Ottawa County Parks Foundation – September Newsletter
Supporter Spotlight: Wally and Jane Ewing
by Wally and Jane Ewing
I, Wally, am an historian. Each park has a history of forward-thinking, resourceful, and generous people who imagined and then developed garden-like spaces for everyone’s benefit. I like researching the stories of those individuals who originally owned the park land, and how that acreage developed into the park system we know today. For instance, I learned that the Board of County Road Commissioners, established in 1911, was renamed the Ottawa County Road Commission and given responsibility for developing and maintaining county parks. The commission’s first acquisition, made in 1929, was Park Township, north of Lake Macatawa. A tunnel bored through a dune to make access to Lake Michigan easy gave that public area its name: Tunnel Park. On July 4, 1941, the second county park was dedicated as North Beach Park. Today there are 40 parks and open spaces throughout the county. Each park has a distinct history and a diverse natural environment, and each is worthy of a story. That is one of the reasons I support Ottawa County Parks.
I, Jane, am an artist. A park’s natural environment of grasses, trees, streams, lakes, pebbles, birds, and wildlife stir creativity within me. Walking unencumbered at my own pace and mindful through a stand of pines along a park trail heightens my awareness of our world of light,
shadows, colors, scents, and other treasures of Mother Nature. From those curious things, I feel compelled to make something artistic that reflects a gift of nature that caught my eye while hiking along the way. I may layer patches of blue or green paint on a canvas, decorate bleached driftwood, sketch a cormorant patrolling its territory, or draw a darting dragonfly. That is why the parks draw me in, and the reason I support them.
Featured Plant: Great Blue Lobelia
by Bobbi Jones Sabine
Great blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica) is a late summer perennial found in wetter areas throughout most of Michigan and most of the eastern U.S. Usually a purplish-blue, it may also be observed in pale blue, pink, or even pure white.
Showy, bright blue flowers are in the axils of leafy bracts and form an elongated cluster on a leafy stem. Each flower is split into two lips – the upper lip has two segments and the lower lip has three.
This blue counterpart of the cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) is a desirable plant for woodland gardens since it blooms so late in the season.
The unfortunate species name, siphilitica, is based on the fact that it was a supposed cure for syphilis. Cherokees also used it for pain, headache, fever, stomach trouble, colds, croup, nosebleed, and worms. Iroquois used it for “anti-bewitchment” and a gargle for coughs. Meskwaki tribe couples also ate finely chopped roots to end quarrels, avert divorce, and renew love. However, all parts of the plant are now reported to be poisonous if eaten in large quantities. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, salivation, exhaustion and weakness, dilation of pupils, convulsions, and coma – all of which may provide a distraction from syphilitic symptoms, but not a cure.
Great blue lobelia also has value to bees and bumble bees, providing a source for pollen.
Photo Credits: Bobbi Sabine
Eastmanville Farm’s Deep Roots
by Marjie Viveen
In 1846, the Reverend Thomas Carlton left New York for Grand Haven with his wife and three young children in tow. En route the family was tragically exposed to smallpox. Mrs. Carlton made it as far as Grand Rapids before succumbing to the disease. Grieving and infected, the Reverend engaged a driver, oxen, and sleigh to continue the journey. Deep snow and freezing temperatures hampered their progress along River Road (Leonard Road). News of the deadly disease preceded the family, and upon entering Eastmanville, they were driven out by terrified townsmen. Down the road, Carlton sought shelter at the Realy/Miller Midway House Inn. Unfortunately, the structure had been disassembled and moved from the south side of River Road to the north side, where it was to be enlarged. Disappointment then turned to disaster. One of Carlton’s exhausted oxen dropped dead. The family collapsed in despair near the cabin of trapper William Nickerson located on the Midway property. “Old Bill Nick” took them in and threatened to shoot anyone who dare interfere with the aid and comfort he alone offered. Despite Bill’s heroic efforts, Reverend Carlton and his nine-month-old son soon died. Carlton’s girls, ages three and six, slowly recovered. Eventually they were reunited with extended family out east. Where long ago a humble trapper offered cover and care, thousands in need would eventually come. Over time the property transformed from rustic cabin, to weary travelers’ roadhouse, to Poor Farm in 1866, to Infirmary, to Community Haven, and now to Eastmanville County Park, then and now, welcoming all in need of respite.
A qualified charitable distribution is an otherwise taxable distribution from an IRA (other than an ongoing SEP or SIMPLE IRA) owned by an individual who is age 70½ or over that is paid directly from the IRA to a qualified charity. Because the gift goes directly to the charity without passing through your hands, the dollar amount of the gift may be excluded from your taxable income up to a maximum of $100,000 annually, with some exceptions. Please consult your tax advisor for information regarding your specific exceptions.
Featured Park: Grand Ravines
9920 – 42nd Ave, Jenison
3991 Fillmore Street, Jenison
Grand Ravines is a 202-acre Ottawa County Park with a half-mile of frontage on the Grand River and can be accessed from the north and south. There is a dog park in the south part of the park. The north part of the park has the Idema Explorers Trail running through it. Trail construction is currently under way for the Bill Idema Moraine Nature Segment. The covered bridge by the river is currently closed to the public. Once completed the trail will link Grand Ravines with Grand River Park.