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Memory garden groundbreaking

Becky Vargo • Apr 28, 2017 at 8:00 AM

A memory garden for crime victims is now fully funded.

Four brick orders on Wednesday took the fundraiser over the top, Ottawa County Prosecutor Ron Frantz announced during a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday for the William Van Regenmorter Memory Garden outside the County Courthouse in Grand Haven.

It’s been just under a year that the campaign was launched to raise $20,000 for a garden honoring the late local state legislator as the father of crime victims’ rights, Frantz said. Van Regenmorter also founded the Crime Victim Foundation, the prosecutor said.

Van Regenmorter served in the Michigan Senate and House for 24 years. He died in 2012 at the age of 73.

Frantz said the purpose of the memory garden is to reverse the history of the justice system and honor the crime victims who used to be secondary to the defendants, to acknowledge the victims, and to raise awareness that anyone can be a victim of crime.

The Rev. John Van Regenmorter, the late legislator’s younger brother, said the garden would be a place where people visiting the County Courthouse could stop and reflect and refresh themselves. He said his brother’s motto was: “Speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.”

“Bill would have loved this garden,” John Van Regenmorter said.

The pastor conducted a prayer and a moment of silence for crime victims during Thursday’s event.

Those attending the event then went outside and observed the groundbreaking conducted by Frantz; Ottawa County Crime Victims Rights Coordinator Joan Grillo; Van Regenmorter’s widow, Cheryl; garden designer Curtis TerHaar; and Assistant County Administrator Keith Van Beek.

“I think it’s a wonderful thing, and Bill would be so honored and humbled to know it’s being done,” Cheryl Van Regenmorter said.

The Van Regenmorters were residents of Jenison, but they had a seasonal home in Ferrysburg for many years.

Grillo said bricks could still be purchased for the garden and would be used to extend the paths. Any additional donations would be used to purchase benches or expand the garden.

You can purchase a brick or donate to the project online at miottawa.org; or by mail (check payable to Ottawa County) to: Joan Grillo, Victim Rights Coordinator, Ottawa County Prosecutor’s Office, 414 Washington Ave., Room 120, Grand Haven, MI 49417. 

Work on the garden, located on the northwest side of the courthouse, will begin next week, TerHaar said. The garden will be completed in a couple of weeks, but officials plan to wait for the plantings to fill out before holding a dedication on July 27.

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