Street Talk

Street Talk: Kent pay hikes on tap

At the plate.

August 24, 2018
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Kent County police officers will see nearly $1 million in total wage increases over the next five years.

The county board of commissioners approved a five-year labor agreement for Jan. 1, 2019, to Dec. 31, 2023, with the Police Officers Labor Council Captains/Lieutenants, which represents 21 members.

The current three-year agreement expires at the end of this year.

Per the new agreement, wages will increase by $993,650 total: a 2.5 percent annual increase during 2019-21 and a 2 percent annual increase during 2022-23.

Lieutenants and captains will begin the agreement with a base pay of $98,608 and $110,026, respectively.

The maximum retiree health care stipend will increase to $400 for employees who retire starting in 2019.

The agreement also states all employees will receive a $1,200 yearly clothing allowance. Currently, only nonuniformed employees receive this.

Additional funds paid will come from the county general fund.

The agreement states either party may reopen the agreement during 2021 for negotiation of 2022 and 2023 wages.

That’s to keep the options open in the case of a recession, said Amy Rollston, Kent County human resources director.

“To keep wage agreements consistent across county employee groups,” the county said three other labor union agreements were amended.

The 34 Kent County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Association members, 17 Teamsters Local 2014 parks workers and eight Circuit Court Referee Association workers will receive an additional $166,221 total and the same insurance changes as the police union.

The amended agreements change the unions’ 2019-20 wage increases from 2 percent to 2.5 percent. The agreement allows either party to renegotiate wage increases in 2020 for the following years.

Sunny side up

Sixty years ago in Ionia County, Harry and Marilyn Herbruck founded Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch, which today is the largest egg producer in Michigan and the 11th largest in the United States.

“Our commitment to doing what’s best for our hens, team members, customers, community and the environment has allowed us to grow over the last 60 years,” said Greg Herbruck, president of Herbruck’s. “This is a very special milestone for our family farm. My parents and grandparents created a solid foundation for Herbruck’s that allowed us to grow and expand over the years, and we are looking forward to what the next decade will bring.”

Headquartered in Saranac, Herbruck’s supplies farm-fresh eggs to retailers and food service outlets across the nation. Herbruck’s was founded in Ionia County in 1958, with roots stretching back to the late 1920s. Today third-generation family members operate the farm, and fourth-generation family members are continuing the tradition. Herbruck’s flock has grown from 3,000 laying hens in the late 1950s to 9 million today, and the operation has locations in Michigan, Indiana and Pennsylvania.

As Herbruck’s continues to expand, its commitment to supporting local communities remains strong. In Indiana, Herbruck’s contracts with 80 small family farms to produce specialty cage-free eggs. Herbruck’s also built a new feed mill and truck depot in Topeka in 2017, which created 10 new jobs. The Indiana location sources its corn and soymeal from local grain producers.

In 2017, Herbruck’s announced plans for a new egg laying facility in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, which will support its transition to 100 percent cage-free eggs and create 275 jobs. This expansion also will allow Herbruck’s to expand its distribution to meet the demand of a growing East Coast market. The new farm will have poultry barns that house cage-free and organic laying eggs, and will use the same advanced technology and innovative manure handling system that Herbruck’s uses in its Michigan facilities.

“We founded our farm with a commitment to doing what’s best for our neighbors and making a positive impact on our birds and the environment,” said Marilyn Herbruck, who still lives on the family farm. “I am proud of our children and grandchildren for keeping our values strong and finding ways to do things better than we did yesterday. On behalf of our entire family, we thank our family members, employees, customers and neighbors for supporting our business over the last 60 years.”

Since the very beginning, Herbruck’s has been committed to a culture of innovation and sustainability. Herbruck’s realized early on that if the family business was going to grow, she said, it would need to find a solution to manage its waste stream and associated odor and dust created by the farm. Herbruck’s took on this challenge by pioneering an innovative manure handling system, which allows the farm to repurpose its waste into a profitable organic fertilizer while reducing the farm’s environmental impact.

Herbruck’s commitment to sustainability and innovation has earned it recognition as a leader in the poultry industry, Greg Herbruck said. Earlier this year, Herbruck’s was recognized with the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association’s Family Farm Environmental Excellence Award for its manure handling system, wastewater treatment system and other sustainable business practices.

“We see doing the hard work and taking on challenges as an opportunity to grow our business, which has resulted in finding innovative solutions that help us reduce our environmental footprint,” he said. “These practices have helped us make a difference for our hens, employees and community while setting Herbruck’s apart in the poultry industry.”

Herbruck’s currently employs 950 people.

Out at home

After 10 hearty seasons, 12,000 brave challengers and nearly 58 million gut-busting calories, the Fifth Third Burger is calling it a career. The West Michigan Whitecaps will retire the Fifth Third Burger’s jersey Saturday, Sept. 1, during their season-ending homestand against the Fort Wayne TinCaps.

Matt Timon, Whitecaps director of food and beverage, is bittersweet about the retirement.

“It’ll be sad to see the burger retire. It’s brought us great memories and enjoyment to thousands and thousands of fans. We just have to keep in mind that as long as we have memories of the burger, it’ll still be around in our hearts.”

We’re pretty sure anyone who has eaten one still has it around in their heart.

Introduced prior to the 2009 season, the Fifth Third Burger quickly had media organizations around the world salivating, with its debut garnering coverage from ESPN’s “SportsCenter,” “The Today Show,” Jim Cramer’s show “Mad Money” with Darren Rovell and Erin Burnett, and many more. It also was featured on a 2009 episode of the Travel Channel’s “Man v. Food” — host Adam Richman devoured the 5-pound sandwich in only 27 minutes — and a 2011 episode of the Food Network’s “Unwrapped.”

Featuring five 1/3-pound hamburger patties, five slices of American cheese, a cup of chili and generous doses of Fritos, salsa, sour cream, lettuce and tomatoes on a 1-pound bun, the Fifth Third Burger clocked in at 4,800 calories, 300 grams of fat, 744 milligrams of cholesterol and more than 10,000 milligrams of sodium. Despite its intimidating presence at the plate, the Whitecaps sold more than 12,000 Fifth Third Burgers, with more than 500 people consuming the entire thing before the end of the game to complete the “Fifth Third Burger Challenge.”

For fans that dare, this mighty culinary delight can be had at the “Sweet Meats” concession stand at any of the remaining Whitecaps home games this season.

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