An app for that

May 1, 2012
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The Kent County Board of Aeronautics just may have found the next executive director of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport: Brian Ryks. Ryks holds the same position at the Duluth International Airport and is president of the Great Lakes Chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives, which covers a dozen states including Michigan.

Kent County Commissioner Dick Vander Molen, who serves on the aeronautics board, said Ryks is the leading candidate to replace former longtime director James Koslosky, who retired from the post. “He is willing and he wants to come here,” said Vander Molen.

If Ryks gets the job, he will find some similarities between the two airports. Both have “international” in their names and both are served by Allegiant, Delta and United airlines. GFIA likely spends less on de-icing materials than Duluth, however.

Cummings coming?

Sam Cummings, thought to be considering a run at the GR school board or county commission, is said to be eyeing the mayor’s office instead. Cummings, you may recall, was the first West Michigan resident to back Rick Snyder’s run for governor and worked daily to get that job done.

What secret?

Secret Service? Scandal? There are plenty of Grand Rapidians who have worked with advance teams and Secret Service personnel even before Jerry Ford was president. So the stories providing salacious headlines are anything but news — unless they get a minute on Fox.

Want a different opinion? Ask the two women who work with advance teams, security and Secret Service every year: Dixie Anderson of the World Affairs Council and Lorna Schultz of the Economic Club of Grand Rapids. They’ll tell you not to believe everything you read (or hear).

Word from a wise man

Ralph Hauenstein, who turned 100 last month, has a stunning history, including work in special ops (otherwise known as Army Intelligence) under Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower during World War II.

Several Grand Rapidians were quick to hop on Hauenstein’s revelation as to why the French were so angry with him. They are known pacifists, after all. But it seems Hauenstein was part of the decision-making process that rendered prostitution illegal at U.S. encampments. Prostitution is legal in France, and the French demanded tit-for-tat on American bases. Hauenstein didn’t want any state secrets leaked between Army blankets, which in fact had happened, so he told the ladies to stay home.

Spared the axe

Thanks to amendments offered by State Sen. David Hildenbrand, Grand Rapids Public Schools and other high-poverty, high-needs school districts may avoid disproportionate funding cuts and have more flexibility to utilize categorical funding to support at risk youth, if the Senate version of the K-12 School Aid Fund is adopted and signed by Gov. Snyder.

For the second year in a row, Hildenbrand went to bat for GRPS and successfully offered an amendment that restored Small Class Size categorical funding to the same level as last year — saving the district from a potential $2 million cut. Two additional Hildenbrand amendments were approved that restored the special education itinerant reimbursement, saving GRPS between $80,000 and $900,000 a year (based on “lapsed” or unspent dollars), and amended 31A Categorical to provide flexibility to use 31A funds to reduce class sizes in all grades K-12 (previously, it was limited to only K-6).

“We want to commend Sen. Hildenbrand for his continued leadership and thank his colleagues in the State Senate who supported these necessary changes to ensure funding is restored for at-risk youth,” said Jon O’Connor, the board’s Legislative Committee chair. “We are grateful that the majority of senators took action to remedy the disparities and hope that the state House will follow suit.”

Last year, the Legislature and Snyder cut or eliminated a number of K-12 categorical funds. These funds included money for bilingual education, special education services, and small class size grants for at-risk youth. For GRPS, the reduction in categorical funding accounted for an additional reduction in state aid of $1.5 million above and beyond the $5.6 million cut in per pupil funding. The reduction would have been much worse in 2011 had it not been for an amendment from Hildenbrand that restored two-thirds of the small-class-size funding.

The House, Senate, and Executive budget proposals, which were introduced earlier this year, would have eliminated the remaining small-class-size funding, eliminated special education itinerant funding, and included a new mandate for all-day kindergarten, which would inadvertently penalize GRPS, despite the fact the district provides all-day kindergarten at nearly every school.

“After more than $100 million in budget cuts over the last decade, this is welcome relief,” said Senita Lenear, board president. “Sen. Hildenbrand truly took the time to listen and fully understand our issues and concerns. I think that is why he was able to convince his colleagues that the amendments were needed. He put the interests of children ahead of politics and fought for equity, fairness and support for all children.”

If adopted by the Legislature and signed by Snyder, the Hildenbrand amendments, coupled with another amendment that aims to solve the all-day kindergarten/Title I issue, could ensure GRPS avoids more than $5.3 million in state funding cuts for the 2012-13 school year.

Shore thing

Muskegon’s gone mobile and now has its own app packed with information for the lakeshore community and its visitors. The Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Muskegon County Convention and Visitors Bureau, launched the community’s first mobile app during the April 27 Business for Breakfast on tourism. The free GOMuskegon! mobile app is available for iPhone, Android and Blackberry Mobile Web.

The mobile app allows users to search more than 1,150 local businesses and use GPS to navigate to their location, look for local deals, connect to local business news, view community events and register for chamber events.

Chamber President Cindy Larsen said, “We are very excited to be able to offer the community and our members such a valuable resource. This mobile app will really put our members on the map and literally put them at people’s fingertips.”

The chamber is partnering with the Muskegon CVB to launch and market the app to both those living in the lakeshore communities and those looking to vacation in the area.

“This was the perfect partnership for us,” said Bob Lukens, community development director for Muskegon County and director of the CVB. “Anything that makes Muskegon more accessible to those outside of the area and promotes tourism destinations within the area helps our efforts to grow the number of visitors, conventions and business travelers considering Muskegon as their next destination.”

The GOMuskegon! app is sponsored by the Shoreline Inn and Suites and is the first of its kind for the county. It is also the first completely comprehensive mobile app for chambers of commerce in the state of Michigan. Other area chambers offer mobile apps, Larsen said, but they are not fully integrated with their websites and membership databases. This app, developed by Chamber2GO of MetroMedia Publishers, is fully integrated, allowing changes that happen in the database or website to instantly be available.

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