Street Talk: Police manhunt goes nationwide


The city of Grand Rapids is now on the lookout for a new top cop.

The city commission recently voted to approve a contract with Public Sector Search & Consulting Inc. to lead a national search for Grand Rapids’ next police chief. PSSC will work closely with the city’s Human Resources Department and City Manager Mark Washington during the process.

Washington noted the search firm’s police executive recruitment experience, its diverse candidate pools in other cities and its understanding of community policing. Washington said he expected to hire a new police chief this summer.

“I am confident that Public Sector Search & Consulting will help us find the right leader for our police department,” he said.

The search process will include on-site visits by PSSC to learn more about the Grand Rapids Police Department and its leadership needs, as well as engage department staff, city leaders, the city commission, residents and other community stakeholders. Details about these engagement opportunities will be announced once finalized, he said.

“It is important we have the right leader to ensure the safety of our community,” Washington said. “I am looking for someone who is tough on crime and who is an outstanding leader. I also want someone who is collaborative and is committed to community policing.”

Washington appointed Deputy Chief David Kiddle as interim chief last month to replace Chief David Rahinsky, who announced his retirement a week prior.

PSSC is based in Rocklin, California, and provides executive search, consulting and interim placement services to cities, counties, special districts, universities and community colleges.

Big plans

Perrigo is putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to mentoring young people.

The Perrigo Company Charitable Foundation in Allegan, under the oversight of program director Penny Bursma, donated $25,000 to Big Brothers Big Sisters on Jan. 11 in a check ceremony at Allegan Alternative High School, 550 Fifth St. in Allegan.

The contribution will support multiple initiatives, including the Bigs in Business mentorship program between Perrigo employees and Allegan students.

Perrigo regularly meets and mentors high school students at Allegan High and mentors them on-site at Perrigo’s North American base of operations, Bursma said.

Lion’s share

An important piece of legislation for Michigan zoos was recently passed allowing the breeding of large carnivores in Michigan with proper qualifications.

The changes to the Large Carnivore Act promote the responsible breeding of wildlife, including endangered species, for future generations.

John Ball Zoo officials backed the legislation so they and other zoos across the state can preserve endangered species, including large carnivores, such as Amur tigers, snow leopards and lions.

John Ball Zoo anticipates breeding Amur tigers and is beginning discussions and planning, including cost determination, which should take about two years.

The zoo said it already has the facilities and trained staff necessary.

“The changes to the Large Carnivore Act are an important step toward increased public safety, along with enhanced animal welfare,” said Peter D’Arienzo, CEO of John Ball Zoo. “And, most importantly, a positive step forward in the conservation of endangered species.”

The changes mandate that institutions requesting to breed large carnivores must meet strict criteria of public safety, animal welfare and responsible conservation-minded breeding.

For John Ball Zoo, the legislation allows it to be a more active participant in the conservation of endangered species, such as the endangered Amur tigers.

“The passage of HB 5778 was a concerted effort by many who understand the act’s positive implications,” added D’Arienzo. He mentioned Rep. Thomas Albert, the bill’s sponsor, along with former Gov. Rick Snyder, former Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, Sens. Joe Hune and Tom Barrett, and Binder Park Zoo CEO Diane Thompson as playing important roles in the effort.

Fan appreciation

Mike Ford, son of former President Gerald R. Ford and first lady Betty Ford, will speak during a rededication of the renovated Grand Rapids Community College building named for his father.

GRCC will celebrate the renovations to the Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse with a ceremony from 3-5 p.m. Jan. 14. The ceremony begins at 3:30 p.m., followed by an open house and tours. The event is open to the public.

“The Ford Fieldhouse transformation demonstrates how GRCC remains responsive to our campus and greater community’s needs,” GRCC President Bill Pink said. “This rejuvenated facility plays an important role in our college and city history, and will become more relevant through the many upgrades, allowing us to serve more students and West Michigan residents in a variety of ways.”

Mike Ford, the oldest of the four Ford children, recently completed a career in higher education, serving the past 36 years in multiple leadership roles at Wake Forest University. He received the Medallion of Merit Award from the university in 2018.

He'll be joined in the rededication program by District Court Judge Sara J. Smolenski. The state Supreme Court appointed Smolenski chief judge of the 63rd District Court in 1996. She received GRCC's Salute to Women and Distinguished Alumna awards in 2003.

The Ford Fieldhouse, 111 Lyon St. NE, underwent $8 million in renovations starting in May, creating a state-of-the-art facility for Exercise Science Department classes, GRCC athletics, commencement and public events.

School officials said renovations are intended to enhance student learning, support student-athletes’ performance, and create a more comfortable environment for spectators and community events.

That last bit about “comfort” might be the most important part for any spectators or athletes who have been in GRCC’s gym for longer than 10 minutes.

New features include:

  • Air conditioning throughout the building, creating a comfortable environment for students and spectators year-round

  • Additional upgrades for the Gordon Hunsberger Arena — including LED lighting — making the facility better suited for hosting local and national events, such as the NJCAA Region XII basketball tournament in March

  • Three classrooms for exercise science and other programs

  • Team locker rooms with increased seating and technology for study and game preparation, along with an updated athletic training room

  • Upgrades and new equipment in the fitness center

  • Murals and trophy cases in the Paganelli Foyer, sharing GRCC's athletic legacy and showcasing its present and future

  • Portable basketball hoops and two more courts, allowing more open recreation and practice space

The fieldhouse, originally called the Gerald R. Ford Health and Physical Education Center, was constructed in 1976 at a cost of $5 million. GRCC — then Grand Rapids Junior College — hosted President Ford and first lady Betty Ford at the dedication in November.

Health and wellness facilities were added and the arena was named for Gordon Hunsberger, NJCAA Hall of Fame football coach, through donations from David and Carol Van Andel’s family foundation in 2011. A gathering space outside the arena was named in honor of the Carl Paganelli family, many of whom are GRJC and GRCC alumni, in 2013.

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