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News -> This Week's News Wednesday, March 4, 2015
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Website accuses county of pursuing citation quotas

Over the weekend, an internet post kicked up a flurry of questions amid accusations that the Newaygo County Sheriff Department demands “quotas” in a state-funded special traffic enforcement program.

Under a headline that charges “Sheriff & Entire Board of Commissioners Admit to Breaking Federal & State Laws,” an article at the website includes a short video clip from a Newaygo County Board of Commissioners meeting. The item of business being discussed, county board approval of a $15,000 drunk driving enforcement grant from the state Office of Highway Safety and Planning, appears in the minutes of the Jan. 28 meeting, at the end of a meeting that was logged as lasting for an hour and 19 minutes. The video clip starts in the middle of a sentence in what appears to be Lt. Chad Fetterley’s response to a question from commissioners.

In a statement released on Monday, Sheriff Pat Hedlund said that the Lieutenant has been disciplined for his statements involving “numbers” and that the Lieutenant will be “prohibited from directly or indirectly supervising all activities of personnel during this enforcement program.

“As the new Sheriff of Newaygo County,” Hedlund stated, “I inquired if a quota for tickets and/or arrests has been the policy of this agency. I have interviewed every police officer in this agency and not one officer made me aware of any quota in place.”

“The public should rest assured,” the Sheriff added, “that if I discover any instance of ‘quotas’ or any other wrong doing I will immediately forward the matter to an outside agency for criminal investigation.”

Although state law prohibits requiring police officers to meet quotas for citations, one county official noted that OHSP grants do include guidelines requiring an average number of vehicle “contacts” during overtime shifts funded by the grant.

The website article by Matt Agorist notes that the video is missing from the county’s website. County Clerk Laurel Breuker said that it is standard practice for to offer only the most recent meeting videos, removing past recordings when new meeting minutes are approved. On Sunday, the county site offered recordings of the Feb. 25 board of commissioners meeting and recent meetings of five board committee meetings.







  Sprout Lab events to promote local ideas and innovation

By Ken DeLaat

Sprout Lab is coming to Newaygo County.

Grand Valley State University’s Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation is bringing the program that promotes the development of ideas and inventions into realities, courtesy of the Fremont Area Community Foundation.

Sprout Lab will hold two programs that aim to help in the development of brainchildren into businesses.

“Ideation Boot Camp is designed for people with an idea who want to explore the commercial potential of that idea,” said Project Manager Julie Cowie.

The Boot Camp is scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, April 1 and 2 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at The Stream in downtown Newaygo. On April 1 at 5 p.m. will be a happy hour for networking with agencies, organizations, investors and loan officers.

“The goal of the Boot Camp is for participants to be clear about their next steps in developing their idea,” Cowie said. “We want to connect innovators to Michigan’s entrepreneur ecosystem, particularly innovators with ideas related to agriculture, natural resources, renewable energy and tourism.

The fee for the Boot Camp is $149, or $25 for students and FFA members.

“There are also early bird discounts and  we are also offering Newaygo County residents a half off discount using code 50NEWAYGO,” Cowie said.  

“The second program we’re bringing,” Cowie added, “is a nine-session course in how to startup a business, called Co.Starters. This will be   facilitated by local entrepreneurs and business people, including Laurie Platte Breza of Breza’s Blooms, Al Wilson of SCORE and Spencer Covey, who is the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at GVSU’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and will run on Tuesday nights, 6 to 9 p.m. from April 14 through June 9 and will also be held at The Stream.”

“Co.Starters teaches people how to start small and doesn’t expect you to have a lot of money to start with,” said Cowie. “The idea is to get your product or idea out to the customer for feedback, and grow the business by selling something the customer wants. This course is great for someone wanting to launch a seasonal business, a home-based business, or to turn a hobby into a money-making opportunity.”

Local people will have opportunities to learn more about entrepreneurial opportunities at two events scheduled for Tuesday, March 10.

From 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Newaygo County Women Entrepreneurs will tell their success stories at Spanky’s in Fremont. Presenters will include Spanky’s owner Michelle Burt, Sheryl Miller from Miller Bridal and Sewing, Valerie Obenchain of Advanced Interactive Response Systems, and Abigail Davis of Frenchie’s of White Cloud. Lunch will be included. To reserve a seat, call 269-639-1970.

That evening at 5 p.m., Brad Vlastuin, founder and CEO of Never Enough Auto Accessories, will tell the story of his startup, a burgeoning Grant business that began with an idea and a passion for everything automotive. The event will be held at Jimmy’s Roadhouse in Newaygo, with a cash bar and soft drinks and appetizers provided by the Sprout Lab. The public is invited. Reservations are not required but will be appreciated. Call 269-639-1970.

Then, on Saturday, March 21 from 7:30 to 9 a.m., a Show Or Tell event will be held at Cronk’s Oakridge Restaurant in Newaygo.

“Bring a tool of your own design, a technology that you’ve invented or a clever idea that you’re prototyping,” Cowie said. “Enjoy breakfast on us then tell about your tool, invention, app, technology or product concept. Bring a picture of the object if it’s too big to transport.”

  A panel of judges will award $300 to the best idea in the room, $100 to the second best, and $50 to the third prize idea.

The event is open to people of all ages. For reservations, call the same number, 269-639-1970.

“Our goal is to help people move from working on their ideas in isolation toward connecting with entrepreneurial partnerships to assist and support them in their ventures,” Cowie said.c SproutLab.jpg (52850 bytes)

For more information about Sprout Lab and the various planned events, call Julie Cowie at 269-214-1227 or e-mail her at






Fremont Area Community Foundation
Education mini-grant applications due April 15

The Fremont Area Community Foundation is currently accepting applications for education mini-grants.

Applications are due by April 15. A total of $125,000 is available for the 2015-16 school year.

Last year, the Foundation awarded 64 mini-grants totaling $124,958 for the 2014-15 school year. These awards are being implemented in local schools and impacting more than 3,000 students.

Education mini-grants support classroom programs or projects that will assist in reaching the Foundation’s Goal 2025 initiative. This initiative seeks to increase to 60 percent the proportion of Newaygo County residents who hold high-quality college degrees, technical certificates, or other credentials by the year 2025.

“These grants are intended to encourage our teachers’ creativity and desire to innovate,” said FACF President and CEO Carla Roberts. “It is our objective to support these wonderful grassroots programs as we all work together toward Goal 2025.”

Education mini-grants are available annually to Newaygo County educators teaching preschool to 12th grade. The grants fall into three categories, range from $500 to $5,000, and are anonymously scored by a selection committee c of retired educators.

All applications must meet one of the Foundation’s education priorities: kindergarten readiness, STEAM (curriculum fields of science, technology, engineering, art, math), literacy, remediation, or must create a positive college and career-oriented culture.

More information about education mini-grants, including application information, is available online at







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