Posted by John Ester on Jun 11, 2019
Val Gerhart, Kay Bond and Jason Reed provided an update on the Advocates for Benzie County.

Kay Bond is ABC's Interim Executive Director.  ABC was formed in 2016 with a mission of promoting a better quality of life for all residents in Benzie County.  The group began by conducting 16 public forums to determine the problems holding back the healthy development of Benzie County, ultimately identifying six areas of concern:
  • Housing 
  • Employment
  • Education
  • Skilled Trades
  • Infrastructure
  • Child Care
ABC continues to address these areas, advocating for affordable workforce housing and changing laws and regulations that inhibit the development of rental property. ABC also has worked on the repurposing of the Platte River School.
Jason Reed brought us up to date on the Skilled Trades Apprenticeship Readiness Training program (START), a program Sunrise Rotary has supported.  This program offers 10 weeks of intensive training--both textbook and practical training--for those 18 and older.  Twenty local contractors are helping out, and ABC partners include Michigan Works and BACN.  The next program for START participants will be the building of a new pavilion at Bellows Park.
Val Gerhart talked about Dolly Parton Imagination Library, brought to Benzie County through the efforts of Val and Sunrise Rotary, now another ABC program.  Any child in Benzie County from ages 0-5 is now entitled to a free book, and 317 children in the county have registered for the program. Val described the manner in which expectant partners are made aware of the program, as well as the efforts underway to expand its application.
In closing Kay urged us all to become members of ABC--individual advocates for a better Benzie County.