• 0

Michigan’s longstanding inability to compete with the Buckeyes on the college gridiron is no secret. Less well known is our state’s struggle to keep up with the educational opportunities Ohio offers to students and families. Thankfully, Lansing lawmakers have a new opportunity to dramaticall…

If you're interested in submitting a Letter to the Editor, click here.

  • 0

As I write this column, darkness falls. Outside the wind picks up and leaves rustle in the breeze. Inside, the air is damp and cool. The house is eerily quiet, and my instinct is to break the quiet – maybe turn on a nice HGTV home renovation show and make a cup of tea.

  • 1

Rob Nixon, Princeton University professor and a leading author and writer on the environment and climate change, has called climate change a “slow violence.” Oftentimes, rather than urgent and unavoidable events, environmental destruction and its aftermath takes place “gradually and invisibl…

  • 1

As the weather starts to cool and the days get shorter, I find myself soaking up every minute of time I can spend outside, especially at the beach. I’ve traded my swimsuit for a scarf and my Birkenstocks for boots, but the peace and majesty of the water remains as grounding as ever.

  • 1

As we enter the final few months of our 50th year of service, I have been reflecting on the many local philanthropists that have made Northwest Ottawa County a great place to live, work and play over the years.

  • 0

With the arrival of cozy sweater days and soon-to-be hot chocolate weather, I can’t help but think about what a wonderful feeling it is to get all comfy and snuggle up with a good book.

  • 0

Serving as the sheriff of Ottawa County is the greatest honor of my professional career. Unfortunately, as everyone knows, working in law enforcement has a tragic side, and having to observe the results of cycles of violence, abuse and poverty that impact young people is part of that.

  • 0

There was a time when Thomas Jefferson boasted in one of his State of the Union annual addresses to Congress that he had eliminated federal taxation. That’s when we still at times acted like a federal republic – a small federal government – and life was simpler.

  • 1

We have heard a lot about science in the last two years. “We follow the science” has been a common refrain during the pandemic recited by civic leaders and politicians. And that phrase has led to social distancing, lockdowns and mask mandates. And now, since COVID-19 vaccines have been devel…

  • 1

We’ve seen an uptick in traffic crashes, and I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that there are many aggressive drivers on West Michigan’s roads lately. It feels like I am fighting for my life in hopes to make it home safely. I have encountered so many aggressive drivers that I have l…

  • 0

Imagine President Joe Biden sitting atop a wrecking ball as it swings toward the American family, liberty, our free-market economy, education and reasonable taxation, for starters, and you will have imagined his proposed Build Back Better Act.

  • 1

‘Women are just so sensitive these days,” she says through red-tinted lips, a striking contrast to her silver hair. “Not every man who says something to a woman is being offensive. Not everything is about you,” she punctuates this last line with a slight chuckle.

  • 0

After last week’s House vote that saw all but one Democrat, Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), and no Republicans vote for the Women’s Health and Protection Act, a bill that would establish a federal right to an abortion, the party that once claimed to stand for “the little guy” – the littlest be…

  • 0

As part of the state’s pandemic response, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer started a new program that pays for the tuition of frontline health care workers who want to go to community college. Lawmakers are also looking to create and expand other programs aimed at boosting people’s job credentials.

  • 1

San Francisco Mayor London Breed sent an important but unintentional message recently when she was caught violating her own mask mandates while partying away, maskless, in a jam-packed jazz club. Her excuse was incoherent; she said she was “feeling the spirit,” enjoying the music and so not …

  • 1

I come from a long line of bridge-playing, scrabble-playing, coffee-drinking, crossword puzzle-playing women that includes my mother, Marilyn Brown; her mother, Elaine Mitchell; my Aunt Margie; and my great-grandmother, Hazel Susan Sarah Sarepta Laxton Mitchell, who was named in honor of sev…

  • 3

Manistique Marquette Northern I was built in Cleveland, Ohio, by the American Ship Building Co. during the year 1902, but did not officially launch until the 1903 shipping season. She was a steel-hulled, propeller-driven vessel spreading a length of 338 feet, and was built with the intent of…

  • Updated
  • 1

What is Noorthoek Academy? How did it get started? To answer those questions, I contacted Lyn VanTol, the executive director of Noorthoek.

  • 1

The other day, my teenage grandson was asked to help with a project of a friend of mine. It was a big job and would involve some heavy lifting. So my friend was looking for some strong, husky boys to help her. Fortunately, my grandson fits that bill very well – tall, strong and hard-working.…

  • 0

On Sep 13, 2021, EGLE hosted a virtual Town Hall to introduce their team of specialists who are delving into the types and levels of pollution that are suspected to be found on Harbor Island. Harbor Island’s legacy is an unfortunate combination of intentional pollution (in the form of an old city dump) and accidental or overlooked impacts of electricity generation and river dredging throughout the years. Among others, the team included a geologist, a toxicologist, a water quality expert, and was in fact interdepartmental, with Michigan Department of Health and Human Services staff also being involved.

The meeting was quite informative and well facilitated by City Manager Pat McGinnis, and while this is not a topic anyone likes to discuss, it is imperative that the City of Grand Haven is fully informed of the volume and severity of legacy pollution. The preliminary reports have found PFAS and PFOA in the majority of sampling wells installed by EGLE, though not all of them tested positive, and one tested within what is considered a safe limit by the state. The Department shared that they had also taken bluegill samples from the Grand River near the site of known contamination, and would have results of the fish testing some time in early 2022.

Many insightful questions were posed by attendees and others during the public comment period, including a suggestion of testing the dredged material dumped on the island by Army Corps of Engineers over the years (it appears this material is tested annually due to current regulations) as well as whether the island itself could be returned to a functional wetland. The latter question resulted in a rather detailed response regarding EGLE’s definition of “wetland,” which surely serves a greater purpose where bookkeeping and reporting is concerned, but may not be entirely relevant to envisioning the future of Harbor Island.

There are various ways we can envision how a functional wetland operates. Wetlands serve a variety of roles in nature, and all of them seem to be needed right now, right here in West Michigan. Hydrologically, wetlands act as filters, and while Harbor Island is currently struggling under the weight of these legacy pollutants, a restored wetland could actually contribute to improved water quality in the aquifer that is under duress in Ottawa County. Continuing on the theme of what wetlands do for water, we know that wetlands can act as buffers when water levels fluctuate, providing places for water to go (other than the shoreline) when meteorological events raise Lake Michigan.

Restored wetlands provide a diversity of plant and animal species with the right kind of habitat to call home. In a recently published study exploring bird biodiversity right here along the Lake Michigan coast, Audubon Society explained that over 300 migratory bird species pass through our shoreline each year, and that the coast of Lake Michigan is a globally recognized Important Bird Area. The report goes on to point out that a 2019 volunteer survey of secretive marsh birds in Ottawa County found Harbor Island one of the most species-rich areas in Ottawa County, in spite of the environmental duress it is under. Just think what it could be with a concerted effort to put natural systems in place to heal the damage incurred over the past 100 years!

When one considers the beneficial impacts that restored wetlands have on humans, in addition to what I’ve already mentioned, it is important to note that birdwatching as a tourist activity has always been popular in West Michigan. To the north, in Muskegon County, the Muskegon Wastewater Treatment Facility is already a well-known destination for birders in the Great Lakes Basin. For those of us who live here and enjoy the outdoors, adding another place that we can explore and steward would be good enough. But there is potential to make Harbor Island and the surrounding coastline to the north and south a well-managed, well-advertised world class birding destination, right here in our backyard. As a city so tied to the flow of tourism, Grand Haven is well equipped to capitalize on an effort to restore Harbor Island to a place that draws more users of the outdoors to experience the beauty and uniqueness of this place that we call home.

There is no denying that news about the pollution and contamination of Harbor Island is dismaying. The reality of the uses of Harbor Island over many decades should make this news no surprise to any of us, however. But in truth, although the damage is done, it is not completely irreparable. If we consider the ways Harbor Island has served the community of Grand Haven through the years - hosting the power plant; serving as a city dump; being a depository for material dredged from the Grand River - we can begin to envision how the island can serve the community differently in this century, by protecting what makes the environment in West Michigan unique while helping anchor more “islands” of wetland restoration along our beautiful, yet vulnerable coast. From Puget Sound to Chesapeake Bay, examples abound of other similar reclamation projects that have myriad benefits with almost no downside, which have helped reverse some of the damage caused by human exploitation and point toward a better future for the plants, animals (and humans) that call our bays, estuaries, and Great Lakes home.

  • 0

This past weekend was a difficult one. We have now passed the 20th anniversary of the day the United States found itself under a previously unimaginable terrorist attack: September 11, 2001. Many would say this was the day things irrevocably changed worldwide, and yet for me, it’s hard to re…

  • 0

With the new school year in full swing, we at the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation have been reflecting on the students in our community. A core component of our work surrounds supporting programs and services geared toward Northwest Ottawa County’s youth. We are fortunate to fund purpo…

  • 0

It has been a great summer. One for the books, really. One in which I experienced all the things living along the Lakeshore has to offer and one in which the things that brought me joy didn’t cost a cent.

  • Updated
  • 1

Some of you know that I love music. I cannot remember a time when I didn’t enjoy singing. From an early age my mother played great music on the stereo, or tuned in to WFMT Classical Radio in Chicago.

  • 0

There once were summertimes when the living was easy, as the song from the Broadway musical “Porgy and Bess” melodically reminds us. But not this summer, not with COVID-19 still spreading dangerously across the land and uncertainty over what happens next after the withdrawal of U.S. forces f…

  • Updated
  • 3

“To make a difference in someone’s life, you don’t have to be brilliant, rich, beautiful or perfect. You just have to care.” – Mandy Hale, author

  • Updated
  • 0

Throughout the pandemic, the public has heard charges and counter charges by Democrats and Republicans that the other team doesn’t use science in its decisions about masking and some other public health mandates. If most politicians cared as much about the science surrounding our economic he…

  • Updated
  • 0

The little blonde boy hops down from his power wheel and runs to my side. He plants a kiss on my cheek and another on the top of my head, then charges back to the waiting John Deere. Landing next to my other foster son, the two race away to fight dragons and catch fairies somewhere in the backyard.

  • Updated
  • 5

The withdrawal of United States troops from Afghanistan, along with the collapse of the Afghanistan government and the resumption of control by the Taliban, has been a painful episode to watch play out over the past couple of weeks. So, I’d like to reflect on this experience a bit, and also …

  • Updated
  • 0

Embarrassingly enough, in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County, home to some of the top universities and research hospitals in the world, about a third of the local school districts will not require masks in classrooms as the new academic year begins.

  • Updated
  • 0

In just a few short days, my life was changed by COVID-19. I am sure your life was changed, too.

  • Updated
  • 0

After searing criticism from Democrats and Republicans about how he has mishandled the withdrawal of the remaining American forces, diplomats, their families and contractors from Afghanistan, President Biden interrupted his Camp David retreat to return to the White House for a speech in whic…

  • Updated
  • 0

In the past several years, PFAS has emerged as a contaminant of concern for residents in Michigan. We’re seeing PFAS chemicals in groundwater, with extremely high concentrations near military bases and certain manufacturing sites. PFAS is found in so many different products that it is likely…

  • Updated
  • 5

Editor’s note: This is one in a series of fact checks the Detroit Free Press is doing on public issues in conjunction with PolitiFact, a nonprofit national news organization.

  • Updated
  • 0

We sing this phrase in a song, we post it on Facebook for people we hardly remember from high school, we hang it on banners in our kitchens. It’s become one of those phrases that hardly holds meaning anymore, like the weary “Hi, how are you?” or “Have a nice day!”

  • 0

For the past 50 years, our foundation has been privileged to work alongside local philanthropists to give back to our community. Traditionally, when thinking about a community foundation, many people associate us with grants, endowments and programs. While those are critically important to o…

  • Updated
  • 0

‘He’s pretentious, unassuming. He never forgets that what we’re doing is enriched with the lives of the people he represents.” – Sen. Jack Reed, Rhode Island.

  • 10

I attended the Aug. 9 meeting of the Grand Haven Area Public Schools Board of Education. I attended because I wanted to speak during the public comment. The district had recently announced to parents that masks would not be required in the upcoming school year and, with a young daughter begi…

  • 0

A talk show producer was calling him sexy; his instructive, caring, humorous press conferences on COVID-19 had won him an Emmy; a publisher was paying him $5 million for a book he wrote about his leadership excellence; and many had him pegged as a future president.

  • Updated
  • 0

David Broder, the noted columnist for The Washington Post until his passing in 2011, used to write one of his August columns every year from Beaver Island in northern Lake Michigan. He would stay there in a condo, taking a vacation from the heat of weather and politics to hold forth on matte…