Change Ups: Hoekwater appointed WM Legal Aid executive director


Pamela Hoekwater. Courtesy Legal Aid of Western Michigan

The Legal Aid of Western Michigan board appointed Pamela Hoekwater as the organization’s executive director. Hoekwater succeeds Juan Salazar, who is retiring after 39 years with Legal Aid, the last five as executive director. Hoekwater was born and raised in Grand Rapids, graduating from South Christian High School and Calvin College before moving to South Bend, Indiana, for three years to attend Notre Dame Law School, where she graduated in 2001. Thereafter, she worked as a staff attorney at Legal Aid’s Grand Rapids office. In 2015, she became Legal Aid’s director of community collaboration.


Francena Purchase-Owens is the recipient of Marquis Who's Who Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award. Drawing upon more than four decades of professional experience, Purchase-Owens is a marketing professional, consultant, educator and scholar, and is the president of the Francena Purchase International Honors & Awards Society, Francena Purchase International Applied Liberal Studies Society, Francena Purchase International Applied Professional Studies Society and Francena Purchase Applied Studies Society. She has served as the president and marketing researcher with Francena Purchase Consultant Services since 2006. 

Holland-based Macatawa Unmanned Systems LLC was named a top 10 Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems sUAS (drone) security company in the country by Enterprise Security Magazine.


Firestorm Solutions Inc. announced it named Jason Russell as president of the company. Russell will lead both Firestorm Solutions LLC and Firestorm Franchising LLC.

Nichols appointed Mary LaGuire in the newly created role of corporate sales trainer. Under LaGuire’s direction, the training program will start with building a training framework for the Nichols sales force and evolve into the leadership of customer training programs. In this role, she will spearhead the Nichols’ core value of promoting learning and development so Nichols associates and customers can continually learn, grow and expand in their capacity as individuals both personally and professionally. LaGuire comes to Nichols with 17 years of industry experience from a long, growing career at Rubbermaid Commercial Products, holding a variety of roles in sales, marketing and management.


Erhardt Construction in Ada announced the promotions of Ryan Formsma to vice president of business development and Stan Elenbaas to vice president of estimating. Elenbaas has 31 years of estimating and construction management experience, the last 20 years with Erhardt. Formsma has over 25 years of experience working in various facets of the construction industry.

Grand Rapids-based Pella Windows and Doors by Horne was honored by the executive team at Pella Corporation with both the Trade Division President’s Award for Outstanding Performance and the Trade Division Growth Award for 2018. Both awards are given to only two branches across the nation. They recognize outstanding all-around performance and the highest level of sales growth respectively. Pella By Horne serves architects, commercial builders and general contractors within Michigan.

Local resident Chris Dykstra, sales representative for the builder and architect division for Pella By Horne of Grand Rapids, was honored by the executive team at Pella Corporation with the 2018 President’s Award for outstanding sales performance that has led to growth and development of the brand. Dykstra has been with Pella By Horne for six years and works with trade in selecting, servicing and installing the best windows and doors for their projects. Dykstra lives in East Grand Rapids with his growing family and wife Bailey.


Former Gov. Rick Snyder appointed Grand Rapids Community College President Bill Pink to a three-year term on the 21st Century Talent Creation Subcommittee, joining educators from universities, community colleges and intermediate school and K-12 districts. The subcommittee will work with the governor’s Talent Investment Board, which includes industry executives, labor leaders, educators, lawmakers and representatives of state agencies. It will focus on changing demands for skills and how collaboration with educators can more quickly prepare residents for rapidly changing workplaces.

Kent County Parks was recently recommended for two grants from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund for land acquisition projects. A $683,200 grant to acquire 122 acres at Lowell Regional Park and a $294,000 grant to expand Millennium Park 5 acres was requested. The Lowell park expansion will include hiking trails, a playground, restroom, picnic facilities and park, while Millennium Park will include habitat restoration, pond fishing and a connection to the Fred Meijer Standale Trail. The recommendations now go to the Michigan Legislature for review as part of next year’s appropriation process.

The Ottawa County Road Commission approved posting bridge weight limits for two bridges in Zeeland Township in Ottawa County. A 19-ton weight limit has been established on Byron Road over the Black River east of I-196, and a 10-ton weight limit has been established on 96th Avenue over the Black River south of Adams Street. Any vehicles exceeding the respective weight limits on the two bridges must seek alternate routes.


Metro Health – University of Michigan Health in Wyoming announced the additions of primary care pediatricians, Kimberly Meles, Caitlin Mlynarek and Mandy Potter; pediatric nephrology pediatrician, Mary Avendt-Reeber; pediatric urology, Bryan Sack and Courtney Streur; pediatric pulmonology, Toby Lewis; and pediatric rheumatology, James Birmingham.


MomsBloom, a Grand Rapids-based peer support group for early motherhood, announced since its relaunch, the transition team has successfully matched 24 mothers with trained volunteers to assist them with their newborn babies. MomsBloom currently has 21 active volunteers, 18 volunteers on temporary hold, 20 volunteers signed up and awaiting training, and 10 moms in queue on the waiting list.


SpartanNash and Miller Poultry recently donated 3,000 pounds of chicken to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan and an additional 6,000 pounds of chicken to Access of West Michigan and its network of local food banks — including SECOM, Flat River Outreach Ministries, United Church Outreach Ministries, Northwest Food Pantry, Westminster Food Pantry, Baxter Community Center, The Other Way Ministries and North End Community Ministries. The donations took place at the VG’s Grocery in Fenton and the Metro Family Fare Supermarket in Wyoming, both part of SpartanNash’s family of retail stores. VG’s and Family Fare associates helped with the distribution of the donation, reinforcing SpartanNash’s commitment to fighting hunger in the communities it serves.

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