A Capital Offense

August 20, 2007
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Despite their disagreements on a number of issues the past few years, such as the non-smoking ordinance and the Mystery Development confidentiality agreement, 1st Ward Commissioner James Jendrasiak gave Mayor George Heartwell the shirt off his back last week. Well, thankfully, it really didn’t come off his back. J.J. pulled it out of the air from somewhere and gave it to Hizhonor as a personal tribute to the mayor’s win in the recent primary election.

Jendrasiak told Heartwell that “another famous George” won re-election three years ago and because of that win, the other George said he had earned “a lot of political capital” and planned to spend it. So J.J. gave GRMAYOR a black golf shirt, and printed on the back in bright white letters was the following: “Hey, George, I’ve got a bigger mandate than you.”

Heartwell smiled and said, “I’m sure he’ll be inviting me there very soon.” Of course, he was referring to the “other George.” Not J.J.

  • Local restaurant owner Dan Verhil recently won the Cornerstone Humanitarian Award from the Michigan Restaurant Association. The MRA honored Verhil for the generosity and philanthropy he has exhibited over the past 25 years with his very popular (and sometimes very hot) Chili Cook-Off fundraising event that he holds each year in front of the Cottage Bar & Restaurant at 18 LaGrave Ave. SE, a block south of Fulton Street.

This year the Cottage Bar is celebrating its 80th year, and the Chili Cook-Off will turn 26 on Sept. 15, the day the event will be held. Verhil also owns One Trick Pony, just around the corner on Fulton. That restaurant has been home for years to WYCE FM live music concerts, the Hat Trick series, where a hat is passed for various local charities.

Now that Verhil has won the state award, he is up for the nation’s humanitarian award that will be given at the National Restaurant Association’s Public Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C., next month. Any way we can stuff the ballot box?

  • He doesn’t have a game-winning goal (at least not yet), but to many in the media he is a gamer and has been one for the past eight years. Now he finally has gotten the recognition he truly deserves. The American Hockey League recently named GR Griffins Senior Director of Public Relations Randy Cleves the winner of the 2007 Ken McKenzie Award, an honor that only goes to the hardest-working knucklehead of the 29 in the league who “most successfully promotes his or her club.” Cleves has been doing that since 1999.

Past winners of the McKenzie award include Mike “Doc” Emrick, quite possibly the most respected hockey play-by-play announcer ever to grace the planet, and former Red Wings and current ESPN voice Dave Strader. With Cleves having his name added to the award’s roster, Emrick and Strader now find themselves in really good company.

  • An African delegate touring the U.S. has opted to add a stop in Grand Rapids to his schedule. Kenyan ambassador Peter Ogego will speak at GrandValleyStateUniversity’s Pew Campus this Friday afternoon in a program co-sponsored by the Van Andel Global Trade Center, the World Affairs Council, the Michigan District Export Council and the MichiganSmallBusinessTechnologyDevelopmentCenter

The free program, “Business Partnerships and Opportunities in Kenya,” will feature a discussion of the country’s current economic climate, opportunities there in tourism and gaming, and an overview of its people and culture.

Free parking will be available on the downtown campus for the program. To register, e-mail Norma Roelfsema at roelfsen@gvsu.edu

  • Adding to this week’s coverage of the green building and product market, Paul Murray, environmental manager for Herman Miller Inc. in Zeeland, a founding member of the U.S. Green Building Council, said that the green marketplace is becoming increasingly sophisticated, and entry-level environmental efforts are rapidly losing their market value.

“I think most people can talk a green story on some level, and that’s great,” he said. “If all you’re doing is using recycled content and have even started doing energy evaluations of plants or processes, that’s OK; it’s where you start at, and it will lead you to the next step. It’s better than nothing, but you can’t ever be satisfied.”

Jill Armstrong, director of the Grand Rapids office of a5 Group Strategic Communications and a member of the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum, said that she has made helping clients realize a green story a core component of her services.

“Recycling isn’t enough anymore; it’s only the price of entry into the market,” she said. “You need to step back and look at what your processes are, and there are values you are going to need to achieve green as a business goal. It’s a personal relationship value. You need to understand the importance of touching the heart string of your clients, and they need to understand the good you’re doing.”

Theresa Hogerheide-Reusch, principal of Reusch Design Services, which serves as a subcontractor on behalf of the U.S. Green Building Council to evaluate applications for the group’s Commercial Interiors version of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system, is a member of the core committee developing the council’s LEED for Retail standard. The lead contractor for that standard is based in Portland, Ore.

Catalyst Partners principal Keith Winn, a co-developer of the LEED-CI standard with Reush and now a member of the advisory team integrating lifecycle assessment throughout the LEED process, said that the problem of how to keep projects green in perpetuity is one that has yet to be addressed.

“The (American Institute for Architects) has their 2030 Challenge, and we know that buildings 20 to 30 years from now will be more advanced,” he said, referring to the AIA’s goal to make buildings carbon-neutral within 23 years.

“Thye aren’t most likely going to go back and apply for LEED for Existing Buildings, and there is really nothing to say that they should. What is great about LEED is that it’s a comprehensive standard — it’s not just about energy. There are really no good answers to that question, but I can say there is a whole stock of existing buildings that need a lot of improvement to even be at that level.”    

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