Street Talk

Street Talk: Timing is everything

Wild blue yonder.

May 4, 2018
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F100C
Pieces of the F100C fighter plane arrive in Grand Rapids. Photo by Ehren Wynder

No decision has yet been made regarding the fate of Lakeshore Regional Entity, the organization that oversees Medicaid funding for five community health centers in West Michigan.

As requested in a letter by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the organization submitted a proposal in late April addressing five issues: lack of an approved risk management strategy; need for changes in LRE governance structure; inconsistent performance of managed care functions; data reporting inaccuracies; and ensuring ongoing communication between LRE and MDHHS.

The top issue continues to be the risk management strategy, said Stan Stek, a Kent County commissioner, board member of the CMH Network180 and board chair of LRE.

LRE and the state are having ongoing conversations regarding the organization’s lack of funds and how to address that going forward.

In the proposal to the state, Stek said calculations suggested the state owes LRE $10.7 million to “settle up” for the 2015-2017 fiscal years, which he said the state did not deny. He said LRE asked the state for an advance payment, but it was refused. The state may work to expedite the payment process, Stek added.

Lynn Sutfin, public information officer for MDHHS, sent a response via email to a Business Journal inquiry about the process:

“The written response and documentation provided by Lakeshore Regional Entity (LRE) is being reviewed and evaluated before any formal Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) response is drafted. There may be a need for additional dialogue between MDHHS and LRE to address any questions concerning LRE’s written response. There is no established timeline for reaching an MDHHS decision.”

Stek said the clock is ticking, however, and he said he hopes the state respects the urgency needed to keep the organization running and ensure patients continue receiving necessary care.

“At some point, this system needs stability perhaps more than anything else,” Stek said. “Unfortunately, as we continue in this ambiguous environment, a lack of stability and lack of direction itself can become the most significant dynamic.”

Equine ambassadors

A local staffing agency plans to celebrate its associates in an unusual way — with a visit from giant horses.

On May 10, The Express Clydesdales of Express Employment Professionals will stop at the company’s franchise at 1760 44th St. SW, Suite 10, in Wyoming.

The Wyoming franchise, helmed by franchise owner Janis Petrini, is planning the event to show appreciation to “every person we have worked with to find a job over the last 22 years of being in business.”

The rare black-and-white Clydesdales travel across North America as Express Employment Professionals’ ambassadors.

Looming over other horse breeds, Clydesdales mature to an average height of 17 to 19 hands, which is about 6 feet from the ground to the horse’s shoulder. They weigh between 1,800 and 2,300 pounds.

The event is invitation-only to previous or current “associates” whom Express helped in job searching over the years. It will be held from 4-7 p.m. in the Chateau Center Plaza parking lot in front of the Wyoming location.

Between 500 and 1,000 associates and their families are expected to attend.

“We are so grateful for every single person (who) has partnered with Express Employment Professionals on their job search and represented us throughout the community,” Petrini said. “We are so excited to bring the Express Clydesdales to Grand Rapids for this very special event.”

The Express Clydesdales have competed and toured in North America since 1999 and continue to win numerous competitions.

The gentle giants also have helped raise money for charitable organizations such as Children’s Miracle Network hospitals and others.

The Clydesdales have been a part of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Tournament of the Roses Parade, Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Kentucky Derby Pegasus Parade.

They also chauffeured the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, and his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton, during their visit to Calgary.

Air raid

A set of decommissioned military planes will take to the air again (symbolically) at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport.

Two trucks carrying the remains of two F100C fighter planes arrived at Grooters Development’s Area 52 warehouses behind the airport last week. At press time, a third plane was on its way.

The F100C is a single-engine, single-seat fighter-bomber that saw service with the U.S. Air Force from 1954-71.

The plan to bring the old jets to Grand Rapids has been almost a year in development. Richard Harris, a retired Air Force vet, retired Delta pilot and long-time friend of Robert Grooters, hired the trucks to deliver the plane parts.

“About a year ago, Bob and I were talking about getting three aircraft and displaying them at the airport,” Harris said. “It took about nine months to find them.”

Harris was able to track down six of the planes in a barn south of Pittsburgh. The property owner, whose name was not disclosed, was a serious collector, and Harris said he had several buildings on his property full of old items, including an old military half-track.

“His wife told him it was time to get rid of some of this stuff,” Harris said

The effort to restore these planes to their former glory has received support from a handful of West Michigan businesses. Wolverine Building Group donated some of its workforce to manage the heavy lifting.

Professional Fabricating Inc. out of Wyoming will perform sheet metal repairs, and Grand Traverse, a container supplier in Kentwood, is loaning its space for reconstruction. Harris added the project also has several individual community members volunteering their time.

Harris estimated the restoration process will take several hundreds of thousands of dollars and between nine months and a year to complete. Ford Airport is in the certification process to have the planes mounted on its property.

“I’m so impressed all these guys are doing this,” Harris said. “They want to honor all the military personnel around the world and memorialize our vets for their service.”

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