News Releases

Big News for Muskegon County

airplaneStarting in October, you can have an “Early Out – Late In” flight through the Muskegon County Airport (MKG). Your Chamber has been advocating for this initiative for years!

This enables you to make earlier and more connections to destinations across the United States and around the world!


Harbor Hospice Named a 2018 Hospice Honors Recipient

[Muskegon, MI.], [May 22, 2018] — Harbor Hospice has been named a 2018 Hospice Honors recipient by HEALTHCAREfirst, the leading provider of Web-based home health and hospice software, billing and coding services, CAHPS surveys and advanced analytics. Hospice Honors is a prestigious program that recognizes hospices providing the highest level of quality as measured from the caregiver’s point of view.

“We are excited to recognize the 2018 Hospice Honors recipients for their hard work and dedication to providing exceptional care,” said J. Kevin Porter of HEALTHCAREfirst. “I congratulate Harbor Hospice on its success in achieving this highest of honors.”

Award criteria were based on Hospice CAHPS survey results for an evaluation period of October 2016 through September 2017. Award recipients were identified by evaluating performance on a set of 24 quality indicator measures. Performance scores were aggregated from all completed surveys and were compared on a question-by-question basis to a National Performance Score calculated from all partnering hospices contained in the HEALTHCAREfirst’s Hospice CAHPS database. Hospice Honors recipients include those hospices scoring above the HEALTHCAREfirst National Performance Score on 20 of the evaluated questions. HEALTHCAREfirst holds a special recognition, Hospice Honors Elite, to honor hospices scoring above the HEALTHCAREfirst National Performance Score on all 24 of the evaluated questions.  Please visit HEALTHCAREfirst’s website at to learn more about HEALTHCAREfirst Hospice CAHPS survey program as well as the Hospice Honors awards.

President & CEO, Lisa McMichael, credits Harbor Hospice’s excellence in the areas of communication, getting timely care, treating patient/family with respect and dignity and providing emotional / religious support for being honored as a 2018 award recipient.  92.4% of our families would recommend Harbor Hospice as compared to 86% of the national average.  She said, “It is truly an honor to receive this distinguished award. I am proud of the outstanding team we have delivering such quality care to our community.”

For more information about Harbor Hospice and Harbor Palliative Care please call 231.728.3442 or visit

For more information about HEALTHCAREfirst, please call 800.841.6095 or visit

P.O.A.M Endorses Hughes in 34th State Senate Race

Muskegon, MI – On June 15th, The Police Officers Association of Michigan (POAM), announced its candidate endorsement would be Holly Hughes for Michigan State Senate for Michigan’s 34th District.

The POAM represents over 12,000 law enforcement employees throughout the State of Michigan and is the largest such organization in our state. “We continually strive to protect and improve the safety, working conditions and economic security of our member. We believe it is imperative to support candidates who actively promote these goals,” said Legislative Director, Kenneth Grabowski.

Rising Numbers Stretching Mission Resources

Muskegon Rescue Mission is experiencing record number of people needing emergency shelter.  During these summer months more and more people are turning to the mission for shelter.  These astonishing numbers are making Muskegon Rescue Mission Resources tight.

Muskegon Rescue Mission is in its 111th year of continuous 24 hours a day, 365 days a year of service.  They provide food, shelter, clothing and other services at two separate locations, one for men located at 400 W Laketon and for women and children located at 1691 Peck.  “We are in a unique position to help the homeless, not just with the physical needs that make day to day life hard, but with their spiritual needs as well,” said Dan Skoglund, Executive Director.  “We can point them to the gospel and everlasting change in their life.”

“The rise in numbers is pushing our resources to their limits and beyond” said Skoglund.  In addition to providing shelter the Mission also serves 3 meals per day, provides hot showers, as well as, fresh bedding and pajamas.  Skoglund added, “We are serving over 300 meals per day, double of our anticipated amount.  The extra expenses of food, staffing, higher utility bills and other expenses needed to meet this enormous demand is far beyond our current budget of seasonal norms.”

During the warm summer months Muskegon Rescue Mission usually has lighter numbers. Skoglund added, “With the increase in guests at our shelter, and additional costs it is starting to impact our mission resources and stretching our staff, we are committed to helping everyone in need.  We are truly the safety net, we never close our doors.  This is a challenging situation, but we have a very caring community and we are asking for their help at this time.”

To make a donation please stop by our administrative office or visit

Grand Rapids Chamber PAC Endorses Holly Hughes for State Senate

Grand Rapids, MI –The Grand Rapids Chamber Political Action Committee (PAC), Friends of West Michigan Business, announced its candidate endorsement in the contested 34th district GOP primary would be Holly Hughes.

“The Chamber PAC endorses candidates who will work to advance policies that support continued economic growth in our region, improve educational outcomes and invest in roads and infrastructure,” said Chamber President & CEO, Rick Baker.

“Michigan’s economic recovery has been nothing short of amazing, but we still have many real challenges, and must elect experienced, knowledgeable leaders to move Michigan forward.” Said Andy Johnston, Vice President of Government Affairs, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce.

When asked what made the PAC so confident in their decision of endorsing Holly Hughes for State Senate, Rick Baker stated, “Representative Holly Hughes has been a relentless champion for West Michigan during her time in the House of Representatives. She is focused on policies that support job-growth and strengthen the regional economy.”

Michigan Chamber Endorses Hughes in 34th State Senate Race

Muskegon, MI – On June 29th, The Michigan Chamber of Commerce announced its candidate endorsement would be Holly Hughes for Michigan State Senate for Michigan’s 34th District.

The Michigan Chamber fights every day to cut wasteful government spending and reform state government which is why they chose to endorse Holly Hughes for State Senate. “All of these candidates have demonstrated a commitment to free enterprise and a sincere desire to make Michigan the best state in the country to live, work, raise a family or build a business” said Michigan Chamber President & CEO Rich Studley.

Non-Profit Organization is Seeking Local Host Families for High School Exchange Students

ASSE International Student Exchange Programs (ASSE), in cooperation with your community high school, is looking for local families to host boys and girls between the ages of 15 to 18 from a variety of countries: Norway, Denmark, Spain, Italy, Japan, to name a few.

ASSE students are enthusiastic and excited to experience American culture while they practice their English. They also love to share their own culture and language with their host families. Host families welcome these students into their family, not as a guest, but as a family member, giving everyone involved a rich cultural experience.

The exchange students have pocket money for personal expenses and full health, accident and liability insurance. ASSE students are selected based on academics and personality, and host families can choose their student from a wide variety of backgrounds, countries and personal interests.

To become an ASSE Host Family or to find out how to become involved with ASSE in your community, please call ASSE Eastern Regional Office at 1-800-677-2773 or go to to begin your host family application. Students are eager to learn about their American host family, so begin the process of welcoming your new son or daughter today!

Tips to Stay Safe and Healthy During Extreme Heat

heattipsOTTAWA COUNTY, June 29, 2018 – Summertime is here and it’s a HOT one! An excessive heat watch is in effect for Ottawa County – be sure to take precaution to stay healthy and safe. Hot temperatures and high humidity put people at an even greater risk of heat illness. The elderly, infants and children, homeless, people with a chronic medical condition and those who work or exercise outdoors are most vulnerable to heat exhaustion. NEVER leave children or animals in a vehicle alone on hot days – heat stroke or death can occur!

Heat-related deaths and illnesses are preventable. Prevention tips from the CDC:


• Wear Appropriate Clothing: Choose lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
• Stay Cool Indoors: Stay in an air-conditioned place as much as possible. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to a place that does. Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, they will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath is a much better way to cool off. Use your stove and oven less to maintain a cooler temperature in your home. Cover your windows with drapes or blinds.
• Schedule Outdoor Activities Carefully: Try to limit your outdoor activity to when it’s coolest, like morning and evening hours. Rest often in shady areas so that your body has a chance to recover.
• Pace Yourself: Cut down on exercise during the heat.
• Wear Sunscreen: Sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool down and can make you dehydrated. If you must go outdoors, protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher 30 minutes prior to going out.
• Do Not Leave Children in Cars: Cars can quickly heat up to dangerous temperatures, even with a window cracked open. While anyone left in a parked car is at risk, children and animals are especially at risk of getting a heat stroke or dying.


• Drink Plenty of Fluids: Drink more fluids, regardless of how active you are. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Stay away from very sugary or alcoholic drinks—these actually cause you to lose more body fluid.
• Replace Salt and Minerals: Heavy sweating removes salt and minerals from the body that need to be replaced. A sports drink can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat.
• Watch Others: Make sure your family, friends, neighbors and pets are drinking enough water.


• Check for Updates: Check the news for alerts and with your city or township to find cooling shelters. Ottawa County Emergency Management has identified cooling centers in the event of an emergency.
• Monitor People at High Risk: Visit adults at risk at least twice a day and closely watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Infants and young children need much more frequent watching.
• Know the Signs: Learn the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses and how to treat them.


heatillnessesLooking to stay cool at the beach? Be sure to stay healthy and prevent recreational water illnesses! LEARN MORE

Richard Riekse Passes Eagle Scout Board

Richard Riekse, member of Fruitport Boy Scout Troop 1023, and son of retired Lieutenant Colonel Max Riekse, passed his Eagle Scout board on March 18th, 2018 with numerous palms. He earned 69 Merit Badges, including ones for backpacking, canoeing, small boat sailing, & hiking many miles. He is also a member of the Order of the Arrow.

Max Riekse

United Way of the Lakeshore Receives $12,000 Grant to Establish an Emergency Loan Fund for Workers

MUSKEGON, Michigan — United Way of the Lakeshore has received a $12,000 grant from the Community Foundation for Muskegon County to support its Workforce Stability & Employer Resource Network. The award comes from the Douglas A. Rosen Fund at the Community Foundation.

Christine J. Robere, President & CEO, United Way of the Lakeshore said, “This grant will be used to develop an emergency loan program for workers to access in times of need.” Robere added, “This will let workers get a loan to help out in an emergency such as auto repairs, health care, or housing. One never knows when an emergency will arise. This program will provide a safety net for those times.”

United Way of the Lakeshore is uniting to inspire change and build thriving communities. Our Bold Goal – 10,000 more working families meet their basic needs by 2025. For more information, contact United Way of the Lakeshore at 231-332-4047 or visit

Executive Travel – Airline Improvements in the Last 10 Years

contributed by Executive Travel (

Global entry customs clearance –
International flyers will want to invest $100 to get expedited customs clearance using a Global Entry card. It took me only three minutes to clear customs during my last flight returning to the states, while people without a Global Entry card stood in line for as long as 45 minutes.

TSA Pre-check –
Many airports today offer an express line for security clearance using the TSA Pre-Check system. If you fly more than three times a year the $80 fee for this is worth its weight in gold.

Paperless boarding passes –
I hate paper. Sending a boarding pass to my iPhone to be scanned at the gate is the best thing since apple pie.

Self-service check-in Kiosks –
Do you remember the days you would arrive at the airport and the lines at the airline counters would be a half block long? I love the self-service kiosks. They sure seem to make checking in so much easier.

HealthWest and West Michigan CMH Named as One of Three Pilot Sites for the State’s Section 298 Initiative

Financial integration with the Medicaid Health Plans slated to begin October 1, 2018

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) recently announced the three pilot sites selected for the state’s 298 Initiative, or Medicaid Health Plan Pilot. HealthWest (Muskegon County’s Behavioral Wellness Connection) and West Michigan Community Mental Health (West Michigan CMH) were awarded and will be conducting a joint pilot.  Also chosen for the pilot were the Genesee Health System and Saginaw County Community Mental Health Authority.

The Section 298 Initiative is a statewide effort to improve the coordination of physical health services and behavioral health services in Michigan. This initiative is based upon Section 298 in the Public Act 268 of 2016. The Michigan legislature approved a revised version of Section 298 as part of Public Act 107 of 2017.

Executive Travel – Business Travel Hotel Rates

Where can business travelers find the best hotel rates?
contributed by Executive Travel (

Executive Travel took on the myth that Expedia offers the lowest hotel rates to see if Executive Travel negotiated hotel rates were competitive. Executive Travel compared hotel rates in 106 random cities and discovered that Executive Travel negotiated rates were lower than Expedia rates in 94 of the 106 cities by an average of $47.02. Finding the best prices for hotels for your next business trip is easy. Simply book your hotels with Executive Travel, the very best at negotiating hotel rates.

SkyWest Airline’s Muskegon Team Wins the United Airlines 2017 Station of the Year

Muskegon County Airport (MKG) is pleased to announce the SkyWest Airlines customer service team at MKG was recently recognized as a top performing United Airlines Tier 4 station in 2017. Demonstrating an ongoing commitment to service and reliability, the SkyWest MKG customer service team was recently presented with United’s 2017 Station of the Year (Quality First Award).

“Our Muskegon team has done impressive work demonstrating SkyWest’s commitment to quality service,” said Steve Black, vice president of customer service. “We appreciate this team and the positive experience they help provide for MKG travelers enjoying the daily United Express flights to Chicago and beyond.”

The prestigious award recognizes the top performing United/United Express stations and is based on key performance metrics, such as on-time departure, on-time arrival, rate of mishandled checked baggage and more.

Executive Travel – Mexico Dangers

contributed by Executive Travel (

Over 50% of Mexico is now too dangerous to travel to

Late last week the U.S. State Department quietly issued updated warnings about travel to the popular vacation destination of Playa del Carmen, located south of Cancun. When I was doing more research I found the Mexico warning page on the State Department web site that listed five Mexican states that include the resort cities of Acapulco and Mazatlan that are rated dangerous and that Americans should not travel too.

Executive Travel – Zika Threat

contributed by Executive Travel (

Warning! CDC warns that Zika is still a major health threat to pregnant women

A week ago I had the good fortune of attending and speaking at the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) Premium Business Summit in New York City. At that conference, one of the speakers was from the Center for Disease Control (CDC). She spoke forcefully that the Zika virus is still extremely dangerous and that pregnant women should not travel to any of the 100 countries worldwide that are affected by the Zika virus. She also pointed out that Zika can be transmitted sexually and can be transmitted up to 8 months after a partner (male or female) is infected during travel. This is serious stuff folks. The CDC has a great website with a map of all the countries infected with Zika, CLICK HERE to view. They also have a website they call the Yellow Book, CLICK HERE to view. This site provides valuable information about health risks in destination around the world. I recommend you bookmark both sites if you travel internationally.

Any Dog With a Mouth Can Bite

Understanding Dog Body Language Key to Preventing Dog Bites

Bloomfield Hills, Michigan – Michigan Pet Fund Alliance has launched a Dog Bite Prevention campaign on their website,, featuring a new video explaining how dogs use body language to communicate what they are feeling. The video includes voiceover by Peter Carey, star of the smash hit play “Ernie” by Mitch Albom. (video link:

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 4 million dog bites occur each year in the United States … and not from stray dogs running wild in the streets. The family dog or the neighbor’s dog inflict the majority (80%) of dog bite-related injuries to children aged 18 and under, with children aged 5-9 having the highest injury rate.

MPFA chairperson Deborah Schutt says, “The key to preventing dog bites is responsible pet ownership and education. Our goal with this campaign is to make our communities safer, free up resources in our shelters, and save more dogs’ lives.”

Advisory: Arrests made in early morning Breaking and Entering. Police wishing to return stolen property.

April 13, 2018

Fruitport Police responded to an early morning report of a breaking and entering in the 3000 Block of E. Ellis Road. A vehicle leaving the area was stopped by Officers and stolen property was recovered. Two females, both from the Muskegon area, that were in the vehicle have been arrested on felony charges and lodged at the Muskegon County Jail. Their names are not being released until they have been arraigned.

Fruitport Police are requesting residents in this area to contact the department at 231-865-8477 if they find any items missing so that it can be returned.

Executive Travel – Airbnb Warning

Companies that allow travelers to use Airbnb could be open to lawsuits
contributed by Executive Travel (

Many companies today have put their heads in the sand and are ignoring how the sharing economy in the form of Airbnb has been creeping steadily into the corporate travel management world. At first blush, many people would casually ask, “What’s the big deal? Many vacation travelers love Airbnb so why not use it for business travelers? Are you crazy! Companies by law are responsible for the safety and security of their travelers when they are traveling for business. Think of the dozens of ways that using Airbnb could compromise the safety of corporate travelers. In a recent article by Asher and Lyric titled, “Is Airbnb Safe?” they reviewed 1021 horror stories to identify some of the major problems with renting Airbnb. The first thing they listed sent a shiver up my spine. Do you realize that “Airbnb doesn’t require any ID other than an email address and phone number? Basically, anyone could be your host. They don’t even require real names or profile photos.” This means your company travelers could end up staying with a convicted felon, a registered sex offender, a thief, or a conniving scam artist. WOW! Can you imagine the liability a company has if they allow their travelers to be exposed to this possible danger? CLICK HERE to read more about the Airbnb horror stories. I am not a lawyer, and can’t give you legal advice, but common sense says if you are responsible for the safety and security of your employees while they travel you should consider prohibiting them from using Airbnb for any company travel.

Parmenter Law Teams up with Local Non-profit, No More Sidelines

(Muskegon, MI) – Parmenter Law, based in Muskegon, has made it an integral part of their business culture to support their local community through a variety of partnerships. Each year, the firm partners with a local non-profit organization by supporting them financially and with hands-on project participation. Parmenter is pleased to announce that No More Sidelines will be their 2018 community partner.

“We are thrilled to have the chance to partner with No More Sidelines. Their unique mission truly resonates with our firm. It’s been exciting to watch the organization grow over the past decade through the passion and leadership of Cyndi Blair and the countless volunteers. They’ve become a real difference maker in our community, providing their participants with a true sense of belonging and opportunities that just weren’t available. We look forward to learning more about No More Sidelines and doing what we can to give back and further such a wonderful mission.” Joshua A. Reece – Partner at Parmenter Law and No More Sidelines Board Member

About No More Sidelines – No More Sidelines is a non-profit organization, run by volunteers, committed to helping children and young adults, ages seven and older, with special needs in Muskegon and Kent counties. They provide an opportunity to play sports year-round and to participate in community events and outings. No More Sidelines is embarking on a capital campaign in 2018 to expand and update their facility in Norton Shores. The construction and renovation project will include an indoor soccer field, basketball/volleyball courts, an exercise room, and office/classroom space for continued program growth.

For more information about No More Sidelines, visit

FineLine Creative Reaches 15-Year Milestone

Spring Lake, Michigan – FineLine Creative has kicked off a yearlong celebration of their 15th anniversary. Founded in February 2003, the full-service marketing and creative firm has found success by building relationships with clients that focus on results and collaboration.

FineLine Creative works with a variety of clients from the Muskegon area to greater Grand Rapids. Their core services include website design/development, design and branding, strategic planning, print communications, email marketing, and the newest core service offering, interactive strategies.

With the addition of Lisa Kraus in 2016, FineLine now offers clients a full-circle marketing experience with interactive services including Google AdWords/Analytics reporting, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and social media planning/implementation.

“We’re extremely excited to celebrate this milestone,” said Laura Holmes, the company’s co-founder. “The last five years, in particular, has been transformational as marketing has changed dramatically with the growing demand for online and web-based advertising.”

“Each FineLine team member brings volumes of experience to the table and a unique perspective,” said Yvonne McKessy, co-founder and Creative Communication Director. “The advantage at FineLine is team chemistry, integrity, ingenuity and continual drive to create distinct visual solutions that deliver results.”

In 2015, FineLine was recognized as one of 20 Entrepreneurs of Excellence by the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber. In 2013, Laura and Yvonne were one of 25 finalists for the Grand Rapids Business Journal’s Top Women-Owned Businesses.

Learn more about FineLine Creative’s service and their team at

Smash Wine Bar & Bistro Expands To Serve Lunch

smashlogoMUSKEGON, MI- Contemporary downtown restaurant, Smash Wine Bar & Bistro, will open for lunch beginning March 1, 2018. The two-story restaurant located in the Historic Frauenthal Center will serve lunch 11:00 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday, with normal dinner service still starting at 4:00pm daily.

Diners may call ahead to order from a special carry out menu for a quick bite, or order from the full menu when dining in at the restaurant. For those that need an on the go option, Smash will feature a $10 Lunch Box Special.

Smash Phone: (231) 246-7910

Wendy’s of Michigan Raises Over $130,000 for Annual Campaign at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital

GRAND RAPIDS, MI— Meritage Hospitality Group’s Wendy’s of Michigan completed their Change a Child’s Life campaign, raising $130,000 for Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital and other local children’s charities. The campaign took place from November 13 to December 31 in 50 west and northern Michigan locations.

“This has been our most successful campaign to date,” said Mike Baldwin, North Director of Operations for Meritage Hospitality Group. “Our managers and teammates are the driving force behind this philanthropic cause and each team’s hard work to assure awareness is what makes this program so successful each year. The generosity of over one hundred thousand local community members and guests is not overlooked either. By selecting to round up their orders and purchase in-store pin-ups at our restaurants, they are also to thank for this program’s success.”

Brain Ellison’s Arm The Homeless Campaign

Michigan US Senate candidate Brian Ellison, launches voluntary campaign to Arm The Homeless
March 13, 2018

Madison Heights, MI – On March 9, 2018, Michigan Libertarian Candidate for US Senate Brian Ellison launched a new initiative to help protect the downtrodden, through his voluntarily funded campaign to Arm The Homeless..

About The Campaign
America’s homeless population is one of the most marginalized and victimized groups in this country. Not only are they constantly under threat from would be criminals, but they are also under threat from governments at various levels that criminalize activities that homeless people rely on for survival.

According to a report published by Springer Publishing Company, LLC entitled Violence and Victims, Volume 29, Number 1, 2014, “Individuals who are homeless have an increased risk of experiencing myriad social problems including victimization and violence.”

The report goes on to explain that “The prevalence of violence victimization in the homeless population has been estimated to range from 14% to 21% and approximately one-third report having witnessed a physical attack on another person who was homeless. This rate of violence is highly disparate when compared to the general population in which only 2% report experiencing a violent crime.”

How long can we as a society sit back and allow peaceful citizens of this great country to be targets for those that view them as weak targets? According to case law in the decision of Warren v. District of Columbia, the police do not owe a specific duty to provide police services to citizens. What this means is that as individuals we can not count on the police to protect us, as they are under no obligation to do so. We saw this recently in the Parkland shooting, when Broward County Sheriff Deputies stood outside while a gunman killed 17 students and teachers. I believe it is time we take a stand against the injustice and victimization of the homeless.

We will start the campaign by fundraising to purchase 20 pump style shotguns. All recipients will be required to pass a background check, be of legal age to own a firearm, and receive proper training on safety and operation of the firearm.

The announcement was made via his facebook page “Brian Ellison for US Senate” (@EllisonforSenate) and linked to a donation site where supporters could help fund the cause. On Sunday morning, the initial donation site was taken down, but was later replaced with another that links through the Candidate website at

Pathfinders “Dare to Dream Gala” Recognizing Heroes and Sheroes in the Community

Muskegon, Michigan – The community is invited to celebrate Pathfinders 21st year: “Dare to Dream Gala”, at Bella Maria’s Ristorante & Event Center 513 W. Pontaluna Road Norton Shores, MI on Saturday, April 7, 2018 at 6:00 p.m. The program will feature guest vocalist Kaylen Wheeler, dinner and a Silent Auction.

Pathfinders is proud to celebrate 21 years of serving youth in the greater Muskegon area. Established in 1997, the program began at Muskegon Heights Middle School. Pathfinders is located at Temple United Methodist Church (TUMC) 2500 Jefferson.

The event will recognize Teacher, Community Leader, Volunteer, Service Organization, Family and Corporation of the year. Additionally, Outstanding Pathfinders in two age groups (7 to 12 and 13 to 17) will be announced, the is selection based on youth leadership and community service.

Since its inception, thousands of children and teens (age 7 to 17) have come of age at Pathfinders where they enjoy recreational activities, tutoring, homework assistance and field trips (in and out of state). Today Pathfinders offers many programs, the Lakeshore Community Youth Choir for Unity, the Lights on Afterschool Program, the SAFE Summer Program and Summer Evening REC at Muskegon High School in partnership with the YMCA of Muskegon to name a few. Thanks to the United Way of the Lakeshore (Muskegon), the Community Foundation of Muskegon, the Gerber Foundation and Baker College the youth in Muskegon and Muskegon Heights have a safe haven and “fun” place to go and thrive. West Michigan Methodist Conference, as well as many other local organizations and individuals give generously to Pathfinders.

An off-site school program, youth come to Pathfinders from every school district across the county, Muskegon Public, Muskegon Heights Academy, Timberland Academy, Three Oaks Academy, Mona Shores, Fruitport, North Muskegon and Reeths Puffer. Thanks to special programs such as WINGS (MCC & MAISD), Camp Pendalouan (YMCA) and Spartan $$ Financial Literacy Program (Michigan State Extension), youth develop skills and grow in every aspect of their lives. The money raised will ensure that youth will continue to benefit from the “free” programming provided by Pathfinders.

Many parents and grandparents, who attended Pathfinders in their day, are happy that they can send their children to the same afterschool program they attended. Dr. Pamela Smith, Executive Director says, “The services provided by Pathfinders is more important than ever” and we look forward to thanking all of the partners and families who support the program year in and year out.

This year’s sponsors are Hackley Community Care, Muskegon Community College, Media Pathways and Webb Chemical; Tickets to this “dressy affair” are $50.00 (single); $90.00 (couple); $225.00 for ½ table of 4 and $450.00 for table of 8. The deadline for purchasing tickets is Friday, March 30, 2018. Tickets can be purchased at Urban Apparel 2713 Peck Street in Muskegon Heights and at Pathfinders 2500 Jefferson Street in Muskegon Heights, call 231.733.1065 and ask for Pamela Smith or Shauna Hunter.

Twenty Muskegon County Businesses Receive More than $700,000 in State Grants to Train Employees

Muskegon, MI – In an effort to support Michigan employers, the Talent Investment Agency – Workforce Development (TIA-WD) awarded more than $700,000 million in Skilled Trades Training Fund (STTF) grants to twenty businesses in Muskegon County. This annually awarded, competitive grant provides funding assistance for customized, short-term, in-demand training programs and apprenticeships that enhances talent, productivity and employment retention while increasing the quality and competitiveness of Michigan’s employers.

Muskegon Area First, the county-wide economic development agency, in collaboration with West Michigan Works!, the exclusive administrator for the program, identified and met with several local businesses interested in pursuing STTF grants. Muskegon County companies receiving awards for 2017-18 are:
chartThe number of companies awarded in Muskegon increased by over 100% from the 2016-17 program year, when nine companies were awarded. Darryl Todd, Interim President & CEO for Muskegon Area First said, “We are pleased that more local and smaller companies were awarded this year.” He added that, “Many [smaller companies] forego employee training due to budgeting and/or time constraints and access to funding that will enhance employee skill level can have a particularly significant impact on a smaller company’s ability to grow.”

Businesses such as Norton Shores based Seabrook Plastics, Inc. a first-time recipient of the STTF, which recently completed a 12,000 sq. ft. building expansion in November, will use the funding to further growth plans by addressing employee capabilities and becoming more efficient. Bill Veldboom, General Manager & COO of Seabrook Plastics said, “With our recent expansion and internal promotion of several long-term Seabrook employees, the STTF represents an ideal vehicle for growing the skills and potential of employees that have been hired over recent months”. Veldboom added, “We believe that the training included in the upcoming curriculum will accelerate employee’s learning while concurrently reducing cost in our manufacturing and assembly processes.”

Similarly, Challenge Machinery Company also of Norton Shores will use the grant to address workforce needs, specifically to stabilize its talent base. “[Challenge] competes globally and has a long history in West Michigan with many experienced, highly skilled personnel that will retire and leave a considerable gap”, said Tom Zant, President of Challenge Machinery. “This grant allows us to affordably increase the skills of 16 employees in mechanical print reading, electrical schematics and hydraulic and pneumatic principles to develop the next generation of long term employees”.

On a regional basis, Michigan Prosperity Region 4, which is comprised of 13 West Michigan Counties, had 212 businesses awarded over $8.4 million. Overall, West Michigan employers received 29% of the total amount of STTF funds available. Muskegon area companies received 8.4% of the amount awarded to West Michigan.

The STTF was created 5 years ago by the Michigan State Legislature and has become highly sought after with funding dollars increasing nearly every year. The statewide amount awarded for 2018 nearly reached $30 million. For 2017, the amount awarded topped $14 million. The STTF is on track to train over 50,000 workers with more than 1,400 employers taking advantage of the program.

To learn more about the Skilled Trades Training Fund, please visit,

Muskegon’s Average Fare Lower than Grand Rapids

Muskegon’s Average Fare Lower than Grand Rapids The Average Domestic Airline Itinerary Fare by Origin City has just been published by the Bureau of Transportation for 2nd quarter 2017. Based on total passengers, the average air fare for flights at Muskegon was $406.84 compared to $425.25 for flights at Grand Rapids Airport. for complete details.

“We continually work with the airline to provide competitive fares for our customers,” said Jeffrey Tripp, Airport Manager. “When you consider the cost of air fare in addition to the cost of parking, travel time, how early you need to check-in, etc., Muskegon’s fares and improved flight schedule reinforce why customers should always “Check MKG First” at UNITED.COM when making travel plans.”

Check MKG First at UNITED.COM or call 800-221-1212.
Contact your local travel agent.

Zika Will Raise Its Ugly Head Again in 2018

contributed by Executive Travel (

Many people have been lulled to sleep thinking that the Zika virus has come and gone. Not so fast my friends. This virus still has massive negative effects on anyone who is pregnant or even of childbearing age. I think in 2018 anyone traveling to a Zika infested zone (most all of the Caribbean, Central and South America) will be given a disclosure statement outlining the risk of this mosquito born disease. Keep in mind that this disease can be sexually transmitted, so even a college male on spring break to the Caribbean can infect his girlfriend when he returns.

Michigan Libertarians Rally to Protest Roadside Drug Testing

Madison Heights, MI – On November 18, 2017, Michigan Libertarians held a protest in Ann Arbor in response to the newly implemented Roadside Drug Testing Pilot Program. Among those in attendance at the rally were US Senate candidate Brian Ellison and Libertarians of Macomb County Chair Mike Saliba, along with several other members of the Libertarian Party.


Credit: Nikki Peel Libertarians of Macomb County Chair Mike Saliba holds a mock D.A.R.E. sign opposing to Michigan’s pilot program for roadside drug testing

Public Act No. 243 (SB 434), establishes a 1 year pilot program for the use of oral fluid analysis, as described in Public Act No. 242 (SB 207). The controversial program went into effect on November 8, 2017 in Berrien, Delta, Kent, St. Clair, and Washtenaw Counties. The group chose Ann Arbor since the community will be directly affected by the pilot program.

Crowds came and went as the group held up signs in the hour leading up to the University of Michigan vs. Ohio State Football game, on the Northeast corner of the Pioneer High School property. “The location was perfect. Crowds were forced to stop before crossing the street to go to the football game. This gave us time to engage with the public and explain the problems with the drug testing program”, explained Ellison, “People really need to understand how ridiculous this program is. The test results are unreliable and have no direct correlation to intoxication or impairment, but officers can make an arrest decision based solely on these results. Hopefully people can understand that no matter how bad they think drugged driving is, locking up innocent people is much worse.”


Credit: Nikki Peel A woman holds a sign comparing swab testing to rape, in opposition to Michigan’s pilot program for roadside drug testing

The reason behind the new program in a matter of debate. Michigan State Police claim that the program was designed to combat the dangers of drugged driving. Many other people who have looked at relevant data think otherwise. “In the last decade there was nearly a 40% decrease in DUI related arrests. Those arrests are a major source of revenue for many government agencies. Based on the way this law was written, allowing for arrest based in whole on the results of this faulty test, it’s clear to me that this is about one thing: money,” claims Brian.

Based on the success of this event, the group is already looking to plan another. According to Ellison, “We’re looking at Grand Rapids, Port Huron, Ypsilanti, and of course Ann Arbor again. Who knows, maybe we’ll just do it on the front lawn of the Michigan State Police. We’ll do the next event wherever we see the most potential for spreading news about this injustice, and we’ll keep doing it until our legislators figure out that ‘we the people’ are not here to be abused and to fund their reckless spending. In the meantime, I want everyone to know that they should refuse this test and fight the civil infraction in court.”


Oral fluid analysis kits have been shown to be statistically unreliable and can detect the presence of controlled substances long after impairment has subsided. Additionally, having a prescription does not exempt a person from arrest. The law specifically states that “A peace officer…may arrest a person in whole…upon the results of a preliminary oral fluid analysis.” Other states with similar programs have seen an increase in false arrests. According to the Michigan legislature and Michigan State Police, “implied consent” can be retroactive, meaning that you can imply consent to a law that does not exist at the time your license was issued.

Dog Bite Awareness & Prevention

Over 4 million… that’s the number of dog bite incidents each year in the U.S. according to the Centers for Disease Control. The family dog or a neighbor’s dog inflict nearly 80% of dog bite-related injuries to children aged 18 and under, with children aged 5-9 having the highest injury rate. The dogs often end up in shelters, and many shelters will euthanize based on bite history.

To reduce the number of bite-related injuries, Michigan Pet Fund Alliance has launched a Dog Bite Awareness and Prevention campaign on our website. The site features educational resources including a new video produced by MPFA explaining dog body language. The video features voiceover by Peter Carey, star of the smash hit play “Ernie” by Mitch Albom.

MPFA chairperson Deborah Schutt said, “The key to preventing dog bites is responsible pet ownership and education. Our goal with this campaign is to make our communities safer, free up resources in our shelters, and save more dogs’ lives.”

Contact if you are interested in distributing this video to schools, daycares, pediatricians, or other interested groups.

First in the State and #27 in the Nation!

Your chamber’s largest event, the Lakeshore Art Festival, is ranked 1st in the state of Michigan #27 in the nation for Classic & Contemporary Craft Shows by the Sunshine Artist Magazine. This ranking is up from #83 position in 2015. Lakeshore Art Festival brings an estimated 50,000 people to Muskegon County each year and continues to grow.

Sunshine Artist Magazine ranks the nation’s most-profitable fine art and craft festivals based on subscribers’ sales performance each year resulting in – Sunshine Artist Magazine 200 Best! Artist and exhibitor registration for the 2018 Lakeshore Art Festival is now open. Dates will be Friday, July 6 and Saturday, July 7. Visit the Lakeshore Art Festival website for more information.

Holland Startup Receives Grant to Accelerate Energy Tech

WEST OLIVE, MI – Alternative energy.  This phrase often brings to mind images of large wind farms or expansive solar arrays.  Not for long.  Holland-based startup company Synergy Power LLC has created a device about the size of a kitchen table that has the design intent to power an entire family’s home with little more than hot and cold water.  The SynergineTM is a patent protected, zero emissions energy production system that has the potential to disrupt current methods of power generation, including existing alternative energy devices.

Synergy Power LLC founder, Emil Ureel, pictured in his workshop

Emil Ureel, founder of Synergy Power LLC, explains “I began working on this concept several years ago because I knew there had to be a more cost-effective way to create reliable, emission free power.”  The result of Ureel’s pragmatism is an invention that is starting to garner attention from other engineers, industry experts, and investors.  Most recently, Synergy Power LLC, with the help of ACRE AgTech, applied for and was awarded $10,000 worth of services through the Business Accelerator Fund (BAF).  ACRE AgTech is a non-profit corporation based in West Olive that works with start-up companies to help them launch their businesses.  Doug Huesdash, Business Development Manager for ACRE, explains “The market opportunities for the latest fully-scaled prototype, which has been dubbed the SynergineTM, are numerous, including residential, industrial, agricultural, and humanitarian.”

The BAF grant will pay for the installation of Ureel’s first fully operational test unit at a residential site in West Olive this fall.  The SynergineTM will be connected to a wood boiler that currently provides heat and hot water to the landowner’s home-based machine shop.  Routing that hot water through the SynergineTM will provide continuous power to the shop, and in some cases, could support all of a building’s power needs. According to Huesdash, “At this time, our targeted path to commercialization is the wood boiler furnace market.  Many people that buy wood boilers want to be off-grid.  They want to be self-reliant.  The SynergineTM will allow them to not only heat their homes, but also generate reliable electricity.”

Synergy Power LLC and ACRE AgTech worked closely with staff at Lakeshore Advantage to prepare the application for the BAF grant.  The BAF is administered by Lakeshore Advantage through their Surge program and is supported by a partnership between the Small Business Development Center and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to support small startup businesses.  ACRE AgTech has worked side by side with Ureel since January of 2016 to achieve numerous significant milestones which include securing Synergy Power’s first private investor, building the scaled SynergineTM prototype, and securing grant funding for legal costs through Varnum Law’s MiSpringboard program.

ACRE AgTech has been providing agtech connections and resources to entrepreneurs in Ottawa County and across Michigan since December, 2014.  For more information about ACRE AgTech, please visit our website,, or contact us at 616-994-4745 or

City of Muskegon Agrees to Produce Taste of Muskegon

MUSKEGON, MI – After building up the highly successful and popular Taste of Muskegon event over the past 11 years, Downtown Muskegon Now and the city of Muskegon have agreed to transfer the local downtown festival to the city.

Muskegon City Manager Frank Peterson and DMN Chairman Andy Maciejewski have signed a “letter of understanding” in passing the Taste of Muskegon event to the city with the goal of sustaining and growing the event celebrating Muskegon food, community and local businesses.

“The Taste of Muskegon over the past few years has outgrown our small agency’s ability to produce and take the risk for such a large annual event in Hackley Park,” Maciejewski said. “The DMN board is grateful for the hard work and dedication of the volunteer team that took a struggling event and created one of the largest gatherings in Hackley Park every year.”

Taste of Muskegon — the third weekend of June in 2017 — drew record crowds both Friday night as a Party in the Park and all day Saturday. The event was a huge boost for the nearly two dozen food vendors who had significant sales and were able to promote their products and restaurants.

After looking for a non-profit to take over the Taste of Muskegon, DMN entered discussions with city officials, who want to keep the event as a kickoff to the downtown Muskegon festival season.

“We want to continue to support and build up downtown events and activities,” Peterson said of the city’s interest in Taste of Muskegon. “We see this event raising funds to support community projects to better the quality of life for everyone in the city.”

Taste of Muskegon proceeds will support programs and events at the city’s Muskegon Farmers Market, Western Market, Hackley Park, Pere Marquette Park and the Smith-Ryerson Playfield among other city facilities, city officials said.

“We hope that longtime Taste of Muskegon sponsors, organizers and volunteers will help us keep building and improving the event that draws a wide variety of people from across the community,” Peterson said of an event slated for the weekend of June 15-16, 2018.

The city of Muskegon has incorporated many of the Taste of Muskegon vendors into its popular Food Truck Rallies this summer at the Muskegon Farmers Market. Next year’s Taste of Muskegon is expected to launch an expanded schedule of Food Truck Rallies at the market for 2018.

Key to the recent success of Taste of Muskegon has been incorporating it into that Friday night’s Party in the Park. Parties in the Park President Ami Gongalski said that the Friday night Taste of Muskegon was its largest and most successful party in 2017.

“Parties in the Park has been thrilled to incorporate Taste of Muskegon into our schedule the past few years,” Gongalski said. “We look forward to reaching out to the city to see how this collaboration can continue in 2018 and future years.”

SCHA-MI Honors Advocates with Apple, Marilynn Keeslar Awards

Every year, the School-Community Health Alliance of Michigan recognizes advocates who make outstanding contributions to school-based health centers. This year, we received over a dozen nominations from some of the most dedicated supporters of school-based health. They ranged from volunteers and funders, to practitioners and CEOs.

Apple Winner Co-Winners: Mark and Christine Fazakerley; and Linda Juarez


Pictured: Linda Juarez (middle)

Mark and Christine Fazakerley are loyal advocates for the health and wellness of the community they call home.  A few years ago, they noted a critical need for health care in Oakridge Public Schools where their children had graduated and their grandchildren now attend.  They worked with the schools, helped to assess the needs, and provided private funding for a community health worker. This initial philanthropic investment spurred a movement to develop a school-based health center which opened in December 2015.  The Fazakerley family was a key supporter as well as a catalyst for generating community funding for the construction of the clinic.  The compassion, vision, advocacy, and philanthropy of the Fazakerley family was key to the launch of this health center that now serves hundreds of students with medical, dental, and behavioral health care.

Linda Juarez is a champion for school-based health care.  She leads a team of 180 employees at Hackley Community Care which operates two school-based health centers, serves four satellite schools, and supports additional behavioral health centers.  When Oakridge Public Schools Superintendent Tom Livezey was looking to bring health services to his students, Linda and her team joined the effort, brought expertise to the project, and helped to rally community support. Before long the two were celebrating the opening of the Oakridge Teen Health Center at Oakridge Middle and High School campus.  The area had been a healthcare desert, with not one medical or dental practice in the school district and no public transportation to travel to care. These factors left students without access to care. The clinic now provides medical, dental, and behavioral health services to students in a safe and welcoming environment.  Linda’s strong leadership and care for the students has really made a difference in this community.

“Each time someone stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others… he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.” – Robert Kennedy

United Way of the Lakeshore Announces Free Tax Filing Tool and Personal Support for ALICE

(MUSKEGON, MI) – Today, United Way of the Lakeshore announced two free options for people to file their income taxes. The online system is MyFreeTaxes, a product of H&R Block. It allows most filers to complete their taxes online in under one hour. For those seeking in-person help, Goodwill Industries in the Lakeshore Region administers VITA, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program that uses MyFreeTaxes to file taxes for taxpayers needing assistance. Income eligible people are invited to schedule an appointment by calling 2-1-1.

The United Way has partnered over the past decade with H&R Block and Goodwill Industries of West Michigan to provide free tax filing services for federal and state taxes, the partnerships have helped people file their returns, bringing more refunds back to help their families in our local communities. These resources are a direct benefit to ALICE – Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. These people work across the Lakeshore Region yet struggle to meet their families’ basic needs.

“Tax season is a source of confusion and stress for most Americans,” said Christine J. Robere, President & CEO, United Way of the Lakeshore. “Many are worried they’ll make a mistake, won’t get their full refund or will pay too much. With MyFreeTaxes, filers can get support from IRS-certified specialists and cut down the time it takes to complete their returns online.” Robere added, “Otherwise, income tax filers who want personalized customer service can feel free to call 2-1-1 to schedule an appointment with a VITA specialist to have their taxes prepared in person. Either way, these are two wonderful options to help people file their taxes and put money in their pockets.”

Taxpayers earning less than $66,000 can either call 2-1-1 for a personal appointment, or enter their data through This links to a secure H&R Block website, making it easy to complete their federal and state taxes from home, at work or on mobile devices. It offers unlimited, personalized real-time chat and phone support in English and Spanish from IRS-certified specialists at 1-855-MY-TX-HELP. The helpline operates from January 22 through April 30, 2018 from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. EST Monday through Friday, and from noon to 9:00 p.m. EST on Saturdays.

United Way of the Lakeshore is uniting to inspire change and build thriving communities. Our Bold Goal – 10,000 more working families meet their basic needs by 2025. For more information, contact United Way of the Lakeshore at 231-722-3134 or visit

Scolnik Healing Center of Harbor Hospice Now Accepting Applications for 25th Annual Camp Courage 2018

campcourageHarbor Hospice has been offering Camp Courage for 24 years as a way to help children and their families following the death of a loved one. The emotions of grief can be overwhelming and isolating for children who have not yet developed the verbal and emotional skills to navigate the grief process.

Children grieve differently than adults and need time to just “be kids” as well as time to honor and remember their loved one. Kids often feel alone in their grief and thrive when able to connect with others who understand their unique experience.

Harbor Hospice staff and trained volunteers create a safe, stable environment for children to explore and express their grief, remember their loved one, and connect with others who have experienced a death. Children participate in traditional camp activities such as swimming, hiking and campfires, along with grief-tailored activities that teach healthy coping skills.

Camp Courage, an overnight camping experience for children ages 6-12 and teens 15-19 as Junior Counselors, is held at Pioneer Trails on Big Blue Lake in Muskegon County beginning Friday, June 22, 2018 at 10:00 am through Sunday, June 24, 2018 at 2:00 pm. Application deadline is May 31, 2018. The only cost for camp is a one-time $10 registration fee. For more information or to register, contact Laura Ecker or Melanie Dekkers at 231.728.3442 or 1.800.497.9559 or email or visit our website at

$1 Billion in Muskegon Investments

Muskegon is continuing to grow, with over one billion dollars in investments occurring on the lakeshore.

Completed projects include the $50 million dollar expansion of Bayer Crop Science, the $15 million dollar expansion of GE Aviation, the $11 million dollar expansion of La Colombe, the development of a new Walmart in Whitehall Township, and the completion of multiple new breweries on the Lakeshore.

Projects in progress include the $271 million dollar Mercy Health Center development, a $38 million dollar investment in the Arconic plant of Whitehall, the $170 million dollar Odeno housing development in Fruitport Township, the $50 million dollar Tannery Bay housing development on White Lake, the $18 million dollar expansion of Muskegon Community College for their new Downtown Center, a $1.8 million dollar investment toward the renovation of the Great Lakes Fresh Markets, and many more.

The investments don’t stop there, as the number of proposed projects continues to climb. These investments include the development of a Muskegon Convention Center, a casino development in Fruitport Township, the expansion of KL Outdoor and the development of Winward Pointe, the former Sappi site on Muskegon Lake.

President of the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, Cindy Larsen, comments that “Muskegon isn’t done by any means, but you can actually see the difference so far”. All projects enhance the Watch Muskegon campaign, a privately funded community improvement plan.

Muskegon Y’s Club – 55th Annual White Elephant Sale

MUSKEGON Y’S CLUB – 55th ANNUAL WHITE ELEPHANT SALE will take place on May 18 & 19, 2018, at the Folkert Community Hub, 640 Seminole, Muskegon, our 5th year in the same location.

This event raises money for the YMCA Camp Pendalouan Scholarship Fund. We will begin accepting drop-offs to the sale site, and start pick-ups for direct delivery to the sale site, the week of April 23, 2018. We view our sale as “industrial strength” as we accept most anything, if resalable, except clothing.

For those with donations that “cannot wait” we now have year round pick-up capability, with contractual arrangements with a local auction site, and the proceeds still earmarked for the Camp Pendalouan  Scholarship Fund. Please call 231-727-9900, and leave a message. THANK YOU – for your continued support.

Shoreline Vision Joins Great Lakes Management Services Organization

MUSKEGON, Mich., January 9, 2018 – Shoreline Vision, an eye care group practice with deep community roots in the West Michigan Lakeshore Region, has partnered with Great Lakes Management Services Organization (MSO). Shoreline Vision began in 1996 when five ophthalmologists decided to form an alliance to provide residents in their communities the best possible vision care available; since then, the group has grown to more than 150 staff at seven locations.

“Every decision Shoreline Vision makes is dependent on improving our patients’ care, whether it is investing in the latest technology, adding sub-specialty physicians, or improving our facilities. Our latest decision to partner with Great Lakes MSO and the vast resources they can provide is consistent with that theme,” said Dr. John N. Oltean, a founding member of Shoreline Vision and board-certified ophthalmologist. “We are extremely excited to be a part of the organization that has included Grand Rapids Ophthalmology in its portfolio of premier ophthalmology practices in the country. We are certain this will benefit our patients, employees, and community for years to come.”

New & Improved Flight Schedule on United Airlines

United Airlines is introducing a new and improved flight schedule for Muskegon County Airport beginning February 17. Changes are:

• Earlier 10:16 a.m. morning departure.
• Earlier 5:29 p.m. departure.
• 14 weekly roundtrip flights.
• 400 additional seats per month available with a second Saturday flight scheduled.

“We’re always looking for ways to improve our air service and we’re excited about the new schedule for Muskegon,” said Jeffrey Tripp, Airport Manager. “Customers will now have more connection opportunities in Chicago O’Hare and can more easily book flights that will get them home each night which is especially important for the business traveler. This will also provide access to lower fares.”

The new flight schedule is specifically designed to provide both business and leisure travelers with access to hundreds of daily flights to over 180 nonstop destinations through Chicago O’Hare. All United flights from Muskegon to Chicago O’Hare are onboard the 50- seat Canadair Regional Jet 200 operated by SkyWest Airlines.

Check MKG First at UNITED.COM or call 800-221-1212
Contact your local travel agent.