CURRENT CAG MEMBERSHIP
The CAG is an all volunteer group with representatives from many of the communities impacted by the contamination from paper mill waste in and along the river. Our focus is on awareness and community input for current and future EPA actions along the river. We typically meet on the third Thursday of each month. All meetings are open to the public and most meetings feature presentations from experts and specialists working on the Superfund site. Check the events listings to confirm topics, dates, and locations of the meetings.
Hello All!!! My name is Amber Balkema. I am 38 years old and I reside in Otsego with my
husband, Joel and my teenage son, Austin. We live on the Northside of Otsego, in a multigenerational
household, near the most current Superfund Site; Rock-Tenn. My passion is
healthcare, whether animal or human, it does not matter. My other passion is the environment,
and the effects the environment has on our health. I have a long history of working in the
medical field. In 2003, I received my Certificate for Medical Assisting. Then I started working in
home care. I worked with the State of Michigan in providing care for the elderly in their homes. I
also worked privately, providing care. I worked as a Resident Care Specialist while obtaining
first my Associates Degree in Science, followed by Bachelor’s Degree in Health Care
Administration. I love nature, and studying the wildlife, trees, rivers, and lakes. I joined this CAG
Group because of my love for all of those things. I am very concerned with all of the variables
that could harm or potentially harm the beauty of all things in nature. I have spent most of my
adult life providing care, and now it is nature’s turn. My wish is to leave this world better than
what I have found it.
I am a life-long resident of the Otsego/Plainwell area. As a practitioner with the Southwest Michigan
Wellness Center I am concerned with the quality of health and well-being of this community.
Life-time resident of Otsego Township. Graduate of Otsego Public Schools and Michigan State
University College of Engineering, occupation self-employed farmer and Allegan County
Commissioner. Family: wife and two children at home.
Lois is retired from her professional career in the agricultural pharmaceutical industry; she has a degree in
Animal Science from Kansas State University. Lois has lived in S.W. Michigan for over 25 years and
currently lives in Plainwell on the Kalamazoo River tributary called the Mill Race. She is owner of Plainwell
Kayak Company established in 2017. Lois’ passion to be a C.A.G. member is to communicate the facts
about the superfund clean up and help with the preservation of the Kalamazoo River. In particular river
access for all while establishing standards to maintain its natural beauty and seclusion of the river banks.
SARAH LINDLEY VIVIANO
Sarah resides in Plainwell, MI, a short walk from the former Plainwell Paper Mill and
Kalamazoo River Superfund site. She is currently the Arcus Social Justice Leadership Professor of Art at
Kalamazoo College, where she has been teaching sculpture and ceramics since 2001. Her sculptures and
installations address environmental trauma and the power dynamics between American Industry and
surrounding communities. Her sculptures based on the Kalamazoo Watershed and its numerous Brownfield and Superfund sites
have been exhibited throughout the United States and internationally. She has been an Arts-Industry Resident at the Kohler Factory in Wisconsin and in 2017 she spent three months living and making art in a former tannery in the Netherlands.
Mark was born and raised in Michigan. His youth was spent assisting his father during the early days of the
environmental movement, studying Great Lakes water birds effected by industrial pollution. He settled in
Allegan County, founding a small beef farm in Clyde Township in 2005 with his wife Kim. Mark served on
the Fennville Public School Board, Clyde Township Planning Commission and currently on the Allegan
Conservation District Board of Directors. Mark graduated from Michigan State with a degree in
Environmental Issues and has a Short Course Degree from UW Madison in Grass Based Dairy.
I am the mother of five childrenmarried for 39 years and my background has been Certified Personal
Trainer, a Martial Arts Instructor, Boxing Coach and former Mrs. Allegan County America and Mrs.
Southern Michigan America One of my greatest Achaemenes have been being awarded the Innovation
Award from the Women In Defense in 2012 for my breast protection technology made my passion for
women breast health a priority as a practionier. My specialties as a Dr of Naturopath are women’s health,
environmental health and children’s special health and restoration in gut health. I strive to make
a difference in my communities health and building the bridge between western and eastern medicine
ensuring integrative care.
Jennifer Meilinger, Community Science Director, will represent the Kalamazoo Nature Center (KNC) as a
member of the Allied Paper Superfund Site CAG. The KNC's largest and oldest property occupies 1,140
acres in northern Kalamazoo County and includes two miles of Kalamazoo River frontage. With its location
along the river and its investment in the protection of our natural areas, the KNC has a deep interest in
working with other Michigan residents to improve the health of the Kalamazoo River. KNC brings biological
expertise and its close ties with the community to this advisory group and is grateful to be included as part
of the team bringing awareness to this local issue.
Kenneth Nesbitt of Lawton, MI. Born, raised and lives in the St Joseph River Watershed on the edge of the
Kalamzoo River Watershed. My experience as an active participant in watershed environmental,
stewardship, educational and recreational activities in Western Michigan and Northwestern Indiana has
given me wide exposure to watershed issues. I am actively involved with water related activities for youth
groups, vision impaired groups, senior groups, disabled veteran groups, community groups, National Park
groups and Soil & Water Conservation groups. We are borrowing this earth from future generations. I hope,
that together, we can leave the watersheds in better shape than we have often experienced them
RJ is the owner of marinas in the Kalamazoo River that are rapidly being destroyed by an uncontrolled
Resident of Dorr, MI.
I moved from Venice CA at about 5 years old and was raised in Otsego through high school. A few
engineering related classes at KVCC. Worked at Parker Hannifin for 14 years and then several other
manufacturing places in a Quality Assurance role until changing from automotive suppliers to EMS and a
Paramedic since 2004. Volunteer Firefighter now retired in Bronson, MI. for 16 years. Worked at Plainwell
Area Ambulance Service (Borgess) before fully retiring May 2019. I live on the North Branch of the
Kalamazoo river. Kayaking the river is a big pastime. Saved an older abandoned home on the river and am
rebuilding it now. Planned to keep it but now with them talking about shutting down the North branch I'm
hoping to save it also. Concerned with water wildlife, wetland preservation here. Deer, Sandhill Crane
nesting, geese, multiple species of duck, muskrat, Eagles, and now beaver reside in the areas that would
be shut off from the natural river as it currently is. Restoring the river to its natural state includes keeping
the North Branch intact and cleaning up ALL the waterways associated with the main river.
An American attorney, business advisor, speaker, writer and entrepreneur. Coco, a business lawyer of 21
years, helps business people around the world close deals and manage all aspects of their ventures. Coco
writes and speaks extensively on business, law and politics in the media and at live events. She is the
author of the best-selling book on business law for entrepreneurs, "Birth to Buyout: Law for the Life Cycle of
Your Business." Coco runs Seasongood Law, Inc., a business law firm which uses technology and best
practices to take excellent care of business people at a reasonable price. Coco founded and leads Profit
and Laws, Inc., a business advisory and consulting firm. As a specialist in art law, Coco is the sole editor
and writer of the Lexis-Nexis Art Law Contracts treatise. Coco is also active in her communities. In
Chicago, Coco serves on the Weizmann Institute Midwest board, the Board of Directors for Change
Chicago, Inc. and as a block club captain for Buena Park. In Allegan, Michigan, Coco is active with the
Allegan County Democrats and organizer of the Lake Allegan Neighbors’ Coalition.
Resident of Otsego, MI.
I began working in Allegan in 1972 and I bought my first home there in 1988. After retirement my wife and I
operated a coffee shop in Allegan. I am a board member of the Kalamazoo River Protection Association
and the Kalamazoo River Cleanup Coalition.