Street Talk

Street Talk: MLive or dead, it’s still a shame

Gift giving.

November 28, 2014
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Our condolences go out to the hard-working journalists at MLive Media Group who will count 2014 as their last year with the digital content company.

Word came down last week of another “restructuring” that will cost many editorial staffers their jobs by the end of this year.

That these people are losing their positions is absolutely no reflection on their talent. It’s just a (new) corporate way of life in a new world.

While some people are (understandably) upset, for the most part the stoic nature of journalists is shining through. Meegan Holland, a longtime staffer for the Grand Rapids Press and the statewide news editor for MLive in Lansing, posted her goodbye information on Facebook. She will be finished working there Dec. 31. Holland is a solid journalist with sharp news judgment, so it’s a shame to see her leaving. As usual, her class rises above the fray.

“Those of us who moved from Booth Newspaper to MLive knew it was a risk, but it was one worth taking. I got the extraordinary opportunity to help shape a start-up and work alongside dedicated digital journalists — especially my Lansing staff, who taught me something every day. I’ll forever hold dear to my heart many MLive colleagues — you know who you are. No regrets. On to the next adventure!”

Candid camera

The uproar in Ferguson, Mo., makes for titillating television, but kudos to a Grand Rapids organization for actually taking action and trying to plan ahead.

The grand jury verdict in the case of a white police officer fatally shooting an African-American male suspect that resulted in the case not being sent to trial has stoked the nation’s racial tension. Closer to home, LINC Community Revitalization, a neighborhood development organization in southeast Grand Rapids, wants to make sure nothing of that nature happens here.

LINC leaders are encouraging city officials to require body cameras for Grand Rapids police officers through an effort called Operation Body Cam GRMI.

“We are extremely disheartened, but today, conversations alone will be ineffective. Today, we understand we must proactively seek change in order to ensure these types of tragedies don’t take place in our city,” said Darel Ross, co-executive director, LINC. “One way to do this is by having officers equipped with body cams for their own safety and for the safety of our residents.”

To raise awareness in the community, LINC has created a social media campaign using hashtags to be used on various social media platforms including Twitter and Facebook. The hash tags include: #operationbodycamgrmi, #notinourcity and #leaderslead.

LINC is encouraging interested individuals to attend the next Grand Rapids City Commission meeting at 7 p.m., Dec. 2, in an effort to get that point across.

Plenty of pluck

A truly memorable fried chicken dinner is hard to find, which is why many West Michiganders include a stop in Frankenmuth as part of their vacation plans.

The Bavarian Inn is famous for its pleasing poultry, and family matriarch Dorothy Zehnder, 93, is proud of that accomplishment. But she’s no Colonel Sanders. Zehnder is happy to share her secret — but it will cost you $24.99.

Zehnder, who marks her 93rd birthday today, still works almost every day in the restaurant’s kitchen.

Born and raised in Reese, Mich., this dynamo is not only in charge of one of the nation’s largest independent restaurants, she also still oversees the family’s business operations with help from nine of her children and grandchildren.

She began working as a young waitress at Fischer’s Hotel in the 1940s. Just a few years later in 1950, she and her husband, Tiny Zehnder, and his family bought the restaurant, changed its name and became the new managers. In time, Dorothy developed the lunch and dinner menus the Bavarian Inn still serves today.

What is an average day like for her? She says there’s nothing she doesn’t do: food preparation, ordering, quality control, cleanliness, production systems, developing new menu items, promotions and marketing.

In addition, she authored a very personal tome in 2011, “Come Cook With Me,” a collection of recipes, wisdom, photos and stories from her years at the helm of the Bavarian Inn. Earlier this year, she released a new book, “From My Kitchen to Yours,” that features 195 hand-picked family-favorite recipes from her vast 1,000-plus personal collection. Fittingly, both publications were completed while she continued her daily duties at the restaurant.

According to Zehnder, the Frankenmuth “all you care to eat family-style chicken dinners” originated at Fischer’s Hotel. Today’s Bavarian Inn chicken is a variation of those early dinners. Ever the perfectionist, Zehnder’s late husband began experimenting with the recipe, eventually changing from the original pan-fried hens to the lightly breaded, fried smaller birds that are served today.

The success of Tiny’s experiment is evidenced in the nearly 350 tons of chicken served each year at the restaurant.

Like its predecessor, “From My Kitchen to Yours” contains a number of Bavarian Inn signature recipes that have never been published before. Priced at $24.99, the cookbook is available at the Bavarian Inn Restaurant and Castle Shops, Bavarian Inn Lodge, online or by phone. To order, call 1-800-BAVARIA or (989) 652-9941, ext. 3332, or order online at bavarianinn.com.

’Tis the season

Apparently, Peter Wege is the gift that keeps on giving.

Mr. Wege died earlier this year, but his foundation has made several significant donations to area organizations in the following weeks and months. Many of those went to arts groups, but Wege’s love of education also is evident in his philanthropic directives.

The latest recipient of that beneficence is West Catholic High School, which recently received a $125,000 grant from the foundation to help with tuition assistance and fund the school’s robotics and pre-engineering programs.

“The Wege Foundation has been a faithful friend, helping us in so many ways over the years,” said Cindy Kneibel, school principal.

Today, what started as one high school FIRST robotics team for West Catholic students has expanded to include two middle school teams and four elementary Lego League teams, with participants coming from 15 area schools.

“We have reached out to the community,” said Kneibel. “Our robotics students come from public, private and home schools that lack the physical, human and financial resources to field a team. Seeing these students from diverse backgrounds working together is truly rewarding.”

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) has as its mission to show students of every age that science, technology and problem-solving are not only fun and rewarding, but are proven paths to successful careers and a bright future.

“We are extremely grateful for the generosity and support of the Wege Foundation. Their generosity demonstrates a strong commitment to West Michigan students and STEM education. I believe the Wege Foundation and its gifts, through the foresight of Peter Wege, will help strengthen and bring growth to our broader community in the near future, as local businesses stand to benefit from the enhanced workforce skills learned by these students,” said Kneibel.

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