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Nonprofit roundup: A run, a party, and funds for scholars

Runners in Battle Creek plan distance event

Battle Creek is getting a half-marathon of its own.

Organizers of the first Battle Creek Half-Marathon and 5K are now accepting registration for the running event that is the first of its kind for the Cereal City.

The course will include the festival grounds at W.K. Kellogg Airport as well as streets in nearby residential areas in west-central Battle Creek.

The BC Half was organized by local runners who began planning in 2014 for a long-distance event in Battle Creek. 

Conversations among runners led to a planning committee and spawned partnerships with initial sponsors, including the Field of Flight organization, Cereal City Athletics, Battle Creek YMCA and Territorial Brewing Co.

The race will be the morning of July 2 and will take place in conjunction with the annual Field of Flight Air Show & Balloon Festival. 

Registration is at for Battle Creek Half Marathon. Cost for the Half Marathon is $65 and $30 for the 5k. Prices increase April 1.

Registration includes T-shirts, medals, two entries to the Field of Flight event and a parking pass for all half marathon participants. 5k participants will receive a T-shirt, one pass to the Field of Flight and a parking pass. 5k participants do not receive a medal. 

Race directors are Nikki Elder and David Tanis, both of whom have organized 5K and 10K races in the area.

Source: Nicole Elder, B.C. Half-Marathon and 5K

Volunteer Kalamazoo’s 11th annual fundraising party almost here

It's time for Eat Drink Give, the annual fundraiser for Volunteer Kalamazoo. 

The Jan. 29 event marks the 11th year for the group that links people who want to volunteer with nonprofits that need them. Typically, more than 350 people show up for the evening of local food, drinks, music, and fun as they give what they can to the community.

"Every year, we add something new to the event," says arrie Vanderbush, executive director of Volunteer Kalamazoo. "It just keeps getting better and better. We are overwhelmed by the support from our friends and the community.” 

The money raised through ticket sales, sponsorships, and donations made at the party itself go to support the work of Volunteer Kalamazoo.

EAT--Participating restaurants include: BOLD, Chocolatea, Crepes by the Lakes, Earthfare, EMA Catering, Food Dance, Gorilla Gourmet, Latitude 42, NONLA Vietnamese Street Food, Old Burdick’s Bar & Grill, Pop City Popcorn, Principle Food & Drink, Rustica, The Sangria Shop, Webster’s Prime, Zazios, and Zebs

DRINK-- There will be a variety of wines from the portfolio of Imperial Beverage and local wineries Tempo Vino Winery, Cody Kresta Vineyard & Winery, Fenn Valley, Lawton Ridge Winery and St. Julian Winery; and beer from Arcadia Ales, and Latitude 42. New Holland Artisan Spirits is working with local chefs to offer our guests a wide variety of Signature Cocktails. For those interested in non-alcoholic sips, Gordon Water Systems will be onsite to have you covered.

GIVE--This year’s Presenting Sponsor is Fifth Third Bank. Forensic Fluids is this year’s Major Sponsor. Supporting Sponsors for this year’s party are: Alpha Omega Events, Big Lyle’s Big Events, Brink, Key & Chludzinski, P.C., Imperial Beverage, MLive Media Group/Kalamazoo Gazette, Sanford Financial Services, Worgess Insurance and the Radisson Plaza Hotel at Kalamazoo Center.

Eat, Drink, Give takes place from 7 to 10 p.m., Friday, Jan. 29 at the Radisson Plaza Hotel, Arcadia Ballroom. Tickets are $70. An after party dance takes place immediately following the main event. Participants can attend both for $80 or $15 for the dance alone. The $15 cover includes DJ, dancing, and cash bar for those 21 and over. Proceeds benefit Volunteer Kalamazoo.

Source: Volunteer Kalamazoo

One Well Brewing offers funds to brewing program scholars

The owners of One Well Brewing in Kalamazoo’s Milwood neighborhood are supporting the sustainable brewing program at Kalamazoo Valley Community College by establishing a scholarship for students in the program. 

T.J. Waldofsky and Chris O’Neill have funded a $500 One Well Brewing Scholarship that will be awarded annually to a student in the sustainable brewing program.

"I’m impressed with the program because it’s not just about making beer. It’s really cool that it covers everything about this industry," Waldorfsky says.

Waldofsky and O’Neill opened One Well Brewing in November 2015. O’Neill, a Western Michigan University graduate, is the head brewer and Waldofsky, a University of Michigan graduate, manages the business at 4213 Portage Street, with easy access off I-94.

“We hope to contribute to the awesome craft beer culture that other local Michigan breweries have helped to build here,” Waldofsky says. And he’s hoping the scholarship can be increased as One Well expands. “We are new and young,” he acknowledged. “Five hundred dollars is not the biggest commitment in the world, but this is what we can do now. We’re hoping to grow the scholarship as our business grows.”

Kalamazoo Valley’s sustainable brewing program is accredited and teaches all aspects of brewing science. Classroom work is reinforced through hands-on experience with the technology used in the operation of a small-scale brewery. Students will participate in a practicum class environment designing a beer recipe, monitoring and analyzing the brew throughout the brewing process, and assessing the final brew using tests and sensory evaluation.

Students have the option of transferring coursework to complete a Bachelor of Science degree is Sustainable Craft Brewing at Western Michigan University.

Source: Kalamazoo Valley Community College

AVB hires commercial project engineer, residential framer, construction assistants

Jenae Kuipers has been hired by AVB as a commercial project engineer. She will coordinate all necessary documents and communications for commercial projects for the company.

She has a background in construction and project management and since joining AVB, she has demonstrated her skills in the communication process for project coordination. 

Kuipers earned her Master's Degree of Business Administration and her Bachelor's Degree of Arts at Michigan State University.

AVB also recently hired Adam Jackson as a residential framer. He will be responsible for the framing of homes anywhere from 2,500 square feet to upwards of 5,500 square feet. He has experience working as a rough framer for Midwest Builders Inc. where he acquired the qualifications for his new role. 

Jackson is a Kalamazoo Valley Community College graduate with an Associates degree in Applied Science. He has also worked with Habitat for Humanity. 

AVB also recently hired Dylan Richards and Andrew Adriance as residential construction assistants. 

Richards was the first person hired at Warehouse Associate in Paw Paw when it opened in 2012. He is a team player who excels at building trusting relationships with colleagues. He will be called on to use this team building mentality at AVB as he assists the residential project teams with building homes.

Adriance is currently attending Kalamazoo Valley Community College pursuing his associate’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. He has extensive experience as an automotive technician from positions at Strictly Import Motorsports in Kalamazoo, FEMA Corporation in Portage and Whalen’s Speed Research and Development in Paw Paw. At AVB, he will be assisting residential project teams with building homes. 

AVB has been building in Southwest Michigan since 1981. AVB’s commercial division focuses on construction management in the healthcare, education, office, industrial, municipal, and retail markets.  AVB’s custom residential building division specializes in single-family homes, condominiums and neighborhoods.  AVB’s development group focuses on property development for commercial, residential, and mixed uses.

Source: AVB

Bjorn Green succeeds Arnie Mikon at TowerPinkster

TowerPinkster has promoted the firm’s senior principal and planner Bjorn Green to be the company’s next president and CEO. Green is succeeding Arnie Mikon, who has held the position for the last 10 years and plans to retire at the end of 2016.

"Bjorn has demonstrated his management abilities and strengthened the firm’s presence as a design leader in architecture and engineering throughout Michigan," says Mikon, who will retain his position on TowerPinkster’s board of directors and continue working with the firm as a consultant.  "He has excelled at leading TowerPinkster’s collaborative team-based approach to design, which has resulted in significant and enhanced growth for the company."
For the past eight years, Green led TowerPinkster’s business development efforts as well as the health care and Kalamazoo-area commercial market efforts.

TowerPinkster is known for its work in architecture and engineering design firm specializing in the K12, higher education, health care, commercial and government sectors. 
Before joining TowerPinkster, Green worked for Walt Disney Imagineering where he designed and developed a range of master planning initiatives for Walt Disney World. Before moving to Michigan, Green worked as a senior associate with The Chicago Consultants Studio, Inc., serving as a member of the firm’s master development collaborative that was created to respond to strategic planning, urban design and development opportunities across the United States and internationally. 

Previously, he had served as a senior designer with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in Chicago where he worked on several international and domestic projects, including the development of a master plan for property on Detroit’s riverfront adjacent to General Motors’ Renaissance Center.
Green earned his bachelor’s degree in architecture at the University of Miami (Florida).  
Green is a member of the American Institute of Architects, American Planning Association – American Institute of Certified Planners, and is on the board of directors at Kalamazoo Downtown Development Authority, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, and Southwest Michigan First.
TowerPinkster is an architecture and engineering design firm with offices in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, Michigan. Recent work includes projects for Spectrum Health, Western Michigan University, Grand Valley State University, Kalamazoo Public Schools, Grand Rapids Public Schools, Kent County, Kalamazoo County and the Gerald R. Ford International Airport.  

Source: TowerPinkster

Bronson welcomes new providers

Five new health care providers have joined Bronson. 
Ashley Bays is now a part of Bronson Cardiothoracic, Vascular and Endovascular Specialists. She is a certified physician assistant. She has seven years of experience as a physician assistant and was most recently employed with Southwestern Michigan Emergency Services, P.C.  Bays earned her Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. She will also provide care at the Bronson Vein Clinic. Bronson Cardiothoracic, Vascular and Endovascular Specialists is located at 601 John St. Suite M-460 in Kalamazoo. 

Jenna Ruple has joined the team at Bronson LakeView Family Care – Paw Paw (Suite A). Ruple completed her family medicine residency at Memorial Hospital of South Bend. She is board certified in family medicine and received her medical degree from the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Peoria, Ill. Ruple is currently accepting new patients.
Bronson Neuroscience Center has added Martinson Arnan, M.D., to its team. Arnan completed his vascular neurology fellowship and his neurology residency at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md. He is board certified in neurology, vascular neurology and neurovascular ultrasound. Arnan received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School in Boston. He has a special interest in stroke care and will serve as the medical director of stroke for the Bronson Healthcare system. He has eight years of experience in neurology and was most recently employed with Wake Forest School of Medicine.
James Goodspeed, M.D., is now part of the Bronson Women’s Service team. Goodspeed completed his obstetrics and gynecology residency at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, Iowa. Goodspeed is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology and received his medical degree from Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit. He has a special interest in the management of menopause.

Rick W. Tiller, doctor of podiatric medicine, has joined Bronson Orthopedic Trauma, Foot and Ankle Specialists. Dr. Tiller comes to Bronson from Kalamazoo Foot Surgery, P.C. He has special interests in all painful foot and ankle conditions, including ankle and Achilles injuries, bone spurs, bunion and other deformities, foot fractures and sprains, ingrown nails, plantar warts, overuse injuries and plantar fasciitis. He completed his surgical residency at the Oakwood Downriver Medical Center, Lincoln Park, Mich., and is board certified in foot surgery. He received his medical degree in podiatric medicine from the Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine in Chicago, Ill. Tiller is currently seeing patients at 601 John St., Suite M-424. 

Source: Bronson 

WMU to offer Chinese students accountancy classes

Last year the Guizhou province experienced the highest growth in China, creating an increased demand for accountants. Now Chinese students who want to learn in the United States to be accountants can do that at Western Michigan University.

The Guizhou University of Finance and Economics and Western Michigan University's Haworth College of Business have a new agreement that enables students from the university in China to earn a degree in accountancy from WMU as part of a program that has students studying in both China and the United States.

"An education from a reputable U.S. university is highly valued in China," says Dr. Christina Stamper, associate dean of undergraduate programs for the college of business. "This new agreement is beneficial to the students because there is a lower cost associated with studying in the U.S., yet they are still able to earn a college degree from a well-respected university in the United States."

Students in the program will spend three years at GUFE studying accounting with both their local professors and with professors from WMU's college of business, culminating in dual degrees from WMU and GUFE. 

WMU faculty will teach 10 business courses in China during the students' first three years, including business core courses such as finance, marketing, management and several accountancy courses. During the fourth year, students will come to the University's main campus in Kalamazoo to complete their studies.

Stamper says that the college anticipates between 55 and 65 students per year to arrive in Kalamazoo beginning in the 2018-19 academic year. 

Source: Western Michigan University

Community development organization takes new name

As part of a strategic shift to tap into the community's capacity for economic development, Neighborhoods Inc. of Battle Creek has changed its name to Southwest Michigan Community Development Corporation (SWMCDC).

President and CEO Bill Phillips says the organization's previous work was viewed narrowly as if done by a neighborhood-specific agency rather than one that does broader community development work. 

The new name more accurately describes the nature and scope of the organization’s work and reflects its revamped business model – emphasizing residential, small business, commercial financial products, and capital investment to support quality of life for residents and community growth, Phillips says.

The organization’s business model retains its core programs, but there will be a stronger focus to inform, inspire and financially prepare families to fuel community growth. 

“Communities must connect the dots between neighborhood health and the vibrancy of the community, perceived by current residents and those looking to relocate,” says Yvonne Powell, Program Director/Counseling and Education for SWMCDC. 

That means the financial health and stability of families and the physical condition and property values of neighborhoods is critical to the growth communities hope to promote. SWMCDC’s new structure supports community growth and the future success of Battle Creek, as well as a workforce to retain industry, attract residents, jobs, and stimulate new business. 

SWMCDC is a charter member of NeighborWorks America, a national network of community development organizations that receives a portion of its annual funding directly from the United States Congress. 

Since 1981, SWMCDC has worked to provide capital, investment, programs, and services in Battle Creek. In 1991, the organization expanded its programming and building capacity when it joined NeighborWorks America. Today, SWMCDC continues with its proactive approach with a new name and revamped business model. 

“Ultimately, the SWMCDC seeks to improve the quality of life for those who live, work and play in the Battle Creek community," says Phillips. "Our new name and redefined business model will help us to achieve these goals.”

Source: Southwest Michigan Community Development Corporation

Two construction interns join AVB

An intern in commercial construction and a second intern in CAD drafting have joined AVB.

Daniel Burns, a commercial construction intern, is now a junior at Western Michigan University. he plans to graduate as a construction engineering major with a general business and mathematics double minor in December 2016. Burns has previously been a construction intern with Black & Veatch and Louis Padnos Iron and Metal Company. Burns will work with Andrew Schipper, to gain experience in  project engineering. He will be involved in the commercial project documentation process. 

Dimetric White has been hired as a CAD Drafter Intern.  He has an Associate Degree of Science in Building Information Modeling from Sanford-Brown College. He will work with AVB in its residential building design and construction areas, drawing on his past experience with AutoCAD, AutoCAD Architecture, Revit Drafting and Adobe Creative Cloud  He will be working with Senior CAD Draftsman Eric Gage.  

AVB has been building southwest Michigan since 1981. The company's commercial division focuses on construction management in the healthcare, education, office, industrial, municipal, and retail markets.  AVB’s custom residential building division specializes in single-family homes, condominiums and neighborhoods.  AVB’s development group focuses on property development for commercial, residential, and mixed uses.

Source: AVB

Next Urban Democracy Feast scheduled for Dec. 19

Earlier in 2015, organizers and community members gathered over a meal to hear ideas for social justice projects that demonstrated direct democracy and accountability. The meal and even called Urban Democracy Feast, gathers regularly to generate funds that can kick start projects that might otherwise not get funded, or help them make a qualitative leap in their work. The next Feast is scheduled for Dec. 19 at the Hispanic American Council on Lake Street in Kalamazoo

Community members are welcome and invited to attend the meal, which costs $10 per person. Besides a meal (donated by local restaurants), guests have the opportunity to vote for the project they believe in the most. The project with the most votes will go home with the cash brought in that night.

At the last Feast, the Institute for New Leaders won the most votes for their project, which involves equipping young people with the knowledge, skills, tools, and resources needed to make change and take control of their lives and community. They will be offering an update on their project at the Dec. 19 Feast, including the progress of their project, the project's impact, and an account of their expenses. 

Urban Democracy Feast's guiding principles are direct democracy, accountability, and social justice. They welcome projects that also identify the public policies that are obstacles to social justice and direct democracy, and that propose other policies that can be implemented. 

Some examples of the projects they look forward to considering include: child care services for single parents who work the second and third shift; urban farms that sell to local non-franchise restaurants; worker owned co-operatives; a feminist hacker-space building open source software to challenge inequities in housing and hiring/pay policies; independent community media; a workplace violence and child abuse archive at legal defense office; divestment campaigns; a workers’ college; peoples’ budget for the city/county; or a scholarship request to study abroad and bring the research results back to Kalamazoo. 

The application deadline for this feast has passed, but Urban Democracy Feast plans to hold three more in the coming year. 

The doors open at 5 p.m. and at 5:30 p.m. the event kicks off with an explanation of the FEAST process, followed by the four presentations. Childcare for toddlers and for pre-school children will be available in separate rooms, and tickets can be purchased in advance or at the door. Donations of food to help make the feast a feast are still being accepted. Check out their website for more information, and the Facebook event page to receive notifications about the event. 

Writer: Kathi Valeii, Second Wave Media
Source: Urban Democracy Feast


Kalamazoo Community Foundation names new manager of Community Investment

David Feaster has joined Kalamazoo Community Foundation as a manager in the Community Investment area. 

In his new role, he will help direct the foundation's Community Investment team, which collaborates with local nonprofits on grant-making and partnering on initiatives.

Feaster previously served as executive director of Community AIDS Resource and Education Center (CARES), which serves Southwest Michigan. He began with CARES in 2001 as a medical case manager, later served as director of client services, and assumed the executive director role in 2011.

He graduated from Rutgers University with bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and English.

In other Kalamazoo Community Foundation news, the foundation recently received the Exemplary Foundation Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals West Michigan Chapter.

The AFP recognized the Kalamazoo Community Foundation saying that it provides a “unique and thoughtful assessment of each grant proposal and serving our community through leadership and stewardship of resources that last forever.”

Senior Services of Southwest Michigan nominated the KZCF. In its  letter of support Senior Services thanked KZCF for being “service oriented and so closely connected to the community.”

Marc and Jeanne Schupan, who have an Advised Fund at the Community Foundation, also were recognized with the Distinguished Philanthropist Award. They were honored for “their enthusiasm and desire to make life better for all, combined with their special ability to inspire and motivate others…the Schupans are able to drive successful initiatives focused on compassion, companionship and advocacy.”

As part of the award the Kalamazoo Community Foundation's anniversary also was noted. “Since that first $1,000 gift from W.E. Upjohn in 1925, KZCF continues to envision a better community where every person reaches their full potential, focusing their efforts on ensuring people in the community are loved, cared for, encouraged and empowered.”

Writer: Kathy Jennings, Second Wave Media
Source: Kalamazoo Community Foundation

First public input session on BTR park expansion set for Dec. 17

The first in a series of opportunities for the public to offer ideas regarding the expansion of Western Michigan University's Business Technology and Research Park at the Colony Farm Orchard will be from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 17 at Oshtemo Township Hall, 7275 W. Main St.

The meeting has been scheduled by the architectural engineering and landscape architecture firms chosen to develop a design plan for the expanded business park -- Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber and O’Boyle, Cowell, Blalock, & Associates.

Members of the community will have a chance to learn more about Phase 2 of the BTR Park development and share their ideas for making the addition as successful as the first phase, say principals with the firms.

WMU also has named a nine-member project advisory committee to work with the design team as it develops plans to turn the 44-acre site adjacent to the original park into a home for private sector partners. The committee is made up of community members as well as WMU faculty, staff and student representatives. 

There will be three public forums, including the Dec. 17 session. 

WMU's BTR Park opened in 2000 and is now full, with more than 40 private-sector firms that focus on the life sciences, advanced engineering and information technology. The Colony Farm Orchard property is located within the boundaries of Oshtemo Township and will be developed as a partnership between the township and the university. 

Writer: Kathy Jennings, Second Wave Media
Source: Western Michigan University

Physicians create Borgess Vascular Institute to care for those with vascular diseases

At Southwest Michigan's first and only vascular center doctors have experience replacing an entire aorta. 

Advanced Vascular Surgery, The Surgical Group of Southwest Michigan, Borgess Cardiology Group, Borgess Heart Center for Excellence, and Premier Radiology are now part of Borgess Vascular Institute

Borgess Vascular Institute offers preventive care, coronary angioplasty, open surgery and rehabilitation. It uses a multidisciplinary approach to managing peripheral vascular disease.

Borgess Vascular Institute provides care for the following common vascular diseases and more: Care of Lower Extremities and Limb Preservation; Stroke Prevention; Aneurysm and Dissection; Ischemic Bowel; Hypertension Management; Venous (leg ulcers, edema in legs, skin discoloration of the legs, deep venous thrombosis); Intestinal Ischemia; Thoracic Outlet Syndrome; Raynaud’s Disease.

Two of the doctors now affiliated with the Borgess Vascular Institute performed a total aortic arch debranching and Thoracic Endovascular Aortic Repair (TEVAR) in March 2014. 

Borgess reports that Lonnie Bragg first noticed the pains in his chest in 2009 while at home. His wife, Sue, called an ambulance, and Bragg was brought to Borgess Medical Center, where two aneurysms were discovered, including one in the groin area.

He was treated and went home a week later, but returned to Borgess a few years later, where he received a new and unique vascular procedure. Bragg’s entire aorta was replaced during the TEVAR procedure. 

Dr. Syed Alam and Dr. Jerry Pratt  along with numerous other Borgess Health physicians, are now combining their talents to create the region’s first and only vascular center.

“In the past, patients like Lonnie might have been forced to seek their care elsewhere in Michigan or in other parts of the country,” says Dr. Jain. “Borgess Vascular Institute now gives them the most exclusive and latest medical care they need right here in Kalamazoo.”

Source: Borgess

Cary Goldman becomes national sales director at Easy on Hold

Easy On Hold has a new national sales director. Cary Goldman has joined the company and will responsible for the company's expansion into strategic markets and growing the size and expertise of its sales operation.

Goldman is  from Chicago and has more than 30 years of sales leadership in IT sales. He has led sales efforts for Dell, ASAP Software, and VS Networks. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University and his MBA from the Keller School of Management.

Easy On Hold President and CEO Julie Cook says Goldman is joining the company as it is experiencing strong growth. “We have enjoyed nearly 30 percent growth the last three year in a row," Cook says."We have created the industry’s first customized streaming on hold service, and our own overhead music service called Brandi Music. We know that he will help lead us into a new level of visibility in the on hold and in store music and messaging space.”

Goldman says he is looking forward to being part of the growth of Easy On Hold. “The company has enjoyed incredible success as a small startup and is poised to become a major player in the on hold messaging and overhead music space," Goldman says. "The founders have a passion for this market and an innovative spirit. Those are important assets, and they blend well with my experience in leading hyper-growth sales organizations. I predict great things to come for Easy On Hold, our customers, and our employees.”

Easy On Hold was formed in 1997. It provides both streaming and traditional delivery of professional telephone recordings, music and on hold message productions. Services include auto attendant, voicemail greetings, web audio and overhead/in store music and announcements to companies around the world.

Source: Easy On Hold

Leslie Price joins Borgess Internal Medicine

Physician Assistant Leslie Price has joined Borgess Internal Medicine in the Borgess Medical Commons Building at the Woodbridge Hills location, 7775 Angling Road, Portage.

Price comes to Borgess from San Antonio, Texas, where she was a physician assistant in private practice.

She was a physician assistant at Columbus Sleep Consultants in Columbus, Ohio, and at Correctional Reception Center in Orient, Ohio.

Price is licensed with the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Physician Assistant Studies from Kettering College of Medical Arts in Kettering, Ohio.

Leslie is now accepting patients.

Source: Borgess

Vicksburg pursues crowdfunding campaign for matching grant

Over the next 17 days the Vicksburg Downtown Development Authority is hoping to raise $32,000 that will in turn bring in a matching $32,000 for a new trailhead to the Vicksburg Nature Trail.

The .47 acre trailhead will be the entrance into the Vicksburg downtown district and part of  an extensive 2.6 mile non-motorized nature trail in the village. The Vicksburg Vision Capital campaign has committed $61,000 toward the $126,000 project.

The trailhead is the first part of a larger placemaking project to redevelop the Vicksburg downtown district to enhance its economic development efforts.

The crowdfunding project is offered in cooperation with the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) and Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) on the crowdfunding platform Patronicity.

"The MEDC/MSHDA Crowdfunding program is a huge boost to our fundraising efforts and focuses on projects everyone can participate in making happen in the immediate future," says Kathleen Hoyle, Vicksburg DDA Director.

The Patronicity page for the project says the community said in public meetings that it wanted a trail that would connect its downtown district and recreational assets with other communities. It also encourages people to "donate today for the Vicksburg of tomorrow."

Funds will be used for property acquisition, site restoration, planting of trees, the building of a parking lot, bike rack, and benches, installation of historic light poles, signage, and interpretive sign about the history of Vicksburg.

With the money raised through the crowdfunding process, the project could begin in early 2016. With 17 days to go in the process, $4,295 from seven donors had been pledged to the project.

“Creating community connections like the trailhead has an impact measured beyond dollars and cents, as health and quality of life benefits make villages like Vicksburg an attractive place to live. We are proud to partner in this effort,” says MEDC Community Development Director Katharine Czarnecki.

Source: MEDC

WMU honored for being a top-performing green college

When it comes to saving energy and cutting greenhouse gases, Western Michigan University is one of the country's six top-performing colleges says the Sustainable Endowments Institute.

WMU took the top spot for being a large institution with the most carbon emissions saved to date.

The organization that manages the nation's Billion Dollar Green Challenge praised WMU for having the best performance in the Sustainable Endowment Institute's Green Revolving Investment Tracking System (GRITS).

The latest national recognition required the tracking and careful input of data on projects that date back some 20 years, says WMU Associate Vice President for Facilities Management Pete Strazdas. WMU used the GRITS software tool to measure its savings, which is available free to North American educational institutions, thanks to Strazdas' work.

WMU is home to the nation's oldest green revolving fund and it was previously recognized by the Sustainable Endowments Institute for that accomplishment. Such funds are tools that allow institutions to put money into sustainability projects and then invest the savings from those projects into new energy projects. WMU's semi-revolving fund was established in 1980 and has financed more than 100 campus projects with an average annual return on investment of 47 percent.

The honor in 2015 from the Sustainable Endowments Institute is an acknowledgement that "this is one university that is on the sustainability path for the long haul," says Harold Glasser, WMU executive director for campus sustainability and professor of environmental studies. "That's especially significant in an environment in which some see long-term commitment to sustainability as one of the shortcomings for many campus communities."

Source: Western Michigan University
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