2018-08-09 / News

Grant money provides summer jobs, experience for local students

By Ben Gagnon
810-452-2661 *bgagnon@mihomepaper.com

Left to right: Norm Goddard, Nolen Reischling, Ethan Reischling and Gatlin Meinburg Photo by Ben Gagnon Left to right: Norm Goddard, Nolen Reischling, Ethan Reischling and Gatlin Meinburg Photo by Ben Gagnon FLUSHING —Three area students are earning money this summer by working part-time for Flushing Township.

Thanks to a grant from the Flushing Community Foundation, the township was able to hire Ethan Reischling, Nolen Reischling and Gatlin Meinburg to help with upkeep at the Flushing Township Nature Park.

Under the guidance of township maintenance supervisor Norm Goddard, the trio has mowed lawns, cut trees, built park benches and tended to the trails.

Goddard, a part-time township employee for the last four years, said that he’s appreciated having the extra help this year.

“I’ve had a great time working with these guys,” he said. “It’s been a big deal, especially for fixing the benches. I never would have been able to get them all fixed by myself.”

In addition, Ethan, Nolen and Gatlin have helped to repair water pumps and mend the park’s boardwalk section near the river.

“This is the first time we’ve been able to do hard labor or something as extensive as this,” said Ethan, an alum of Flushing Community Schools. “It’s teaching us how to put our noses to the grindstone.”

Ethan, 20, is currently a junior at Grand Valley State University. His brother Nolen, 17, is a junior at Flushing High School, and Gatlin, 15, is a sophomore at Flushing High. All three students said that they’ve enjoyed working outdoors, particularly Gatlin.

“I definitely want to get a job that’s somewhere outdoors instead of in an office,” he said regarding his future career plans.

The students have also liked working alongside Goddard.

“Norm is by far the easiest boss I’ve had,” Ethan said. “We get a lot of work done, but he makes it fun and enjoyable.”

For his part, Goddard said he’s pleased that the program is benefiting his helpers.

“They get a chance to earn a little money, meet people out here and get some job experience,” he said. “If the township hires next year, hopefully they’ll hire these three again.”

In fact, the idea to hire extra help was the township’s gesture of appreciation for Goddard, who was named “Employee of the Year” in 2015.

Supervisor Frederick Thorsby described Goddard as “the dream employee everyone wants” because of his dedication to the job, whether it’s making repairs at township hall or killing poison ivy in the park.

Altogether, Goddard works around 30 hours a week, sometimes coming in as early as 6 a.m. to perform his duties. After putting in 32 years with General Motors, he said the township job has been a welcome change of pace, as well as a close-to-home position in his longtime hometown of Flushing.

As summer winds to a close, Goddard and his helpers will be busy tending to the nature park and making it a beautiful place for visitors. In the meantime, the township is planning to apply for another grant next year to continue the summer work program.

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