Street Talk

Street Talk: For Grandville, the Buck stops here

Name names.

March 29, 2013
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Grandville Mayor Jim Buck made it official last week when he closed the city council meeting with news that he would not seek re-election in November.

So ends a 29-year tenure as mayor of one of West Michigan’s fastest growing cities and a 42-year run on the Grandville City Council.

“I look back over the past 42 years with a lot of positive thoughts and a feeling of some major accomplishments,” said Buck.

And well he should. During his tenure as mayor, Buck led the Grandville community through considerable change, including significant population growth, numerous park improvements, the Chicago Drive Streetscape, and large-scale commercial development along the Rivertown Parkway corridor that features RiverTown Crossings mall and the CWD Real Estate project with its Target and Cabela’s stores called, appropriately enough, Bucktown.

Buck is the longest-serving mayor in Grandville’s history. He was elected to a council seat in 1971 and has served as mayor since 1984, having won re-election seven times. Despite all the high-profile development during his tenure, Buck is best known to those in the Grandville community for the “little things” he did that led to a better quality of life. It isn’t unusual to see him chatting with friends at the city’s Fourth of July celebration, Michigan BBQ Week, the annual Christmas tree-lighting ceremony, family nights at the library or the National Night Out event.

So it should come as no surprise that when the mayor made his announcement, he turned to fellow council members and said, “Thanks to all of you for your many years of support. I promise to stay in touch.” That shouldn’t be difficult for such a neighborly guy.

Felicidades!

The West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce recently recognized several up-and-coming businesses and individuals with a bevy of awards.

Salvador Lopez, of El Centro Translations, earned this year’s award for young entrepreneurs. The honor recognizing a new business or organization went to Universal Income Tax & Accounting Services. Gloria Lara, of Girl Scouts of Michigan Shore to Shore, picked up the Hispanic Business Person of the Year award, while Angela Hanks, of Chemical Bank, was named Champion of the Year. Latino Branding Power was recognized as the Hispanic Business or Member Organization of the Year.

Two more members of the Hispanic chamber earned statewide recognition. Super Mercado Mexico and Gazelle Sports both were named to the Michigan 50 Companies to Watch list.

Playing ball

Integrated Architecture is making quite a name for itself in an unusual niche. The Grand Rapids-based architecture and design firm recently had its plans for the Donald R. Shepherd Softball Center at the University of Michigan accepted by the university’s board of regents. The $5.4 million facility will feature a new three-story, 10,200-square-foot building that creates a home for the nationally acclaimed softball program.

“Integrated is a firm filled with graduates from the University of Michigan Taubman School of Architecture. We are pleased to be supporting the athletic department through the design of new facilities that reflect the tradition and excellence of the university,” said Scott Vyn, director of design, by way of explanation.

But that doesn’t tell the whole story. Integrated also has its design prints on the Farmers Insurance athletic complex at Davenport, the expansion of Lubbers Stadium at Grand Valley State University and Aquinas College’s Sturrus Sports and Fitness Center.

That sounds like a grand slam.

A hand for Andy

Fundraising has already begun to build a new Habitat for Humanity home in honor of the late Andy Angelo, a respected Grand Rapids journalist and community advocate.

Led by his wife, Mary, daughter Sarah Otis and a group of former colleagues from The Grand Rapids Press, “The House That Andy Built” has secured several lead gifts on its way to raise the $125,000 needed to build the new house in the Roosevelt Park neighborhood.

Work on Andy’s House, 661 Grandville Ave. SW, is expected to begin in July and wrap up by November.

The property is just south and across the street from the Cook Arts Center, a project the Angelos loved and to which they devoted significant time. Before retiring last year, Mary Angelo served as executive director of the Roosevelt Park Neighborhood Association for 21 years. She and her husband were significant forces in raising funds to build and run the Cook Arts Center and a bi-lingual lending library to serve the needs of the neighborhood community.

Angelo, 55, died last July from respiratory complications. A lifelong “newspaper man” in the best spirit of that fine tradition, Angelo spent 26 years in leadership roles at The Press, most recently as news editor. It has been said that a generation of journalists in West Michigan owes their careers to him.

Mary Angelo noted that Andy’s House already has begun to secure corporate, foundation and individual donations for the build, as well as in-kind contributions for materials and services that will be needed. Habitat for Humanity of Kent County estimates it will take 45 “volunteer days” to complete work on the house, with 12-15 volunteers needed for each shift.

An informal steering committee guiding Andy’s House has established a Facebook page and a website to allow those interested to follow the progress and be part of the conversation.

The Angelos shared a passion for their community, the arts and humanities. Angelo worked tirelessly on behalf of Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities, where he served as a board member and president. For a decade, he chaired the organization’s annual fundraiser, which raised more than $320,000 over the years. He also served as president of Circle Theatre’s board of directors during the year the theater moved into its new facility.

Feathered friends?

When it comes to featured speakers for its annual dinner and awards show, The Economic Club of Grand Rapids is sporting a pretty full cap of feathers.

The Econ Club announced last week that Hillary Rodham Clinton will be the guest of honor at the 26th annual dinner June 17.

The former Secretary of State’s appearance will highlight the Econ Club’s continued tradition as a venue for some of the most influential leaders in the world. Other keynote speakers in recent years have included George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, U2 lead singer and humanitarian Bono, British Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair, Queen Noor of Jordan and Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres.

Some big names on the local front will be there too. Doug DeVos and Steve Van Andel, co-chairs of Amway Corp., will receive the 2013 Business Person of the Year award, while Kate Pew Wolters will be recognized with the Slykhouse Lifetime Achievement award. The evening will be dedicated to Rich and Helen DeVos.

Alas, the dinner is only for club members and their guests. In fact, the announcement specifically says, “This Event will be closed to the Press.” Due to the capital “P,” they’re probably referring to a certain (occasional) daily in town. Maybe the Business Journal can still get in!

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