high-performing drug courts that demonstrate exemplary practices and operate with fidelity to the drug court model. Only 9 of 3,000 courts in the US were chosen for this award.

An award ceremony will be held on Thursday, April 13 at 11AM in Courtroom 3B of the Ottawa County Grand Haven Courthouse. The ceremony is open to the public.

The Ottawa County Adult Drug Treatment Court is an alternative to traditional incarceration or probation and is eligible for only certain offenders. The method saves money, lowers recidivism and changes lives. A study conducted by Grand Valley State University in 2014 demonstrated the adult drug treatment court significantly reduced new crime and repeated drug and alcohol use among offenders. Drug court participants were 73% less likely to commit a new crime within three years of discharge from the drug court when compared to a similar group of people who were sentenced to traditional probation.

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March 3, 2017

Ottawa & Allegan County, lace up your walking shoes & get ready for a free 6-week walking challenge.

This spring, participants will “virtually walk” 240 miles along regional trails in Michigan. The challenge begins on Monday, April 3! This free, 6-week program is designed to help participants spring into fitness and get moving after a cold winter. Participants of all fitness levels are invited to join - weekly prizes are available.

Optional group walks will be offered for those interested in getting their weekly steps in with a group while checking out Ottawa & Allegan County Parks (schedule below). Each walk will be led by a naturalist guide. Different pace groups will be available.

The county is hoping for another successful year of the Step it Up program. "We were so pleased with the results of Step it Up last year," said Ottawa County Department of Public Health educator, Amy Sheele. "It really motivated participants to get moving and visit more parks. Of the individuals that completed our program surveys, nearly 40% reported an increase in their level of physical activity from the beginning of the Step It Up Challenge to the end! The average participant walked 216 miles over seven weeks."

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February 20, 2017

Ottawa County's Farmland Preservation Program Gains Momentum with its Farms - Food - Forever Fundraising Campaign

The Ottawa County Agricultural Preservation Board is pleased to announce the results from its recently released Farms - Food - Forever fundraising campaign. To-date, $26,125 has been donated in support of farmland preservation in Ottawa County.

The Ottawa County Agricultural Preservation Board is pleased to announce the results from its recently released Farms - Food - Forever fundraising campaign. To-date, $26,125 has been donated in support of farmland preservation in Ottawa County.

If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation to the Ottawa County Farmland Preservation Fund, contributions can be made online at The Fund is managed by The Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area.

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Recent Headlines

Our goal is to be receptive, responsive and transparent.  Members of the media seeking interviews or information are encouraged to contact the Communications Manager, Shannon Felgner.

A handful of County Offices respond to media inquiries directly including:
Ottawa County Department of Public Health - Kristina Wieghmink (616) 494-5597
Ottawa County Community Mental Health - Anna Bednarek (616) 494-5545
Ottawa County Parks & Recreation - Jessica VanGinhoven (616) 994-4716
Ottawa County Sheriff's Office - (616) 738-4000
If you are having trouble determining to whom you should direct your inquiry, the Communications Manager is a great place to start. 

Do you feel like you are the last to know about an Ottawa County Press Release? We are happy to add you to our media contact list. Email or call Shannon Felgner at (616) 738-4672.

Freedom of Information Act Requests

All requests made under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act will be processed in accordance with the requirements of the act. Requests for public information should be made to the department which is responsible for the custody of the records.

FOIA Freedom of Information Act Policy


Shannon Felgner

  • Shannon Felgner,
    Communications Manager

Main Office

  • 12220 Fillmore Street
    Room 210
    West Olive, MI 49460
  • Phone: (616) 738-4672
    FAX: (616) 738-4888
  • Monday - Friday:
    8:00am - 5:00pm

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