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.

Ottawa County environmental health specialist recognized nationally for outstanding contributions

Jessica Voglewede received a Certificate of Merit from the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA), thereby nationally recognizing her for outstanding contributions to the environmental health profession.

Jessica began her environmental health career at Ottawa County in 2013, and currently works as an Environmental Health Specialist on the Food Safety Team. She has demonstrated a strong ability to meld technical expertise and strong communication skills to set high standards for Ottawa County food establishments and communicate those standards to operators.

Technical expertise is vital for correctly interpreting the Food Code during an inspection and the ability to communicate the information to operators. While most inspectors pass the State of Michigan standardization review, it is the rare few that receive 100% from Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development during the field evaluation. Jessica is one of those few. During her first field evaluation, she received 100%- properly demonstrating 54 of 54 competencies.

Jessica’s ability to communicate as an ally rather than an adversary has proven to motivate operators to want to meet the standards. This is highlighted by the turnaround of establishments in her area that had demonstrated numerous issues and risks to food safety. Jessica was able to document these issues, communicate corrections needed, and hold the establishment accountable through various enforcement tools. This was all accomplished while providing a high level of customer service. Since the creation of the Ottawa County Customer Service Award in late 2014, Jessica has received 18 online nominations. The following are just a sampling of some of the feedback received.

“Jessica has consistently made a point of not only inspecting our stores but connecting with our employees. She makes it very clear that she is on our team, and wants us to be as successful as possible in all avenues, including serving safe products, and conducting best practices with regard to handling food.”

“Jessica Voglewede came into my restaurant for our routine inspection and I was the manager on duty at the time. I am personally new to the management team and all other inspections I have witnessed from afar, but really did not understand the full process of what they were looking at or checking on. Despite my inexperience with the walk through, she made sure I understood exactly what we were looking for, and why it was important to keep up what we were doing. As I had questions arise, she would stop what she was doing to explain everything, and even helped to point it out in the health code book so that I could further educate my staff on the importance of the task and that they were doing a fantastic job. Her service was above and beyond what I would have expected and I feel as if any questions or concerns arose during the year, I would be able to contact her without feeling the pressure as I would have expected prior to this experience.”

About the NEHA Certificate of Merit: Each State Environmental Health Association Affiliate may nominate one of its members and/or a team to receive a Certificate of Merit from the National Environmental Health Association, thereby nationally recognizing one of their own for outstanding contributions to the environmental health profession. Each affiliate may only nominate a single individual for this recognition. In 2016, the Michigan Environmental Health Association chose Jessica Voglewede as their nominee. Jessica was one of only 11 individuals nationwide to receive this recognition.

Dog Lovers–Check it out!

Saturday, August 20 from 2-4 pm at the Grand Ravines Dog Park

Special Guests Include:

  • Zeke the Wonderdog and his trainer – learn how to toss a frisbee from a PRO!
  • Chow Hound Pet Supplies, of course!
  • Hudsonville-Jenison Community Foundation will have a doggie photo booth… there will be a best dressed competition to follow… come prepared!
  • Adams K-9 will do a demo and take training questions at 2:30 pm
  • Members of the Mid Union Sled Hauler Group who will be demonstrating Dryland “Mushing”. Your dog will love to try it out!
  • Karen J. Photography will be taking professional pet photos.
  • Ottawa County Deputy Mark Busse and K9 Andy will be there to say hello and answer questions.
  • Humane Society of West Michigan will have adoptable dogs on-site!
  • Tyson’s Place Animal Rescue will share information about how you can adopt or foster an animal whose owner has passed away.
  • Camp Bow Wow, Hudsonville
  • The Grooming Corner will be clipping nails for $5.
  • Allendale Animal Hospital will be microchipping.
  • Rally House, a specialty sports boutique that offers a large selection of apparel, gifts and home décor representing local NCAA, NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL teams
  • Lularoe Lindsay Gainor
  • The Forever Yum Ice Cream Truck will be selling ice cream and other treats.

Get involved: M23.1k Run & Relay

Ottawa County is excited to again be organizing the Michigan’s Credit Unions M23.1k Run on October 1. New this year is M23.1k Relay which offers three person teams the opportunity to compete, each team member running an assigned distance of between 3 to 6 miles. Each participant in the run and relay will receive a quarter-zip performance shirt, aid stations along the course, race photos, finish-line refreshments, a finisher medal, awards, a post-race party and a sense of accomplishment. The race begins and ends at Robinson School in Grand Haven, traveling the length of the new M231 highway, which will be closed to traffic. The course offers views of the floodplains, the Grand River and rolling countryside. It is limited to the first 500 registrants and the price to register is now $45 a person. Sign-up now and spread the word.

If you are not a runner, spectators and volunteers are also needed. Volunteers will receive a fleece hat embroidered with the M23.1k logo. Many positions are available including water stations, set-up, packet pick-up and more. Sign-up here.

Hats, visors and shirts are also available for runners, volunteers and superfans to purchase.

Funds raised support the Spoonville Trail, North Bank Trail and Grand River Greenway Trail. Together, these non-motorized paths are called the “Grand Connection” because of the link they provide along the Grand Rive between Grand Haven, Grand Valley and Grand Rapids.

Want to build good will and connect your department with a meaningful audience experience?  Grab a group of co-workers and create a “spirit station.” In 2015, runners specifically commented on the spectators from MDOT and “sweet ladies from the Parks department.” Runners would love to see you out there supporting them.

Thanks to to following businesses and organizations for their sponsorship or services which make this event possible:

Michigan’s Credit Unions | Chemical Bank | Spring Lake Fitness & Aquatic Center | Ottawa County | WGHN Radio | Michigan Department of Transportation | Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office | EcoTrek Fitness | Delta Dental | Priority Health | Merle Boes | ImageSoft | Presidio | Gordons Water Systems | Governmental Consultants Services, Inc. | Grand Armory Brewing | The Pipeline Smokehouse | M & S Storage | Ottawa County Road Commission

Outstanding Customer Service Award recipient Rachell Genesky

Join us in congratulating Rachell Genesky from the County Clerk’s Office, who has been recognized as Ottawa County’s Outstanding Customer Service Award recipient for the second quarter of 2016.

The individual who nominated Rachell wrote:

“I would like to take a moment to share with you the amazing efforts of one of Ottawa County’s finest. Last Friday a family was traveling from the United States through Canada on their way to New York, to visit family for Father’s Day. They called the Ottawa County Clerk’s Office, an hour before the office closed, in a panic. Shortly after they crossed the Canadian border, they realized they did not have their 11 year old son’s birth certificate with them. Getting into Canada without this document was not a problem; it was getting back home that was the concern. Rachell Genesky fielded the phone call, and listened to the family describe what could potentially be a vacation disaster- as they were stuck in Canada without their son’s birth certificate. Michigan’s state statutes are very strict when it comes to issuing birth certificates. Statutes define limitations on what identification processes must be adhered to before issuing any birth certificates. In addition, only hard copies can be mailed to the applicant of record (or their parents) at the home address- and policies state these records cannot be mailed outside of the United States. Rachell calmed the distraught parents and devised a plan that stepped outside the realm of the norm, all the while adhering to the regulations state statutes defined. She had the parents apply for a copy of a birth certificate through our online website, patiently overcoming each and every technical difficulty the couple encountered. She then obtained contact information for the Canadian border patrol agency and asked her supervisor to communicate with the border patrol agents the situation this family was in. An agreement was made with the border control to issue a government use only email version of the 11 year old’s birth certificate, which they were willing to utilize as acceptable documentation. By the time the family arrived at the border, the agent had their documentation in hand, and was able to assist them in reentering the United States. The praise the family gave to Rachell was heartfelt and abundant. They were so grateful to her for all of her patience, effort and professionalism. They couldn’t believe a government employee would go to such lengths to assist them the way she did. Without the creative out of the box thinking on Rachell’s part, the family’s travel plans to visit their grandfather on Father’s Day would have been a complete mess. The family would have had to drop one of the parents off at a hotel with the child and wait while the other parent drove back across the border all the way to Ottawa County; all the while hoping they had a certified copy of the child’s birth certificate at home (being the County office would have been closed by then); and then drive back to Canada again. If ever there was an employee that exemplifies the true meaning of the Ottawa Way- Rachell is it!”

Read more about Rachell at miOttawa.org


Alliance for Cultural & Ethnic Harmony potluck

Mark your calendars | Sunday | August 14 | 1- 4 pm

18th annual Potluck in the Park hosted by the Alliance for Cultural and Ethnic Harmony (ACEH)

Bring a dish to share from your culture, and a lawn chair or blanket for extra seating. ACEH provides beverages and table service and fun activities. Come enjoy music, activities for all ages, pie-eating contest, musical tiles, prizes, and more.  Invite family, neighbors, friends, co-workers, people new to West Michigan.  Info at 396-2201.  At Dunton Park: North on River Ave, across the Unity Bridge, then west on Douglas/Ottawa Beach Rd, Holland, then left to Howard Ave, and turn right to the park.  The Potluck will be in the large pavilion. More about ACEH: www.harmonyalliance.org

Outstanding Customer Service Award

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

Congratulations to Rachell Genesky from the County Clerk’s Office!

For the 2nd Quarter of 2016, 15 employees were nominated for an Outstanding Customer Service Award, some were nominated multiple times. Nominees for the Outstanding Customer Service Award were:

  • Esther Arizola, Ottawa County Department of Public Health
  • Macy Barcheski, Fiscal Services
  • Anna Bednarek, Community Mental Health
  • Brad Bordewyk, Ottawa County Department of Public Health
  • Laura Deal, Friend of the Court
  • Richard DeWitt, Facilities Maintenance
  • Jocelyn Garris, Human Resources
  • Elizabeth Lange, County Clerk/Register of Deeds Office
  • Jonathan Marin, Treasurer’s Office
  • David Miller, Ottawa County Department of Public Health
  • Terry Sands, County Clerk/Register of Deeds Office
  • Doug Sherman, Sheriff’s Office
  • Chris Todd, Sheriff’s Office
  • Jessica Voglewede, Ottawa County 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 Rachell Genesky will be posted in a future article.

Congratulations again, Rachell!

“Nasal spray” flu vaccine NOT recommended during 2016-2017 flu season

On Wednesday, June 22, 2016, CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted in favor of an interim recommendation that live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV), also known as the “nasal spray” flu vaccine, should not be used during the 2016-2017 flu season. The ACIP vote follows data showing poor or relatively lower effectiveness of LAIV from 2013 through 2016.

The change in the ACIP recommendation is an example of using new available data to ensure public health actions are most beneficial. ACIP continues to recommend annual flu vaccination, with either the inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV) or recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV) for everyone 6 months and older.

Influenza is a serious disease that causes millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and thousands or tens of thousands of deaths each year. While the protection offered by flu vaccines can vary, the flu shot’s overall vaccine effectiveness estimate of 49 percent suggests that millions of people were protected against flu last season.

Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu illness, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations. 

CDC conducts vaccine effectiveness studies each season to estimate flu vaccine effectiveness. How well the flu vaccine works (or its ability to prevent flu illness) can range widely from season to season and can be affected by a number of factors, including characteristics of the person being vaccinated, the similarity between vaccine viruses and circulating viruses, and even which vaccine is used. Read more of the CDC’s Media Statement.

Why Flu Vaccination Matters – Personal Flu Stories

What is Influenza (also called Flu)?

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.

Preventing Flu

  • Get a flu vaccination each year.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • Stay away from people who are sick.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes.
  • Keep frequently touched common surfaces clean.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle.

How Flu Spreads

Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

Signs and Symptoms of Flu

  • Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (very tired)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.

Complications of Flu

Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.

For more information about flu, visit www.miOttawa.org/flu or www.cdc.gov/flu.

To prevent diseases and their spread, find out what other vaccines  you may need at www.miOttawa.org/immunize or call (616)396-5266.

Traveling? Contact us to find out which vaccines you may need  and other trip specific information. www.miOttawa.org/travel

Find vaccines near you http://flushot.healthmap.org