Street Talk

Street Talk: And there were benefits for all — except for some

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December 13, 2013
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What’s the old saying? It’s better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you are a (dummy) than open your mouth and prove it?

Apparently, Dave Agema needs a history lesson.

According to the Associated Press, the GOP Committeeman last week made a statement that was construed as meaning gay people are seeking health insurance for same-sex partners because they are dying of AIDS and want free medical care.

It’s not the first time his personal views have landed him in political hot water. This spring the former state representative from West Michigan was chastised for an alleged anti-gay posting on Facebook.

This time, Gov. Rick Snyder’s office has weighed in. A statement from Snyder spokeswoman Sara Wurfel called the latest incident “extreme and discriminatory.”

Agema said his comments were “twisted” by the news media, according to AP, but added he supports "traditional marriage” and is opposed to same-sex benefits.

At least one other West Michigan pol took a more compassionate stance after the episode.

“No doubt, there will continue to be disagreement with regard to social issues, especially if the tenets of one's faith conflict with a proposal or law,” said state Rep. Joe Haveman of Holland. “But as a Christian man who seeks to walk as Christ taught, I believe differences of opinion should come from a place of love, not a place of hatred and disgust for people who may differ from us.”

Equal time

Sometimes, it’s really nice to have a sense of humor.

A case in point is a recent email from Jim Mitchell, a well-respected IP attorney in town and chairman of the board at Mel Trotter Ministries.

“I would like equal space in the Business Journal for Mel Trotter, with respect to all of the Grand Rapids brewery news items,” Mitchell opined, tongue planted firmly in cheek. “It is only fair, since we have to deal with the staggering problems they create.”

Zing! Mitchell went on to tout the Dec. 18 mortgage-burning ceremony Mel Trotter is hosting, and the wonderful job the Rev. Chico Daniels is doing at the facility.

Mitchell’s already got the headline in mind. “My suggestion for the title: ‘Free at last, free at last, Mel Trotter Mission is debt free at last!’”

A little long, Jim, but not bad.

The game plan

’Tis the season, but sometimes it really is the thought that counts.

For the past decade, Grand Rapids-based media company DVS has produced a holiday video greeting as part of its Christmas e-card. This year, however, the firm is adding a new twist. It’s releasing a Christmas-themed online game in place of the standard video greeting.

“Santa’s Helper” is more than just a holiday greeting, though. In line with one of DVS’s core values of benefiting community, the firm is donating $1 for every player who makes a pre-set number of presents in the game, up to $1,000.

“We wanted to continue our tradition of delivering a fun and engaging greeting at Christmas, but additionally incorporate one of our most important core values in the process this year,” said Paul La Vigne, DVS president and founder. “Donating to the West Michigan Toys for Tots campaign is a natural tie-in. Making presents in our virtual game world actually helps kids get presents in the real world.”

To help kids get presents through Toys for Tots, visitors can play the Santa’s Helper game at

Institutional learning

One of West Michigan radio’s institutions, Juke Van Oss, host of WHTC’s “Talk of the Town” show, marked his 90th birthday last Monday with a nice surprise.

Vocal Dimensions, a group of the best singers at Holland High School, popped into the studio to serenade him on the air during his morning show.

Van Oss, a WWII vet, was hired at the Holland station 62 years ago and was inducted into the Michigan Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2009.

To build a fire

A Byron Center-based auction firm is fanning its philanthropic flames with a piece of American history from one of this country’s greatest scribes.

Jack London, one of America’s most successful writers at the turn of the last century, produced such classics as “The Call of the Wild” and “White Fang.” A letter signed by the prolific writer in 1900 is being offered at auction by Miedema Asset Management Group.

Proceeds from the Dec. 19 sale of the letter will benefit the Gainey Foundation, in support of Two Moose Camp in Montana, which offers leadership training for Christian college students.

Gainey Foundation was founded as the sole monetary support vehicle for Two Moose Camp. The camp was founded by West Michigan transportation icon Harvey Gainey and his wife, Annie Gainey, as a vehicle to teach leadership in a Christian setting to college students who demonstrated leadership traits.

The camp and support facilities construction was completed in July 2002, allowing the first training program to proceed with students from Calvin College in 2003. Since then, the camp has served as a leadership development site for students from Christian colleges all over the country.

On Jan. 31, 1900, London wrote a letter to his publishing company, Houghton Mifflin, giving officials there a brief autobiography. The signed letter makes it a one-of-a-kind rare piece of the 20th century.

Jessica VanPortfliet, marketing director at Miedema, said a certificate of authenticity will be included in the sale and 100 percent of the proceeds will go to the camp. Bids are being taken at

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