PAINTER: There’s no place like home in West Michigan

What do a police officer who works in Grand Rapids, an airline pilot whose home base is Chicago and New York, a businessman who works in Lansing and a refrigeration repair man who works in Detroit have in common?
May 28, 2014


They all live in Northwest Ottawa County. They are among a number of residents from this area who take to the highways on a regular basis to get to their jobs.
Why? They love living in Northwest Ottawa County. I don’t blame them. This is a great area to raise a family and a fun place to live. 
I know quite a few families who live in Northwest Ottawa County but work in other communities — some as far as Chicago and Detroit. I also know some people who have chosen to retire here instead of warm climates like Arizona, Florida and Texas.
I’m sure there are many reasons why they are attracted to this area. However, I have to believe that our public schools system is one of the main attractions. The Grand Haven and Spring Lake school districts have stellar reputations for educating our children, and our students consistently rank high in academic endeavors.
What is not to like about our area. We have beautiful beaches, and a magnificent system of local, county and state parks and bicycle paths. There is plenty to do, especially during the summer months. And, we have a low crime rate.
Our local Chamber of Commerce has plenty of material for luring new businesses and residents to the area.
Sure, we still have growing pains. Everyone would like to see more higher-paying jobs come to the area. But the Chamber has played an important role in helping turn around the local economy.
Our area was like many throughout the 1960s and 1970s — heavily dependent on manufacturing jobs. That began to change in the 1980s as a number of manufacturing jobs began to disappear.
We’re more diversified now, as are many communities throughout the U.S. But there is something special about living in Northwest Ottawa County. I know from my own experiences.
Yes, I’ve heard the criticisms of lack of diversity and unfriendly people. We have people working hard on diversity issues. Personally, I haven’t found residents here to be unfriendly. Sure, sometimes it takes a while to get to know someone. But I can tell you that my experiences have been positive.
During my career as a journalist, we lived in many communities before settling down here.
My wife, Marilyn, and I lived in Texas, Arizona and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan before making this area our permanent home. We never lived in a community more than two years prior to moving here.
I once had a prospective employer ask me why we had moved so much. I wasn’t sure what to tell him, other than we moved around for better job opportunities.
While that was true, the real reason we moved so much is because we were looking for the right place to raise a family. We wanted a hometown that provided our kids a good education, and a place where they would be safe. We were also looking for a place where we could enjoy recreational opportunities.
We found that place in Northwest Ottawa County. We’ve lived here 28 years now. I wouldn’t trade our hometown for anyplace else.
Now, if we could just do something about the weather. The winter of 2014 is one we would just as soon forget. But I’ll put up with the weather because there are so many positives about living in this area.
— By Len Painter, Tribune community columnist



Have talked to alot of people who visited here. Many have from movie stars to singers and Justin Bieber. Had German exchange students at one time. They call our beaches Heaven on Earth. They loved going and the drive to Silver Lake for dune rides. Its many things we have. Great restaurants within a 30 mile radius. Sand dunes and recreational parks and activities. Mostly petty crime nothing big. More cops and fireman per square mile than anywhere else. 80 plus reserve deputies, several cities with lots of officers and reserves and state police. 18 plus prosecutors, several judges. If your a person who loves over redundant local regulations - move into Grand Haven Township - the tightest ship in Ottawa County. If you love burning leaves, building your target shooting range, bon-fire burning from cars to boats or tearing up your acres with dirtbikes/ATV's or building a man cave pole barn with 3 phase electric bigger than any house look no further than Robin-Tuckey. We have got everything right here for almost all personality backgrounds. Triathlons, talent shows, churches representing every denomination, home schooling, used to have the Klan meeting in the gravel pits but DNR put the kabash on that one. People come from around the world to visit Grand Haven - its has to be in the top 10 world destinations by now.


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