Outstanding Customer Service Award

Join us in congratulating Shane Ryke from the Sheriff’s Office, who has been recognized as Ottawa County’s Outstanding Customer Service Award recipient for the third quarter of 2016. The individuals who nominated Shane wrote:

Yesterday was my daughter’s 4th birthday we went to Catch Air to celebrate. On the way home to Muskegon, we had a tire blowout. We were on the side of the highway for about two hours while my dad came to help and go get a new tire for us. While we were waiting, Deputy Shane Ryke stopped to help and stayed to make sure we were safe because it was the driver side tire. While talking he learned it was my daughter’s birthday he had a stuffed animal in his cruiser and gave it to her. I just wanted to share because it helped turn a bad situation into a pleasant one. Thank you, Deputy Ryke!

After learning my son was the boy who waves to him from across the street at home, and that he wants to become an officer someday, Shane took the time to find junior deputy badges and brought them over to my son all on his own time. To my 5-year-old, this was huge. With a lot of negative things in the world, this is reassuring to my son that cops are not bad people. He’s still set on becoming an officer someday “just like the one across the road.”


Read more about Shane at miOttawa.org

Friend of the Court Awarded by State

At the Michigan Family Support Conference last week, Ottawa County Friend of the Court received the award for top performance of a large county in four federal performance measure areas. Congratulations to Jennell Challa, to Friend of the Court staff, to the judges, to the referees and to everyone who plays a part in the child support enforcement program in Ottawa County.

Assisting terminally ill people with caring for and finding new families for their pets

Jill Bannink-Albrecht, environmental health clerk with the Ottawa County Department of Public Health, works nights and weekends to serve her community by assisting terminally ill people with caring for and finding new families for their pets. Jill was interviewed by TODAY for an article about her non-profit organization – Tyson’s Place Animal Rescue. She operates without a facility but with a small network of foster homes that welcomes animals when their human owners become too sick to care for them.

Jill said she felt motivated to start Tyson’s Place after years of working at an animal shelter with a high euthanasia rate. “Older animals just didn’t have a chance there, and it was so sad when we’d get in older animals where the owner had passed away,” she recalled. “They’d often be traumatized and they wouldn’t show very well or seem adoptable. They were often the first to be put to sleep.”

News of the group’s existence spread quickly among hospice workers, who have its founder, Jill Bannink-Albrecht, on speed dial. To date, Tyson’s Place has helped 22 dogs, 15 cats and a 17-year-old cockatiel named Bubba. “I feel it’s really important to provide peace of mind to people who love their animals so much and are already dealing with something so stressful,” said Jill. “And it’s great to provide a second chance for the pets who might not have gotten it.”

Many of the animals who need to find new homes are older — often over the age of 10 — and Jill said that can be “a hard sell” even though the lifelong pets are well-adjusted and well-trained. To increase their chances of getting adopted, she arranges to have all their veterinary and grooming needs met — including anything that might have slipped while a family’s attention has been laser-focused on caring for a sick person.

Mission: Tyson’s Place Animal Rescue is dedicated to assisting terminally ill people with caring for and finding new families for their pets. www.tysonsplacerescue.org, www.facebook.com/TysonsPlaceRescue

Pictured: Jill Bannink-Albrecht, founder of Tyson’s Place Animal Rescue, with two senior black labs named Spike and Stella. Tyson’s Place helped the dogs after the man who owned them died of cancer at age 44.

Article content gathered from TODAY Pets & Animals
‘A sense of peace’: Terminally ill woman finds help for pets in her final days

Outstanding Customer Service Award

Ottawa County is delighted to announce its eleventh recipient of the Outstanding Customer Service Award.

Congratulations to Deputy Shane Ryke from the Sheriff’s Office!

For the 3rd Quarter of 2016, 20 employees were nominated for an Outstanding Customer Service Award. Some were nominated multiple times. Nominees for the Outstanding Customer Service Award were:

  • Jill Bannink, Department of Public Health
  • Connie Barker, County Clerk/Register of Deeds
  • Chris Bartaway, Innovation and Technology
  • Karen Billings, Department of Public Health
  • Kristin Conrad, Department of Public Health
  • Dave Cook, Innovation and Technology
  • Kimberly Wolters, Department of Public Health
  • Hannah Hoeksema, Department of Public Health
  • Kevin Hoxsey, Department of Public Health
  • Scott Ippel, Sheriff’s Office
  • Carla Lieffers, County Clerk/Register of Deeds
  • Robb MacGregor, Department of Public Health
  • Melanie Manion, Parks and Recreation
  • Jonathan Marin, Treasurer’s Office
  • Jennifer Myers, Community Mental Health
  • Steve Namenye, Innovation and Technology
  • Andrea Olson, Friend of the Court
  • Mary Beth, Rokisky, County Clerk/Register of Deeds
  • Terry Sands, County Clerk/Register of Deeds
  • Drew Shaw, Department of Public Health

Congratulations to all of the nominees and keep-up the spectacular service! If you wish to nominate a co-worker or promote the program to residents, details are available at miOttawa.org. Nominations can come from both inside and outside the organization. Each quarter, the Customer Service Team will review all of the nominations and select the recipient of the Outstanding Customer Service Award.

More information about Shane Ryke will be posted in a future article.

Congratulations again, Shane!

Upcoming Event: Ottawa Connect

Ottawa Connect has four objectives:

  • To advocate and make it known that each member of the community deserves assistance in times of need.
  • To increase outreach by making our event welcoming, community-oriented, and non-threatening.
  • To raise awareness by engaging many different types of people, informing them of the needs in our community, and linking them to opportunities to address them.
  • To strengthen the local Continuum of Care through collaboration and networking, Continuum of Care member recruitment, and increasing cross-provider referrals.

Contact: Amanda Telgenhof (616) 396-7811 x212, atelgenhof@ottawaunitedway.org


Shelley Wittaniemi, MBA
Senior Accountant with Fiscal Services
(for the Ottawa County Department of Public Health)

Shelley served as the President of the Public Health Administrators Forum (PHAF) of the Michigan Association of Local Public Health (MALPH), during 2015/2106.

“This was a challenging and rewarding experience!
A variety of topics were covered in the meetings with people passionate about their work; creating an energetic atmosphere!”

Shelley’s duties included:

  1. Monitoring and offering guidance to MALPH concerning technical issues and developments related to fiscal development, planning, accountability, and policy development in public health.
  1. Monitoring legislative developments and offering guidance to MALPH in matters related to the public health issues identified above.
  1. Addressing such issues and carrying out such duties as may be assigned by the MALPH President or the Board of Directors of MALPH.
  1. Improving the professional education, training and growth of forum members and other public health professionals as it relates to the PHAF sphere of competence.

Upcoming Multicultural Events

In the community from the Alliance for Cultural and Ethnic Harmony: “Diversity, Unity, and Justice Are at the Heart of ACEH”

Fri, Oct 7, 8 am-4 pm: The State of Latinos in West Michigan.  Conference to address issues (health and wellness, business, education) that face Latinos, including resources and assets to help resolve issues.  Free. Hosted by Julian Samora Research Institute at MSU and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, with others.  Go to http://www.jsri.msu.edu for info and a link to register.  (Registration by Sept. 30 is suggested.)   At Kroc Center, 2500 South Division Ave SW, Grand Rapids.

Mon, Oct 10, 1 pm to 4:30 pm: Race, Poverty and Policy: Creating an Equitable Michigan. Keynoter: Rinku Sen, CEO of Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation.  Breakouts: Solutions for Cities in Crisis; Government’s Role in Achieving Racial Equity; The Next Move: Taking Equitable Action for Change; From Watchdog to Dog-Whistle: Media’s Role in Reporting on Race; The Business Case for Race Equity.  No charge to attend, but reservations requested; contact (517) 487-4546 or michleague@gmail.com   Annual forum of Michigan League for Public Policy.  At Radisson Hotel, 111 North Grand Ave, Lansing.

Fri, Oct 14, 6:45 pm:  Documentary “Our Fires Still Burn: The Native American Experience,” featuring four contemporary individuals in the Midwest.  Free, open to all.  Co-sponsored by Alliance for Cultural and Ethnic Harmony (ACEH) and Encounter with Cultures program at Hope College.  Discussion, refreshments.  At Winants Auditorium, Graves Hall, College Ave at 11th St, Holland.








2016 Hispanic Festival

The Hispanic Festival  is our premier annual celebration of the rich heritage of the community!  The 39th edition is free of charge and will take place on Calder Plaza in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan from Friday, August 26 through Sunday, August 28 and include:

  • Latin American food and beverages
  • Mercado
  • Constellation Brands beer tent
  • Kids Activities Area
  • Community Resources Tent
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network 3v3 Futsal Tournament (Saturday/Sunday)
  • McDonald’s Fiesta Tour (Saturday/Sunday)

Step It Up! Fall Walking Challenge

Lace up your walking shoes & get ready for a free 7-week walking challenge.

This fall, participants will “virtually walk” 225 miles along the North Country Trail in the Upper Peninsula. The challenge begins on Monday, September 19.

This program is designed to help the community stay active as the weather cools. Participants of all fitness levels are invited to join and track their activity. Those who report their weekly steps and activity will be entered to win a Fit Bit fitness tracker; one will be awarded each week of the challenge.

Optional group walks will be offered for those interested in checking out Ottawa County Parks and enjoying the fall color. Each walk will be led by a naturalist guide.

New for the fall challenge

Participants will be able to track their individual progress online, including their cumulative steps taken. The Ottawa County GIS Department designed a map for those walking to see how far they’ve made it along the virtual trail.

“We think participants will really enjoy this added feature,” said Parks spokesperson Jessica VanGinhoven. “When you login to track your steps, you’ll be able to see the weekly goal markers and also track your individual progress. It was great to team up with GIS to create a more interactive component.”

Registration is now open – register today!

URL: http://www.miottawa.org/parks/stepitup.htm

Registration closes September 15.

Group Walk Schedule

Week 1: Tuesday, September 20:  Hemlock Crossing, 6-7 PM

Week 2: Thursday, September 29: Hemlock Crossing, 10-11 AM

Thursday, September 29: Paw Paw Park (East), 6-7 PM

Week 3: Saturday, October 8: Hemlock Crossing, 4-5 PM

Week 4: Tuesday, October 11: Grand Ravines North, 6-7 PM

Week 5: Thursday, October 20: Grand Ravines North, 6-7 PM

Week 6: Saturday, October 29: Rosy Mound Natural Area, 10-11 AM

Week 7: Thursday, November 3: Hemlock Crossing, 5:30-7 PM. This final walk will be followed by a family-friendly party at the Nature Education Center!

Upcoming Multicultural Events

From the Alliance for Cultural and Ethnic Harmony: “Diversity, Unity, and Justice Are at the Heart of ACEH”

Fri, Sept 9, 4 pm to 7:30 pm:  Film (4 – 6:30 pm): “From Jim Crow to Barack Obama,” followed by discussion with filmmaker Denise Ward-Brown of Washington University, St. Louis.  Reception (6 – 7:30 pm).  At Hope College De Pree Art Museum, Columbia Ave at 11th St, Holland.  (Events are related to the college’s exhibit of selected artifacts from the Jim Crow Museum at Ferris State University; collection is titled “Hateful Things” and runs from Aug 26 to Oct 7; gallery is open 10 am-5 pm M-Sat and 1-5 pm Sun.)

Tues, Sept 13, 7:30 pm: Thirty-minute ensemble presentation “A Simple Question,” by The Ebony Road Players, a group of five women. Celebrates the landmark court case overturning miscegenation laws “and how things have (or haven’t) changed since then”; a kaleidoscope of stories about interracial love and marriage in the U.S. beginning with Richard and Mildred Loving and moving to real experiences in the present day. Co-sponsored by departments at Hope College in connection with “Hateful Things” artifacts exhibit (see previous entry).  At DeWitt Studio Theater, DeWitt Center, Columbia Ave at 11th St, Holland.

Thurs, Sept 15, 7 pm: Opening event of the 16th annual Tulipanes Latino Art and Film Festival (which runs Sept 15 – Sept 25 in Holland):  Concert by Mariachi Flor de Toloache, female mariachi band and Latin Grammy Nominee.  Members are from diverse cultural backgrounds and their music creates a mixture of traditional and modern.  $15 adults; $5 students, Hope College ticket office 100 E. 8th St or call (616) 395-7890. www.tulipanes.org  At Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts auditorium, 221 Columbia Ave between 9th & 10th Sts, Holland.