Issue 22 | 05.02.2019 | Holland, MI
Holland Weekly Feature Article: No to Millage, Yes to Bouws Pool
Holland Weekly Arts: An Interview with Poet Jack Ridl
Holland Weekly Special: Tulip Time 2019
Holland Weekly Shelter Loves: I Am Thor! Hear Me Roar!
Holland Weekly Recipe: Baklava
Bouws Pool: A True Community Pool
By Kathleen Schenck
May 2, 2019
On May 7 voters who live within the Holland Public School boundaries will be asked to vote on a “Construction and Renovation Bond Proposal” to benefit the Holland Aquatic Center, an 86,745 square foot indoor aquatic facility next door to the hospital and run by the Holland Area Community Swimming Pool Authority (HACSPA).
Not everyone is on board.
Hollanders already pay for the multi-pool aquatic center with their property taxes. According to the Holland Sentinel, HACSPA already has a current 1 mill that is good for five years passed last May in an election that saw an 8% voter turnout. (That figure, according to the 2018 millage rates found on the City of Holland website, is actually 1.1434.) On May 7 the aquatic center hopes to add an additional 1.25 mill, bringing its total to 2.39 mill.
According to the aquatic center website, a homeowner whose house is valued at $150,000 would pay $93.75 a year more in property taxes if the May 7 mill passes. Add that to what the homeowner already pays each year for the aquatic center, and that’s $179.51 the homeowner pays towards one building: the Holland Aquatic Center.
To put this in perspective, that same homeowner pays $110.63 for the entire Herrick District Library system.
In response to a Holland Sentinel article on the millage, commenter Emma Johnson calls into question the fact that the vote takes place during the city’s busiest time of year: Tulip Fest. “With the predictable low voter turnout during Tulip Time, I guess the Aquatic Center Authority considers the vote just a formality!? VOTE MAY 7 2019. ABSENTEE BALLOTS AVAILABLE AT THE CITY CLERK’S OFFICE ON RIVER OR ON THE SECRETARY OF STATE WEBSITE.”
Another criticism of the millage is the board did not seek public opinion or discussion before placing it on the May ballot, adding that voters just passed a millage one year ago. It would be helpful to have as much transparency as possible to make an informed decision: How much are voters currently paying, how much will the aquatics center want from voters in the future, and how soon? The millage passed last May runs out in five years. Will voters be asked during Tulip Time 2023 to fund the aquatic center some more?
From the Holland Aquatic Center website: “The 1.25 mill proposal is for 20 years. If approved by voters, the millage will raise $26 million to invest in updating our pool’s aging facility needs and expanding our programs and services.” The aquatic center states that the millage would fund “the general aging of the community pool’s facilities (major life cycle replacements and upgrades) as well as address the pool’s three primary aquatic program needs: enhanced and expanded aquatic safety instruction, enhanced and expanded recreation and fitness, enhanced and expanded team training and competitions.”
The multi-pool facility is entirely indoors and no plans have surfaced to build an outdoor pool. (View the details of the facility here.) There are six different rates for day use. Residents pay $4.75 for a day pass, non-residents pay $8.00, with both fees depending on number in family and senior or military status.
Additional criticism against the proposed millage includes whether or not a 3% increase in property taxes reflects accurately the benefit the aquatic center provides property owners, as well as the usual questions about mismanagement and lack of oversight. From the aquatic center’s website: “(The HACSPA) is an independent municipal entity and its borders are identical to the Holland Public School District. The HACSPA Board is appointed by the municipalities that reside within the Holland Public School District: Holland, Holland Township, Laketown Township, and Park Township. Each municipality appoints its own representatives for a renewable term. The Board operates independently under its own authority as stipulated by the legislation which created it. The Authority is legally permitted to levy an operating millage up to 1 mill and also a millage for debt service.”
One question voters may ask is what does HACSPA pay in taxes for its 86,745 square foot property?
There are also questions about long-term sustainability, how the money has been used in the past, and why more is needed. The weight room is often quiet, as is the large competition pool during the day. Still another criticism is the aquatic center and its upgrades will largely benefit competitive swimmers, not the general public.
Enter Bouws Pool.
Bouws Pool, named after Russ Bouws of Russ’ Restaurants, is an outdoor city pool on 16th and Fairbanks on the Smallenburg Park campus. As the story goes, Russ Bouws reveled in the joy of kids swimming in his backyard pool, and wanted every child in town to have the same opportunity. In 1973 Bouws donated money for a community pool for everyone to enjoy.
At one point, Bouws Pool was run by HACSPA, but is now run by the Holland Recreation Division. Andy Kenyon, the Leslie Knope of the City of Holland (i.e. the Parks and Recreation Director), shares information about the pool via email.
“Bouws Pool is very popular in the summertime. We generally have around 12-15,000 people that go to the pool each summer. For the last 6-8 years we have had a few very generous people/families that have donated funds to allow kids under the age of 15 to swim for free. This made it possible for kids to swim for free all summer long. We have intentionally left the price of admission super low at $.50/1.00 so it is a low cost option for people of all ages to cool down in the summer.
During the past two summers we have also collaborated with the Free Lunch Program put on by the local schools at Smallenburg Park. So, kids can grab a lunch and spend the afternoon at the pool. It’s been a great partnership.
We will also again have swimming lessons at Bouws this summer, and more information on that will become available soon.
Staff is working on a “Bouws Bus” program that will pick people up at a few dedicated locations around town (east, west, and central neighborhoods). This would get kids to the pool that might live too far away to walk, and/or have to cross some busy streets. We are looking at options now, and trying to find some funding for it. It might not work out for this summer, but staff is working hard to make it a reality.”
When asked if a millage has ever been passed for Bouws Pool, roughly the same age as the Holland Aquatic Center, Kenyon replied: “I’m not sure if a specific millage was passed for the pool, however funding has been designated to the pool from the General Fund each year to operate it. Also, during the City’s push to become more energy efficient a couple of summers ago, the mechanical systems in the pool were all replaced with state of the art equipment.”
Kenyon concludes: “The pool has generally not been to capacity (where we would have to turn people away), but definitely very busy on most warm sunny days.”
Free day at the pool with a free lunch to boot, with safe transportation to and from the pool in the works. Now that has the community in mind.
Driving by Bouws on a summer day brings joy when you spy the kids jumping off the board and splashing around in one of the last unstructured play times this generation seems to have. Every pool requires updating and funding for maintenance. For Hollanders’ dime, Bouws Pool deserves the title of a True Community Pool, and funding to match.
Disclosure: The author taught swim lessons at Holland Aquatic Center.
From Voice and Vision: An Interview with Poet Jack Ridl
By Kathleen Schenck
May 2, 2019
Interview conducted via email. Notes in brackets [… ] are the interviewer’s.
My process is to start writing and see what happens, to be welcoming, to no more know ahead what the poem will say than what a dinner guest will say next. ~ Jack Ridl
You’ve got a new book out, Saint Peter and the Goldfinch, released during National Poetry Month. What keeps you writing? How do you find inspiration?
My response will sound flippant but I am dead serious. Nothing keeps me writing. It’s there all the time. And I have never believed in inspiration. I write out from voice and vision, both of which bring about a poem for which I have no preconceptions. That doesn’t mean what appears is worth reading. Rather than writing out of inspiration I try to write out of care. I may notice something or have something come to mind and if I notice a feeling that I care, I follow where that leads.
Your parents appear in the lines of your poems from time to time (such as in the poem, Scrub). Do you find it difficult to approach the topic of parents? Necessary?
Not at all difficult. Parents live within us. So, there they are. However, I hope any revelations about them are respectful. It’s a moral reality.
How did your parents respond to your desire to write poetry?
Indifferently because they were taught, like the majority of Americans, that they didn’t know “anything about it.” Sad.
I’m not sure if it’s a conscious choice, but you write about the juxtaposition of Masculinity vs Gentleness, as if the two at times stare down each other across a slot canyon. Can you speak to how the idea or ideal of masculinity has changed for you?
How it’s changed for me. Forty years ago when asked about composing poetry I would always say, “And I’m an athlete: shortstop in baseball, point guard in basketball.” Now I think the very word masculinity is stupid, meaningless, harmful.
Related to that, perhaps: What was your first car? First dream car?
I always liked those kinda square Mercedes. My first car was a yellow Camaro with a black vinyl top, 1967.
What advice would you have for people writing poetry today?
Dare the sappy. Learn the damn art for heaven’s sake. It IS an art. Artistry has to be learned. It’s what amplifies the creativity. Don’t you somehow have to LEARN to play the guitar? There are 14 ways to break a line. That gives you fourteen ways to work with to bring about an effect at the end of something as simple as the end of a line, 14 ways to have more fun. And write with musical phrasing.
Is it helpful as a poet to share one’s work with others, as in a workshop situation, or in publications?
Only if they first respect your poem by attending to what IT is and not what they think it should be. And only if they know what they’re talking about.
How does a poet–or any writer–keep from becoming discouraged when those rejections roll in one after the other?
If one can keep from being discouraged, then one will extinguish empathy, turn cold, and become just another opinion carrier. One must assume being discouraged about most everything. Once one discovers discouragement as an affirmation of one’s being humane, one finds it a Friend.
Can you take us into your process of writing a poem? What’s that like? Where does the magic happen?
Magic doesn’t happen. It’s the essence of everything. Nothing can be explained. Magic goes by many names: mystery, the numinous, faith, ineffable. My process is to start writing and see what happens, to be welcoming, to no more know ahead what the poem will say than what a dinner guest will say next.
When’s your favorite moment: when the idea or inspiration for a poem hits, the scribbling of notes, the lines taking shape, the revising, the acceptance email, or something else entirely?
Something else entirely. But I do love learning from the poem. It has so much more to reveal than I will ever have.
And having a poem on a pillowcase! [Author’s note: Jack Ridl’s poems appear as rolled scrolls tied with pretty ribbon atop pillowcases in a vacation home up north. It’s the literary equivalent of mints.]
What’s your favorite thing about living along the Lakeshore?
Knowing it’s always there when I need it.
Metaphor time! If you were a Johnny Cash song, which one would you be?
Folsom Prison. Did I spell that right? [Yes.]
If you were a planet?
Pluto when it was.
A trout? (Lake or River? Rainbow or Steelhead?)
Anything else you’d like to add?
I wouldn’t be alive were it not for Julie, for whom I get to be a husband.
And I wish I could have made it to the major leagues or been a carpenter.
Bio: Jack Ridl’s newest collection is Saint Peter and the Goldfinch from Wayne State University Press. Practicing to Walk Like a Heron (Wayne State University Press, 2013) was awarded the National Gold Medal for poetry by ForeWord Review/The American Library Association. His collection Broken Symmetry (Wayne State University Press) was co-recipient of The Society of Midland Authors best book of poetry award for 2006. His Losing Season (CavanKerry Press) was named the best sports book of the year for 2009 by The Institute for International Sport, and The Boston Globe named it one of the five best books about sports. In 2017 it was developed into a Readers Theater work. Winner of The Gary Gildner Prize for Poetry, Jack has been featured on public radio (“It’s Only a Game with Bill Littlefield,” “The Story with Dick Gordon,” and Garrison Keillor’s “The Writer’s Almanac.”) Then Poet Laureate Billy Collins selected his Against Elegies for The Center for Book Arts Chapbook Award. They read together with Sharon Dolin in NYC at Christmas after 9/11. He and Peter Schakel are co-authors of Approaching Poetry and Approaching Literature, and editors of 250 Poems, all from Bedford/St. Martin’s Press. With William Olsen he edited Poetry in Michigan in Poetry (New Issues Press). Jack’s poetry has been nominated for 19 Pushcart Prizes. He has done readings in many venues including being invited to read at the international Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, and was one of twelve people in the arts from around the U.S. invited to the Fetzer Institute for their first conference on compassion and forgiveness. In 2014, Jack received the “Talent Award” from the Literacy Society of West Michigan for his “lifetime of work for poetry literacy,” and The Poetry Society of Michigan named him “Honorary Chancellor,” only the second poet so honored. After the presidential election in 2016 he started the “In Time Project,” each Thursday sending out a commentary and poem. Christian Zaschke, the NYC based U.S. correspondent for the leading German Newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, wrote a feature about his work. Jack and his wife Julie founded the visiting writers series at Hope College where he taught for 37 years. The students named him both their Outstanding Professor and Favorite Professor, and in 1996 The Carnegie (CASE) Foundation named him Michigan Professor of the Year. Nine of his students are included in the anthology Time You Let Me In: 25 Poets Under 25 edited by Naomi Shihab Nye. More than 85 of Jack’s students have earned an MFA degree and more than 90 are published authors, several of whom have received First Book Awards, national honors.
In retirement Jack conducts a variety of writing workshops, welcomes readings, holds one on one sessions, etc. For further information about Jack and these activities, check out his website at www.ridl.com.
Paint the Town Orange
By Dale Wyngarden
May 2, 2019
This Tulip Time, locals and visitors will be treated to a profusion of orange in addition to the million or so tulips brightening up the town. It will be something of a Dutch twist on the old idiom of painting the town red. Businesses, in particular, will be encouraged to incorporate orange in window displays.
Why orange? The answer is easy. And it isn’t. The royal family of the Netherlands refers to its lineage as The House of Orange. Simple enough; but the “why” gets trickier.
For most of us of Dutch heritage, a simple family surname is sufficient. If our ancestors didn’t already have one, Napoleon saw to it they adopted one. It facilitated collecting taxes throughout his empire. That’s how many of us inherited names connected with occupations or places. Sawyer or Miller. Field or Lake.
This was a bit too commonplace for European royalty, though. They came to refer to their family lineage as “The House of …”. Perhaps we were compelled to learn of a few in History 101, forgotten as soon as the final exam was turned in. Our inexplicable fascination with British royalty, though, keeps us familiar with The House of Windsor. Hollywood has done the same for the Romanovs of Russia.
The Dutch didn’t decide they needed a king and a royal family until 1815 when Napoleon was defeated and the yoke of two decades of French rule was lifted. The king they chose came from a long line of governors that had led the republic for almost 230 years. And that line was the House of Orange.
Orange was a small village in southern France that was recognized as an independent fiefdom in the Holy Roman Empire in 1163. Over time, its rulers strengthened power and land holdings throughout Europe. It was an heir to these holdings, William the Silent, Prince of Orange, who led the Northern Provinces of the Netherlands in rebellion against a century of Spanish rule in 1572. William is regarded the founder of the Dutch republic, and his successors consolidated their leadership and power. It was from this lineage a monarch was ultimately chosen.
The Netherlands flag is red, white and blue. The national color of celebration and Dutch pride is orange. As we splash the color around our own community, it is also an expression of gratitude for the sacrifices and perseverance that laid a solid foundation for the Holland we call home.
Dale Wyngarden served as City Planner of Holland for many years. This Tulip Fest you can find him driving a trolley and sharing his extensive knowledge of our town with visitors and locals alike.
Adopt a Pupperz
By Kathleen Schenck and Allegan County Animal Shelter
First published April 18, 2019
Each week Holland Weekly features a local shelter dog who is available for adoption. For more information, and updates on whether or not the dog is still available, please contact the shelter at 269-686-5112.
A d o p t e d ! Thank you to Thor’s new forever home! Check back soon for Holland Weekly’s dog of the week, and check a shelter near you any ol’ time for your new Shelter Love.
I am a Jack Russell Terrier & Chihuahua Mix who is
I’m just a pup! I’ve had all my shots and have been neutered, too. I am a super guy. I would like kids in the home to be 8 and up. I don’t mind being around cats and I get along with most dogs. As my name implies, I can shake, rattle and roll! I may be small, but I’m mighty! I will find every chipmunk, every shrew who dare cross your yard. I am Thor! Take me home!
Please contact the Allegan County Animal Shelter operated by the Wishbone Pet Rescue Alliance at 269-686-5112 or come visit me during the shelter hours.
Let’s do this.
Authentic Middle Eastern Baklava
By Ala’a Deen Cuisine
First published April 18, 2019
Baklava can be found in modern day Jerusalem among many other places–now you can make it at home. This recipe comes to Holland Weekly from a cottage-industry-in-the-making called Ala’a Deen Cuisine in the Zeeland area. We are very lucky to have this private recipe shared with us today. Thank you, Ala’a Deen!
One package Philo dough.
40 oz. walnuts, or pistachio
2 sticks of butter or one cup of ghee, melted but not hot.
Quarter cup sugar.
One tablespoon grounded cinnamon.
2 cups sugar.
1 tablespoon orange blossom water or rose water.
2 hours before you make the baklava, make the syrup. Put 2 cups of sugar in a sauce pan on stove then add one cup of water, bring to boil. As soon as the sugar melts add juice of the lemon. When you see foam come out, remove the white foam with a spoon. When the syrup gets the consistency of syrup, remove pan from the stove then add the orange blossom or the rose water, and stir. Leave the syrup to cool down. (The secret for crispy Baklava is that one of these 2 has to be cold and the other one very hot. If the syrup is cold, the baklava has to be hot. If the baklava is cold, the syrup has to be hot.)
Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Put the walnuts in a food processor with the quarter cup of sugar and the cinnamon and pulse. The walnuts should not be grounded very fine; they have to be small chunks. Leave them in a bowl.
- Unwrap the philo dough and cover it with a towel. (The philo sheet dough must be covered always, otherwise the dough sheets will get dry.)
- Brush baking sheet (pan) with melted butter.
- Uncover the philo dough and take one sheet of dough and put it in the baking pan, then cover the rest of the sheets of dough with the towel.
- Brush the sheet dough in the pan with the melted butter.
- Uncover the philo dough and take one sheet and put it on the first sheet in the pan. Cover the rest of the sheet dough.
- Brush the second sheet dough with melted butter.
- Repeat steps 5 and 6 and 7 till the sheets will be 7 sheets in the baking pan.
- Add half of the walnuts mixture on the philo sheet in the baking pan and level it with a spatula.
- Repeat steps 5 and 6 and 7 (twice).
- Add the other half of the walnut mixture to the sheet dough.
- Repeat steps 5 and 6 and 7 with the rest of the philo sheet dough, the upper sheet over the second walnuts mixture has to be 8 or 10 sheets.
- Brush the last sheet with the butter.
- Put the baking pan in the fridge or if it’s cold you can leave it on the table until the butter gets cold. This way it will be easy for you to cut the baklava.
- Cut the baklava with a sharp knife, square shape or diamond shape.
- Put it in the preheated oven at 350 F for 45 minutes, or until it gets brown color on the edges. You can flip the pan after half an hour of the baking.
- After it is done, turn the oven to broil for 2 minutes. Do not leave the oven. Stay near it. As soon as the baklava gets golden in color, take it out of the oven.
- Put the pan on a rack, then pour the cold sugar syrup on the baklava, carefully moving the pan left and right so the syrup will get into each piece of baklava.
Sylvia Reads The Stars
Week of May 2, 2019
Taurus Apr 20 – May 21
From my vantage point, Taurus, you will be flying high all week. It’s your season, after all. Make the most of it.
Gemini May 21 – Jun 21
Gemini, you will find a gem on the street this week. What will it be? A $20 bill? An engagement ring? Or leftover parade candy? Total Score.
Cancer Jun 21 – Jul 23
Are your seedlings ready to transplant? The weather may not agree with your plans. Hang tight. This goes for a personal transformation, too.
Leo Jul 23 – Aug 23
Lovely Leo, my prediction for you this week is a renewed appreciation for the dark side of things–whether that be the moon or our natures.
Virgo Aug 23 – Sep 23
Virgo, Virgo. All that dancing last week wear you out? Too bad. Get your Dutch groove on. It’s Tulip Time! My reading of the stars says it’s high time you shake things up a bit.
Libra Sep 23 – Oct 23
Little Libra, live a little. Embrace the extreme. Stars indicate you will open a whole new chapter and chamber of your heart.
Scorpio Oct 23 – Nov 22
My prediction for you this week, Scorp, is oodles upon oodles of noise. See if you can lean in instead of scamper off. You may well find a new sound that delights you endlessly.
Sagittarius Nov 22 – Dec 23
Sadge, don’t dodge the tax collector. Pay up.
Capricorn Dec 23 – Jan 20
Capricorn, do you believe in unicorns? Didn’t think so. But perhaps it’s time to open yourself to a possibility you previously deemed unreal. Stars say this is a good week to conclude magic is reality, and reality is magic.
Aquarius Jan 20 – Feb 18
Aquarius, you bring joy to most of us. See if you can reach out to someone new this week. Stars say you will unlock a surprising truth.
Pisces Feb 18 – Mar 20
Pisces, it’s gonna be a little rough on gentle you, what with all the commotion downtown. Find your equivalent of a sensory deprivation chamber to retreat to for exactly 17 minutes each day this week. Stars say you are ready for a recharge.
Aries Mar 20 – Apr 20
Stars point to your home and garden bringing even more peace and tranquility than their usual opus. Enjoy.
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