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Ottawa County Media Room

Our goal is to be receptive, responsive and transparent.  Members of the media seeking interviews or information are encouraged to contact the Communications Manager, Shannon Felgner.

A handful of County Offices respond to media inquiries directly including:
Ottawa County Department of Public Health - Kristina Wieghmink (616) 494-5597
Ottawa County Community Mental Health - Anna Bednarek (616) 494-5545
MI Works! & Community Action Agency - Mike Stock (616) 494-3403
Ottawa County Sheriff's Office - (616) 738-4000 following the prompts to the Sheriff's Office
If you are having trouble determining to whom you should direct your inquiry, the Communications Manager is a great place to start. 

Do you feel like you are the last to know about an Ottawa County Press Release? We are happy to add you to our media contact list. Email or call Shannon Felgner at (616) 738-4672.

Notices & Advisories

March 10, 2014: Spring Flooding

Current Media Releases

April 23, 2014

Ottawa County Youth Assessment Survey Results Presentation

The community is invited to the 2013 Ottawa County Youth Assessment Survey (YAS) results presentation on Wednesday April 30 at 1:30 p.m. at the Ottawa County complex on Fillmore Street in West Olive. Registration is required. The YAS is a locally developed teen survey that measures how many teens are engaged in a wide variety of both risky and beneficial behaviors that affect their health and well-being. The survey monitors how these behaviors increase, decrease or stay the same over time. It has been conducted every two years (2005, 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013) at grades 8, 10 and 12 in participating Ottawa County schools. Read More About the Importance of the YAS

April 21, 2014

Challenge of Children Free One Day Conference

Registration is open for the Challenge of Childrenconference. The free one day conference is dedicated to informing, motivating, offering support and networking opportunities on child development, child guidance and other challenges related to parenting for parents and caregivers. The conference will run from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 15, 2014 at the Hope College Haworth Center in Holland (on 10thStreet between College and Columbia Avenue).  This year’s Challenge of Children conference keynote speaker, Dr. Ray Guarendi, will present "Standing Strong as a Parent". Registration is required before May 9, to reserve your spot in the AM & PM Workshop Sessions www.challengeofchildren.org. Due to campus construction this year, lunch will not be provided. Please feel free to bring your own lunch or view the Downtown Holland Dining Guide. Read More

April 21, 2014

Part Two of An Invasive Species & Land Management Series: Volunteers Help to battle Invasive Plants

When it comes to managing invasive species, Ottawa County is certainly getting creative.  Last week the Ottawa County Parks announced that they were bringing in goats to take on woody plants in some hard-to-manage areas.  In some cases, however, the best way to manage a particular invasive plant is with good-old-fashioned sweat and manual labor.    

This week, as part of an Earth Day observation, students from White Pines Middle School will kick-off the spring invasive species removal at several Ottawa County Parks. The primary plant targets:  Garlic mustard and Spotted knapweed. The week’s Earth Day events were supported by Light Corp, Meijer and the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation’s Youth Advisory Committee.  

According to Michigan State University, Garlic mustard is an exotic invasive plant from Europe that invades woodland habitats in North America. Dense stands of garlic mustard threaten not only small plants like native wildflowers, but can also threaten many timber species. Many land managers consider it to be one of the most potentially harmful and difficult to control invasive plants in the region. Spotted knapweed generates quickly in roadsides and right-of-ways, old fields, pastures, undisturbed dry prairies and oak and pine barrens. Most problematic for Ottawa County Parks is Spotted knapweed’s presence on dunes and beaches, where it crowds out native species. Photos and tips for identifying spotted knapweed. Photos and tips for identifying garlic mustard. Read More

April 18, 2014

Healthy Michigan Plan: New Health Insurance for Michigan Residents

Have you heard of the Healthy Michigan Plan? It’s a new, low-cost health plan designed for low-income Michigan residents. Nearly half a million Michigan adults between the ages of 19-64 are now eligible for coverage beginning April 1, 2014. Available through the state of Michigan, the Healthy Michigan Plan covers those who make up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. That works out to roughly $16,000 a year for one person or $33,000 for a family of four.

The Healthy Michigan Plan covers everything from doctor visits to hospitalizations to prescriptions at a low cost.

To apply, there are three options for Ottawa County residents:

  • Apply online at www.michigan.gov/mibridges
  • Apply by phone at (855)789-5610
  • Visit the Department of Human Services Office at 12185 James Street, Holland, MI 49423
Read More

April 11, 2014

Part One of An Invasive Species & Land Management Series:
Ottawa County Parks Look to Goats to Manage Invasive Species


Beginning in May of 2014, the Ottawa County Parks is piloting an eco-friendly alternative to killing-off invasive shrubs and plants: Goats grazing to their hearts' content. Unlike other livestock, goats grazing on property prefer to eat woody, shrub-like plants. Some parks have had woody invasive species take root. Hungry goats will help the park’s battle to eradicate them from the land. Utilizing this innovative yet simple method reduces the need for herbicide application, is cost effective and allows access to locations where mowers or machinery could otherwise not reach. Read More

April 8, 2014

Katty Shack 5K:  The Face Behind the Race

Natalie Kik-Brown, co-director for the Katty Shack 5K is an avid runner and triathlon participant. Her goal is to run a marathon in every state in the country—and she is well on her way with only 14 states to go. What sets this race director apart is that she is also the mother of Katherine Brown. Katherine Brown along with Sharmaine, Jeremy and Tyler Zimmer were brutally murdered in the Zimmer home in Wright Township in 2008. The assailant, Troy Brake, shot Sharmaine, Jeremy and Tyler and then sexually assaulted Katherine Brown and bludgeoned her to death. He then set fire to Katherine’s body and the Zimmer home in an effort to destroy evidence of the murders and the sexual assault. Katherine, nicknamed “Katty Shack” by her running teammates in high school, was a freshman at Michigan State University at the time of the murder. Tragically, this was not Natalie’s first loss of a loved one. In 2006, Natalie’s husband Jim was killed in an automobile accident as he was transporting Natalie to a medial appointment to treat her breast cancer. Natalie beat breast cancer but was emotionally devastated by the heartbreaking loss of her husband and daughter. After each of these traumatic events in Natalie’s life, she was offered services by Victim Advocate, Joan Grillo, from the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in Ottawa County. Read More

April 7, 2014

Wild Chef Japanese Steakhouse Re-Opens Today

The Wild Chef Japanese Steakhouse in Holland has met all health code requirements and has been approved to re-open by the Ottawa County Department of Public Health (OCDPH) on Monday, April 07, 2014.  The restaurant voluntarily closed Tuesday, April 1 after numerous reports of illness were received by OCDPH from customers who dined at the establishment. Approximately 300 people reported symptoms consistent with norovirus. Laboratory results confirm the pathogen is norovirus. Media coverage and public response has aided in data collection and has contributed greatly to the investigation of this event. Wild Chef Japanese Steakhouse has met the following requirements as set forth by the OCDPH: Read More

April 4, 2014

Ottawa County Stomach Illnesses and Holland Restaurant

The Ottawa County Department of Public Health (OCDPH) received numerous responses from members of the community that became ill after dining at Wild Chef Japanese Steakhouse in Holland. Media coverage of the event was helpful in directing the public to the questionnaire. More than 400 responses were received by people that dined at the establishment between Thursday, March 27 and Tuesday, April 1, 2014. Over 30% of those that responded had eaten at the establishment and not become ill. The data gathered through the survey has been instrumental to the investigation of the event.

There have been numerous reports of norovirus cases in Ottawa County and in several surrounding communities. Many of those sickened at Wild Chef experienced symptoms consistent with norovirus, however, laboratory confirmation is pending. A re-open date for Wild Chef has not yet been determined by OCDPH. Read More

April 4, 2014

Celebrate the American Democracy with Ottawa County

In 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower established Law Day as a national day set aside to celebrate the rule of law. Law Day underscores how law and the legal process contribute to the freedoms that all Americans share. This Law Day, May 1, 2014, occurs on the eve of the 50th anniversaries of two landmark pieces of legislation – the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Law Day theme this year highlights these two important anniversaries -Democracy and the Rule of Law: Why Every Vote Matters. The courts in Ottawa County are recognizing Law Day and are offering citizens a variety of opportunities to celebrate the rule of law and learn more about the courts.  Events include a 5K, an art competition, statue unveiling and more! Read More

April 3, 2014

Ottawa County Stomach Illnesses & Local Restaurant

HOLLAND – Ottawa County Department of Public Health (OCDPH) has received an increase of gastrointestinal illness reports this week from residents. Wild Chef Japanese Steakhouse Grill and Bar in Holland Township voluntarily closed Tuesday after being notified that a number of dining customers had reported gastrointestinal illnesses to the health department. OCDPH has conducted a full inspection and the investigation is still in process. So far, health officials have identified more than 100 gastrointestinal illness cases related to dining at Wild Chef. The restaurant owner and staff have been cooperative with the health department. Health officials are ensuring proper disinfecting procedures have been completed before scheduling a re-open date. OCDPH wants to ensure health and safety for residents and that restaurants are successful establishments. OCDPH is waiting on lab results to determine which pathogen is associated with the Wild Chef incident. Currently, no other dining establishments have been identified as having an outbreak.

Read More

April 2, 2014

Stomach Illness on the Rise in Ottawa County
Ottawa County Department of Public Health has received an increase of gastrointestinal illness reports in Ottawa County. Health officials are reminding everyone to practice good hygiene to prevent the further spread of sickness. Stomach illnesses can be transmitted either by consumption of fecal contaminated food or water, direct person-to-person spread or environmental contamination. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramping and low-grade fever. If you believe you may have a foodborne illness, please contact Ottawa County Department of Public Health at (616) 396-5266 or go to www.miOttawa.org/miHealth and click on “Concerned you may have a foodborne illness?” located on the right side of the page.

Important Reminders
1. Practice proper hand hygiene. Wash your hands carefully with soap and water, especially after using the toilet and changing diapers and always wash before eating, preparing or handling food.
2. Wash fruits and vegetables and cook seafood thoroughly.
3. When you are sick, do not prepare food or care for others who are sick.
4. Clean any potentially contaminated areas with a chlorine bleach solution, mixing ¼ cup of bleach with one gallon of water.
5. Immediately remove and wash clothes or linens that may be contaminated with vomit or stool (feces).
6. If you have been suffering from vomiting or diarrhea, remain at home until symptoms subside.

Read More

April 2, 2014

OCDPH Releases 2013 Annual Report

On March 24, Ottawa County Department of Public Health (OCDPH) released their 2013 Annual Report www.miOttawa.org/health2013. Administrative Health Officer, Lisa Stefanovsky, presented the report to the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners at their regular session meeting. The report provides an overview of the health department, their financial statement and program statistics and highlights. At the commissioner’s meeting, Stefanovsky shared how a focus on health equity demonstrates a county that celebrates diversity and recognizes the health needs of all individuals and families. She emphasized the commissioner’s vision is for Ottawa County to be the location of choice for living, working and recreation. Healthy communities have a tremendous impact on prosperity. When people or businesses choose a new location, they consider a community where health is a value and a culture of health is embraced. As a result, public health plays a vital role and contributes to the long-term economic, social and environmental health of the county. Read More

March 26, 2014

Ottawa County Ranks Highest on Health Report
According to the 5th Annual County Health Rankings

Ottawa County ranks 1st out of 82 counties as the healthiest county in Michigan, according to the fifth annual County Health Rankings. The report was released today by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI). Rankings are available at www.countyhealthrankings.org or Ottawa County’s report at http://ow.ly/uZjmj.  

Annual rankings show where state counties do well and opportunities for improvement. Ottawa County Department of Public Health and several community health partners use the report to help understand what factors have influenced good health, including smoking, high school graduation rates, employment, physical inactivity and access to health care. The report also motivates community leaders and citizens to work together in new and creative ways to build a culture of health. Read More

March 25, 2014

Welcome Spring with the Ottawa County Parks
Early signs of spring are popping up at the Ottawa County Parks! Join us to learn more.

It may not feel like spring, but Ottawa County Parks has no shortage of spring programs.  Family Hours:  Each Sunday afternoon from 2-3pm, the Nature Center at Hemlock Crossing Park hosts programs for families on various topics. Stories, scavenger hunts, hikes and crafts keep things interesting for everyone. Topics include frogs, the water cycle, wetlands, wildflowers and more.  Bird & Wildflower Walks:  Ever walk in the woods wishing you could learn more about an encountered bird, plant or fungus? A guided walk is for you. Now through the fall, guided hikes are available on countless topics, such as birds, wildflowers, butterflies, reptiles and spring surprises.  Spring by Kayak:  Enjoy the sights and sounds of spring along the Pigeon River by kayak. There is a $15 fee plus $26 for those renting a kayak. Many other programs are available including astronomy, bird watching outings, and FrogWatch USA trainings for your budding scientists. Summer camp enrollment for children ages 3 and up is also available. Read More

March 11, 2014

All People Deserve Access to Fresh Produce
Program helps create greater access and more dollars back into local economy.

Many people do not have the means to obtain healthy food due to cost, lack of availability in their community, transportation or awareness of where to go. Ottawa County Department of Public Health (OCDPH) requested and received a grant for $43,376, from the USDA’sFarmers Market Promotion Program. These funds enabled OCDPH and the City of Holland to develop and implement an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) program at the Holland Farmers Market. The EBT program allows the market to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (known in Michigan as Bridge Cards), which helps provide low-income residents an opportunity to shop for fresh produce.  Read More

February 5, 2014

“Ottawa County Way” Essay Challenge
What is unique about living in Ottawa County, Michigan? Are things done just a bit differently along the Lakeshore? What is the history behind the singular nature of life in Ottawa County? How true--or untrue--is that history?  Writers of all ages are invited to share their views about living, working and playing in West Michigan through the “Ottawa County Way” Essay Challenge.  Our goal is to celebrate those stories--great and small--about living in Ottawa County.  Entries are due by April 30th.  Read More - Flyer

Freedom of Information Act Requests

All requests made under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act will be processed in accordance with the requirements of the act. Requests for public information should be made to the department which is responsible for the custody of the records.

Shannon Felgner,
Communications Manager

Main Office

12220 Fillmore Street
Room 210
West Olive, MI 49460
Phone: (616) 738-4672
FAX: (616) 738-4888
Monday - Friday:
8:00am - 5:00pm