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Living in Hart, Mears, Silver Lake Areas

Where Home, Work and Play meet in the Hart of Oceana County, Michigan

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HOME

The Silver Lake Sand Dunes area, which includes Hart, Mears, and Silver Lake, is very easy to call home.  The people, businesses and organizations in our communities are very personable and friendly.  They provide you with the necessities plus attractions, things to do, shopping, dining, events, activities and services. Visit our website at www.ThinkDunes.com for all the details.

Our Chamber of Commerce is located in Hart, Michigan, Oceana’s County Seat.  Therefore, several of the county government offices and services are located here.  Hart is surrounded by villages and townships, they are: Benona, Crystal Valley, Mears, New Era, Pentwater, Silver Lake, Shelby, Walkerville and Weare. Our downtowns have community activities and traditional events.  Thanks to our local businesses, community organizations, Hart Main Street, Chambers of Commerce and Silver Lake Sand Dunes – Hart Visitor Bureau.

NATURAL BEAUTY – Our homes are surrounded by natural beauty.  Located nearby: Silver Lake Sand Dunes, Lake Michigan, Manistee National Forest, The William Field Hart-Montague Bike Trail, in-land lakes and streams, wildlife and wetland preserves, local and state parks, forests, farms land, nature trails, off-road vehicle trails, campgrounds and more!  This is a perfect place to live when you love the great outdoors!

We have three lake communities, Hart, Silver Lake and Pentwater.  Hart Lake is within walking distance of Downtown Hart.  Hart has shopping, dining, annual events, activities, lodging, and a supportive community.  Silver Lake is surrounded by the Silver Lake Sand Dunes and Silver Lake downtown area.  Silver Lake is a vacation destination that draws people from afar to play on the Silver Lake Sand Dunes and is home for many. Pentwater is a harbor town off of Lake Michigan.  Pentwater has marinas, shopping, dining, annual events and a friendly atmosphere.

SCHOOLS

We have four public schools in our County, they are: Hart Public Schools, Shelby Public Schools, Pentwater Public Schools and Walkerville Public Schools.

There are also two private schools in our County, they are: New Era Christian School and Maple Valley Christian Day School.

HART PUBLIC SCHOOLS is a school that serves over 1,200 students. Our four buildings are located on an attractive single campus.  They are: The Diman-Wolf Early Childhood Center houses Head Start/Early Head Start, Great Start Readiness Program, Pirate Playgroups (for children birth to 5 years old) and the Central Business Office; Spitler Elementary houses grades K-4; Hart Middle School houses grades 5-8 as well as the district auditorium; and Hart High School houses grades 9-12.

We take pride in our staff and students with their many accomplishments. There are: strong curriculum initiatives that are being aligned with the new 48 State Common Core Standards, an excellent and effective program for English Language Learners (ELL), cutting edge technology, rising test scores, and a strong performing arts program for the school and community.

In the fall of 2014, Spitler Elementary Principal, Amy Taranko, received the honor of MEMSPA (Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals Association) Principal of the Year Award for Region 12.  This is the same award that Superintendent Mark Platt received in 2012.  Spitler Elementary has also become an AWARD School with many successful programs in place to enhance achievement. At Hart High School, 2014-15 was the first year of the 1 to 1 Chromebook Initiative. This has proven to be successful as students take their use of technology to the next level.  Hart Middle School is home to our National Finalist for the Life Changer of the Year Award, Eric Jensen.

Hart Public Schools is pleased to announce that the Superintendent of Schools and Principals are all graduates of the Leadership Matters Program. Hart Public Schools is the first district in the State of Michigan to receive this honor.

In 2015, the district passed a $16 Million bond issue which will renovate the high school and provide secure entrances to our buildings.

WALKERVILLE PUBLIC SCHOOLS are located approximately 12 miles east of Hart and 45 miles northeast of Muskegon, Michigan in Oceana County. The school district serves approximately 280 students from kindergarten through 12th grade throughout the school year and generally serves an additional 100 to 120 students during the autumn and spring months. These additional students typically move to southwestern states throughout the winter months where their families seek out seasonal employment. The school district employs approximately 25 teachers in one high school / middle school building, one elementary building and a few outbuildings. The Walkerville area is comprised mainly of farming communities. Those who do not work on local farms generally find employment in surrounding cities.

WEST SHORE EDUCATIONAL SERVICES DISTRICT is one of Michigan 65 ISD’s who serve the needs of the eight local school districts in the region.  Services provided by WSESD include Career and Technical Education Classes at the regional CTE center located on the campus of West Shore Community College.  General Educational services provide a wide variety of best practice staff development sessions for local educators and collaborative business and technology services for area schools. The special education department provides specialized services for all area schools, specialized classrooms for special needs students and staff development for local educators and school leaders.

WEST SHORE COMMUNITY COLLEGE “home base” is 360 scenic acres of rolling timberland, located near Ludington, Manistee, and Scottville at the intersection of North Stiles and Sugar Grove Roads in Mason County, Michigan.   Established in 1967, the College offers a comprehensive general education curricula designed to meet the needs of students interested in occupational programs leading to immediate employment and students wishing to transfer to a senior institution.  The College offers Associate of Applied Arts and Sciences Degrees, One-and Two-Year Certificates, and many custom-designed Associate of Arts and Associate of Sciences Degree Programs to meet transfer students’ needs. The College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and earns its accreditation by participating in the Academic Quality Improvement Project (AQIP).

West Shore Community College offers several options for high school students who are ready to learn. They offer Dual Enrollment, ASM Tech and Career and Technical Education.

HOUSING AND LODGING

Our area has historic and well maintain single family homes and rental apartments/properties.  There are apartment complexes, mobile homes and rental homes.  Choose to live downtown, in the city, village, or country and by lakes, streams, forest, fields or parks.

If you or your guests are looking for temporary lodging or a vacation, our area has it all.   We have Hotels, Motels, Resorts, Campgrounds, Cottages and Cabins.

Please contact our realtors and lodging options listed on www.ThinkDunes.com for more details.

SHOPPING AND DINING

From Steak to Pizza, Mexican dining to Ice Cream, Stores to Wineries, Music to Art, Grocery Stores to Farm Markets – and everything in between! There’s something sure to tempt everyone’s tastebuds.

From unique convenience shops to shopping centers to antique stores to bakeries; Plan on taking a stroll through the downtown districts or a beautiful country drive to a few ‘off the beaten path’ shops.

Buy farm fresh and taste the local difference! Discover the produce of our amazing area. Depending on the season, the orchards may be filled with incredible blossoms or fruit ready for the harvesting. Much of the local produce is available at quaint roadside farm markets. The farm markets will brim with fresh possibilities. In early summer, Oceana County’s #1 crop is crisp and ready to take home…asparagus. Corn, tomatoes, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries are also available throughout the summer at local farm markets.

SERVICES

Our area has strong service businesses to take care of our residents.

There are two local clinics tied to hospitals and specialists in nearby cities. Plus senior centers and services to keep our elderly safe and active.  There is eye care, therapy and fitness centers.

The City & County government agencies, legal, insurance, financial, title companies, utilities, and accountants.  Plus, automotive and off-Road vehicle services, home contractors, animal care, salons, spas & massage, churches and more.

For more information on our services look to this guide.

LOCAL EVENTS

In our communities, we enjoy the holidays, parades, music, arts, community, history, and country.

We have Memorial Day parade and services, Veteran’s Day, Halloween Parades, Lighted Christmas Parade that include our local bands, businesses and friends.

Our annual events are: WinterFest, Spring and Fall Mount Baldy Hill Climb, Bluegrass Festival, Tunes, Brews & Dunes, Blessing of the Duners, National Asparagus Festival, Hart Sparks on the 2nd of July, Fireworks in Silver Lake on the 4th of July, Take it to Hart – Car Show, Pleasant Afternoon Celebration, Oceana County Fair, Hart Heritage Days Festival, Labor Day Rich Tompkins Memorial 5K, Silver Lake Apple & BBQ Festival, Hispanic Celebration, and Home for the Holidays.

For details on our events, visit our Event Calendar or Facebook pages “Think Dunes” and “Think Community – Hart, Mears, & Silver Lake, MI”. To request our Events & Activities e-Updates, contact us by e-mail at Director@ThinkDunes.com

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WORK

Agricultural and Agricultural Processing is our number one economic strength in our community.  Throughout our county we have corporate and family farms.  We grow asparagus, cherries, peaches, pears, apples, plums, corn, squash, pork, cows and dairy cows.  We also have the high-tech commodity processing that complements our agriculture industry, so jobs of varying skills sets are desired in our community.

Tourism is our second industry which brings seasonal jobs and with it a variety of opportunities and excitement.  Silver Lake Sand Dunes is a natural Lake Michigan tourist destination location.  National, state, county parks and preserves offers us many hunters, fisherman, off-road vehicle drivers, photographers, and nature vacationers, which provide us more job opportunities.

Small Businesses is our third industry.  You will enjoy and benefit from our small businesses in our county.  They provide our living necessities, such as salons, contractors, spas, automotive, and hardware.  Plus they give you the opportunity to get to know the business owners and entrepreneurs.

Manufacturing Industry is not to be forgotten either; many communities in our county have at least one manufacturer.  Several of the factories are high-tech as well.

Business Support

The Silver Lake Sand Dunes Area Chamber of Commerce is located at 2388 N. Comfort Drive, Hart, Michigan. Their purpose is to preserve the competitive enterprise system; to create a better understanding of business; to promote the civic, social and cultural program of the community; and to advance the general welfare and prosperity of the Hart, Mears, and Silver Lake area.  We have 216 members.  Our Chamber of Commerce follows a three year strategic plan with goals and plans centered around: Economic & Tourist Development, Member Services, Network Opportunities & Collaboration, Create and Maintain Dynamic Chamber and Excellent Leaders. For more information visit our www.ThinkDunes.com, and Facebook Page: Think Community – Hart, Mears, Silver Lake, MI.  Our key partners are Silver Lake Sand Dunes – Hart Visitor Bureau, Travel Michigan, Michigan Great Outdoors, Hart Main Street, Pentwater Chamber of Commerce, Oceana’s Herald Journal, and Silver Lake State Park.

The Silver Lake Sand Dunes – Hart Visitor Bureau is located at 2388 N Comfort Drive, Hart, MI 49420.  They promote tourism and support the Hotels, Motels, and Resorts businesses in our area.  The Visitor Bureau is in the middle of a two year branding project and will continue until the end of 2015.  In 2014, most of their time and effort was spent gathering data from visitors and tourism stakeholders in the area.  They released a newly designed 2015 Visitors Guide. The goal is to create a more modern brand for the Silver Lake Sand Dunes Area with the purpose of attracting more visitors and increasing business!  For more information, visit our website: www.ThinkDunes.com, and Facebook Page: ThinkDunes.

The www.ThinkDunes.com website promotes our area.  It is the joint website between the Silver Lake Sand Dunes Area Chamber of Commerce and the Silver Lake Sand Dunes – Hart Visitor Bureau.  The web hits annual count is: 313,449.

The Silver Lake Sand Dunes – Hart Visitor Information Center is at 2388 N. Comfort Drive, Hart, MI 49420.  Last year, the 25 volunteers and staff welcomed 1020 walk-ins, answered 1472 phone calls, returned 615, and mailed out 905 Visitor Guides.  Visitor Center is open from 9am to 5pm Monday – Friday and on Saturdays at 10am to 2pm between Memorial Day Weekend and the 2nd week of September.  The Fall through Spring hours are posted on our website, phone, and office.  The Center is closed for Holidays and based on Hart Public School closings due to weather.  Both the Silver Lake Sand Dunes Area Chamber of Commerce and the Silver Lake Sand Dunes – Hart Visitor Bureau offices are at this location.

The Oceana County Economic Development Corporation is located at 314 S. State Street, Hart, Mi 49420.  It is a not-for-profit corporation, originated to assist business development needs in Oceana County. They offer a wide array of services to present and prospective new business, including financing, site selection, research information, education, networking opportunities with economic development agencies, work force development and trade. Their Corporation partners closely with local, regional, and state agencies to create a strong link for industry needs. For more information, visit: www.oceana.mi.us/economic-development-corp/.  Office hours are 8am-4:30pm Monday-Friday.

Michigan Works – West Central provides a variety of workforce development services to businesses and job seekers within Oceana, Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Newaygo, and Osceola Counties.  They are a partnership of several non-profit, governmental and educational agencies, so in their offices you have access to many publicly-funded programs.

In Hart, we are proud to have The Starting Block (1535 Industrial Park Drive, Hart, MI 49420), West Michigan’s Non-Profit Regional Kitchen Incubator and Entrepreneurial Center.  The Starting Block’s commercial kitchen facility is available to: Producers and packagers of specialty and gourmet food, Caterers, and Church, School, Civic Groups.  Their mission is to incubate and support the entrepreneurial spirit, in the food systems and natural resources sector, by providing licensed commercial kitchen facilities, entrepreneurial education and peer-to-peer networking to new and expanding businesses in the multi-county, West Central Michigan region and beyond.  For more information, visit: www.StartingBlock.biz

The Hart Main Street Program is located in Downtown Hart at 49 S. State Street. Stakeholders and volunteers work hard to ensure that the Historic Hart Downtown District reflects our community identity and heritage.  Downtown Hart is a center of activity and economic stability, thanks to the program’s concentrated efforts in inspiring pride, creating events, improving the looks and functionality of downtown’s infrastructure, and retaining and recruiting businesses.  For more information visit: www.hartmainstreet.org. This program is in its sixth year.  Hart Main Street has spearheaded many improvements and enhancements.

Broad based community support and awareness have been the key to Hart Main Street’s success.  For example, Hart Commons is a beautiful gathering spot overlooking Hart Lake, and was an early Hart Main Street vision made into reality.

In November of 2015, Downtown Hart was awarded a place on National Register of Historic Places.  In addition to the honor of this designation, the NRHP affords many benefits to building owners in the downtown area.  Tax credits for developers will encourage future projects with an eye toward historic preservation.

Downtown promotion events continue to draw larger groups.  February’s Winterfest gets folks out and enjoying the cold weather.  The downtown Hart Sparks celebration each July 2nd is a great way to get the community all together to celebrate our independence. The rollicking fun of the “Whatever Floats Your Boat” Cardboard Boat Regatta is great to participate in, or just to watch.   The Rich Tompkins 5k is a Labor Day weekend staple.  In the holiday months, we encourage everyone to support downtown businesses and to “Shop Local.”

Now a Master Level Main Street community, Hart Main Street continues to honor Hart’s heritage, promote prosperity in the present, and plan for the future. Everyone is welcome to join the volunteers of Hart Main Street. There is a plan in the works for a downtown mural. The overall design of downtown is always under scrutiny. Aesthetic and historically accurate improvements of streets and storefronts are always a priority.  New and diverse businesses that complement the existing mix of retailers are actively sought out.  Please feel free to stop by the Hart Main Street office anytime.  Sit in on a committee meeting or just bring by an idea.  Hart Main Street is a reflection of all the best of our community and its residents.

Employment Statistics

For Oceana our employment numbers are on positive trends.

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Unemployment

Workforce

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PLAY

We are a four season community, where you may enjoy spring, summer, autumn and winter activities.  You and your family can always find something to do and see here! The sand, sun, and fun await you at the Silver Lake Sand Dunes Area that is nestled between the shores of Lake Michigan and Silver Lake in Oceana County. Our area has so many choices for recreation, attractions, accommodations, dining and shopping that you are guaranteed to be happy, comfortable, and satisfied no matter what your tastes.  This is the perfect spot for a family to play.

Spend the morning on the dunes, the afternoon in the water and finish your day in the village of Silver Lake and city of Hart, — you won’t have to worry about running out of things to do. Whether you are looking for excitement or relaxation; make this your home vacation destination.  Invite your family and friends; they will not be disappointed.

The Silver Lake Sand Dunes are a natural phenomenon that attracts more than a million visitors each year. The magnificent dunes are divided into three sections; the northern area is reserved for off-road vehicles where you can test your vehicle and your sand driving skill.  Whether you rent or take your own vehicle this is a thrill you’ve got to experience. The center region is for hiking, walking, or simply enjoying the beaches of Lake Michigan and Silver Lake.  The southern end is home to Mac Woods Dune Rides. Mac Woods has been here for more than 85 years allowing visitors to enjoy a 40-minute 7-mile tour of the Silver Lake Sand Dunes.

Enjoy Activities: jet-skiing, boating, fishing/hunting, jeep tours, dune rides and dune buggy rentals . . . . the list is endless of the activities that can be enjoyed in this beautiful area!

Golfers: Enjoy the scenic, rolling splendor of Oceana County from the fairway on our many local and public golf courses.

Visit our Little Sable Point Lighthouse on Lake Michigan

The beautiful red brick lighthouse built in the late 1870’s is a must see.  You may come during the day for sunning and swimming or at night for the best sunset location in the county – you won’t be disappointed.  This location is also handicapped accessible.

Visit Silver Lake Sand Dunes & Lake Michigan Beaches

A day at one of our beautiful beaches will be a most treasured memory for all ages.  Lay out your towel, unfold your beach chair, put your toes in the warm fine sand and enjoy one of our many spectacular beaches. We have beaches perfectly geared for families seeking some shallow warm-water swimming for the younger kids and Big Lake access for the older kids and adults. We have beaches perfectly equipped for those individuals who want restroom facilities, playgrounds and picnic areas.

If you’re after romance, relaxation, or just fun in the sun, then you have found the right place!

Come visit the scenic 22-mile paved trail, excellent for bikers, runners, and walkers alike.

The William Field Hart-Montague Trail State Park is a newly re-paved, 22-mile trail formerly used by trains that passes through rural, forested lands. The trail begins in Hart John Gurney Park and ends at Montague with access points in Mears, Shelby, New Era. There are scenic overlooks and picnic areas located along the trail. You can bike (rentals available in Mears and area lodging) or hike the trail through woods, and orchards.  Then stop along the way for an ice cream cone. Enjoy wildlife, birds, fresh air and great exercise.  In the winter months, this trail may be used by snowmobiles.

Come and Visit Hart Historic District

The District has numerous old-time attractions and historical buildings to appeal to all ages. Tour a restored 19th century church, one room schoolhouse, log cabin, Chief Cobmoosa’s house, Hart Train Station (restoration in progress); an original grist, flour mill, and windmill. In the mill, watch the fabulous animated doll display in action. The church basement houses the extensive and unique “Seymour Rider Indian Artifacts Collection”, a must see for antique Indian and history buffs. During the month of December, the Historic District is adorned with old time streetscape holiday decorations and animated dolls are on display in the Farmer’s Market building.

Grab your bait & tackle and fish Lake Michigan or one of our inland Lakes and streams for a variety of fish.

With over 65 inland lakes and numerous streams there are several fishing options for the angler. The West Michigan area, as well as the rest of the state, is experiencing a resurgence of the great walleye fish. With many lakes receiving excellent walleye fingerling plantings, the species is one of the most popular fish with inland fishermen in Michigan.  Fishing for spirited walleye provides a challenge for every level and type of angler. Our area boasts many great fishing holes, and our lakes and streams are brimming with a wide variety of fish such as:  Northern Pike, Large and Smallmouth Bass, Pumpkinseed, Black Crappie, Bluegill and Perch.

To name only a few fishing locations: Crystal Lake, Gilbert Lake, Hart Lake, Lake Michigan, McLaren Lake, Pentwater River and Pentwater Pier, Round Lake, School Section Lake, Silver Lake, North Branch River, South Branch Pentwater River, Cedar Creek, Freeman Creek, North Branch White River, Stony Creek, Carlton Creek,

NOTE: Anglers should check the Oceana County Plat Map to check for public access to the above streams.

Oceana County is known for its natural splendor, and our parks are great places to enjoy it.

Oceana County has the park or trail for you – whether you want to lie on the beach, play at a playground, hike in the woods, bicycle on a rail trail or go bird watching in a nature area. Oceana County is known for its natural splendor and is one of the few remaining counties in the state that is holding onto its farmland. All this green space and beautiful countryside make our area a haven for people who want to just come and rest, take a deep breath and enjoy the scenery!  Our Parks are: Benona Township Park, Charles Mears State Park, Hart Commons, John Gurney Park, Cedar Point County Park, Claybanks Township Park, Crystal Lake, Gale’s Pond County Park, Golden Township Park, Hart Area Veterans Memorial County Park, The William Field Hart-Montague Bike Trail, Little Sable Point Lighthouse, Pentwater Pathways Trail, Silver Lake State Park, Silver Lake State Park ORV Area, Whiskey Creek Public Access.  For details visit www.ThinkDunes.com

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