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Home » Community Resources » News

News

NOAA expanding Western Michigan Lab in Muskegon.

April 5, 2012, 9:46 a.m. EDT      The Muskegon Chronicle

 

MUSKEGON, Mich. (AP) — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration operates its fleet of 20 Great Lakes vessels out of Muskegon without much fanfare.

But NOAA's maritime operation is about to take on a higher profile with an expansion of the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory on the Muskegon Channel.

The vessel maintenance and operation building and its equipment are going through a nearly $1 million upgrade and will become NOAA's national showcase for its Green Ship initiative. The upgrade is expected to be done by early fall.

Once completed, the marine operations building will have new offices and areas for training along with space for engineering and maintenance operations. The building will house the Green Ship initiative that was started in Muskegon and expanded with NOAA and other federal government marine operations.

The Green Ship program converts all shipboard systems to biofuels and bio-lubricants.

"With this investment and expansion, we will have a facility that will match the engineering requirements of our work load here in Muskegon," NOAA Marine Superintendent Dennis Donahue said. "There needs to be a place and a facility for people to go to concerning our Green Ship program. We will have space for research and development, testing and conferences."

The marine facility will be constructed in a way that will match the historic look of the main Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory building, a former U.S. Coast Guard station.The facility will grow to about 3,000 square feet. That does not include an adjacent, 1,400-square-foot storage facility.

It will have several "green" elements including restoration of the beach environment, three different types of wind turbines, solar cells and a rain run-off filtration system. The alternative energy systems will produce about a third of the facility's electrical needs, Donahue said.

Maritime officials and ship crews from other federal agencies also will be using the facility.

Part of the marine facility expansion is the placement of bio-fuel storage tanks on site with a design that protects against spills. NOAA will have the ability to store up to 9,000 gallons of fuel.

"Our program is all about minimizing vessel impact on the environment," Donahue said.

NOAA's Great Lakes fleet is led by the 80-foot research vessel the Laurentian, a former University of Michigan research ship. The Muskegon-based vessel will be spending a good deal of the upcoming boating season in Lake Huron as NOAA replicates its Lake Michigan monitoring and research efforts to the east.

Muskegon is also home to a 55-foot NOAA work boat.  Besides ship operations, the NOAA facility in Muskegon is a biological research station for Lake Michigan. The agency with regional research headquarters in Ann Arbor has had a Lake Michigan monitoring program ongoing for the past two decades.

NOAA has 20 employees year-round in Muskegon between environmental research and ship operations.

Information from: The Muskegon Chronicle, http://www.mlive.com/muskegon

   

Young talent asked to explore Lakeshore for future employment in Muskegon and Grand Haven

Published: Monday, April 02, 2012, 4:27 PM

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MUSKEGON, MI – The college “road trip” April 13 is destined for Muskegon and Grand Haven for a regional talent search.

PureMichiganTalent.jpg

The Pure Michigan Talent Connect initiative in conjunction with two Lakeshore development agencies are inviting college students and any young, skilled professional looking for employment in Muskegon and Grand Haven to a community familiarization and job fair event.

Michigan’s Lakeshore region has joined with the state to bring the perspective workers here for the day-long event. Buses will be provided students coming from Wayne State University in Detroit, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and Michigan State University in East Lansing among other state universities.

The flier for the event asks the students and other high-end job seekers to visit two communities that are “home to innovative companies, cutting-edge entrepreneurs and hundreds of new job opportunities. Michigan’s West Coast Region has much to offer top-notch talent, including college students.”

Then state and local officials will show off Lake Michigan and the natural features available along the Lakeshore. The event is being hosted locally by Muskegon Area First, the local economic development agency, and The Chamber in Grand Haven.

The companies participating in the event all have job openings available now or will have in the next six months, organizers said. Major Lakeshore employers that are part of the event are Huntington National Bank, Mercy Health Partners, Alcoa-Howmet, ADAC Plastics, Master Tag and Herman Miller. The event is for those wanting careers in technology, health care, business services and advanced manufacturing companies.

The buses from the colleges will arrive before an 11 a.m. welcome and luncheon at the Lake House Waterfront Grille on Muskegon Lake in downtown Muskegon. The career networking event will be from 12:30-2:30 p.m. at the adjacent Grand Valley State University Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center.

The focus of the event is to introduce the students and skilled professionals to the opportunities to “live, work and play” in the Lakeshore region. The state worked with economic developers in Holland and Detroit to stage similar regional recruitment events earlier this year.

From MAREC, a bus tour will show participants the Muskegon and Grand Haven areas. The tour will end in downtown Grand Haven at 4:45 p.m.

The event will wrap up with a reception at the Kirby House from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Bus transportation back to the campuses will leave from Grand Haven.

Those not wanting to use the provided bus service can arrive on their own at the Lake House, 730 Terrace Point in Muskegon or at the Kirby House, 2 Washington Ave. in Grand Haven.

The cost of the event for the participants is $15 with an early bird $5 registration available through April 9. Registration must be done on line at www.regonline.com/pureopportunitywestcoast.

Students and job seekers are asked to upload their resumes during the registration process. Great Lakes Ford and the Lake House have provided an Apple iPad to be given away at the end of the event at the Kirby House reception.

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GVSU alternative energy center director Arn Boezaart among Michigan 'green' leaders

Published: Sunday, March 18, 2012, 6:46 PM

 

MUSKEGON – Think of Arn Boezaart’s acceptance of the 2012 Michigan Green Leaders Award as a quarterback getting most valuable player recognition for a football team.

North Muskegon students visit research buoyChronicle file photo

Arn Boezaart, director of Grand Valley State University's Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center, left, talks with physics students from North Muskegon High School visiting the GVSU wind reseach platform when it was in Muskegon Lake last fall.

The quarterback honors the offensive line for blocking and the wide receivers for catching his passes. The individual award is actually a team award, the quarterback argues.

The same is with Boezaart, the director of Grand Valley State University’s Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center in Muskegon. He was among three individuals selected for the statewide recognition by The Detroit Free Press.

“It’s all about ‘we,’” Boezaart said. “I just try to connect the dots at MAREC. I try to identify the resources and the partners to bring it about as a whole.”

Boezaart was named as an individual winner of the 2012 Michigan Green Leaders awards along with Anne Woiwode of the Sierra Club and Matthew Grocoff, founder of the website www.greeninovation.tv that helps homeowners make their houses more efficient in the use of energy, water and the disposal of waste.

This is not the first time the Detroit newspaper has looked toward Muskegon to honor environmental leaders. Last year Muskegon environmental activist Theresa Bernhardt was honored for work on Ruddiman Creek in her Glenside Neighborhood while Norton Shores-based Nichols – a paper, packaging and janitorial supply company – was honored for its focus on sustainable business practices.

Boezaart has headed the alternative energy center on Muskegon Lake since 2009. MAREC has focused on public outreach and community education on energy issues, economic development activities for West Michigan energy-related businesses, public energy policy development and advancing commercial wind energy and battery storage technologies.

Boezaart was appointed by former Gov. Jennifer Granholm to serve on the Great Lakes Offshore Wind Council, which made legislative recommendations on the controversial subject of putting utility-scale wind turbines on the Great Lakes. MAREC also used a federal energy grant to put a research consortium together that has constructed and launched a wind research platform for Lake Michigan.

arn-boezaart.jpgArn Boezaart

“This award isn’t about me but it is a great opportunity to showcase GVSU’s involvement in green activities,” Boezaart said. “It also showcases the work being done here in Muskegon. It is positive recognition for the region and the community.”

Boezaart has focused his “second career” on environmental and energy issues after working 25 years for the Michigan Department of Human Services in Muskegon County, managing children, youth and adult services. He has a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in public administration and social work from Michigan State University and the University of Michigan.

After an early retirement from the state, the Community Foundation for Muskegon County hired Boezaart in 1997 to create an environmental program for the foundation. His work included establishing watershed initiatives for the Muskegon River, Muskegon and White lakes that included citizen groups, foundation endowments and educational and cleanup projects.

Boezaart became interested in alternative energy while at the foundation with the placement of a small wind turbine on the Frauenthal Theater roof.

At MAREC, the job has been all about establishing partnerships among the university community, West Michigan leaders, statewide energy organizations and the business community, Boezaart said.

The 2012 Green Leaders will be honored at an awards breakfast April 27 at the MGM Grand in downtown Detroit. Besides individuals, environmental awards will be presented to businesses, non-profits, public agencies along with special awards for automotive innovations and youth leadership.

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Muskegon County officials suggest 'one-stop shop' for worker training

Published: Wednesday, February 29, 2012, 9:05 AM     Updated: Wednesday, February 29, 2012, 1:48 PM

Dave Alexander | 
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MUSKEGON – Muskegon-area job training centers could be consolidated to save $1.3 million that could go back into a new facility and training more workers for jobs being offered by local businesses.

KSM unemployment office 6 BRANDON BEEBE.jpgChronicle file photoA Muskegon resident checks out a job postings bulletin board at Michigan Works! Orchard View Workforce Development & Training Center in 2009 at the height of the Great Recession.

That was the upshot of a workforce development program consolidation plan outlined for Muskegon County commissioners at a work session Tuesday. Commissioners heard details of the plan from Andrew Stone, director of the county’s Department of Employment and Training.

Stone suggested the Michigan Works! centers for Muskegon and Oceana counties be consolidated into a “one-stop shop.” All of the county staff and its job training providers would share a common space in a yet-to-be-selected central location in the Muskegon metro area.

Currently, three general services Michigan Works! centers are located at Goodwill Industries in Roosevelt Park, Orchard View schools in Muskegon Township and at the Oceana Employment and Training center in Shelby. The county’s DET staff is in a county facility on Oak Avenue.

Stone’s consolidation plan would have the offices in the Muskegon area combined into one 31,000-square-foot facility, a small satellite office in northern Muskegon County and a facility in Oceana County. The consolidation would bring the Michigan Works! programs under county operations instead of being contracted to outside agencies, Stone suggested.

KSM unemployment office 5 SONYA BARRETT.jpgChronicle file photoSonya Barrett teaches a No Worker Left Behind orientation class at Michigan Works! Orchard View Workforce Development & Training Center in 2009.

The new Muskegon “one-stop shop” facility would include nine classrooms, additional meeting spaces and open offices where worker training staff could be in one location to collaborate, Stone said.

The consolidation plan could be completed by July 2013, when the new offices could be established and agency contracts would allow for operations to be brought under the county department, county officials said.

Stone said the savings would come in the form of closing existing facilities, staffing efficiencies that come from being under one roof and combining support staff now with the county and its contracting agencies.

The job training consolidation plan will be brought before county commissioners at an upcoming Ways and Means Committee meeting, County Administrator Bonnie Hammersley said.

Hammersley praised Stone and his staff for making fundamental changes in the department since Stone took over the county’s worker training programs a year and a half ago. The department had not been directly involved in the training programs but instead managed contract performances of the outside agencies, she said.

“They’ve changed the philosophy from to asking unemployed workers what they want to be -- and if it was basket-weaver, we’d train them to be a basket-weaver, (later) to find out there weren’t any basket-weaving jobs,” Hammersley said. “Today, we are working much closer with employers as to what they need for workers.”

The consolidation plan outlined for commissioners was recommended by the county workforce development board.

KSM unemployment office 3 CHAD PHILLIPS.jpgChronicle file photoLocal Michigan Works! offices allow those out of work to look for position and put their resume on the state's job bank. 

“This is a better way to serve our community and to save money,” Stone said. “We have gotten to a position where we don’t have the money to get people trained … we have a waiting list. Every dollar we can cut in overhead can go right back into services.”

The workforce development board and other private sector employers are helping the county identify “hot skills” currently needed in the Muskegon-area job market. Today, the hottest skill being sought is manufacturers who need CNC (computer-aided machining) programing skills, Stone said.

The county receives worker training money mostly from the U.S. Department of Labor through the state of Michigan, Stone said. Funding is based on population and unemployment rates through a complicated formula. The county receives worker training funds from a total of 20 sources, Stone said.

Overall, the county has about an $8 million annual budget for worker training. Much of that money is spent on direct training and education for future workers from institutions such as Muskegon Community College and Baker College of Muskegon, county officials said.

Commissioner Marv Engle spoke favorably as to the direction the Department of Employment and Training is taking.

“This is a very, very positive step,” Engle said of the consolidation proposal. “You are adapting to make worker training programs more usable in our community.”

The Muskegon and Oceana counties’ job training programs already were consolidated in mid-2010 as the Goodwill Industries, Orchard View schools and Oceana County facilities became the only centers open to all workers looking for work through the state’s job-seeking system and exploring training options. The Family Services center in Muskegon, the Muskegon Heights and the White Lake centers began serving only clients of the Department of Human Services.

 


 

   

Century Club Center returns to its historic roots with new gathering hall

Published: Sunday, February 19, 2012, 5:37 PM     Updated: Monday, February 20, 2012, 9:58 AM

Dave Alexander | 
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MUSKEGON – Downtown Muskegon is getting a new gathering place.

The Century ClubChronicle file photo

The ballroom on the third level of the Century Club in downtown Muskegon sits vacant waiting to be turned into a rental space.

The Century Club Center is returning to its historic roots with the unanimous approval this week of the Muskegon Planning Commission for the historic building’s third level to be used as an assembly rental hall.

Building owner and downtown developer Gary Post said he will now work with city building inspectors to make sure the approximately 3,000-square-foot gathering hall meets building codes for up to 250 people. He told The Chronicle that he hopes to have the room completed and available for rentals in the coming weeks.

The Century Club was built by Muskegon’s most prominent business leaders in 1887 for $30,000 at the time. The building at 356 W. Western Ave. has an ornate façade that has survived the decades. The building was restored in 2007.

In its early days, the likes of Lumber Era leaders such as Charles Hackley, John Torrent and H.J. Hoyt formed the Muskegon Club – called at the time a “first-class social club” that would honor the city. It was renamed the Century Club in 1901 and was operated until it closed in 1991.

The Century Club was just outside of the western entrance to the former Muskegon Mall. When the mall was closed in 2001 and eventually demolished, city leaders moved to save five of the original buildings that predated the downtown shopping center.

The Century Club is the most prominent of the five. Along with the adjacent Russell Block Building and the former Muskegon Savings Bank, Post purchased the three buildings for redevelopment. The Century Club initially reopened in 2007 as the Muskegon outlet for Hegg’s Furniture in Hart.

The Century ClubChronicle file photoThe "Open" flag outside the Century Club Center flaps in the wind as it welcomes customers to the downtown Muskegon retail outlet.

The three-level building has evolved into Century Club Center, a collection of specialty retailers that will become part of the next-door Russell Block Market, a non-profit retail incubator development expected to open later this year.

“We’ve had a lot of requests for us to open the third level of the building for meetings and parties,” Post told planning commissioners. “We think this is going to be a great addition to what we can offer downtown.”

For meetings and receptions, the room will not include its own kitchen facilities. However, those renting the room can use a cater company to bring in food, Post said.

Mayor Steve Warmington questioned Post on the city’s ongoing concern of parking for downtown developments as the community’s central business district redevelops after the Muskegon Mall. Post said his company has a license with the former mall property owner Downtown Muskegon Development Corp. for 50 parking spaces behind the Century Club Center that will satisfy the city requirements for both the retail outlet and the meeting room.

   

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