Category Archives: Community News

Muskegon County Calendar of Events December 10-16, 2018

View the calendar of events for this week December 10-16 here.



MUSKEGON – With days to go before the 100th day of their 100 Year Campaign, United Way of the Lakeshore reports pledges of $1.4 million or 60%  of its $2.5 million goal.


“As we celebrate 100 Years of United Way of the Lakeshore, we look back on decades of caring and look forward to continued growth of an organization that is so important in our community,” said Campaign Chair Gary Nelund. “Reaching our campaign goal ensures that we can continue to be the mortar between the bricks of the organizations that are helping those in need in our community, so that no one falls between the cracks. Pledges raised in the campaign support over 76 local programs at local agencies, focusing on education, income stability, and health.”


Donations stay in our area to help neighbors who are in need, with funding decisions made by a committee of volunteers and donors who live in our community and volunteer to help determine the best use of funding.


One of the local programs that donations support is the Michigan Education Corps AmeriCorps Michigan Reading Corps tutoring program, a proven model that significantly accelerates literacy achievement for children age 3 to grade 3. United Way of the Lakeshore brought the original program to our community to help our older elementary students succeed, becoming a pilot site for the PreK program when it became available.  PreK Reading Corps places one AmeriCorps tutor in each preschool classroom full-time to provide supplemental language and literacy rich interventions for every child. Results from the pilot pre-school program show that our kids start the year behind national averages. For three years, those enrolled in the program have shown enough growth by year end to score above national averages in 4 out of 5 indicators of school readiness.


“AmeriCorps not only changed my life in a short time, but it’s added much needed value to the lives of our future generation of children.  I’ve noticed a change in the students in just two weeks.  The transition song alone helps their minds to start running as it teaches them to ask who, what, when, why and where.  My students want to know every aspect of books we read,” said one Reading Corps member serving our preschoolers.


United Way is grateful for the continued support of our business community, including ADAC Arconic, Cannon Muskegon, CWC Textron, Gray & Company, Nichols, Webb Chemical, among many others. Mercy Health leads the way with area healthcare providers, while Muskegon Area Intermediate School District, Muskegon Community College, and area school districts have also stepped up their support. While workplace campaigns and corporate giving remain the backbone of the fundraising campaign, United Way also relies on individual donations, including retirees.


“We’re thankful to all who have given so far,” Nelund said. “If everyone working and every retiree gave just $1 a week, we’d raise more than $4 million. The potential is great, and so are the needs. If you can give, even a little, please do so – every dollar helps! Although the 100th day is December 10, United Way will continue to accept donations towards the campaign goal after that date.”


People who would like to contribute and have not been contacted yet can call (231) 722-3134, visit, or text 100Years100Days to 414-44.


In addition to raising funds to support our community, United Way of the Lakeshore connects volunteers to opportunities that match their interests. If you would like to volunteer, visit to get connected!



About United Way of the Lakeshore: United Way of the Lakeshore unites to inspire change and build thriving communities in Muskegon, Oceana and Newaygo counties. For more information, contact United Way of the Lakeshore at 231-722-3134 or visit



Sons: Seeing the Modern African American Male

Muskegon, MI – The Muskegon Museum of Art presents SONS: Seeing the Modern African American Male, an exhibition of portraits of black men from greater Muskegon, as photographed by artist Jerry Taliaferro. The exhibition runs December 13, 2018 through March 10, 2019.


The 94 portraits in the SONS exhibition explore how the black American male perceives himself and how he is perceived by others. The men pictured in the show were nominated from the greater Muskegon area by a committee of their peers. The goal was to portray a wide range of ages, backgrounds, occupations, and interests to best represent not only the black men of our community, but also to mirror the day-to-day experiences of their fellow Americans.


The men pictured are artists, musicians, barbers, doctors, lawyers, health care workers, engineers, entrepreneurs, businessmen, teachers, athletes, retired servicemen, clergy, poets, factory workers, laborers, security guards, school administrators, and coaches. They are also husbands, fathers, brothers, sons, co-workers, teammates, friends, and neighbors. It is the first time many of these men have been publicly recognized.


In the artist Jerry Taliaferro’s words:

“[The exhibition] is both timely and relevant. Recent events point to the urgent need for conversations about the contemporary black American male. Any effort, however humble, to foster an understanding of this largely misunderstood and often marginalized segment of the American population is of utmost importance.”


SONS: Seeing the Modern African American Male is an invitation to share the experiences of the black men in our city, to see them as individuals, hear their stories, and better understand how their lives have been impacted by a legacy of racial and social injustices. In bringing this exhibition to Muskegon, it is the hope of the SONS Committee and the staff and Board of Trustees of the Muskegon Museum of Art that we can foster an open and welcoming dialogue that leads to greater understanding, empathy, and community.


About the Artist

Jerry Taliaferro was born in the small southern town of Brownsville, Tennessee. After graduating high school in May 1972, he joined the Army. He entered the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1973 and graduated as a member of the Class of 1977. Taliaferro’s interest in photography began during his post at Fort Bragg, North Carolina for Special Forces training in 1981. While serving in Germany, his interest in photography continued and, in 1985, his work was published for the first time when a Munich magazine purchased the rights to one of his images. Jerry returned to the U.S. and began doing assignments for advertising and design firms in 1985. He left the military in 1988 and began a career in commercial photography. Over the ensuing years, his interest turned more to fine art photography. This change in direction has resulted in several projects and published pieces. Women of a New Tribe, a photographic study of the spiritual and physical beauty of black women, is one of his latest projects. Jerry Taliaferro currently resides in Charlotte, NC.


SONS Committee

Special thanks to the members of our SONS Committee, without which this exhibition would not have been possible: TJ Chappel, Jon Covington, Chris Dean, Arthur Garner, Ed Garner, Justin Jennings, Bernard Loudermill, William Muhammad, Marvin Nash, Dr. Dale Nesbary, Kelly Richards, J. Arthur Sanders, Andrew Sims, George Walker, Rodney Walker, James Waters, and Jonathan Wilson.


SONS: Seeing the Modern African American Male is underwritten by Fifth Third Bank, and co-sponsored by Arconic – Whitehall Operations and Warner Norcross & Judd, LLP. Program support is provided by the Michigan Humanities Council and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs. Media Partner is WGVU Public Media.


Community Programming


SONS opens with a public reception from 5:30 to 7:30 pm on Thursday, December 13, 2018. A free Community Day on Saturday, December 15 begins a series of free community programs related to the exhibition, including the premier of Black Man, a feature-length documentary, at the Frauenthal Center on Monday, December 17.


Opening Reception

Thursday, December 13

5:30 – 7:30 pm

Meet artist Jerry Taliaferro at this celebration opening event for SONS: Seeing the Modern African American Male. Refreshments will be served. This event is free and open to the public.


SONS Saturday Free Community Day

Saturday, December 15

10:00 am – 3:00 pm

Celebrate the opening weekend of SONS: Seeing the African American Male with a FREE community day at the MMA. Schedule:

11:00 am – 12:00 pm Reading, in the gallery, of children’s books written by African American authors

11:00 am & 1:00 pm Film in the Auditorium

12:00 pm – 3:00 pm Docent led tours through the exhibition and in-gallery activities


Black Man Film Premier

Monday, December 17

6:00 – 8:00 pm

Frauenthal Center: 425 W. Western Ave., downtown Muskegon

The MMA, in partnership with Jon Covington, presents Black Man, a feature length documentary that tells the stories of the men behind SONS: Seeing the Modern African American Male.

“Black Man is a kaleidoscope of raw, riveting, candid conversations with black men about their lives, their loves, their losses, their AMERICA! Close to three dozen men share first hand, their perspectives in ways we’ve not seen on film of the everyday black man. Muskegon, Michigan is the backdrop for “Black Man,” but the stories are Any Town, USA.” (Jon Covington)

FREE Admission courtesy of Community Foundation for Muskegon County.


Book Discussion

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

Thursday, January 17

5:30 pm – 6:30 pm

The MMA will host a guided book discussion about Ralph Ellison’s classic novel, Invisible Man, exploring text in context with the SONS exhibition. Books are available to check out at local libraries. Hackley Public Library, Fruitport Area Library, and the Muskegon Area District Library’s Norton Shores and Muskegon Heights branches will also host book discussions on varying evenings. Free and open to the public.


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Free Community Day

Monday, January 21

10:00 am – 8:00 pm

The Muskegon Museum opens its doors to welcome the community on this day in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Visitors can enjoy the galleries, films in the auditorium, crafts in the classroom, and guided tours. The MMA will host a panel discussion on community and regional issues in the evening. Admission and all activities are free.


10:00 am – 1:00 pm

Led by MMA docents

1:00 – 3:00 pm

Led by Muskegon High School AP Art students

Films & Crafts

10:00 am – 3:00 pm

Enjoy crafts in the classroom and view the film Black Man in the auditorium.

Panel Discussion

6:30 – 8:00 pm

Jon Covington will moderate a panel discussion with experts on community and regional issues. The discussion is free and open to the public.


  • William Muhammed

James Jackson Museum of African American Art, Board Chair – Member of Board of Trustees

  • Andrew Sims

Michigan Minority Business Development Council, V.P. Central & Western MI, Marketing & Communication

  • Alfredo Hernandez

Michigan Department of Civil Rights in Lansing, Equity Officer


Open Mic Night Hosted by Kaizen Kabir

Thursday, February 28

5:30 – 7:30 pm

Local poet Kaizen Kabir (also known as: Kumasi Mack) of WriAck Radio will host a spoken word open mic night with a DJ and invited artists in the MMA’s auditorium. Free and open to the public.


Comedy Night with Hen Sapp

“Keepin’ it Clean!”

Thursday, March 7

5:430 – 7:30 pm

Hen Sapp has been dubbed “The Doctor of Comedy” for the healing properties of clean humor. This comedy program by is suitable for families.  Free and open to the public.


Free Brown Bag Film Series

See free lunchtime films on 2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month. Auditorium doors open at noon. Films start at 12:15 pm. Most films run an hour or less.

Thursday, December 13

Up From the Bottoms: The Search for the American Dream

Thursday, December 27

Against the Odds: The Artists of the Harlem Renaissance

Thursday, January 10

National Archives: Five African American Artists, 1971

Thursday, January 24

Kehinde Wiley: An Economy of Grace

Thursday, February 14

Black Man by Jon Covington


The Muskegon Museum of Art is located at 296 W. Webster Ave. in downtown Muskegon, Michigan. Visitor information is available at or at 231.720.2570.


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Muskegon Lakeshore Figure Skating Club welcomes new Skating Director Joshua Smith: Orchard View Middle School Principal is former Olympic-level Skater

MUSKEGON, MI (12/6/18) – The Muskegon Lakeshore Figure Skating Club has announced new Skating Director Joshua Smith will join the organization. As a former Olympic level skater, skating rink director, figure skating and hockey coach he brings a wealth of experience to this role.


Joshua Smith started skating and playing hockey when he was five years old. By the age of 14 he relocated to Indianapolis for full-time, year-round training in ice dancing, pairs skating, and solo figure skating. In 1998, Joshua and his partner, Catherine Staples, won the regional and sectional ice dancing championships. They were to compete against national and world level competition, but a week prior Catherine suffered a devastating injury which prevented them from competing. By the age of 19, Joshua was directing the skating club and Learn to Skate at Ferris State, producing ice shows, and coaching various disciplines all over the state of Michigan. He coached the the Big Rapids Synchronized Skating Team to win a world championship.


Club President Kelly St.Martin says, “We are thrilled to add Josh to our team. He has extensive ties to Muskegon and an unparalleled level of skating experience in Western Michigan.” Joshua will direct the skating club and assist in programming and talent development of incoming skaters. He will also offer his expertise in the areas of technical skating: ice dancing, high level maneuvers, and quality skating. He will direct and coach the Learn to Skate Class, which is set to begin January 9 at L.C. Walker Arena through a partnership with the Muskegon Junior Lumberjacks.


Joshua will be at the figure skating club’s Holiday on Ice Show, L.C. Walker Arena, December 9, 3:45 p.m. to meet the community. St.Martin adds, “It’s a great opportunity to meet Josh and see what we are all about.”


Joshua is the Principal at Orchard View Middle School. He and his wife have four children and live in Downtown Muskegon, just a few minutes away from L.C. Walker Arena.


About the Muskegon Lakeshore Figure Skating Club

The Muskegon Lakeshore Figure Skating Club is a volunteer, registered non-profit organization. The Club is open to membership to those interested in developing ice skating skills for figure skating competitions and recreational exhibitions. The Club serves the Muskegon, North Muskegon, Whitehall, Montague, Twin Lake, Freemont, Grand Haven, Spring Lake, West Olive and Norton Shores areas and skates on private ice at L.C. Walker Arena. A weekly Learn to Skate program is available during the school year at L.C. Walker Arena for ages 3 through adult through a partnership with the Muskegon Junior Lumberjacks Hockey program. Coaches, under the direction of Joshua Smith, are available on private ice for individual instruction. The Muskegon Lakeshore Figure Skating Club is a member of the US Figure Skating Association and the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce. For more information, visit



September Yancone, Vice President and

Public Relations Co-Chair

Muskegon Lakeshore Figure Skating Club


Muskegon, MI – The State of Michigan released its annual Economic Impact of Tourism report for 2017 today, showing a 4.2% increase statewide in visitor spending, with a 3.1% increase in visitor spending in Muskegon County. The report was prepared by Tourism Economics of Wayne, Pennsylvania and London, England, an international leader in tourism research.


Statewide, visitors to Michigan spent over $24.7 billion in 2017, and over $313.3 million in Muskegon County alone, resulting in over 340,000 direct and indirect jobs in the state and over 4,600 direct and indirect jobs in Muskegon County.

2017 Tourism Economic Impact – Muskegon Employment

“We knew 2017 was a good year for tourism in Muskegon County,” said Bob Lukens, Director of Visit Muskegon, the county’s convention and visitors bureau. “This research confirms and reinforces our belief that tourism means jobs for Muskegon County residents and revenues for Muskegon County businesses.”


The Muskegon County economic impact statistics revealed that in 2017 the following revenues were collected:

  • Lodging revenues: $23.9 million
  • Food & Beverage revenues: $81.7 million
  • Retail revenues: $40.4 million
  • Recreation revenues (including casino wagering): $41.3 million
  • Transportation revenues (including local and air transport): $125.9 million

Those numbers are expected to grow in coming years as a variety of new projects are in development or underway in Muskegon County, including two new hotels under construction in Fruitport Township;

— more –


hotel renovations and additional lodging rooms in the cities of Muskegon and Muskegon Heights; restaurant, brewery, café, and retail development across the County; new park and kayak launch development in the City of Norton Shores; additional development at the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex; and development of a convention center in the City of Muskegon and a casino in Fruitport Township.


“As tourism continues to grow across the state and in Muskegon County, we’re seeing how important it is to our economy,” said Mark Eisenbarth, Muskegon County Administrator. “As the fourth largest industry in Muskegon County, we’re grateful to the municipalities, organizations, and businesses that are helping to grow the industry and create more jobs.”


“It’s an exciting time to be in Muskegon County,” Lukens said. “The tourism-related development happening here is nothing short of amazing and is shaping the County’s future. We’re truly all working together toward a common goal of making Muskegon County a premier visitor destination along the West Michigan shoreline, and people across the Midwest are noticing.”

Muskegon’s Dancing with the Local Stars brings together community leaders, professional dancers to tackle hunger & food insecurity

With more than 25,000 people in Muskegon County facing food insecurity, it is very likely you know someone who is hungry. Perhaps you are hungry. Or a family member. Maybe it’s a student of yours. A friend who doesn’t want to tell you they don’t know where their next meal is coming from.


Click here to view full article

Muskegon County Calendar of Events December 3-9, 2018

Click here to view upcoming events.


COE November 26 – December 3, 2018

Click here for November-December Events

Little River Band of Ottawa Indians’ Muskegon Co. Gaming Project Moves Forward with Federal Land-­Into-­Trust Process

Bureau of Indian Affairs Issues Draft EIS
Little River Band of Ottawa Indians’ Muskegon Co. Gaming Project Moves
Forward with Federal Land-­Into-­Trust Process
Washington D.C. — A Muskegon County casino proposed by the Little River Band of
Ottawa Indians moved another step forward. The U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau
of Indian Affairs (BIA) today published the Notice of Availability of a Draft Environmental
Impact Statement (DEIS) in the Federal Register as the next step in the environmental
review to place land in trust for gaming purposes of the tribe.


The BIA announced a public hearing on the DEIS will be held December 12th at 6 p.m.
at Fruitport Middle School auditorium, located at 3113 E. Pontaluna Road.


“This is a long awaited big step for the Little River Band and the Muskegon community
to bring economic development to the region as the opportunity to comment on the
DEIS is an important public part of the review process,” said Tribal Ogema Larry
Romanelli. “We strongly encourage the community to join us at the public hearing to
express their opinions that this project will have a positive impact on Muskegon.
Community feedback is important to the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ ability to evaluate the
potential environmental impacts of the project.”


Community input will take place at the public hearing, where members of the public can
comment on the Draft EIS published by the BIA. The BIA will then take that community
input into account as it prepares a final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in
response to the Tribes’ application to put land into federal trust for development of the
proposed Muskegon casino. The BIA will also accept written comments. Written
comments must be sent to the BIA before January 7, 2019. The DEIS, and an
explanation of the review process is available at


The EIS will take a hard look at the potential environmental impacts of the project,
including land use, geology and soils, water resources, agricultural resources, biological
resources, cultural resources, traffic, air quality, noise, public health/environmental
hazards, hazardous material and waste, public services, and socio-­economics.


The Little River Band filed an application February 2015 requesting the BIA to place 60
acres of land in trust for a $180 million casino and economic development project at the
former Great Lakes Downs racetrack site in Fruitport Township. The project is expected
to create more than 1,200 new jobs in Muskegon County. The BIA held a scoping
hearing in October 2015 when it published a Notice of Intent to kick off the public part of
the review process.


Muskegon County is the home to the Little River Band’s largest population base.
Muskegon is one of the Tribe’s service areas and the Tribe maintains governmental
offices in Muskegon to serve its members.


“The opening of a casino in Fruitport Township will enable the Tribe to provide housing,
health care, education and other services to our elders and youth, particularly those
based in Muskegon County, while providing more than 1,175 jobs and a positive
economic impact for the local community,” said Tribal Council Speaker Joseph Riley II.
“The publishing of the Draft EIS is usually the longest step in the approval process so
we couldn’t be more pleased that the BIA is moving the process forward.”



The Little River Band’s proposed gaming and economic development project would


• Approximately 69,000 square feet of gaming floor space
• 1,700 slot machines
• 35 table games
• 220-­room hotel
• Conference and meeting room space
• Dining and entertainment options


The proposed casino has received wide support from the community including support
from Fruitport Township, Fruitport Community Schools, Muskegon County, West
Michigan trade unions, and local businesses. Both Fruitport Township and Muskegon
County reaffirmed support for the Tribe’s Muskegon casino project with resolutions of


The Little River Band has signed a Municipal Services Agreement with Muskegon
County and Fruitport Township that consists of the Tribe making payments for public
safety, sanitary sewer, public water construction and other services.
The BIA published the notice of the DEIS hearing in a local newspaper and online at


LRBOI purchased former Great Lakes Downs racetrack 2008
LRBOI filed application 2.2015
Notice of Intent Scoping Hearing 10.2015
Scoping Hearing Report 2.2016
Draft EIS Published 11.23.18
Public hearing on DEIS 12.12.18
BIA Deadline for Written comments 1.7.19
For further information, contact Tom Shields,
M: 517-­449-­9810, W: 517-­372-­4400 #230, H: 517-­669-­1873

Michigan Environmental Hall of Fame Seeks Nominations for 2019

The Michigan Environmental Hall of Fame is seeking nominations for its class of 2019.  There are six categories; Non-Profit Organizations, Colleges/Schools, Environmental Projects, Business/Industry, Individuals, Legacy Circle and Sunrise Youth Award.


This is the eighth  year for the Michigan Environmental Hall of Fame that has inducted 45  individuals and organizations into the Hall, including former Gov. William Milliken, Howard Tanner, Peter Wege, Mayville Elementary School, the Ruddiman Creek Project, and the Wolves & Moose of Isle Royale are among them. We are looking for nominations for the 2019 class.


These are people or organizations that have a long history of environmental stewardship.  Nomination forms are available on the web site,


             The Michigan Environmental Hall of Fame will induct the class of 2019 on May 15, 2019 at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum at 7:00 PM in Grand Rapids.  Nomination applications are due February 8, 2019.



Get Involved

Volunteer at the Lakeshore Art Festival! The festival features a unique blend of fine art, craft, music, food, and fun in beautiful Downtown Muskegon, Michigan.


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Join Watch Muskegon! The Lakeshore has more to offer than ever before, and you can join the conversation!


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