Change Ups: Long Road Distiller’s cherry brandy snags international award


Long Road Distillers was awarded 93 Points and a Gold Medal at the 2016 International Review of Spirits. The local distillery was named the Top Rated Fruit Brandy for its Long Road Cherry Brandy. The award-winning 80-proof spirit is made from 100 percent West Michigan grown tart cherries from Heffron Farms in Belding. The brandy packs over 24 pounds of cherries into every 375 ml bottle. The distillery has partnered with Heffron Farms on other fruit-inspired spirits, including last year’s release of Raspberry Flavored Vodka.

Architecture & Engineering

TowerPinkster hired Greg Koenig as a senior project manager. Koenig will lead the management of major projects, as well as aid TowerPinkster in its continued project experience expansion across the Midwest.


SpartanNash won a national 2016 Community Outreach Award for its Double Up Food Bucks program, a public-private partnership administered by Fair Food Network with support provided by federal, state and private sources and is offered by 17 SpartanNash-owned Michigan Family Fare Supermarkets.


Independent Bank Corp., the holding company of Independent Bank, announced its board of directors appointed Christina Keller to the boards of the Corporation and the Bank.


First Companies announced the company completed two new office suites for Mercy Health Physician Partners and Mercy Health Lab & X-Ray, enabling the medical care provider to re-establish its presence in the Cascade area. The 42,000-plus-square-foot Class A medical professional office building was completed in August and is located just south of the Heritage Pointe complex at 2144 E. Paris Ave. in Grand Rapids.

Triangle Associates Inc. hired Jolene Rosser as marketing director, Don Buczkowski as architectural production manager, John Bellows as a site project manager, Pat Battaglia as a site superintendent, Kelsey Ford as a marketing coordinator, Laura Freel and Terri Ashmore as executive administrators, and Christina Cummings as a project administrator.


Grand Valley State University professor and former Grand Rapids Comptroller Donijo DeJonge was unanimously elected the new chair of the Kent County Republican Committee.

Matt Lori, of Constantine, now is senior deputy director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Service’s Policy, Planning and Legislative Services Administration. Lori will oversee Michigan Rehabilitation Services, Health Policy and Innovation, Legislative and Constituent Services and the Office of Planning, which includes the innovative Pathways to Potential. Richard Kline, of Grand Rapids, now is senior deputy director of the MDHHS’s Aging & Adult Services Agency. Both were serving in those capacities on an acting basis.


Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan awarded $740,000 in shared grants to 50 free and low-cost health care clinics across the state to expand access to medical and dental care, and five Federally Qualified Health Centers will receive nearly $370,000 to help build their capacity to care for vulnerable patients and support innovation and transformation within Michigan’s safety net.

The city of Wyoming received a $300,000 grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund to help rebuild Ideal Park. The city will add the awarded grant funds to $508,000, which was previously budgeted. The total investment in Phase 1 capital improvements to Ideal Park is $808,000.


Acrisiure LLC announced the acquisition of Alaska USA Insurance Brokers commercial insurance and employee benefits books of business. The new company will operate under the name Insurance Brokers of Alaska. All commercial lines and employee benefits staff will remain the same and operate out of the existing location. Alaska USA Insurance Brokers will continue to operate as a personal lines insurance agency.


Robert M. Huff joined Varnum’s estate planning practice in the firm’s Grand Rapids office. Huff focuses his practice on estate planning, tax and business and is experienced with advanced estate planning vehicles and family limited partnerships. He works with various business entities, including corporations, partnerships and LLCs.


FireKeepers Casino Hotel in Battle Creek announced it will take part in the Jan. 16 Restock The Shelves, a charity poker event sponsored by Ante Up Magazine and Blue Shark Optics that will help restock the shelves of the Food Bank of South Central Michigan. The event is part of a national initiative that encourages poker venues and players to donate to their local food banks.

The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians and its Four Winds Casinos in New Buffalo announced a donation of 1,200 baskets of food to those in need across northern Indiana and southwest Michigan, which were delivered from Dec. 19-22. Each basket included a turkey, potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, corn and apple pie.

Van Andel Arena announced it will cap off its year-long commemoration of 20 years by inviting the community to a charity benefit dinner Jan. 17 followed by a conversation with Detroit Tigers Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Al Avila, Detroit Red Wings Executive Vice President and General Manager Ken Holland and Detroit Pistons General Manager Jeff Bower.


Detroit-based DriverOnCall is a new driver service that has been expanded throughout Michigan for seniors who need a personal driver to chauffeur them in their own vehicles for $25 per hour with a minimum of one hour per reservation. Reservations are available at (888) 713-7483; 24 hours in advance are recommended.


Rockford-based Wolverine announced its Wolverine Crossbuck LX was named the 2016 Best of the Best hunting boot by Field & Stream magazine; and Gear Patrol also named the Wolverine Workshop Custom 1000 Mile program as a 2016 GP100 Winner.


Gov. Rick Snyder announced the reappointment of Ruth Rondon, of Wyoming, to the Human Trafficking Health Advisory Board; the appointment of Lisa Brennan, of Grand Rapids, to the Michigan Board of Audiology; the appointment of Amna Seibold, of East Grand Rapids, to the Ferris State University Board of Trustees; Randall (Randy) Damstra, of Ada, and Kate Pew Wolters, of Grand Rapids, were reappointed to the Grand Valley State University Board of Trustees; James Haveman, of Grand Haven, was appointed to the Northern Michigan University Board of Trustees; and Ronald (Ron) Kitchens, of Portage, was appointed to the Western Michigan University Board of Trustees.

State Rep.-Elect Steve Johnson, R-Wayland, representing the 72nd District, announced Jonathan Mieczkowski and Steve Carra will serve as his legislative assistants.

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters announced he has been appointed to the Senate Committee on Armed Services for the 115th Congress, subject to ratification by the Democratic Caucus.

RETAIL has partnered with Ada-based baked-to-order cookie company Cookie Chicks to offer the West Michigan marketplace their line of fruit bouquets. In return, the Cookie Chicks brand and products will be featured on’s Local Artisan pages and will be available to order for delivery along with the rest of the 1-800-FLOWERS line.


Joy Walczak joined Family Futures as a resource champion, supporting fund development and communications efforts.


The PGA of America announced Jimmy Wisinski, of Grand Rapids and Stonewater Country Club, completed the requirements to achieve advanced certification through the PGA Certified Professional Program 2.0 in the Michigan PGA Section of the Teaching & Coaching category.


Trivalent Group in Grandville announced the appointments of Keith Brophy as one of three outside group board of directors; Byron Hurd as a senior account manager; and Fred Helms as an account manager for systems solutions.

Worksighted in Holland was recognized for the second year in a row from the National Association for Business Resources as one of the Best and Brightest Companies to Work For.

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