Street Talk

Street Talk: Leadership and character

Archaic laws.

August 21, 2015
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Community pillars do what they do, not for any recognition, but because they see something that needs to be done and get it done.

But it’s still nice to honor those efforts once in a while.

The Grand Rapids Public Museum last week announced its three honorees for the seventh annual Jay and Betty Van Andel Legacy Awards Gala, and the names should be recognizable to most West Michiganders.

These awards, given at the GRPM’s annual fundraiser, recognize individuals for positive impact in the community through their dedication and commitment to bettering the quality of life in the region. Recipients are chosen based on community leadership and character, said Kate Moore, museum vice president.

The awards will formally be given to the recipients at GRPM’s Gala on Thursday, Nov. 12. This year’s theme is the Roaring ‘20s, based on GRPM’s new exhibit opening in September — “American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition.” Tickets may be purchased by calling (616) 929-1754 or by visiting

This year’s lifetime achievement award will go to John Canepa. The award is presented to individuals who demonstrate a lifetime of dedication to the community in the philanthropic spirit of Jay and Betty Van Andel.

“We recognize their unwavering commitment to developing educational experiences and inspiring others to action,” said Moore.

Teresa Weatherall Neal is being honored with this year’s leadership award, named in honor of Dave and Carol Van Andel. This award is presented to individuals who have demonstrated a commitment and passion for the greater West Michigan region. These honorees provide guidance and support of numerous philanthropic organizations, contributing to the cultural, educational and economic health of the community.

This year’s “The Casey” Award will go to Harold Cronk. Moore said “The Casey” Award is named after one of the museum’s most dynamic volunteers, Casey Wondergem. This award is presented in his memory to younger members of the West Michigan region in recognition of their action, involvement and courage in creating or furthering a cause of importance and benefit to the community, she said. This award highlights public service and serves to encourage continued charitable activity.

The 2015 Jay and Betty Van Andel Legacy Awards Gala is co-chaired by Dave and Carol Van Andel and Jim and Sue Williams.

Canepa recently retired from Crowe Horwath LLC, one of the largest certified public accounting and consulting firms in the United States. He joined Crowe Horwath after his retirement in 1995 as chairman, president and CEO of Old Kent Financial Corp.

Canepa is involved in numerous educational, cultural, business and community activities. He currently serves as co-chair of Grand Action, an organization that spearheaded the development of the Van Andel Arena, DeVos Place Convention Center, Civic Theatre, the relocation of Michigan State College of Human Medicine to Grand Rapids and recently, the Downtown Market.

Weatherall Neal is superintendent of Grand Rapids Public Schools and has worked for GRPS for 37 years. She started out as a student worker as a teenager. She has worked in numerous capacities throughout the district including as an administrative assistant, coordinator of compliance, and co-director of Community and Student Service. Just prior to her appointment as superintendent, she worked as the assistant superintendent of Community and Student Affairs for seven years.

Cronk is an award-winning director, screenwriter and producer. A native of West Michigan and graduate of Central Michigan University, he began his career in 2004 working in Los Angeles as art director, production designer and co-director on several films and televisions commercials — and creating films of his own.

With the implementation of the Michigan Film Incentive in 2008, Cronk moved back to Michigan where he and his business partners founded 10 West Studios in Manistee.

To date, 10 West has produced 10 feature films, injecting millions of dollars into the local economy. In a partnership with West Shore Community College, the studio implemented a film-crew training program for underemployed and unemployed workers in support of the Michigan film industry.

Better experience

Here’s a suggestion for Doug Small, Janet Korn and the rest of the travel and tourism folks at Experience GR.

Next year, the quilting convention and the stamp show should be scheduled for the same week. Anyone walking through downtown during both conventions will understand why. Most of the quilters (women) two weeks ago and stamp collectors (men) last week seemed to be of a like age and perused downtown’s entertainment options in groups.

It would be a great mixer to have them in town at the same time.

Perfect segue

Drug dealers often travel in style, so why shouldn’t members of the Grand Rapids Police Department?

GRPD on Friday introduced its newest tool to help officers fight crime and, at the same time, offer another means to positively engage the public — a pair of brand new Segways.

Segways are two-wheeled machines used to transport people, or in this case, officers, which will enable them to respond to incidents quicker than on foot, said Chief David Rahinsky. The Segway has the capability to move an officer smoothly and quietly at speeds of up to 15 miles per hour, he said. The device also provides enhanced officer visibility to the public while providing the officer with an improved vantage point.

The cost of both Segways was $24,000 and they were purchased through drug funds and a grant from Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. Rahinsky said the Segways were purchased at no cost to citizens.

And if they turn out to be a bust for police work, the department could enhance its ROI by offering guided tours of downtown. The private sector is getting $100 an hour for those excursions.

20 paces

Outdated crimes such as accepting a duel and cursing in front of women or children would no longer be on Michigan's books under bills advancing in the Legislature.

The House on Wednesday began voting to repeal 75 laws that legislators say no longer serve a purpose or have been made redundant by newer statutes. (They had time on their hands since no road repair funding deal could be reached.) The archaic and apparently unenforced laws include prohibitions against ads related to sexually transmitted diseases and accepting a challenge to a duel.

No word yet on how Reps. Cindy Gamrat and Todd Courser are voting on these issues, although the duel challenge might present an interesting conundrum.

The seven-bill package also would delete laws prohibiting the national anthem from being played in public “without embellishments or other melodies,” which should be a relief to Aretha Franklin, Marvin Winans and other vocalists performing before Tigers games at Comerica Park.

The proposal also lifts a ban against stealing vegetables from someone's garden. But don’t worry, Chief Rahinsky, Michigan would still have broader penalties for trespassing and larceny.

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