Street Talk: Tower, hotel on track

The Warner Building and neighboring Hyatt Place hotel projects gradually are taking shape. Orion Construction crew members began pouring several tons of concrete for the tower’s parking deck late last week and now are finished with all underground site work, utilities, foundations and deep foundations.

“We are poured up to the third floor of an eight-level parking deck on the Warner Building,” Orion CFO John Wheeler said. “We are going to top out of the parking deck by July of 2018.”

Once the parking deck for the Warner Building is complete, workers will begin on the concrete frame of the Hyatt Place.

The steel for the Warner Building gets set, going from the ninth floor to the roof, 16 stories in the air. Once the steel is erected, enclosure of the building in glass will start.

Wheeler expected the building will be completely enclosed by January 2019, after the interiors of the mechanical systems, elevators, electrical work and common area finishes.

The structure will be turned over to the law firm and Chemical Bank in April 2019 to start their own interior work. Hyatt Place will be enclosed around the same time and also will be ready for interiors.

Orion broke ground on the projects in June 2017 after an extensive planning process spanning nearly three years and multiple design changes. The $72-million, two-tower development encompasses the 15-story office building and the 12-story Hyatt Place.

Gun control

What would you do if a shooting happened in your workplace?

A local staffing firm is ready to help employers respond to that question.

Express Employment Professionals of Grand Rapids will host a daylong seminar Feb. 15 to train employers in preventing workplace violence. The seminar will conclude with a simulation of an active-shooter scenario.

“Every year, nearly 2 million American workers report being victims of workplace violence,” said Janis Petrini, franchise owner of the Grand Rapids Express Pros office. “These unfortunate events can have a huge impact on employees, the company and the entire community.

“Our goal through this training is to empower companies to prevent workplace violence and minimize its impact in the event it does occur.”

Express Pros has assembled a team of experts in security, mental health and law enforcement roles to lead the training day:

  • Lyle Labardee, founder of Crisis Care Network; owner of Amplified Life Network LLC
  • Jim Gueder, associate of Diversified Security & Investigations; former corporate security executive at Herman Miller
  • Joel Matt, field training officer and evidence technician for Holland Police Department; FBI hostage negotiator program graduate
  • David Grover, owner of Solid Foundation Tactics; former U.S. Navy Seal, Blackwater operative and SWAT team commander
  • Rudy Mascorro, owner of Diversified Security & Investigations; former homicide detective sergeant at the Holland Police Department; specialist in hostage negotiations and undercover operations

The training will take place from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Feb. 15, starting at the Express Training Center at Express Pros Grand Rapids, 1760 44th St. SW, Suite 10, Grand Rapids.

After the morning sessions, participants will relocate to Grand Rapids First Church, where the active shooter simulation will take place. Participants will experience a realistic simulation of a shooter entering a workplace, including real firearms, simulated gunfire and simulated engagement with law enforcement. Participants will have to respond under pressure and implement the best practices they learned earlier in the day.

Information is available at or by contacting David Robb at Express Pros Grand Rapids,

The District

Cascade Charter Township’s Downtown Development Authority is introducing The District, a new designation designed to promote shopping, dining and activities within the DDA’s business sectors.

The new identity rollout comes after more than six months of work with marketing agency Q+M to find ways to promote and brand Cascade’s downtown areas, which includes the Village, the Interchange Area, the 28th Street Corridor and Centennial Park. This effort began by collecting stakeholder feedback via phone and in-person interviews, as well as a resident survey, which received 442 responses.

Results found that residents and stakeholders feel that Cascade has much to offer and is moving in a positive direction but lacks a strong identity and active promotion of its assets.

“The responses we received were overwhelmingly positive, identifying the township as a great place to live, work, recreate and shop,” said Sandra Korhorn, economic development and DDA director. “However, many participants noted the lack of identity as an issue that creates major challenges when trying to promote and engage the community.

“Cascade is a fantastic place, but we are challenged in the fact that we don’t have a traditional downtown. Our goal with these efforts is to significantly enhance recognition and engagement while embracing our area’s already-established environment.”

Each area within The District will be identified by logos and branding that highlight different activities — working, shopping, playing and dining.

The DDA also approved a business guide; email and print newsletters; a microsite ( to promote businesses and activities; and a photo library of The District.

Poetry in motion

Are you a poet and don’t even know it?

The 50th annual Dyer-Ives Poetry Competition, open to Kent County residents, might be your ticket to stardom. Poets can submit one original, unpublished poem Feb. 1 through midnight March 1. Free to enter, the competition offers cash prizes as well as publication and a public reading held during Grand Rapids Festival of the Arts in June in the Grand Rapids Public Library’s Ryerson Auditorium.

The competition started in 1968 to encourage excellence in writing and recognition for local work of high quality. Winners are selected in three age categories.

As competition founder John Hunting said, “A little cash can help poetry seem justified,” something to which 450 winning poets spanning the competition’s 50 years might attest.

“I’m glad I’m still around to see it,” said Hunting, who founded the competition at the urging of poet James Allen, a childhood friend of Hunting’s and at the time, a poetry professor at GVSU. Hunting, a poet himself, said he understands that “poets are sensitive people” and realized that “a little recognition can go a long way to encourage young poets.” Hunting’s conversations with Allen led to the formation of the competition’s mission, which is to “encourage excellence in writing and provide recognition for local work of high quality.”

Local poets of note comprise the first tier of judging for the competition as they decide which poems continue on to the national judge, who makes the final decisions. Spanning 50 years, the list of national judges reads like a who's who in the poetry world, including luminaries such as William Stafford, Gwendolyn Brooks, Anne Sexton, James Wright, Diane Wakoski, Robert Bly, Naomi Shihab Nye, former United States Poet Laureate Billy Collins, as well as former Grand Rapids Poet Laureates, Linda Nemec Foster and Patricia Clark.

The 2018 national judge is author, community organizer and cultural advocate Azizi Jasper. He has shared the stage with rapper/actor Common, poet Gil Scott Heron, Grammy winner Marvin Sapp, poet Saul Williams and Minister Louis Farrakhan.

Submission guidelines are available at

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