Street Talk

Street Talk: When it comes to restaurants, look before you eat

Job postings.

November 8, 2013
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It may not be as glitzy as the Emmys or the Oscars, but it has more impact locally than either of those events.

The Kent County Health Department last week announced the winners of its 2013 Food Safety Awards (see all the winners at The program recognizes year-round operating food service establishments that show a high degree of safe food handling practices and sanitation.

It’s a list you may want to consult frequently.

“Restaurant and food service facility safety is a very common concern for residents in Kent County,” said Adam London, administrative health officer for KCHD.

“Many Kent County restaurants do well in their inspections, but our staff feels it is important to single out these particular locations for being above average by regularly passing inspections with little or no violations. We felt we should reward them somehow for a job well-done.”

The reward may seem somewhat minimal (certificates and window clings), but it should be noted that the stringent criteria winnowed the winning eateries to 269 out of more than 1,600.

“When KCHD sanitarians inspect these facilities, they look at the five risk factors for food-borne illness, as established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” London said. “Food from unsafe sources, inadequate cooking, improper holding temperatures, contaminated equipment, or poor personal hygiene can help spread illness.”

Food service establishments are grouped into three classes based on the type of food preparation. In order for the listed classes of food service establishments to qualify for an award, they must meet the following criteria:

  • Year-round operation for the licensing year (May 1-April 30).
  • Facility must have a certified food safety manager, if required, for year of review.
  • No repeat violations for the two routine inspections conducted during the year of review.
  • No confirmed violations of Michigan Smoke Free Law.
  • No enforcement action taken against facility for year of review.
  • No confirmed food-borne illness outbreaks linked to facility for year of review.
  • No complaints that are confirmed by inspection and determined to be a public health risk.
  • Must not receive any “Priority” or “Priority Foundation” violations in the licensing year.
  • Class A must have no “core violations,” Class B must not exceed two core violations, and Class C cannot exceed three.

The Kent County Food Safety Committee — comprised of 15 local restaurant managers and owners — helped KCHD develop the criteria for the award.

Bringin’ the HEAT

After almost 4,000 online votes in 53 hours, former Business Journal staff writer Elizabeth Sanders last week was named the Road Warrior Community Vote winner for the 2014 Fifth Third River Bank Run, according to Kristen Aidif, race director.

Sanders will take one of the 10 Road Warrior slots by virtue of winning the online vote, and the remaining 24 candidates will move on to the interview phase this week, Aidif said.

The Road Warriors are a team of 10 runners who serve as ambassadors for the River Bank Run and take part in the 25K road race.

They also experiment with new training procedures, test new gear, raise money for charity and blog about their experiences.

November is turning out to be quite a month for Sanders. In addition to her Road Warrior status, her new business, Yoga HEAT, is celebrating its one-year anniversary Saturday.

The two make for a natural combination, she said.

“My business is built around helping runners. It is my passion,” she said. The HEAT portion of her studio stands for Helps Every Athlete Thrive, and much of that effort is through yoga and running.

“I also lead a local running and yoga group at Lululemon. It is a weekly group that meets for a two-mile run and half an hour of yoga.”

Sounds like the perfect description of a Road Warrior.

Much, much Moore

Business Journal columnist Paul Hense, author of the paper’s Small Business Matters, often takes his hometown of Flint to task in his pieces.

Filmmaker Michael Moore (“Roger & Me”) doesn’t paint a very rosy picture of his hometown, either. Both point to the demise of General Motors as a turning point in the city’s history, and one that’s not necessarily for the better.

But sometimes it’s easy to become a media target. Take, for instance, last week’s Flint City Council elections. According to the Associated Press, residents elected not one but two convicted felons to the town’s governing board.

Wantwaz Davis was paroled in 2010 after serving 19 years for second-degree murder — to which he pleaded guilty. Eric Mays, who pleaded guilty to felonious assault in 1987 and served a year of probation, also joined the council. Neither man attempted to hide their felony convictions from voters.

And why should they? According to AP, Michigan doesn't bar most felons from elective office after their release from prison. The lone exception is for those convicted of fraud or similar crimes related to positions in government.

Can’t wait to see Hense’s next column.

The gang’s all here

Grand Valley State University last week became the first school in the state to sign reverse transfer agreements with all 28 community colleges in Michigan.

“Students transferring to Grand Valley from any one of the Michigan public two-year schools are the beneficiaries of this work in creating all of these agreements,” said Lynn Blue, vice provost and dean of Academic Services and Information Technology.

“Many students who enter a community college transfer to a four-year school before completing the requirements for an associate’s degree, but end up satisfying the requirements en route to their bachelor’s degree. Rarely did students know to transfer their four-year work back to their former school. Now there is a process and an agreement on the part of all of the two-year schools to help those students with a richly deserved credential.”

Grand Valley President Thomas Haas said: “The relationship Grand Valley now has with every community college in the state brings real value for students. These partnerships will help students achieve their dreams of earning a college degree. At the end of the day, it’s all about students being successful.”

Hot to trot

Mel Trotter Ministries is anxious to fill several positions that have opened up due to volunteer scheduling conflicts.

To avoid such conflicts in the future, the nonprofit has decided to make these full- and part-time paying positions, said Cindy Longyne, the shelter’s communications manager.

“We do see higher numbers of women and children coming in. Last week we had 50 kids — just kids — staying at the shelter. That’s a pretty high number for us. It’s higher than average.”

The ministry at 225 Commerce Ave. SW is looking to fill about 11 positions. The permanent jobs include several in security, as well as registered nurse, pantry coordinator and stockroom worker.

Longyne said Mel Trotter is always looking for part-time nurses, too.

“A lot of the people who work with us also work for a hospital,” she said. “We have people volunteer their time, and with a career like nursing, if you work at a hospital, you’re constantly giving so much so it’s pretty taxing to always be taking care of someone.”

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