Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Ionia legislative update meeting draws few legislators

Ionia Public Schools Superintendent Benjamin Gurk revealed that Ionia High School received the West Michigan Veterans Coalition’s Armed Forces Thanksgiving Action Award last week at a legislative update meeting at West Michigan Works in Ionia on Monday morning. — DN Photo | Tim McAllister

IONIA — A few local leaders participated in a “legislative update” meeting at the Ionia Michigan Works office early Monday morning, although very few actual legislators participated.

The 30-minute gathering was facilitated by Steve Hodgkins, Kat Hansen and Lisa Potter Zylstra of the Ionia Area Chamber of Commerce.

Participants included David Cook of the Ionia Downtown Development Authority, Ionia Public Schools Superintendent Benjamin Gurk, Sally Kapteyn of Great Start Collaborative, Easton Township Supervisor Bill Patton, Ray Shippey from Sparrow Hospital, Brad Sims from West Michigan Works, Robin Stearns from state Rep. Gina Johnsen’s office (who did not offer an update), Ionia County Commissioner Larry Tiejema, Dial-A-Ride Director Heidi Wenzel and Ionia County Economic Alliance Executive Director Ryan Wilson.

At a legislative update meeting Monday morning, Ionia County Commissioner Larry Tiejema said there would be a six-year extension of the Road Department millage on the August primary ballot. — DN Photo | Tim McAllister

Tiejema reported that many roads around the county “need attention,” and there would be a six-year extension of the Road Department millage on the August primary ballot for voters. The millage would generate about $2 million for road repairs.

“Clarksville Road is about a mile, and there is about 15-foot of muck underneath that mile, and they never could get it right, so that might be one of the projects that we do,” Tiejema said. “They’ve tried to do fixes. They work for about two or three months. They don’t last.”

Gurk said that Ionia High School recently received the annual West Michigan Veterans Coalition’s Armed Forces Thanksgiving Action Award, including $1,000, at a ceremonial luncheon in Grand Rapids last week.

“More than 40 schools and businesses donate to make that event happen,” Gurk said. “There were a couple guest speakers, including Rocky Bleier, a former Notre Dame national football champion who was drafted and fought in Vietnam, where he was injured and earned a Purple Heart.

“His story was incredible. He was shot in the leg, lost all his toes, hit with a hand grenade and in the hospital for nine months. Then he came back to the NFL in the 70s. He almost quit after the first year because he didn’t play, but the next thing you know he’s starting, and he ended up with four Super Bowl rings. Totally crazy story.”

The next legislative update meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. on June 26 at West Michigan Works, 603 W. Adams, Ionia.

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