Street Talk: Future in good hands


The Muskegon lakeshore business community is recognizing fifteen of the area’s up and coming young professionals.

They all are under 40 years of age (by Dec. 31) and are business, nonprofit, government or service-oriented professionals who live or work in Muskegon County, according to Jodi Kittle, communications manager for the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce.

Inclusion in the group is based on contributing to the growth and success of their company or organization and making a positive impact along the Muskegon lakeshore.

“The next generation of professionals is becoming more influential in our community, and it is important they are recognized for the contributions being made to the area’s economy and quality of life,” said Cindy Larsen, chamber president.

A selection committee, consisting of young professionals that were among the 2017 Future 15 award recipients, gathered to determine who this year’s Future 15 would be.

The winners are:

  • Alison Updyke, Wildflower Studios
  • Andrew Mann, Muskegon Habitat for Humanity
  • Cherrelle Hughey, Community enCompass
  • David Manley, Core Realty Partners
  • Jake Eckholm, City of Muskegon Heights
  • JacQuaye A. Payne, Community Foundation for Muskegon County
  • Jimmy Hegedus, Great Lakes Dental Excellence
  • Jocelyn Hines, Community Foundation for Muskegon County 
  • Joshua Mueller, Spectrum Health
  • Kara Zielinski, United Way on the Lakeshore
  • Kevin D. Osterhart, Concept Design Studio
  • Megan Aney, Sitting Pretty Pet Spa & Boutique
  • Philip David DeYoung, Muskegon Civic Theater
  • Rachel Stewart, Muskegon Community College
  • Travis Dodge, Longer Days

They will be recognized at a Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce member event later in June.

Bright lights

Star power is lighting up Woodland Mall in June.

The mall will host Hollywood actor and author Keegan Allen for the signing of his new book, “HOLLYWOOD: Photos and Stories from Foreverland,” from noon-3 p.m. June 23 in the mall’s center court.

Allen, who is known for his role in the TV drama “Pretty Little Liars,” also is a photographer and musician and has been in films directed by James Franco and Gia Coppola. His first book, “,” was a national bestseller, and in 2017, he released his first single, “Million Miles Away.”

During the signing, Allen also will speak about his new book and answer questions.

“HOLLYWOOD” provides a photographic tour of the iconic home of the film industry, featuring 250 photographs of the different sides of the city and the industries it is known for. A Los Angeles native himself, Allen grew up immersed in a world of both fame and dreams unrealized.

Allen’s book features images of red-carpet events and the Chateau Marmont at twilight contrasted with photos of the faces and footsteps of those who live on the fringe of celebrity.

The book will be available for sale at Woodland Mall’s Barnes & Noble, 3195 28th St. SE, Grand Rapids.

Veteran benefits

Lenders working with Sable Homes and other builders now have a new option for their clients who are military veterans and qualify for Veterans Affairs (VA) loans.

On May 29, the VA ruled to give military veterans in Michigan full access to affordable financing on any home they wish to purchase. Until now, Michigan veterans were not eligible to purchase certain structures with their earned VA benefit due to specific financing wording for single-family homes.

Previously, single-family homes in site condo developments in Michigan were characterized as “condos” when processed through the VA. This resulted in additional reviews and delayed financing for veterans purchasing a home, sometimes disqualifying them from their purchase. Now, the VA will consider site condominiums in the same way as any other single-family home.

“We commend the VA for revising the financing rules for Michigan military veterans and clearing this housing hurdle for them,” Sable Homes President John Bitely said. “We are grateful for the selfless commitment and dedication our veterans gave to our country. It’s time they are allowed their full VA benefits when purchasing a home here in Michigan.”

The change for Michigan veterans was led by an effort from the Home Builders Association of Michigan and State Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Watersmeet, a retired U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant general.

As a former U.S. Navy aviation mechanic, Sable Homes General Manager Bryan Burnham said he knows how valuable this new change will be for fellow Michigan veterans. Burnham, who served in the Navy for five years, used the VA loan twice — once as a first-time homeowner when stationed in Virginia Beach in 2011, and again on his current house in Grand Rapids in 2015.

“This new ruling will provide some financial relief for many of our military veterans,” he said. “I’m looking forward to working with our area lenders in helping Michigan’s servicemen and servicewomen purchase any home of their choosing.”

Art energized

Ten student artists will have their work featured at ArtPrize 10 this fall.

The 10 finalists were selected from 49 entries in the sixth annual SmartArt competition, in collaboration between Grand Rapids Public Schools and Consumers Energy.

The students’ artwork features themes of energy efficiency and sustainability on a variety of media, including oil pastels, pencil, charcoal, paint and mixed media.

“The Grand Rapids community has long been committed to renewable energy and sustainability,” said Lauren Youngdahl Snyder, vice president of customer experience for Consumers Energy. “Consumers Energy shares that commitment.”

The 10 finalists and their art pieces are:

  • Lana deGraaf, “Solar Bus,” 10th grade, City High Middle School
  • Emanuel Galindo-Peralta, “60 %,” 9th grade, CA Frost Environmental Science Academy
  • Rose Gerson, “Colors of the Wind,” 10th grade, City High Middle School
  • Jazmine Knight, “Dream in Action,” 11th grade, City High Middle School
  • Lillian Kuipers, “Polluted Night,” 11th grade, City High Middle School
  • Elena Mealing, “Neglected Connection,” 11th grade, City High Middle School
  • Rukundo Nshimiyimana, “Hope,” 11th grade, Innovation Central
  • Jenna Sherwin, “Light Up The World,” 11th grade, City High Middle School
  • Alex Van Kuiken, “Empire,” 11th grade, City High Middle School
  • Madison Younts, “Our Planet In Bloom,” 11th grade, City High Middle School

At a student assembly a week ago, GRPS, Consumers Energy and ArtPrize announced the 20 SmartArt semifinalists who were invited to the ArtPrize HUB to reveal the 10 finalists.

“Now in its sixth year, the SmartArt contest has evolved into an annual opportunity that our students and fine arts teachers look forward to with great excitement,” said Grand Rapids Public Schools Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal. “I am grateful to be working with Consumers Energy to blend art with sustainability and environmental stewardship.”

The top 10 pieces will be displayed during ArtPrize 10 from Sept. 19 through Oct. 7. A large banner displaying the top 10 will be on display during ArtPrize outside a Consumers Energy electric substation wall at Fulton Street and Market Avenue.

The contest’s top winner will receive a $1,000 college scholarship from Consumers Energy.

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