New parks member a ‘grassroots kind of person’

Township board unanimously appoints Tom Hoekman to open seat on parks commission.
Tom Hoekman was appointed to the Parks and Recreation Commission on Jan. 10, 2024.

The Laketown Township Board of Trustees unanimously appointed a longtime parks participant to fill an opening on the Parks and Recreation Commission. Tom Hoekman will serve on the commission through the November election.

The board interviewed three candidates at its Wednesday, Jan. 10, meeting.

“We’re blessed with three really good candidates,” said Supervisor Linda Howell.

Other candidates were Paul Eshenaur and Gray Gogolin.

Board members highlighted Hoekman’s down-to-earth demeanor and interest in township activities.

“You’re not a stranger,” Trustee Jim Delaney said about Hoekman. “We need a grassroots kind of person.”

“He clearly has a passion for the township,” said Treasurer Jim Johnson.

Hoekman has a background in construction and maintenance for 40 years. He frequently attends township board and parks commission meetings.

Because he often gives his opinion, he said during the Wednesday interview, “I better step up and participate.”

He participated in the Huyser Farm House Committee meeting in 2022 that recommended the house at Huyser Farm Park be torn down. The parks commission is seeking estimates to demolish the 1939 house once occupied by Manuel and Lilah Huyser who donated 102 acres of land as a township park.

Being in the audience at meetings has made Hoekman familiar with parks issues.

“I have a little bit of a head start and know what’s going on,” he said.

He said keeping the parks in good shape is a top goal.

“We have great parks. Let’s maintain what we have,” he said. The number of parks the township has now is manageable, he said, adding that he would not be opposed to someone donating more land for parks.

Getting new steps at the beach is also important, he said.

About the commission

The parks commission is an elected five-member board that oversees township parks. Other members are Karen Simmons, Richard Becker, Anne Brand and Brad Laninga.

Hoekman’s first meeting will be 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 17, at the township hall, 4338 Beeline Road.

For more information, visit or call (616) 335-3050.