Change Ups: Teacher, attorney receive Peacemaker Awards


The Dispute Resolution Center of West Michigan presented Wyoming High School art teacher Robyn Gransow-Higley and attorney Carl Ver Beek (left) of Varnum LLP with Local Peacemaker Awards. Gransow-Higley incorporates restorative practices in all of her classes to build positive community and address conflict. Ver Beek has donated hundreds of hours as a volunteer mediator for the Dispute Resolution Center of West Michigan, helping people resolve a wide variety of disagreements, both at the center and on-site at local courts.


Grand Rapids community activist and business owner Tami VandenBerg was appointed to the board of directors of MI Legalize, a political organization to end cannabis prohibition in Michigan.


Davenport University announced Josh Serba, chief information officer at AHC+Hospitality, is the recipient of the College of Technology Alumni Achievement Award; Pat McPherson, senior sales engineer at ITS Partners, received the Hy Berkowitz Professional Excellence Award; and Wendy Morrow, chief financial officer at Grand Haven Custom Molding, received the Donald W. Maine College of Business Alumni Achievement Award.

The Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce announced the 2017 EPIC Awards recipients: Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Elizabeth Schenk, Posh Petals; Woman-Owned Business of the Year, Mixed Staffing & Recruiting; Minority-Owned Business of the Year, Preferred Construction Group; Veteran-Owned Business of the Year, Elevator Service Inc.; Small Business of the Year, SheFit; Nonprofit of the Year, Dégagé Ministries; and Excellence in Business, Sun Title Agency.

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum honored Mark LaCroix, Natural Capital Partners executive vice president for the Americas, as the 12th inductee into the West Michigan Sustainable Business Hall of Fame, and Sarah Chartier, Spectrum Health sustainability program manager, as an emerging professional whose work deserves further recognition.


The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the American Subcontractors Association of Michigan signed an alliance agreement formalizing a mutual commitment to workplace safety and health.


Western Michigan University student Tanja Frederick was selected by the Crime Prevention Association of Michigan to receive the Crime Prevention Volunteer Award in recognition of her contributions to the city of Grand Rapids Hoarding Task Force during her internship.


LiveWall in Spring Lake created a display of green walls at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh to showcase vertical gardening as an option for growing produce in urban areas.


The BISSELL Pet Foundation’s recent free EMPTY THE SHELTERS adoption event found homes for 2,142 pets from 75 shelters. Each pet adopted from a shelter created space for another pet to be taken in, resulting in 4,284 lives saved by EMPTY THE SHELTERS.


Alano Club of Kent County is the recipient of a $7,500 grant from the Peter C. & Emajean Cook Foundation.

Muskegon-based nonprofit Pioneer Resources, which offers an array of services for persons with disabilities, received two grants: $249,800 from the Affordable Housing Program offered by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis and made possible with a sponsorship from Community Shores Bank that will be used to construct a home on Mill Iron Road in Muskegon; $20,000 from the Community Foundation of Holland/Zeeland Area to renovate Pioneer Resources’ new location at 12330 James St., Suite 20B, Holland.


Grand Rapids mayor Rosalynn Bliss and sustainability manager Alison Sutter were joined by representatives from Grand Rapids 2030 District and Lean & Green Michigan at an event celebrating the launch of the Grand Rapids Property Assessed Clean Energy program. Special assessment PACE districts will make it easier for property owners to complete energy-saving improvements and installations.


Kalamazoo-based Medizone International Inc. announced it is now allowed to place the “CE” Mark on the AsepticSure System for distribution in the European Union and its member states. The European market for disinfection technologies represents a multibillion-dollar market for both health care and non-health-care use.

Lakeview Assisted Living in Battle Creek, a Ganton Senior Community, was recognized as a 2017 recipient of the Bronze – Commitment to Quality Award for its dedication to improving the lives of residents with quality care through the National Quality Award Program presented by the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living.

National Alliance of Wound Care and Ostomy in St. Joseph announced the launch of a new credential, Nutrition Wound Care Certified, a specialized certification for the Registered Dietitian/Registered Dietitian Nutritionist involved in wound care. 

P.E.A.C.E. (Professional Experienced Assistant Caring for the Elderly) of Mind is open for business. P.E.A.C.E. of Mind provides an advocate for busy families who are unable to transport elderly parents to and from doctor’s appointments. P.E.A.C.E. also provides a registered nurse who goes with the client to ensure both the client and family member understand the medical information, process and procedure.

Resthaven in Holland announced CEO Charlie Vander Broek will retire in May 2018 following 20 years of service.


Jason Beckerleg joined Hospice of Michigan and Arbor Hospice as creative director and webmaster.


H.W. Kaufman Group announced the opening of its new office in Grand Rapids for Burns & Wilcox – North America’s leading wholesale insurance broker and underwriting manager. This comes on the heels of the acquisition of Grand Rapids-based Chlystek & White Insurance Services in June 2017. The new location expands the company’s presence to better serve an expanding client base of insurance retail brokers and agents.


Gymco announced its new Gentle Gymnastics classes for adults of every age and ability, including non-athletes who want to learn to move well and athletes who want to move better.


Fraser Trebilcock attorney Melisa M.W. Mysliwiec was named a 2017 Rising Star in Michigan on the 2017 list of Super Lawyers.

Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge announced the additions of attorneys Ashley C. Quackenbush and Ryne J. Takacs practicing in the firm’s Grand Rapids office, and attorney Christopher S. Berry practicing in its Muskegon office.

Varnum's Estate Planning Group was ranked in the First Band of legal providers, the highest possible ranking, in the 2017 edition of Chambers HNW, which covers private wealth management work and related specialties in key jurisdictions around the world.


Salvatore “Sal” Semola joined Gun Lake Casino in Wayland as president & chief operating officer.

SMG regional general manager Richard MacKeigan was recognized on Billboard’s Arena Power Players list naming top arena executives “for their leadership of venues that dominate Billboard Boxscore worldwide rankings.” With a reported $12 million in gross ticket sales, MacKeigan and the Van Andel Arena appear at No. 6 worldwide and No. 2 in North America for venues with a capacity range of 10,001 to 15,000.

The Niles Scream Park in Niles broke its all-time attendance record for a Friday night, Oct. 13, welcoming 8,258 interior attraction visitors.


Senior mechanic Fred Shipman is the first employee to celebrate 50 years with Lacks Enterprises Inc. Shipman plans to continue working through next February.


D.A. Blodgett – St. John’s announced the promotions of Susan Conrad to chief programs officer and Donna Tefft to chief operating officer.

Humane Society of West Michigan’s fifth annual Bark in the Dark event attracted 650 registered participants and raised $87,000 to support animals in need.

West Michigan Partnership for Children in downtown Grand Rapids launched a five-year pilot program through a contract with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to create better futures for more than 800 children currently in foster care in Kent County.


Seventy-Six opened at 52 W. Eighth St., Holland. Amenities include a restaurant, bar and private dining room, and serves a variety of modern American food, cocktails with a twist and an eclectic ambiance.


MyWay Mobile Storage of Grand Rapids provided more than 15 portable storage containers for the 2017 Metro Health Grand Rapids Marathon, used as water and safety stations along the racecourse.

Rick Dawson was named manager of building products distributor ABC Supply Co. Inc.’s location at 2601 S. Division Ave. Dawson will manage daily operations, develop relationships with area contractors and guide them to build their businesses for the long term. He began his career with the company in 2015 as an outside sales representative at the Grand Rapids location before transitioning to manager of the branch in Hudsonville.


The following are recipients of the Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards for their efforts to reduce energy waste: Best Residential Project, Tom Tishler, Kalamazoo; Contractor of the Year, Better World Builders LLC, Kalamazoo; and Innovator of the Year, Holland Energy Fund, Holland.


Lindberg/MPH in Riverside announced the shipment of a 1,500-degree Celsius heavy-duty box furnace to a university. The 1,500 C box furnace offers excellent temperature uniformity, rapid response rate, dense load capability and process repeatability, which makes it ideal for testing, research and development, and laboratory applications. 

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