Visitors to the Grand Haven Board of Light & Power's (BLP’s) J.B. Sims plant were given hard hats and safety glasses as they entered the building for a self-guided tour on Saturday.

As part of a farewell celebration to the plant on Grand Haven's Harbor Island, the public was given one last opportunity to look around the coal-burning facility.

“This was a great opportunity for the community to come through and see what is here,” said Renee Molyneux, administrative services manager for the BLP. “We’re looking forward to what’s coming in the future.”

Live music was played and lunch was served during the event, which included acknowledgements by Grand Haven Mayor Geri McCaleb, BLP Board Chairman Jack Smant and General Manager David Walters.

“This was really neat. It was great for the community to turn out as they did,” Walters said.

The BLP general manager said the company will continue to burn the approximately $3 million in coal on the property, which should take through February. After the coal is gone, the demolition processes will begin, and on June 1, 2020, the plant will begin coming down.

For some in attendance on Saturday, and many more who couldn’t make it to the farewell celebration, it will be sad to see the buildings and smokestack that have been part of the Grand Haven landscape since 1986 get taken down.

Margie and Tony ZanHouwelinzen, who attended Saturday’s event, said the Sims plant is a special place for them, as Tony worked in the facility as it was built and his father was a BLP employee for 30 years.

“This was pretty innovative at the time,” Margie said of the plant. “This comes full circle for us.”

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