Ottawa County Parks & Recreation Commission welcomes new members

Ottawa County Parks & Recreation Commission welcomes new members

dejongGreg DeJong, County Commissioner

Greg DeJong has been a resident of Ottawa County his entire life and has lived in Allendale Charter Township since 1980. Greg currently serves on the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners (District 8). He and his wife Pam have two married sons, two daughter-in-laws, and two grandchildren.

“I’ve always heard, ‘Find a job you love and you will never have to go to work,’ and our parks department is a good example of that statement. I’m honored to be part of this team,” said Greg. He believes that the parks department is more than just parks and park land, “It is biking, walking, bird watching, kayaking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and all of the educational programs. It’s so important to keep these resources and educational programs in place for generations to come.”

Greg has visited everyone of the county parks and believes  that each of them offers our residents a unique opportunity. “I’ve been to Ottawa Sand several times and every time I visit I’m overwhelmed by the beauty. The future potential for this park is unlimited!” said Greg. “Our parks department, all of the volunteers and our donors truly make Ottawa County a place  ‘Where you belong.'”

Jane LongstreetJane Longstreet, Public

Jane Longstreet joins the Ottawa County Parks and Recreation Commission after careers in journalism/corporate communications and social work. She retired from Community Mental Health of Ottawa County as program supervisor, providing services for adults with mental illness and co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorders. Prior to joining Ottawa County, she served as executive director of the Adoptive Family Support Network. Before she entered the social work field, Jane was a journalist reporting on local government, schools, and human interest stories followed by 15 years in corporate communications. She has a Bachelor’s degree in arts and media with an emphasis in journalism from Grand Valley State University and a master’s degree in social work from Western Michigan University. She brings experience in policy and program development, team building, evidence-based health initiatives, and participation on local and state inter-agency committees and work groups.

“Marc and I raised our two kids in Ottawa County and have enjoyed the park system for decades,” said Jane. “I feel strongly about sustaining the county’s beautiful resources and making sure that all citizens and visitors have access to parks. I know how important that is for our physical and mental health.”

Linda McAffrey

Linda McAffrey, Public

Linda McAffrey is new to Ottawa County, relocating to the area from St. Louis, Missouri in November 2017 after a summer visit where she fell in love with West Michigan. Linda is an eight-year veteran of the US Navy where she served an air traffic controller at a variety of duty stations. She retired in 2014 after 30 years as a senior manager at the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA). Linda has a Bachelor’s degree in Professional Aeronautics from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.

Linda has been an active member of the Park Stewards team, a group of dedicated volunteers who work in the parks each week to eradicate invasives and help to manage the county’s natural resources. She also serves as a board member on the Friends of Ottawa County Parks.

“I have found the Ottawa County parks system to be a welcoming and inviting place to volunteer. When you are new to an area the parks are a wonderful place to get to know the area and the people,” said Linda. “I believe my career will allow me to share my experience in large organizational dynamics and financial decision making. Maybe my most important asset is that I am new to the area and may see things from a different, not better, perspective.”

Linda’s favorite parks are Hemlock Crossing and the Grand Ravines, although she says she loves them all. She is dedicated to keeping the parks the “jewels they are today and help grow and improve them in the years to come.”

New Appointments

Greg DeJong, a member of the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners, replaced Matt Fenske on the Ottawa County Parks & Recreation Commission. Jane Longstreet and Linda McAffrey filled two vacant public positions on the commission:

  • Roger Jonas completed a 13-year term with the Parks Commission. He served as Vice President between March-December of 2019.
  • Vanessa Gutierrez served on the Parks Commission between May-December of 2019.

Roger and Vanessa were both honored by the Parks & Recreation Commission for their service at the December meeting.

Roger & Vanessa

Left: Roger Jonas, Right: Vanessa Gutierrez

As of January 2020, the Ottawa County Parks & Recreation Commission Roster is as follows:

  • David VanGinhoven, President  (Public)
  • Kelly N. Rice, Vice President  (Public)
  • Phil Kuyers, Secretary (County Commissioner)
  • Joe Bush (Water Resources Commissioner Statutory)
  • Tom Elhart  (Road Commission Designee)
  • Greg J. DeJong  (County Commissioner / Planning Commission Representative)
  • James Holtvluwer  (County Commissioner)
  • Jane Longstreet  (Public)
  • Linda McAffrey  (Public)
  • Tom Werkman  (Public)