Muskegon is not just a place of the past anymore. There are more and more business popping up all over especially in the down town area. I have the great pleasure of bringing you an exclusive with what is going to be one of the hottest new establishments downtown. 
 
Burl and Sprig is the perfect marriage between rugged aged wisdom and the new centric that is oh so hot right now. Burl and Sprig is the trademarked brand baby of the West Michigan Rum Company. When you walk into the doors of their new bar also named Burl and Sprig you are going to be amazed with the atmosphere that was meticulously though out. Owners Cody and Peter had picked and designed everything. A lot of the supplies used to bring the space together is from right here in Muskegon. bsBurl and Sprig on Facebook
 
Cody and Pete want you to have the full experience so they are not stopping with their bar, they are carrying it over to everything that will be available on the menu as well. Talking with these men you can see the excitement and the passion for everything that they are doing, starting with their rum. I don’t know if you now this but San Francisco holds the Worlds Spirits Competition. This is a long running and prestigious competition. In 2019 Cody and Pete entered a rum that was aged 23 years called Migration and won a Double Gold metal. The men also entered an 8 year aged rum called Touche that won a silver. Along with these rums you will also be able to purchase one of a kind cocktails hand crafted by professional mixologists with all of its ingredients crafted on site right in front of you. From the words of co owner Cody, it’s a “Rum-centric" experience from beginning to end. From hand carved ice chunks to the forced carbon infused, white chocolate truffle top cocktails, this new addition is sure to empress even the novice of connoisseurs. I don’t know about you but I am looking forward to their soft opening at the end of this, beginning of next month. 
 
 

 

To learn a little more, click on the West Michigan Rum Company Logo below!  Our very best wishes to the new company in Muskegon.

west mi rum company

It's a special series we're heading in to part two of this week.  The Walk to End Alzheimer's is coming up at Heritage Landing on September 21st and with Andy O'Riley being asked to be the spokesmen for the organization in Muskegon this year, we thought it best to take Andy's skills and put them to use by sharing a story with you from a front line perspective.  How can you make such a complicated disease which effects everyone differently understandable and help motivate people who may otherwise not know much about Alzheimer's Disease until it creeps into their life? walktoendalzleadFollow the Muskegon Walk to End Alzheimer's on Facebook

Well, you find someone who's been a miracle worker living with the disease.  Pretty simple.

Kelly DeVos is a Co Chair of the Walk to End Alzheimer's this year in Muskegon, but when she and Andy met, she simply got a hold of him to see if he would emcee the walk in 2018.  As their friendship grew, and the request was made for Andy to take a little bigger role, it was pretty clear to Andy that there was a HUGE story to tell inside her, and it was on him to get her to tell it.

While Kelly was dealing with her dad with Alzheimer's, she was also a single mom, a career woman and giving up her time to help others.  As she puts it and has tried to teach her kids, "We might not always have money to give, but we have time...and we all need to give something back."  

In part two, Kelly is going to talk about what triggered Alzheimer's in her father and the early signs of symptoms.  We'll let you know in advance, there are moments of laughter, some of fear, some of hope and some of utter frustration.  This is a very open, honest and intimate conversation about a disease that sooner or later, we will all be touched by in one way or another.  Take a listen to Part 2 of Tuesday's With Kelly on The Muskegon Channel.

 

Part three is coming up next week. Kelly's dad has gotten to the point where he can't live on his own anymore and as you've seen with Kelly's story so far, family is first.  We'll hear about her life at home with her dad and Alzheimer's Disease in a week.  If you'd like to know more about the Muskegon Walk to End Alzheimer's or sign yourself or a team up, click on the logo below to visit the website.

walk fb page

It's quite an occasion coming up for the Disability Network of West Michigan.  20 years of service is a worthwhile occasion to celebrate the work that has gone in to advocate, educate, empower and provide resources for people with disabilities.  While it might not be a household name like some of the other agencies you are familiar with, the work that goes on with the Disability Network of West Michigan is substantial and even though it's been almost 30 years since the Americans With Disabilities Act was signed into law, there is still a great need for their work. 20 years disabilityTickets to the 20th Anniversary Luncheon

It's not that people generally ignore the Americans With Disabilities Act, quite often...it's a matter of an oversight, lack of knowledge or simply not understanding.  People with disabilities account for roughly 20% of the population in the United States, which creates the largest minority group.  We hear so much talk about diversity and inclusion in today's day and age, but those with disabilities are quite often left out of the conversation.  From providing resources to business and community to working with government to offer thoughts and best practices the West Michigan Disability Network is the only consumer controlled, community based, cross disability, nonresidential, private non profit agency that provides and array of services and is designed and operated within a local community by individuals with disabilities.  It's a pretty remarkable group who promote personal empowerment and promote positive social change for people with disabilities. 

By the numbers, the Disability Network of West Michigan has served 2,277 individuals in Muskegon and surrounding counties.  2,131 hours of individual and systems advocacy, 179 students receiving youth services, 843 consumer goals attained and 2,567 information and referrals completed.  They are an agency based on action and their actions lead to better lives for those they serve and our community in general. 

I met up with Diane Fleser and Jeffery VanDyke at the Disability Network to talk about their agency as well as the luncheon coming up on September 25th at the Folkert Community Hub.  Take a listen.

 

Nice to see Jeff again.  We met him a while back here on the Muskegon Channel talking about his freelance graphic design, now....he's on board at the Disability Network making it happen!  Diane, Jeff, Dana and everyone else at the Disability Network are just wonderful people and as mentioned in the video, they are the go to source in our area for anything you might need by way of help, knowledge or resources when it comes to the ADA.  To learn more about the Disability Network of West Michigan click on their logo below!  Please plan on attending their luncheon September 20th to support their great work. 

dnwm

I met up with Aaron Parker, an aquatic biologist for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), formerly the Department of Environmental Quality or DEQ, last weekend.  We had a short discussion about harmful algae, which has been in the news lately.  Specifically, we talked about cyanobacteria, but most people know it more as toxic blue-green algae (even though it is not algae). Under certain conditions, some types of cyanobacteria can produce toxins that are harmful to people and animals.  Not all blue-green algae are toxic, but it is not possible to tell by looking. Tests are done to determine this, but Aaron says even if is there is blue-green algae that does not test as toxic, to stay away, as that could change.  deq 2Learn More About Algae Online
 
What causes these harmful algae blooms? They happen from summer into fall, when our lakes are warm.  The blooms form when the lakes are calm – winds usually disperse them.  The essential ingredient is nutrients -- phosphorus and nitrogen from lawns, stormwater or agricultural runoff, and sewage from septic tanks or treatment plants.  (Note to lakefront property owners:  green lawns to the lake’s edge help to promote algae growth; sometimes these harmful types.) Invasive species, such as zebra and quagga mussels have made  the lakes even more susceptible to the harmful algae.  The blooms can last for days or even a few months.  There are a number of different types of algae in our lakes, but blue-green algae stand out – the blooms look like oil or paint slicks across the top of the water.  
Exposure to the toxic blooms can cause skin rashes or breathing problems.  Swallowing lots of water, like kids do, could cause flu-like illnesses or even harm a person’s nervous system.  Breathing in toxics from water spray – while on a boat or jet ski -- can cause skin and throat irritation.  A big concern is for animals, such as dogs, as they can drink lots of water while swimming and playing.  The best plan of action is to keep dogs away from and out of water if harmful algae are suspected, and also, if the presence of toxins is confirmed.  
If you suspect there are harmful algae blooms in a lake by you, the best advice is:   “When in doubt, stay out!”
 
 
People can email photos to EGLE, if they suspect the harmful is present in their lake. Watch the video for the email address and other information, and see more at EGLE’s page on harmful algae blooms, or click on their logo above to visit their website.  
 
Note to White Lake area folks:  if you think Aaron looks familiar, it may be because you know his father, Dan Parker, a longtime Montague native and environmentally minded resident.  Protecting the environment runs in the family!
 

Lori and husband, John, own Lundell Farms, right in the heart of a lovely forested setting in Muskegon County.  They wanted healthy food for their family, so they planted a garden. Next came the chickens. Then some pigs, turkeys, and lambs.  And that’s how Lundell Farms happened!

City Leaders affirms hate has no home in Muskegon. In the meantime they cannot make any comments during active investigation in regards to a city police officer of being in possession of certain items associated with a hate group.

A little over a year ago, Andy O was asked to emcee the Walk to End Alzheimer's in Muskegon.  Not a stretch really, kind of what he does.  Over the years, between Positively Muskegon and The Muskegon Channel, we've covered the events that go along with the Walk to End Alzheimer's because sooner or later, just like cancer, everyone will know someone who's been effected by Alzheimer's Disease.  It's a dreadful condition that deteriorates memory first and slowly kills those suffering while their entire life is washed away and their friends and family are left watching helplessly while the once strong fade into a world no one ever imagined.

As we've worked together and after the emcee thing, the "ask" for a hand got a little bigger from the Alzheimer's Association.  Andy was given the honor of being asked to be the Spokesman for The Alzheimer's Association for Muskegon.  After the initial shock passed...ya, he's an OK emcee and all, but a role like that...um...well, it was a great honor and Andy said yes.  But, how do you speak for so many who have all experienced the same disease, with different onsets.....different progressions....different symptoms in different people and only one known outcome...a sad ending.  So, how do you tell a story you have limited knowledge about?  You find an expert. end alzFollow The Great Lakes Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association on Facebook

When asked to emcee, the call came from Kelly DeVos.  Kelly works at Shelby State Bank and her father is suffering with Alzheimer's Disease.  Kelly is also a volunteer with the Alzheimer's Association and got involved because she wants to do her part for what's happening with her father.  Kelly was recently married to Matt who's mother also suffered from Alzheimer's.  They are a great couple with a lot of first hand experience "in the trenches" if you will, when it comes to this disease.  Most of the time though, Kelly was a single mom of 4 while she was also taking care of her father and trying to find answers, hope and maintain a home.  She's simply put, an amazingly powerful, humble and incredible person who sets an example for all about persistence, the true value of family and balance.  Andy and Kelly struck up a friendship after that initial contact and as it grew, so did the idea of how can the story of Alzheimer's best be told.

It took a lot of nerve for Kelly to sit down for this series of 4 interviews.  But her mission is very clear on the subject.  She's out to give courage, strength and hope to others who are in the same fight as she is with Alzheimer's.  Over the next few weeks, leading up to the Walk to End Alzheimer's in Muskegon, we hope that you will follow this incredibly open and honest discussion about living with and caring for someone with Alzheimer's Disease.  You'll learn some early warning signs, you'll hear about the heavy toll it takes on the person, the family and how close it can be to bringing people to the breaking point.  There are no holds barred...the only edit you'll find in any of the 4 interviews is where a battery died, and if you follow this conversation...you'll see in no short order just how devastating and dangerous this currently incurable disease is.

Our first chat, is about life before and up to the diagnosis with Alzheimer's Disease.  We are very proud to present our first edition of Tuesday with Kelly on The Muskegon Channel.

 

A short introduction and there is so much more to come.  It all leads up to the Walk to End Alzheimer's which is coming up at Heritage Landing on September 21st.  You can form a team.  Walk as an individual.  Be a sponsor of the event or, just come down and learn a little more.  See first hand those who battle and those who provide care and be a part of the quest to one day, hopefully find a cure for this horrible disease.  You'll find the link below for the Alzheimer's Association in our area.  Click on it and get involved.  Come back next Tuesday too for the second part of our conversation where we talk about the first signs Kelly saw in her dad and the early diagnosis.

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We're welcoming Pro Med of Muskegon on as a sponsor of The Muskegon Channel and Positively Muskegon.  It's quite an honor for us as they want to get the word out about what they are offering to people who are looking to start a career or possibly make a career change to be a part of the fascinating and very fast paced world of the First Responder community.   Let's go back a little to tell you how this all came about though. 

About six years ago, Renae Hesselink, vice-president of sustainability for Nichols Paper & Supply Company in Norton Shores, made the decision to go solar. As a sustainability professional, she is knowledgeable about the benefits of going green, and especially the benefits to the planet. Sustainability means incorporating economic, social, and environmental goals to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

Renae found a company who agreed to train local workers to do the solar installation. This was important to her, so her community would benefit as well. The cost was $15,000, minus $5,000 she received back as a federal tax incentive. She uses electricity for lights, appliances, and air conditioning. Heat for her home is provided by natural gas.)

Renae began receiving payback for her investment immediately. Annually, she generates about 70% of the electric that she uses from solar, from around April through October or sometimes even into November or December. She has no electric bill except for the add on fees everyone pays. By her estimate, she will have paid herself back by about ----. The 16 solar panels on her roof also have upped her property value, approximately 4 percent according to a recent study.

 

And of course, Renae appreciates that she is reducing her carbon emissions, responsible for warming the earth’s surface and creating a climate crisis. Solar energy is clean and renewable. For more information on solar energy, see either site linked below!  

great lakes renewable

 

 

energy

It's a one stop spot for all things important to the senior citizen community.  It's also a chance for seniors to get together and catch up on what's new, what's going on and maybe get a little info on somethings that are interesting, informative and enlightening when it comes to health, security, lifestyle  and more.  It's happening at Orchard View High School on August 9th and it's free to all who'd like to come courtesy of the Senior Marketing Group of Muskegon. smg logo 19Find SMG on Facebook

The event gets under way bright and early Friday the 9th at 9 a.m. with registration and some touring of the event.  Vendor booths will be open from 9-1 showcasing great products and services all tailored to the needs of the aging community.  There will also be complimentary screenings for things like blood pressure, veins, hearing checks, balance checks and more.  Maybe even a manicure.....fancy!  Some points of interest might be their break out sessions.  Floral arrangement....bird watching...a session on care giver burn out to address how those caring for someone with a terminal illness has to cope with all they are feeling.  How to stay young for the first 100 years?  They will be talking about that!  Veterans needs...insurance dealing with Medicare and Medicaid and more.  It's open to seniors...adults and anyone who'd like to know more about these topics.

It all wraps up with a couple of speakers at the end where everyone will gather and some fun prizes will be given out along with raffles and more!  It's a day packed with so much and it's all put on, for free, by the Senior Marketing Group who work to help business that serve older adults connect with them to develop relationships and provide what they need the most.

Lisa Luckey is with the Senior Marketing Group, we met up at The Day Spring Assisted Living Center to talk about all that's to come if you can make it out, take a listen.   

 

So much to do and see, and a free lunch!  This is a splendid day focusing on seniors and their needs.  It's also a great way to get out of the house for a while, spend a little time socializing and picking up some info on things.  It's a free event so, make plans to head on out to Orchard View High School and enjoy the fun and info!  You can click on the photo below to visit Senior Resources website.

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August 6th Muskegon County residents are being asked to renew a millage for our area Veterans.  It will be the only millage proposal on the ballot and it's not asking for a penny more than we're already paying to continue the service provided for our Veterans, and it's not increased since 1994. 

If you have been down town lately, chances are you have seen an adorable VW Camper Bus driving around with some beautiful flowers in the back. Lily’s Flower Truck Is the most amazing addition to our community.
 
Kassy and her husband wanted to create a mobile business but didn’t know exactly what they were looking for until they can across a photo online of a similar truck and knew this was it. Kassy and her husband also knew that they wanted to involve their daughter somehow and what better way than to name their new truck after her.
 
Like I previously mentioned Lily’s flower truck is a mobile flower business. They park the truck in different locations around town. If you would like to know exactly where Lily’s Flower Truck will be parked you can follow them on Instagram or Facebook, if you do not have either accounts you can most likely find them on Western Market in front of the Chalets on most Saturdays during the summer months.
 
Click on the video to hear their story and see firsthand how adorable Lily’s Flower Truck is.

 

 

For more, you can click on the photo below to follow Lily's on Facebook!

lilly bouquet

 

About a year ago, I was asked to be an emcee at the Alzheimer's Association's walk that takes place annually down at Heritage Landing.  I have emceed an event or two, and like so many more, I have had a brush or two with Alzheimer's.  My first came when my dad was telling me of his trying to cope with my grandfathers late stages of life....suffering from dementia and on a visit one day asking my dad, "Where's Pete"?  "Dad, I'm Pete...I am right here."  "No, Pete's just a little guy...he's probably 3 or 4....I can't find him".  Just unimaginable.  Next, my wife and I...her kids lost their paternal grandfather to the disease and I saw first hand how they struggled and how they were inspired to do something about it too.  So, for family....no matter the definition....I agreed to join in. 

I met with a volunteer from the organization and got the specifics.  It was a nice initial meeting over some Mexican food and I had no idea who had found me or why.  More on that to come.  Last years event went well, and as the page turned, the Alzheimer's Association came back this year and asked me to be their official spokesman for Muskegon in 2019.  So, humbly...I agreed. walk to end alzClick Here to Register for the Walk September 21st

As we work toward the Walk to End Alzheimer's on September 21st.  We hope you'll follow the Muskegon Channel for a few things.  One, details on how you can be involved.  You can do a multitude of things as simple as donating a little online.  You can form a team and participate in the Walk itself.  You can attend some pretty eye opening seminars focused on what's being done to treat and cure those with Alzheimer's Disease that will be presented in "real talk" without a bunch of jargon and medical speak that's hard to understand and, you'll be invited to follow a series we are going to do here walking you through living life with Alzheimer's from the point of view of a care giver.  

You know about the Walk on the 21st of September.  Now, let's talk about the informational seminar.  Dr. Bruno Giordani will be speaking once again in Muskegon at Tanglewood Park on August 22nd to talk about the most current research that's going on and where things stand in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.  Finally, our series.  You are going to meet Kelly DeVos who's dad is currently living with Alzheimer's and she's agreed to help share the story of their journey together while they fight.  It will be a 4 part series here on the Muskegon Channel and we're very excited about Kelly's strength and courage in sharing their story.  

I caught up with Erin Murphy of the Alzheimer's Association to kind of get the ball rolling with some info as we work our way toward the final push toward September.  Take a listen.  

 

There is a lot more to come, but now is the time for action if you'd like to participate.  No matter your reason, it's an all hands on deck call for a great turn out and successful fundraiser.  Much like cancer, sooner or later, everyone will know someone effected by Alzheimer's Disease.  Please...over the next couple of months, follow along.  Form a team.  If you have the ability to be an event sponsor, join in.  To be asked to be a spokesman for such an organization is a great honor for me to say the least, but more over...it's a testament to what we stand for and what we believe in at the Muskegon Channel.  The belief in all of us...the belief that Muskegon does more....and the belief that being behind what is truly a great cause is why we're in business and why we want to use all of our resources to show you every angle we can of such an important battle.  For more on the Alzheimer's Association, click on their logo below.

alzlead

 

The history of a community, even one as small as Whitehall, is truly fascinating. I have lived here for my entire life and my amateur historical explorations are always enlightening and add to the many reasons I stay. I have had Jim and Teri Staples on my list to interview for years.

Jim is a direct descendant of Hiram Staples who came to our area in the mid-1800s for the lumber. He entered into a partnership with another lumber baron, Lyman Covell, to establish our area’s most longstanding lumber mill operation, the Staples and Covell Mill. The Staples, likewise, have continued their homestead (built in 1867) for several generations, right on our main street, Mears Avenue, and right next door to our historic Playhouse at White Lake.

This year they have made many needed repairs and renovations to the historic home, filled to the brim with photographs of Staples family ancestors, and antiques in every room. A pride and joy are replicas of the Frederick Norman lumber era paintings. The originals are in the PNC Bank up the road from the house just a bit. Norman was a local painter, encouraged by lumber baron, James Nufer, to document the lumber era in his painting. A visionary move, and one greatly appreciated by future generations.  

Jim grew up in Grand Rapids but came to the Staples home every weekend as a young boy to fish the area’s creeks. He and Teri are delighted that their grandchildren come for that very same reason – to fish!

Jim’s memories of the town are of a one-track paved road, then a two-track, but still quite a narrow road. He remembers Pitkin’s Drugstore, a mainstay of Whitehall for well over a hundred years, and original owner, Clarence Pitkin, whom he called “Pit.” He has memories of local storeowners Edna and Leonard Blomdahl and watching Leonard wield the big butcher cleaver handily. He and Teri have many fond memories of the playhouse and remember watching movies there. One of their favorite things about Whitehall and the area are the trees, making a green canopy overhead in the warm months.

 

Jim and Teri and their extended family still come to the family homestead regularly. And that’s the plan for future generations of Staples!

It's an unexpected sign of the times.  It's said that the economy is on the upswing....some are seeing some positive things from it but others are still either waiting for their moment or in the case of MATS, the Muskegon Area Transit System....a good economy is causing kind of a pinch.  

mats fbFollow MATS on Facebook

As people are driving more, the use of the MATS bus system is down and that poses quite a problem for the transportation agency as fares are a big part of the revenue that it takes to keep the service running.  The operate on state and federal grants as well, but like anything else, costs continue to rise, the pool of funding shrinks a little more every year and this most essential of services for a lot of people in Muskegon or any other metropolitan area needs to find new ways to fund their operations and provide a way "to and from" for the many who rely on MATS for a lift.  

MATS is seeking public input.  There are going to be 2 chances to meet with MATS officials to let them know what you think about the service and it's most essential routes.  Monday July 22nd at 6:30p at the Sturrus Center at the Downtown Campus of Muskegon Community College and then on Tuesday July 23rd at the Herman Ivory Terminal on Morris Street in Downtown Muskegon at 11a.  Monday at the MCC Campus will be a presentation style meeting while Tuesday will be more of an open house with plenty of questions and answers.  

Karen Kacynski of MATS joined Andy O for a conversation about what MATS is facing and how they are making every effort to accommodate their passengers and operate within their financial means.  Take a listen to our conversation to get the idea of what the dilemma is that's being faced. 

 

We know that MATS is essential for so many.  But like Karen said, unlike so many other areas, we don't share the cost of the service via millage or a special tax.  It's up to ridership and grand funding to keep the routes moving and Muskegon on the move.  It's true, there are some tensions that are high about this, after all not everyone has a car and for those who can't drive, the only way to get where they need to be is MATS.  There is no desire on the part of anyone to cut services, but new ideas are needed to find a way to sustain what's being done and fit within financial constraints.  Please, be a part of one or both of the meetings and be part of the solution.  You can visit the MATS website by clicking below.  MATS is a valued sponsor of the Muskegon Channel and Positively Muskegon.  

matsbus

It's a powerhouse event that has been going strong for 5 years and 2019 marks a new location for Stand Up for the Cure in Muskegon as the organizers shift away from Harbortowne Beach and head to Norton Shores BEAUTIFUL Ross park for a day of fun, awareness and some fund raising to help those afflicted by breast cancer.  Not that Harbortowne wasn't a picture perfect type location or anything, but between the growth of the event as well as the well above average water levels, the shift to Ross Park offers a little more breathing room, maybe a few more shady spots and as Stand Up continues it's mission....room to grow even more in the coming years.

  suftcFollow Stand Up for the Cure on FacebookStand Up for the Cure events happen all over the country and Muskegon with it's rich supply of magnificent water, well, it's a perfect fit for this kind of event.  Yes, there will be those who are really good at stand up paddle boards...but, don't let that get in the way if you've never been on one.  Come give one a try!  If water isn't your thing, stroll the event and learn about some of the great other aspects of health and wellness offered.  You could learn a little from Mercy Health....maybe find out if yoga is right for you....try your hand at it, you have nothing to lose.  If nothing else, enjoy the music, the beverages, the fellowship and above all, see the collective strength of the survivors!  Yes!  Those who have survived a go around with cancer and have taken what was once considered an end, and turned it into a powerful and I mean POWERFUL message to others on surviving.

One of those survivors, is Shawn Stephenson.  Shawn began her "journey" with cancer a while ago.  She's clicked off 9 years now as a survivor and invited me out to her office at Hemisphere Design Works, one of Stand Up for the Cure's Gold Sponsors, to talk about her journey as well as what to expect from the new home at Ross Park and maybe even hint around a little at some of the surprises that will come during this years event.  Take a listen.

 

 

It takes a lot to tell the story of Shawn's.  It's a life changing moment to go through to face something as frightening as cancer, but as we talked in the video...what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.  Facing the hard reality of what could be when it comes to an illness like that is never going to be easy...but...with an organization like Stand Up for the Cure working so hard to not only raise a few bucks, but more importantly, connect those who have....or are....or who know someone who has had to deal with this awful disease, it brings hope, it brings healing and it brings courage...that courage Shawn spoke of.  We hope to see you Saturday at Ross Park for Stand up for the Cure!  You can visit the event website by clicking below.  All the registration information is right there!

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Last month, 14-year-old Alison Tate won first place in the junior division National History Day contest for individual exhibits.  This is big -- she is the first National History Day competitor from Michigan to place in the top three in the last 25 years. 
Her exhibit was on Dr. Frances Kelsey, of the Federal Drug Administration, who is credited with preventing the sale of thalidomide in the U.S. in the early 1960s.  Allison’s exhibit was called, “A Bitter Pill to Swallow: Dr. Kelsey’s Triumph Hides an American Tragedy.” Thalidomide was marketed as a sedative and used for morning sickness in pregnant women. Thousands of babies around the world were born with a variety of disabilities, including phocomelia, a shortening or absence of limbs, but according to the official story, few in the U.S. due to Dr. Kelsey’s intervention.  nhdlogoVisit National History Day Online
 
Alison likes to find what she calls the “secret” story and found there was more to the official national narrative. As much as Dr. Kelsey did alert the government and public to the dangers of thalidomide and prevent its legal sale, there were some mothers in the U.S. that had been given the drug as a sample, and their children suffered the consequences. 
 
For her project, Alison did extensive research and relied heavily on oral interviews, such as with  Dr. Kelsey’s daughter, and “survivors.” She was surprised to find a story of thalidomide in her own larger family history, an unfortunate story of a woman who had taken the drug and who had not been able to properly love the son born with a shortened arm as a result.  Alison tells us in her interview that she tried to help heal the estrangement and that learning this worldwide tragedy had affected a distant family member was one of the most significant aspects of the project.
 
Alison’s project was entered in the individual exhibit category – which meant she had to construct an exbibit and present the results of her research in a visual format. The project took months and culminated with the first-place prize in College Park, Maryland, in early June.  Several others in her group also won awards, including two that placed in the top twenty in their category. 
Alison credits long-time coach Jan Klco for her encouragement, hours of work with the students (from Whitehall and Montague), and 14-year tenure with the program from its beginning.  Alison says she does not have a special interest in history, but feels the work is valuable for her schooling, especially as it helps her to identify primary sources of information and cite them, and because she plans a career in the medical field.  
 

Muskegon Rockstock brought the carnival back to Heritage Landing in Downtown Muskegon this year, and they have invited over 100 friends and family of No More Sidelines and The Penguin Project to have their own special carnival this Saturday morning, where they can slow down the rides for the riders when needed.

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