From now until April 30, community members of all ages can submit 1,500-word essays for the “Ottawa County Way” Essay Challenge. Monetary awards will be given to first, second and third places in the contest.
The overall goal is to identify what’s unique about the county and start a discussion about that, said county attorney Greg Rappleye.
Rappleye said the essay challenge is part of a larger effort to improve the county government's customer service and help other local governments identify what’s unique about the citizens they serve — the Four C’s Cultural Intelligence Initiative. It is supported by private funds.
Contest results will be announced May 27 at the County Board of Commissioners meeting. Commissioners will judge the essays and some may be published online.
The challenge is open to current and former county residents and county employees.
Rappleye said the area is different from other places as people look for practical solutions and local governments are fiscally responsible.
“Ottawa County people have a real can-do attitude,” he said.
County Commissioner Roger Bergman said the challenge is a “wonderful opportunity” for young people and adults."
“We have a lot of people that care about their community, and people are concerned about the welfare of others,” he said.
Rappleye said he wouldn’t be surprised if the essays become incorporated into training for new people to understand what Ottawa County is like, residents’ expectations and what makes the county special.
Rappleye said stories may be fiction or non-fiction, so long as they reflect the county. Entries must by typed and double-spaced; with the author’s name, address, telephone number and e-mail address on the upper right-hand corner of the first page.
Essays can be e-mailed to email@example.com; or mailed to the Ottawa County Essay Challenge, 12220 Fillmore St., West Olive, MI 49460.