Street Talk: Rapid transformation


During Josh Naramore’s presentation to the Grand Rapids City Commission during the FY2018 Preliminary Fiscal Plan hearings, the Mobile GR director said the department will be rebranding the Downtown Area Shuttle service line in 2018.

Exactly what a redesign of the DASH might entail remains to be seen, as Naramore said there will be a community outreach process to cull suggestions for how the shuttle service could become more appealing to its riders — which may even include a name change.

“It’s been around for a while. Do we keep the name? Do we change the name? Is it the color scheme? Really, we want to just enhance the way it looks and feels to improve the customer experience,” he said.

While the trademark purple, navy and white buses splashed with the yellow and orange gradient DASH logo signifying the free shuttle might not be long for Grand Rapids, there already are some voices of approval rising up in support of the rebrand.

“Can we give some feedback now?” Mayor Rosalynn Bliss jokingly asked Naramore during his presentation. “To say, yes, it needs a facelift.”

History in the making

The city’s Historic Preservation Commission will present six preservation awards to preservationists, who, through their efforts, have restored and or renovated a piece of local history. City officials said these efforts have had a positive physical, social and/or economic impact on their neighborhoods and, subsequently, the city as a whole.

The winners will be recognized during the 23rd annual Historic Preservation Awards ceremony, 2-3:30 p.m., Thursday, May 25, at Grand Rapids Community Foundation, 185 Oakes St. SW.

Residential winners include Mark and Karen Roodvoets for 921-925 Wealthy St. SE; Lloyd Westbey, 263 Charles Ave. SE; and Josh and Megghan Smith, 232 Morris Ave. SE. Business recipients are Atomic Object, 1034 Wealthy St. SE; Eagle Pint Development, Stuyvesant Apartments; and Dwelling Place of Grand Rapids, 344 Commerce St. SW.

The commission also will give two preservation awards to Dave and Barb Huyser, as well as Mark, Casey and Chris Lockwood, who will be recognized for their volunteering and community activism.

Birthday toast

Today’s Business Journal features a look at the new food at Coppercraft Distillery in Holland, but the lakeshore business is not the only distillery making a switch in its kitchen.

This week marks the second anniversary for Long Road Distillers, which has made waves internationally with its aquavit. To celebrate, the Long Road team has a few celebratory days up its sleeve.

On May 23, Long Road officially rolls out the new menu resulting from the kitchen expansion the distillery recently completed. An upgraded kitchen means more choices in terms of food, such as Shrimp and Chorizo Hush Puppies, Smoked Pork Tartine or a big, juicy hamburger and fries.

With the summer season right around the corner, the bar also is releasing a new set of cocktails to supplement the “Long Road Classics.”

The third portion of the anniversary especially is meant for Beer City, USA, as Long Road releases its first of four small batch whiskies called the Beer City Whisky Series.

Long Road worked with four Grand Rapids breweries — Mitten Brewing Co., Perrin Brewing Co., Harmony Brewing Co. and Greyline Brewing Co. — and will release whiskies made with beers from the respective breweries over the next four months.

First up is the Mitten Country Strong Malt Whisky, made with Country Strong IPA from Long Road’s neighbor across the street.

“We’re proud to be part of the craft beverage scene in Grand Rapids,” Long Road co-owner Jon O’Connor said. “We credit the breweries in this city with laying the groundwork for folks like us to open up and be successful.

“We wanted to create a product that celebrated the collaborative nature of the industry here.”

Challenge accepted

Grand Rapids Community College was well represented recently at the MWest Challenge student venture competition, which provides students with an opportunity to develop and grow new ventures based on their own ideas.

The students competed for $45,000 in cash and prizes.

GRCC said 13 of its student teams had their executive summaries accepted for presentation during the final round of the competition on April 21, and three of the teams took home prizes.

Shelby Rose received $1,500 as the second-place winner of the Innovation Showcase People's Choice Award. Her proposal, a phone app called Rose's Place, would allow domestic violence victims to unlock resources, advice and emergency contact help.

Mark Saint Amour and Andrew Johnson won a $750 Impact Award. Their proposal, Tabletop Entertainment, would rent out space and partner with local craft breweries to host tournaments featuring life-size versions of popular board games.

Rebecca Peterman won the $500 Impact Award for Wholesome Eats, a company that would provide healthy and affordable meals created in a client’s home. Services would include meal planning, grocery shopping, food preparation and kitchen cleanup.

“Shelby, Mark, Andrew and Rebecca put in the hours necessary to compete against the very best college students in West Michigan — facing juniors, seniors and MBA students from top four-year universities in West Michigan — and their work and dedication paid off,” said Felix Pereiro, professor and head of the GRCC Business Department.

“Participating in the MWest Challenge has been one of the greatest learning experiences in my college career so far,” Rose said. “I was able to push myself out of my comfort zone in sharing my story — showing people that when a tragedy hits, look up and see how you can find the problem and make a change.”

The MWest Challenge was sponsored by the West Michigan Colleges and Universities Group.

Green machine

Western Michigan University snagged a top honor in a national awards program recognizing environmental stewardship in cleaning practices.

WMU received a Grand Award in the 2017 American School & University’s Green Cleaning Award competition, besting second-place University of Michigan.

Green cleaning is defined as cleaning to protect health without harming the environment.

WMU came in first place in the Higher Education Category of the American School & University competition.

The university’s building custodial and support services unit has worked since 2004 to adopt greener practices. In 2015, WMU became the nation’s fourth higher education institution to be Green Seal certified for its commercial and institutional cleaning services. The designation is granted by Green Seal, a nonprofit organization that uses science-based programs to empower consumers, purchasers and companies to create a more sustainable world.

“Green Seal certification took a full year of effort because of the stringent requirements," said Steven Gilsdorf, WMU director of custodial services. “Being fourth in the nation to have our processes and procedures certified allowed WMU to join the ranks of Harvard, the University of Virginia and the University of Maryland — leaders in the green cleaning movement.”

Gilsdorf said certification includes the processes that custodians perform every day and focuses on how to improve the indoor environment by removing items that could cause harm. WMU incorporates HEPA filtration for vacuums and looks for ways to reduce chemicals, reduce decibel levels for all equipment and increase the use of recycled materials.

WMU’s building custodial and support services unit is responsible for more than 50 campus buildings, as well as athletic fields and their associated structures. All told, 168 custodians take care of 4.2 million cleanable square feet of building space used by 27,000 students and employees.

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