Spark Economic Development

Every year the county board reorganizes to shift responsibilities and give a new appearance and fresh goals.  I kept my assignments on the construction, parks, and public safety committees. I represent the county on the OLHSA board and the Fowlerville LDFA board. I was assigned to the office of vice chair of the finance committee. I am also on the important personnel committee. I am looking forward to another two years of service for our county and the 4 th district on west side of Livingston.

Handy Township has contracted with Spark to help with economic development that is coming to the area. The LDFA has voted to pay for the services of Spark. DDA and the Village council will also need to approve their part of this agreement to finalize it. Without Fred Dillingham, this area is in need of help to retain the businesses already providing jobs and tax base for our community. There is potential for new companies to locate here. This makes it imperative that we have a person or company like Spark
that helps to maneuver all of the necessary steps to finalize the vision of new business.
Across the county, each township and municipality has a different view of economic development. Conway, Iosco, and Unadilla Townships have shown no interest in the services supplied by Spark. Brighton and Putnam Townships have recently rejected resolutions to support Spark’s mission.
However, many other townships and municipalities have found partnership with Spark very beneficial.
If you have any comments or concerns, I would be happy to hear from you. 517 540-8717 or

Backgound info:

I am a lifelong resident of Livingston County (Fowlerville), and my varied work experiences have, I believe, fitted me to understand the everyday struggles of the people I represent.  As I talk to people in my district, I frequently run across those who say, “I knew your dad,” and proceed to tell me about what they learned from him or how he helped them. Some know my siblings, my wife, or my in-laws, showing that reputations are built over many years and many relationships.  

The accomplishments of the Livingston County Board of Commissioners are those of the whole group, not any one person.  I am proud of the work we have done: keeping taxes low; spending within our budget (even saving a rainy-day fund); putting finishing touches on the new jail building; and initiating the construction of a state-of-the-art 911 dispatch building.  We supported the health department in refurbishing the building that is now MCDC (My Community Dental Center), which is a full- service office especially for low-income residents or those without dental insurance.

It has been my goal to keep in touch with local governments in the county as much as possible and to address constituent concerns, taking them to the correct department, getting answers, and following up with the persons who raised them (or putting them directly in contact with the right agency).

Working on the OLHSA board has acquainted me with the availability of education and assistance aimed at helping low-income folks to help themselves, raising their standard of living and helping them eventually to become independent of government help, restoring their sense of personal pride.  I now serve on OLHSA’s executive committee.

The learning curve for a county commissioner requires more than two years in office, to know the system and the people in order to be most effective on the job.  I am looking forward to another term in order to help keep a consistency in our county government. I want to further my involvement with the opioid taskforce which is working toward a unified solution to the problems facing our county, state, and nation.

I am a constitutional conservative and a Republican who has served my country in Korea during the Viet Nam war, who supports our 2nd amendment rights, and who has the endorsement of the Right to Life PAC of Michigan.  The privilege of electing our representatives in this country is the heart of our liberty and should never be taken for granted.  I humbly ask for your vote on Tuesday, November 3rd, so that I may continue to serve you.

2020 General Election Message

I was drafted into the military in 1969 and served for two years.  All but 3 of my advanced-training class (50-60 people) went to Viet Nam.  I was one of the three who were sent to Korea. Going almost anywhere in the world makes you very thankful that you have the privilege of being an American.  Though no one showed me disrespect when I walked through an airport in uniform, I could feel the tension. In retrospect, we can imagine that much of the Vietnam protest was not just organic, but had a certain level of funded organizers, and the “trusted” media had an agenda to legitimize the claim that the war was unjust.  We recently visited the “wall that heals” when it came to Livingston County. It helps to put history in context. My wife and I witnessed an older couple who came to see one name and have a veteran sponsor help them “trace” the name on a piece of paper. This was perhaps their first experience of the wall and the honor finally given to their loved one.  Was it a son or a nephew? Did they contemplate what might have been as they viewed the name? I stand with all veterans and greatly revere those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for freedom. We can’t all do that, but we can each do our part for our families, our communities, our counties, and our country.

I believe in low taxes and limited government.  Government has two basic purposes. One is to protect each person and group from tyranny, to keep the peace so that we can dwell in safety, and to protect our personal property.  The other is to provide for services, in areas that can better be addressed by everyone together instead of one alone, such as maintaining roads, etc.

As a County Commissioner, I have sought to be a team player and have asked many questions to understand the issues before the board instead of making snap decisions.  I have encouraged the forward movement of our county to more efficient government, but that which is also responsive to the everyday needs of citizens. I support money-saving measures where sensible, because a dollar not spent this year is a dollar decreased in next year’s budget.  I have advocated for the new state-of-the-art 911 dispatch center now underway. I agreed with “piggy-backing” a smaller project with the 911 project so as to save money on the smaller project, which was building a structure to house tactical vehicles giving them a longer life and making them available for immediate use in all weather conditions.

We are presently considering two major expenditures: the first would be a one-time infusion of money to roads in a way that will leverage state and federal funds in conjunction with local money; second, to build a permanent building for the Meals On Wheels program that serves 1500 meals 5 days a week to residents in Livingston and Oakland counties.  Again, there is a sizeable grant that will help to buy property and build the facility in Livingston County. To initiate the grant, money will need to be given by both counties. Even for a limited-government person like me, it makes sense that some expenditure now, to insure that a worthy program has facilities for 30 to 50 years into the future, has merit.

I see that part of my responsibility as a commissioner is to exercise oversight of the volunteer boards to which we appoint voting members.  The Veterans’ Affairs committee is an example. Information during this election cycle from a political party has served to highlight this duty.  I have done research and asked questions to make myself aware of the actual facts of this matter. The board has no authority to “micromanage” these committees, but to ask for reports on activities, which we are currently doing.

The PFAS issue must also be considered outside of the political realm.  We all want clean water and a pristine world to live in. Thankfully, the governor has taken action uncovering the problems in the Huron River watershed.  The major sources so far are outside of Livingston county. Our Health Department, who reports to us twice a month, is on the front lines in handling this issue.  I will completely support their approach to find and minimize the effects of this pollution wherever found in our county.

I ask for your vote on November 3th so that I may continue to represent you, the residents of western Livingston county.  It is a privilege I enjoy.

Ride-Along with Livingston County Sheriff

This month some of my time has been spent experiencing services provided in Livingston County.  One morning I did a “ride along” with Deputy Davis in an attempt to “walk a mile” in a policeman’s moccasins.  We responded to several calls: a customer complaint at a local restaurant that had the potential to become violent; the stopping of a speeding vehicle going 70 mph on a back road; an investigation of a report of a couch left beside the road; and finally an answer to a call from a home where a young person had died of a drug overdose.  Deputy Davis is a product of the comprehensive training and dedication of our local sheriff’s department.

I was invited to visit the jail to observe first- hand the operations and improvements along with the new addition.  The new setup allows the county to properly separate inmates according to risk and to provide further services and support to prepare them to become productive citizens.

The board of commissioners has passed a resolution encouraging the development of broadband access for rural Livingston County.  This was a necessary step in the qualification process so that we may receive state and federal grants for that purpose.

This week the 911 Dispatch Center was on my agenda.  The Deputy Director, Chad Chewning, gave me a tour of the facility, acquainting me with the new system and the protocols used nationwide.  He also shared his vision for the future.

As your county representative, I look forward to your input.  You may email me at

Looking back to 2016: Introduction of Doug Helzerman for Livingston County Commissioner

Douglas Helzerman, a candidate for Livingston County commissioner of District 4, has a vision of what the rural western side of the county could be like in 50 years.

The Republican candidate said future development should be a balance two things: maintaining rural character and changing with the times.

“I would encourage development of what I would call the Gregory Road project,” Helzerman said.

He said Gregory Road could be “developed into a big road,” which could involve building Interstate 96 ramp exchanges.

“Then each township could develop a village along it for stores and industry, and you could retain the rural flavor. Development has been discouraged by dividing it into 5-acre plots. It eats up the farmland. I favor developing villages and you can still keep large farmland,” he said.

The District 4 county commissioner represents all of Conway, Handy, Iosco and Unadilla townships; the village of Fowlerville; and a portion of Putnam Township.

He will be running against fellow Republican Mary Helfmann and Democrat Dennis Lee Andrzyczak, who have also filed as candidates.

Current District 4 County Commissioner Ron VanHouten — Helzerman ran against him twice in close races — is running for a trustee position in Iosco Township.

“My family moved to the county when I was in kindergarten before the expressway. My dad was one of the first people out of Detroit in the 1950s, and he wanted to move out of Detroit because he saw the moral decay. And he moved out of Detroit as the Democrats took over and the population decreased. … I always hope for western Livingston County we would be smarter than other people who handled the influx of people from Detroit,” he said.

Helzerman said things could start today.

“It could be 50 years down the road, but if we don’t start today, it would be more expensive to buy the right of ways,” he said.

The former Fowlervile village councilman has a background in religious education. He was a principal at Fowlerville Baptist School and taught at Wixom Christian School. He is also a deacon who attends Antrim Baptist Church. He said he started getting involved in the community through the church he was brought up in, Fowlerville Baptist Church, after returning from Korea where he served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.


Helzerman, who is retired from other jobs he has had since stepping away from teaching 10 years ago, said he intends to be “a full-time commissioner” if voters elect him.


He said roads, sewer and water infrastructure should be priorities.


Preparing for changes in Internet technology and communications is also needed, in his opinion.


“One of the things that rural American will be dealing with is the removal of phone lines. From what I understand, that is coming, and if the county and townships are not in front of that and provide high-speed Internet, there is going to be a train wreck,” Helzerman said.


Written by

Jennifer Eberbach

Appeared in Livingston Daily

May 8, 2016