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from the publisher. I don’t know about you, but I am ready for spring!! Not only am I looking forward to warmer weather, but I am also looking forward to the many events in Genesee County that come with that change. I am already planning ahead to May. Whaley’s Tux and Tennies fundraiser is May 9th, the proceeds from which go to the Whaley Children’s Center. This event is so much fun, and the best part is wearing comfy tennis shoes. I am also looking forward to the Flint Institute’s Annual Auction on May 15th. I have been enjoying this event for almost 20 years. It always provides a great time, offering many silent and live auction items to bid on to help raise money for the school. Funds raised at this event also help many underprivileged children attend the institute. And people shouldn’t forget that the Adopt A Pet’s 10th annual golf outing is May 16th at the Jewel in Grand Blanc. Since this is its 10th year, this event will be extra special this spring! For sponsorship and/or golf, call 810624-0177. This golf outing is truly my favorite. In this issue of onthetown, readers can learn about a beautiful celebration of life ceremony concerning Gary Haggart, a wonderful gentleman who recently lost his life to brain cancer. I also hope they will be sure to read the “Bullycide” story. Unfortunately, bullying has become quite an issue over the years for our children. This may even be an article that readers will choose to share with their children. And finally, people can check out the many photos from various events that onthetown covers in the community. They might very well see themselves or someone they know! As always the staff at onthetown magazine and I truly appreciate our readers’ support. We also love to hear their opinions of our publication. So please, everyone, feel free to email us any input. Cheers to warmer weather! Kimberly Gray, Publisher

W W W. O N T H E TO W N L I M I T E D. C O M

EDITOR IN CHIEF Michelle Blaisdell COPY EDITOR Martha Hamp MANAGING EDITOR Michael G. Thodoroff LAYOUT Archetype Design Studio MANAGER Laura Ulman SALES Debby Molina Allison Joslin Chelsea Mills Mark Novak


CONTRIBUTORS Genesee Health Systems Ilene Cantor Kristina Falcon Sherry Farney Cindy Ficorelli Ilse Hayes Chelsea Mills Tara Moreno Rich Reed Paul Rozycki Ray Smith Yvonne Sova EVENT SPREADS Chelsea Mills-Behind Your Design PHOTOGRAPHY Joel Hart Debby Molina Tara Moreno


PUBLISHED BY Kimberly Gray Global Network Publishers, LLC P.O. Box 121 Grand Blanc, MI 48480 Phone: (810) 584-7006 Fax: (810) 584-7013

All rights reserved. No Part of this publication may be reproduced without expressed written consent of the publisher.



Contents //







Meet The Doctors:








from the editor.

i s

Even though I have been shoveling snow all morning, I sense the first symptom of spring fever has affected me as the sun shining in all its brilliance – perhaps promising better weather in the not-to-distant future. By the time this issue reaches our readers, however, and with the daylight periods getting longer day-by-day, I am confident we will all be able to rejoice in the assurance that spring may be just about here!

onthetown’s first issue of the new year offers a multitude of features. To begin with, we must congratulate John Potbury for being this year’s Grand Marshal of the Flint St. Patrick’s Day celebrations which are already underway -- providing a great cure for “cabin fever!” In addition, with this issue’s emphasis on health and medical, we have highlighted many interesting physician profiles of our local area health professionals. And we also remember Gary Haggart’s passing with a tribute to his “Celebration of Life” ceremony. Although widely known for his work with Flint’s Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization, Gary Haggart’s affinity for helping people in our community…as well as his renowned sense of humor…will always be his legacy. Finally, the winter season always seems to breed many festive and celebratory events which present us with a busy few months of extensive event coverage. So readers should check out our “be seen” section to see if we caught any of them out “onthetown.” onthetown would also like to congratulate this year’s participants in the “Dancing with the Local Stars,” brought to us by the Grand Blanc Chamber of Commerce. For the past four years, local Chambers in Genesee County have worked together to raise money for a First Responders program that donates cuddly teddy bears of all shapes and sizes to children needing comfort during crisis situations. This annual fundraiser will provide monies to purchase more teddy bears for, not only Genesee County youngsters, but for youths who reside in Shiawassee County as well. Our readers can find the official announcement of the eight participants, including their biographies, in this issue. Don't miss the opportunity to join YMCA of Greater Flint and onthetown in creating a timeless magazine! Making the ordinary, extraordinary, Camp Copneconic has provided outdoor programs for youth and their families since 1915. Find out how your company can be a part of archiving the history and legacy, and its mission to increase support and help enhance the future development of camp.

be seen, be heard, be onthetown, Michelle Blaisdell


Legacy William


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Medical //



As the Director of Medical Education and Designated Institutional Officer at McLaren Flint, Dr. Jami Foreback oversees the administration of the hospital’s three main medical residency programs: family medicine, internal medicine and or thopedic surger y. As an internal medicine faculty member, she is ver y active with the internal medicine aspirants by obser ving patients in the hospital as par t of the residents’ training.


he enrolled in a combined MD/PhD program at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor after graduating from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. She decided to stay at UM and pursue an internal medicine specialty. After completing her residency requirements in 2002, she landed on the staff at McLaren Flint. The location was opportune as her spouse, Bob, was a high school counselor in the nearby Goodrich school system. While also having studied in a Primary Care Faculty Development Fellowship program through Michigan State University, Dr. Foreback enjoys the mental challenge of her chosen field as she considers internal medicine as a “thinking field.” She believes that is due to the nature of the internal medicine patient primarily being one of the senior population who is typically more prone to suffering from various medical issues, often occurring at the same time. In the simplest of terms, internal medicine represents doctors for adults who have complicated medical histories. Over her years at McLaren Flint, she has mentored and trained over 300 medical students and residents, along with providing opportunities for high school students to “shadow” her for a first-hand observation of her day-to-day medical responsibilities. Interacting with high school students gives her a chance to enlighten them on what is required to pursue a career in medicine. She emphasizes the importance of a commitment to life-long learning, both in the classroom and outside of it, because a physician must constantly learn new information to keep up with the latest medical practices and technologies. Above all, Dr. Jami Foreback believes, with conviction, in a dedication to learning, in wanting to help people and in working hard. Pictured: Jami Foreback, MD, PhD, Director of Medical Education McLaren Flint, is pictured here with Internal Medicine Resident Ruke Ehwarieme, MD.



General Neurosurgery Cerebrovascular Interventional Neuroradiology Neurotrauma Minimally Invasive Surgery Brain Tumors

• •

Brain aneurysms, vascular malformations Hospital Affiliations: Hurley Medical Center, Genesys Regional Medical Center, McLaren Regional Medical Center

Dr Shah-Naz H. Khan is a neurosurgeon who specializes in cerebrovascular and endovascular neurosurgery. She also performs the whole gamut of general neurosurgery including, brain tumors and spine surgery. Recognizing the shortage or neurosurgeons in the area, especially in the sub-specialty of endovascular neurosurgery, Dr Khan is delighted to provide highly specialized, minimally invasive procedures. Therefore, she treats complex cases such as brain aneurysms, stroke and arteriovenous malformations. Thanks to her dual training, as appropriate, she treats these conditions using conventional operations, or by means of minimally invasive techniques using angiography.

SHAH-NAZ H. KHAN, M.D. FRCS(C), FAANS NEUROSURGERY 810-212-4100 1295 S. Linden Rd. Suite A | Flint, MI 48532

Dr Khan is highly qualified and experienced. She received her medical degree from Rawalpindi Medical College, University of The Punjab, Pakistan. She did her surgical internship from Sinai Hospital of Detroit, Michigan and completed her neurological surgery residency at University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada. She subsequently completed a cerebrovascular and endovascular neurosurgery fellowship at Mayfield clinic and University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH. She also has completed several additional fellowships including neurotrauma from University of Connecticut, Farmington, CT. She has been published extensively in numerous medical journals and has contributed book chapters to professional textbooks. She is also a reviewer for professional peer review journals. Dr Khan is a member of several professional societies including American Association of Neurological Surgeons, Congress of Neurological Surgeons, American Stroke Association, Society of Neuroiterventional Surgery, Canadian Neurosurgical Society, Canadian Neurological Sciences Federation etc. She has presented and moderated at national and international conferences. Dr Khan is mentioned in Marquis Who’s who in America, 2015. Dr Khan is a Clinical assistant professor, in the Department of Surgery, Michigan State University.

Medical //




arsten Fliegner, MD, PhD, FACS, is a graduate of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, graduating magna cum laude with honors in neuroscience. He obtained a PhD from New York University School of Medicine through the Medical Scientist Training Program and was awarded his MD degree in 1992 from the same school of medicine.

The Genesys Heart Institute cardiothoracic surgeon completed a general surgery internship and residency in 1998 at Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut. And in 2000, he completed a cardiothoracic surgical residency at Yale-New Haven Hospital. Dr. Fliegner continued his specialty training by completing a fellowship in adult cardiothoracic surgery at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. He is board certified in general surgery and thoracic surgery. Through the years, he has conducted extensive research, has been published in dozens of national journals for his research activities, and is involved with research projects through the Genesys Office of Research. Dr. Fliegner has special expertise in minimally invasive valve surgery, minimally invasive atrial fibrillation surgery, and minimally invasive lung surgery.  He joined the Genesys Heart Institute team in 2001. Dr. Fliegner is married and lives in Clarkston with his wife and two children. "I came to Genesys because of the people I met when I first visited, and for the opportunity to help build a program, then in its early development. Now, Genesys Heart Institute is the premier provider of heart care in the region, with breadth and depth of expertise along the full range of cardiovascular disease," Dr. Fliegner reports.



arc Silver, MD, FACS, a cardiothoracic surgeon at the Genesys Heart Institute, joined the Genesys medical staff in 2002. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and a graduate with distinction from Wayne State University School of Medicine (1995). Dr. Silver completed a general surgery residency at the University of Rochester Strong Memorial Hospital in New York where he was chief resident. He also completed a thoracic surgery residency at St. Louis University in Missouri, is board certified in general surgery and cardiothoracic surgery, along with completing a fellowship in thoracic surgery. His specific expertise includes: minimally invasive Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG), minimally invasive mitral valve repair and replacement, minimally invasive aortic valve replacement, and minimally invasive MAZE procedures (surgery performed to treat atrial fibrillation). He also offers robotic treatment of lung cancer; the convergent procedure for atrial fibrillation; percutaneous valve procedures; and minimally invasive treatment of hiatal hernias, reflux and achalasia. Dr. Silver has conducted extensive research and has served as a guest lecturer throughout the country at several cardiology conferences. His most recent research has included: new therapies to prevent renal failure in high risk surgery, mechanical device support of a failing heart, and an implantable device trial for early detection of heart attacks. Dr. Silver is married and lives in Grand Blanc with his wife and three children. "The last five years at Genesys have been remarkably exciting," Dr. Silver announces. "The creation of a truly integrated heart team comprised of all cardiac subspecialties provides a platform that allows us to offer procedures performed nowhere else in Michigan, such as Convergent ablation for atrial fibrillation. In addition, the Genesys Heart Institute team provides state- of- the art care to Mid-Michigan through procedures such as percutaneous (incisionless) heart valve replacements. It is such a rewarding time for the practice of heart surgery."


Where heart lives. 1-888-463-3268


Medical //



Amazing Medical Technology in Our Own “Backyard” BY KRISTINA FALCON

Among all the great things transpiring in the Greater Flint area in recent years, our local hospitals seem to be leading the way by striving to make available the most cutting edge technologies and physicians, all contributing to a good quality of life for all citizens. As a prime example, Shah-Naz H. Khan, MD, FAANS, FRCS., with her specialties in cerebrovascular and endovascular neurosurger y procedures, is making herself impor tant, if not imperative to our community.


ith only one other practicing physician of her stature in the Flint area, it is good to know where to go for these lifeenhancing techniques. So now the questions arise as to what Endovascular means and why this specialty is of such importance. Basically, the doctor performs procedures with the most advanced technologies available today, ultimately providing benefits when treating complex cases such as brain aneurysms, strokes and arteriovenous malformations - abnormal connections between arteries and veins - bypassing the body’s capillary system. A doctor with this specialty should be available to those in need of her particular guidance or support regarding health issues. Dr. Kahn can provide the innovation and technology in order to address problems which may become too serious to result in viable outcomes. Talking with Dr. Khan revealed the most important disorder was the arteriovenous malformation, a condition seen in stroke patients. From a simple procedure, however, she can now make what, in the past, would have led to a difficult recovery into something minimal, ensuring a patient a good quality of life. Another example of her astounding expertise involves reparations of osteoporosis of the spine, all of which underscores that Dr. Khan’s endovascular procedures can produce truly astonishing results. From her days in high school, Dr. Khan had a desire to be a surgeon and “work with my hands,” she explains to me. She studied at many universities in the United States and did her residency in Canada, making her disciplines versatile and significant to the medical field. And throughout her journey, her practices have so evolved that these new techniques have become more efficient and safer to practice. There was a time in the past, for example, when, during a particular procedure, a doctor would have to go beyond the skull in order to achieve desired results. But currently, and because of her exceptional training, this technique is now executed by using a minimally invasive procedure whereby only a small incision of less than an inch is made to obtain the same miraculous results. Dr. Khan practices with an ability to think and perform in a clear and proficient manner. She takes the time to consider all of the options when making a diagnosis and then forms a plan for treatment accordingly. However, when a body rejects a certain treatment, she is there to perform actions which are truly amazing, but surprisingly simple, in order to prevent a potential misfortune. This is a blessing that can provide a new start and great hope for a patient’s future.


Dr. Khan keeps up to date with her profession by being involved as a member of several professional societies, while also staging presentations and serving in a moderator’s role at national and international conferences. And because of these dedicated efforts, she has received national acclaim. Listening to Dr. Khan express herself, I experienced, second-hand and in a small way, a taste of the life of a physician… truly an informative experience. Her words flowed with ease, especially when explaining what this fascinating field of endovascular surgery can provide for our community. We can be genuinely appreciative that Dr. Shah-Naz H. Khan is established right in our own “backyard.” Dr Shah-Naz H. Khan is Chairperson and Director of the Institute of General and Endovascular Neurosurgery (IGEN) located at 1295 S. Linden Rd in Flint.



// Medical



urley Medical Center’s Breast Health Nurse Navigator Marsha Schmit has been named Oncology Nurse Navigator of the Year by Breast Cancer Wellness Magazine. Schmit has served as Genesee County’s first Breast Nurse Navigator since 2008.

From diagnosis to treatment to breast reconstruction to long-term follow up, Marsha is a caring, highly-trained registered nurse who gives one-on-one support to patients going through breast cancer treatment because she understands exactly what it is like to be in their shoes. Marsha has been a breast cancer survivor since 2009. She has helped over 700 women and their families navigate through their journey, providing them with medical and community resources for care and treatment, and beyond. “I am deeply honored and touched to receive this award. I feel blessed every day to be able to make a difference in the lives of the patients I work with and give them honest, real information that may aid in their personal recovery. When a person is diagnosed with breast cancer, the mind swims in a million different directions and having someone to go to and ask questions as often as needed is a treasure. I always aim to be that treasure. I live a purpose-driven life,” Marsha says. Marsha devotes much of her own time to fundraising efforts to boost Hurley’s Breast Heath Navigator Fund, one that helps women with financial support during and after their treatments. She has helped raise over $200,000 for the fund so far. Breast Cancer Wellness Magazine is a quarterly magazine for Breast Cancer patients, and survivors.


Medical //




aria Francisca Bernabe, MD, is the Pediatrician at the Hamilton Community Health Center N. Saginaw location. She was born in the Philippines where early education was provided by local nuns. Growing up in an area with many small children and babies, Maria felt a caring, motherly affection for them all. In addition to formal education, the nuns exemplified a calm but disciplined manner, the type of learning that stays with a person forever. As Maria grew up, the desire and need to help others led to a medical career. By April 1978, she was enrolled at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila where she earned a BS in Psychology. She served her medical internship at Jose Reyes Memorial Hospital in Manila from April 1987 to May 1988. During that time she earned a Doctor of Medicine degree in Family Surgery and Medical, serving with a Medical Mission at the Rural Health Clinic in the Philippines. She passed a Physician License examination with the American Heart Association in 1989. The nuns had instilled in her the importance of caring for others which she is doing continually. She served on Medical Missions with the Missionary Sisters of Charities from January 1991 to August 1993 in the Philippines. During that time she volunteered with the Filipino/Chinese Medical there…and, always helping, she also offered her time and expertise to the Medical Missions at Antipolo Community Clinic. The nuns’ influence had set a good example…and seeing so many babies and children sick and in need of medical treatment led her to specialize in Pediatrics. Dr. Bernabe served her Residency in Pediatrics at Texas Tech University Medical Center in El Paso. She married in 2006, coming to the United States with her spouse who is now employed by General Motors; they have settled in Grand Blanc. Hamilton Community Health Center feels fortunate to have Dr. Maria Francisca Bernabe working in their Pediatric Department, and her patients are also grateful she is there.



eroy Johnson, MD, is the Opthamologist at the N. Saginaw location of Hamilton Community Health Center. Born in Gary IN, he moved to Flint with his family when he was very young so his education began here. He progressed from Garfield Elementary, through Emerson Jr. High, to Northern High School and, finally, on to Mott Community College, where his emphasis was on math, biology, chemistry, and physics in preparation for his pre-med studies. After graduating from Mott in 1967, he transferred to Wayne State University in Detroit to continue his medical education. Always a conscientious student, excelling both in class work and in research, he felt a little apprehensive when he was called into the Dean’s office. But it was then he discovered that “Mr. Johnson” was on track to become “Dr. Johnson.” After observing the changes in people when they had proper vision treatment, his major emphasis became Opthamology. Upon graduation, he joined a large group of notable alumni wherein there are 30% more doctors specializing in this than in any other category. His internship was at St. John’s Hospital in Detroit. After intensive written and oral exams, he became a Board Certified M. D. He and his wife and their children live in the Flint area where he has served at Hurley Hospital, as well as at Genesee Memorial and St. Joseph - which are both now a part of Genesys. His experience at Hamilton Community Health Network has been most rewarding through his helping of people who couldn’t even see the largest ‘E’ on the chart, as well as in treating children as young as two who needed extensive surgery. After testing and treatment, patients at the facility may be provided with a prescription for proper eye glasses. Gary Broyles is the Optician at Hamilton’s N. Saginaw location, so clients can have new glasses made and fitted right there. Glasses can be repaired, and he also can make them especially for computer work. He has been a member of the Opticians Association of Michigan for 45 years and conducts seminars for the organization. For both men, their main satisfaction comes when a client puts on a new pair of glasses and exclaims, “I CAN SEE!”


A lifetime of memories made for families over the past 100 years.

Don't miss the opportunity to join YMCA of Greater Flint and in creating a timeless magazine!Ĺ Making the ordinary, extraordinary, Camp Copneconic has provided outdoor programs for youth and their families since 1915. Find out how your company can be a part of archiving the history and legacy, and its mission to increase support and help enhance the future development of camp.

Contact Michelle Blaisdell 810.771.3131



Medical //




ounds that have resisted healing after months or years of traditional treatment often are resolved with a few months of specialized treatment at the McLaren Wound Care Clinic. “Ninety-six percent of our patients are healed within 12 weeks,” states Becky Wolfington, RN, the nurse manager of the Wound Care Clinic. “We are proud of the quality and service we provide to our patients and enjoy the positive comments we receive from them.” McLaren Wound Care Clinic specializes in healing chronic, non-healing wounds often caused by diabetes, poor circulation or other conditions. The county’s only Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy program is housed at the Clinic which uses pressurized oxygen to aid in healing wounds and treating other specific illnesses. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy, specialty dressings, diet and nutrition, off-loading, and negative pressure closure assistance are just some of the adjunctive advancements used to induce healing. Vascularity and infection control are taken into consideration when determining the best course of treatment for each patient. National guidelines based on clinical evidence are followed to treat and manage wounds. The types of wounds treated at the Clinic include: • • • • •

Vascular leg ulcers Diabetic foot ulcers Pressure ulcers Surgical or traumatic wounds Wounds caused by edema (swelling), cancer, radiation treatment, burns, infections and scleroderma (a disease in which scar tissue forms in the skin)

“We work closely with physicians who refer their patients for care,” says Wolfington. “The primary care physician (PCP) is updated on progress and able to discuss the treatment program with the nurse practitioner, unless instructed otherwise. The patient will follow up with his or her PCP.”


A Remarkable Life //




// A Remarkable Life

�ary �aggart �emembering




Once in a while, we are fortunate enough to find among us a truly remarkable person, one who, through his or her service to the community, specifically, and humanity, in general, shows us all how to live a good life. Gary Haggart was just such a person… one whose imperative to serve others, cheerfully and enthusiastically, defined him, both in the hearts of his friends and loved ones, as well as in the eyes of an appreciative public. His untimely passing on November 17, 2014, from an inoperable brain tumor, has left a raft of grief for many to cope with, but examining his lifetime of contributions -- as was done at his Celebration of Life tribute -- provided a mechanism for approximately 400 plus attendees to pay their respects to an individual many in the Greater Flint Area consider to represent a “better angel of ourselves.” BY MARTHA HAMP


A Remarkable Life //



or over the years, Gary Haggart and his wife, Kathy (affectionately known to many as “Weener”) endowed many people, often vulnerable women and children, with the necessary tools and opportunities with which to live productive lives – most notably (but not limited to) their memorable work with Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization. In truth, the number of causes with which Gary associated himself proved legion, but it is safe to say that, whatever the service to his community and humanity he performed, his was certainly a life well-lived. Gary Haggart was born in Flint on August 17, 1947, and grew up on the city’s east side, attending first Homedale Elementary School, then Lowell Junior High, and finally, Flint Central, from which he graduated in 1965. From there he went to Albion College, rooming with a future judge, The Honorable Duncan Beagle who, according to the Flint Journal article “Former shelter director remembered as champion for the community” in the Novemeber 18 edition, remembers his friend as “‘The Jerry Seinfeld of Flint’ using humor to connect with people.” And another longtime friend as well as a roommate after college, Bob Holec, would agree, saying, “He brought people together with his sense of humor – he believed in them, told great stories, and lived good works.” Both of these characterizations of Haggart, of his affinity for helping people as well as his renowned sense of humor, ring true, for Gary wore many hats during his storied career in community service over the years, including work as a probation officer, Director of Downtown Development Authority, and head of The Shelter of Flint. He also began the 100Men/100Boys mentoring program, founded Keep Genesee County Beautiful, and served on the board of Habitat for Humanity… so that his love for people translated seamlessly into a far-reaching predilection for helping others, most especially the troubled or less-fortunate among us. But it may be that he is best remembered by many citizens as the person who took over Big Brothers organization from Bob Enders, extended its mission to include a mentoring system, wedded it to Big Sisters, and instituted the most effective fundraiser for generating monies – the annual Bowling Challenge, first held at Northwest Bowl on Clio Rd. but later moved to Galaxy Lanes on Hill Rd. in Grand Blanc...where it is still held today. The need to raise funds became an urgency in the 1970’s, and Haggart listened to any idea advanced that might help finance the organization at that time, including a ski show at Whiting, sponsored by Schumakers and a golf tournament held at the Elks. Because he consistently and universally exhibited such a positive outlook on life and so believed in the efficacy of the causes he championed, friends say he never entertained the notion of failure in achieving his goals. And the Bowling Challenge, which Duncan Beagle says will hold its 36th Annual

Fundraiser entitled, “Bowl for Kids Sake 2015 in Honor of Gary Haggart” this February from the 19th to the 22th, became such a success story that it has been forever associated with its founder. Thus it represents a fitting tribute, indeed, and another honor to stand alongside his other well-deserved recognitions, which include The Sybyl Atwood Award for dedication, energy, and devotion to his causes, as well as The Community Vision Award from Keep Genesee County Beautiful – which he had helped to found. A Celebration of Life was held as a vehicle by which his many friends, colleagues, and admirers could honor and remember him – celebrating the person they had known and loved…and whom they would all miss so much. The ceremony took place in the Banquet Center at Genesys at 3:00PM on November 24, 2014, the room filled to capacity with over 400 people in attendance - and all seated at 38 tables with 10 seats at each. For those who were there, the roster of speakers on the program (many of whose names were politically, philanthropically, or professionally prominent) presented a moving and satisfying tribute to the man the whole community mourned. These orators include such people as Mike Vance, who served as Emcee, with testimonials coming from Bob Patton, Pat Manley, Bob Holec, Marlow Morgan, Kelly Irwin and Jody Pringle, Reta Stanley, Mike Wood, Tony Wittbrodt, Dennis Lazar, and Judge Duncan Beagle. A prayer at the beginning and end of the celebration was offered by Todd Fuller, while Kathy Haggart closed the program with her own poignant remembrances of her cherished husband and partner of more than 40 years. And, finally, people were invited afterwards to join together at the Moose Club at Lake Fenton to continue in the celebration of Haggart’s remarkable life, where, Holec says, about 200-250 people, many of whom had spoken at ceremony, told stories, cried, and toasted their beloved friend. The impact of the tribute, according to one who has known both the Haggarts for forty years, proved unforgettable, creating, she says, “A mixture of tears and laughter all at once. Every single speaker had such great and funny stories about Gary…they all characterized him so well.” And she adds, laughing, that he was always telling amusing stories himself, revealing that “he sent his jokes so many times to Readers Digest, but he never got one of them published. But all his friends loved them…and him.” And so it is that through the lens of his infectious sense of humor and eternal optimism so much of what Gary Haggart accomplished in his life can be viewed – as was made clear by all those who gathered to celebrated the man…whether they spoke formally that day or not. His good and generous nature ran like a thread through all that he was and all that he did, but Dennis Lazar offers even more perspective, saying, “The stories and recollections shared by all who spoke at Gary’s final tribute only [provided] a small glimpse [into] the impact he has made. With his sense of humor and tireless efforts, no obstacle was too difficult for him to face.” And Lazar’s defining of Gary thusly highlights another element of his character, mentioned over and over again by those honoring him…one that focuses on Haggart as a indefatigable “doer” – intent upon “building and repairing,” the often tattered lives of others around him whose profound needs the man of good works sought to meet. Bob Holec contends that “Gary Haggart always saw the best in people – which could mean people of quite diverse backgrounds – and he was willing


GARY HAGGART to work tirelessly, teaching them, helping them to succeed. He genuinely loved people and wanted them to experience success in their lives.” Judge Beagle underscores this assessment of his friend, adding that “It made no difference if you were rich or poor, black or white, male or female, young or old…he was a very funny person whose warm smile and engaging personality put everyone at ease.” This raison d’etre of Haggart’s to serve others certainly found its home in his work as he set about mending both lives and souls through the various organizations under his tutelage have done over so many years. Judge Beagle, in the Flint Journal article about Haggart’s passing, says "…he was an underrated community leader who stayed out of the headlines,” while in the same piece, Reta Stanley hails Gary as “‘a humanitarian who got great joy out of his work.’” In fact, he seems to have tackled all he did with an almost missionary spirit, whether “saving” homeless women and children at The Shelter of Flint, involving himself in housing through his work with Habitat for Humanity, mentoring children via either Big Brothers/Big Sisters or his 100 Men/100 Boys program, or, finally, working to beautify Genesee County – the place he chose to live and work – just to name a few venues in which he made such a difference. Holec calls him “A builder and a doer whose work involved both redeeming and renewing the lives of those who so clearly needed his help.’’ For Gary Haggart exuded heart and compassion, but he did more than just care. He used his considerable know-how to help others by solving problems, doing good works, and, perhaps most importantly, by his own example, showing a whole community how service to others is done.

But it wasn’t only in the public arena where Gary showed great heart. Judge Beagle relates that his fondest memory of his friend “is when I had a medical problem and [was] confined to a wheelchair. Gary and his wife Kathy offered my wife and me an accessible rental home to live in briefly. Then, after we purchased our home, Gary Haggart was there to build several ramps for me to move around easier. He then designed a special golf bag for my Amigo motorized vehicle.” This is the kind of friend he was… solving problems, helping out…and more. Bob Holec explains about a commitment both Gary and Kathy Haggart made not to have any children because “…there were too many kids already here who needed parents.” As it happened, they ended up living their philosophy by adopting one – their son Charlie – as well as personally mentoring five others, including Robert Allen, Marlow Morgan, Rickie Person, Jake Thomas, and Chris Bruff. This, above all, is what Holec sees as his friend “living good works,” for it is often the measure of a man to compare what he says with what he does…and for Gary Haggart, it seems that “character was [most certainly] destiny.” And, finally, Kathy Haggart captures the very essence of her husband when she states, “Gary was my best friend…and based on all the tributes, many other people felt the same. He was a very influential person [who] affected many lives,

// A Remarkable Life

including mine. He always saw the best in everybody, a true lesson I learned from him.” As if to illustrate her heartfelt words, she adds, “He often would say to me, ‘Weener, if you died tomorrow, what would you want your epitaph to read?’ And I would answer, ‘that I did something for someone that made a difference in [his or her] life.’” Thus, teacher, disciple, lover, and friend – they had the perfect union. Back in the day, the Haggarts did something quite radical. They gave up their jobs, according to Holec, “and sailed down the East Coast of the country for a year in 1980.” Many of us remember them as consummate sailors on Lake Huron – part of a large and sprawling contingent of people who summer and boat “ up north” but maintain their roots in Flint or Genesee County, never forsaking the place in which they grew up. And it might be noted here that this town has produced its share of noteworthy people who, in part, have credited their having come of age in a once great city with how well their lives turned out. In fact, many, like Gary Haggart, would say that Flint is among one of the greatest places to have developed and matured…an attitude which helps explain Bob Holec’s daughter saying that Gary possessed a “remarkable and enduring circle of friends.” So how might he be remembered? One friend suggests that to her, “There was no one like Gary Haggart and never will be again. He represented a truly unique individual.” And Dennis Lazar says, “I will always treasure Gary’s friendship. He was [one] who made everyone around him feel blessed to be in his presence.” He was a lover of people, an inveterate humorist, an eternal optimist, and a doer of good works. He believed in service to his fellow human beings, and he lived that belief to the fullest in his lifetime. Judge Beagle sums him up, saying, “Gary was a very loving husband and father who enjoyed life to the fullest. The Flint Community has lost one of its ‘best friends’ and a true superstar!” And so Gary Haggart has now embarked on his final sail – an odyssey he, perhaps, wholeheartedly embraces, just as did the one through his remarkable and memorable life – waiting patiently for the rest of us to catch up and join him. And as he tacks into the wind, a familiar smile on his sun-kissed face, and with typical joy in his generous heart, he is free to traverse unexplored waters, follow new currents, and investigate pristine shores on this, his maiden voyage. For he is special and unique and anointed…and as Ben Johnson said many years ago, and whose words so suit Gary Haggart’s epitaph, “He was not of an age but for all time.”


Community Awareness //




When Lori Thompson enrolled in the University


Michigan/Flint’s Theatre

Education and Speech Bachelor of Ar ts program, she had no idea that her passion for the performing ar ts would lead to a movement of awareness of a ver y serious social issue…the one called “Bullycide.”

he term “bullycide” is a hybrid of the words "bully" and "suicide" used to explain when someone takes his or her life as a result of being bullied. The term itself was coined by journalist Neil Marr in the book Bullycide: Death at Playtime, which was co-written by the late anti-bullying crusader, Tim Field. It draws on the real stories of torment experienced by children at the hands of bullies – those victims who were driven beyond their ability to cope with the systematic abuse of bullying and who, as a result of this abuse, and seeing no other way to escape, took their own lives to end their suffering. Through her dedication and focus, however, Lori has discovered an opportunity to use her passion for theater as an avenue to foster awareness of this increasingly prominent issue. A lifelong resident of Genesee County, Lori Thompson started her career as a secondary theater and English teacher at Powers Catholic High School after graduating from the University of Michigan/Flint in 1994. In 2006, she moved on to Fenton High School as the Theater Director. She also functioned as a teacher with the Flint Youth Theater for 12 years, while serving as a traveling theater teacher through a Flint Cultural Center grant. Her class at Fenton High School had a distinguished level of students whose focus was theater, so she decided to challenge them by working on a play about bullying which was precipitously becoming exposed as a known factor leading to school violence. Thompson decided to do more research on the subject on her own. “I attended a conference in Oklahoma City that dealt with the bombings,” she recalls. “I had to go through an application process and needed letters of recommendation. There were only 25 teachers accepted, and I was the only teacher from Michigan.” After attending this conference, she became very interested in how an individual comes into the world as one person and can end up growing up to become another. She wondered how evil comes into some lives and changes who people are, as well as how the hardships of life or circumstances might alter their paths from whom they are meant to be or have yet to become. These were some of the complexities she set out to expose through the dynamics of theater. Thus, when approaching her class in 2007, she announced she wanted to do a stage-play on the subject of bullying. Much to her surprise, some of the students initially resisted participating in the project as they candidly did not want to admit that there was any bullying in their school. And this was not a typical core elective class, but a highly specialized one with only 15 to 25 students who were required to have earned the International Baccalaureate Theater Arts pre-requisite. However, Lori kept working with them because she felt this was a topic they needed to address. Her persistence eventually led to the production of a stage play titled Ticking, adapted from a song by Elton John about a school shooting in 1978. It was after one of the performances that Thompson met Tammy and Kevin Epling from Lansing who had lost their son Matt to bullycide in July of 2002. During their



// Community Awareness

discussion, they presented to Lori the book, Bullycide in America, compiled by Brenda High, founder of and written by mothers who had lost a child to bullycide.  The Epling’s son’s story is included in the book. “After reading Bullycide in America,” Thompson mentions, “I knew it would make an effective performance piece that could travel to schools all over the country, and, because of the success of Ticking, I knew I wanted to continue with the subject matter.” She clearly felt that, in order to give this project a dedicated effort, she would do it under the auspices of her own theater company which she christened the Trust Theatre Ensemble. With blessings from the Epling’s, she set out to create a performance piece regarding bullycide. Coincidently at that time, the Mott Children's Health Center contacted her with a request for a presentation during their upcoming conference based on Youth Violence. This provided the catalyst for Lori to begin writing the script for The Bullycide Project based on the book Bullycide in America. She began the arduous task of auditioning 25 passionate actors, realizing these emotional roles were not made for just anyone, but once the cast was decided upon, the participants rehearsed the entire summer of 2010 in preparation for the October 2010 debut of The Bullycide Project at the Mott Children's Health Center. On stage, actors recount nine stories of bullycide, as well as their own personal, heartfelt narratives from the point of view of the bystander, the bully, and the bullied, respectively. Since then, The Bullycide Project  has been staged in almost 100 schools over the past five years… in various ones throughout Michigan, as well as some in Canada. It has also been featured in national television shows on both the CBS and CNN networks. During a performance at Lake Fenton High School this past year, two teachers from Denmark, here on an exchange program, saw the play and were so impressed that they have since formalized a trip to Denmark for Lori to work with their students on the subject of bullying. Thompson cites that the Danish teachers will be returning in May of this year, along with 13 of their own students who may be included in a production. Unfortunately, Thompson does not see an end to bullying. However, she believes, with conviction, that students and adults alike can be equipped with the proper armor and tools to fight back without “bullying the bully.” She wants them to understand how to create a kindness and acceptance. And, she unconditionally agrees with Anton Hout, founder of who says bullying is far from harmless and needs to be recognized for the very serious threat that it is. In addition to physical assaults, bullying has a devastating impact on the emotional and psychological well-being of victims. “Bullying is a relentless assault on the soul,” he says. “Targets of bullying, whether they are children or adults, are subjected to treatment which is designed to eat away at their self-esteem and drive them to despair and to suicide.” Through the efforts of Lori Thompson and her Trust Theatre Ensemble, lives may be saved from becoming devastating statistics. For more information on the Bullycide Project, visit


Community Awareness //



There has been much written and discussed about the negative and longterm effects of bullying. We know that children who are bullied may develop low self-esteem, are likely to have anxiety, may be truant, can become suicidal, can become alcohol and/or drug dependent, and can undergo a great deal of both physical and psychological trauma. We also know that these same outcomes can occur in adults of all ages who are bullied as well.


hat do we know about the bullies? Why do they bully? We know that childhood is a time where children develop their social compasses. They learn right from wrong. They learn what is acceptable and what is not. However, if children get conflicting or negative messages from those around them, their views can develop into thinking that bullying is an accepted way to behave.

As an example, if a group of friends encourages one child to tease, taunt, or physically overcome another child, the child can feel both powerful and accepted afterward. This encourages repeated abusive behavior that breeds a conjured feeling of being superior and powerful. Unfortunately, this often also produces for the abuser a coveted reputation among friends. Some children gravitate to those they see as powerful, in admiration or awe, or in the hopes that by being their friend, they will be powerful too. If other students and adults let the behavior go unchecked, then the child who bullies feels that his/her behavior is fine, acceptable, and perhaps enviable. Other times children who bully are responding to stress, have been bullied themselves, are unable to control their emotions, or are looking for attention from others. This can lead them to bully in response. The outcomes for both the bully and the victim are concerning. Victims can carry the scars for life. So can bullies. The addiction risk for both groups is high, and the overall mental health of both can suffer for the rest of their lives. This is what makes the treatment of both groups so important. How do you know if your child bullies others? Often the parents find out when they get a call from the school or another parent, letting them know about their child’s behavior. However, there are warning signs before then. Is your child aggressive toward other children? Does he/she often get into fights, either verbal or physical? Does your child have trouble controlling his/her anger? All of these are signs that the child is having trouble adjusting and coping.


Harsh discipline by a parent who is frustrated, angry, or fearful regarding a child’s behavior can have an opposite effect and likely do more harm than good. This can teach the child that it is okay to react to anger and fear by lashing out verbally or physically. What is more effective is setting firm limits and explaining those limits by talking with these children. Teach them what it means to be a good friend. Teach them to “walk in someone else’s shoes” and understand what other children may be feeling. Talk about respecting others and respecting the differences among us. If you feel overwhelmed as a parent, seek help from an expert. Teachers, pastors, and counselors can all be of help. But don’t wait; addressing the problem quickly is much more effective.


Community //




For the past four years, local Chambers in Genesee County have worked together to raise money for First Responders to give teddy bears to children needing comfort during crisis situations. 1000 teddy bears were purchased in 2012 and were given to Local Law Enforcement, Fire, EMT, and State Police Officers in Genesee County. This annual fundraiser will provide funds to purchase more bears for not only Genesee but Shiawassee County as well.


Gerard Burnash Gerard Burnash is the Executive Director of the Flint Downtown Development Authority in Flint, Michigan. He received his B.S in Economics from the University of Michigan-Flint. Prior to becoming the D.D.A. director, he was the Outreach Coordinator for the Flint River Corridor Alliance where he worked on the Chevy in the Hole remediation, Hamilton Dam replacement, and the Flint River Trail extension. He is a lifelong resident of Flint and has lived in the downtown area for 16 years. He has five brothers and four sisters and grew up working in the family business, Burnash Wrecking. He is an AmeriCorps alumnus and served in the United States Army Reserves for six years. He is married to the lovely Heather Burnash, who is an attorney in downtown Flint, and they have two beautiful daughters, Olivia and Sydney, who attend St. John Vianney School. Mr. Burnash is an avid supporter of Downtown Flint and a huge Detroit Lions fan.

Julie Bade Julie Bade works for Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy’s Oncology Sales division, located in their main facility at 4100 S Saginaw St. Even though her office is at this location, she makes the rounds by calling on many physicians’ offices. Representing Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy, she works with the physicians, nurses, office staff, and patients as well, selling services for oral chemotherapy. Often times, when a patient has been diagnosed with cancer, co-payments can be extremely costly. Not only does Julie work with the office staff in sending prescriptions, the company works to help the patient by looking for foundational funding opportunities. “By striving to streamline the process as much as possible, we are able to take most of the work off the nurses and office staff so they can spend more quality time with patients,” Julie mentions. Prior to her work with Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy, the Grand Blanc native, with a degree in Social Work from University of Michigan/Flint, was in pharmaceutical sales. “As a pharmaceutical rep, I sold a specific drug, but at Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy I sell services which compliment my social work experience of helping people of all backgrounds,” she says. Julie and her spouse, Patrick, have five children ranging in ages from six to twenty-one years-old. She frequently volunteers at Powers Catholic High School and is currently an assistant coach of the girls’ basketball team. Julie will donate her winnings to the “Teddy Bears” program which comforts children who are experiencing loss, injury, grief, or trauma.

Timothy J. MacDonald Timothy J. MacDonald is a graduate of Powers Catholic High School, the University of Notre Dame, and Thomas M. Cooley Law School. He is President of MacDonald, FitzGerald & MacDonald, P.C., a family law firm founded by his father, Robert J. MacDonald. The firm has represented injured workers and their families since 1938, specializing in Workers’ Compensation, Social Security Disability, and Personal Injury Law. Tim has been married to wife Ami for 38 years. He enjoys spending time with the rest of his family, including son Tim and his wife Katie, as well as daughters Kelly, and Courtney, along with two grandchildren, Loren and Trey. In addition to representing the disabled, Tim loves to play golf and ski. He is honored to participate in Dancing with the Stars and contributes to such a worthy cause as the Teddy Bear Patrol.



// Community

Renee Krause Hello! My name is Renee Krause, and I am honored to be dancing in this year’s competition! I grew up and currently reside in Grand Blanc. Gymnastics has been a large part of my life since I was three years old. At the age of 15, I started coaching at Grand Blanc Gymnastics Company (formally GB Parks and Recreation) and am very proud to have been working there ever since! After completing my degree in Exercise Physiology at Oakland University, I developed a motor development program involving music, movement, gymnastics and more to teach to children ages two through five. I have taught my program in over 20 local preschools and daycares. The health, growth and overall wellbeing of ALL the children in our community is my passion. For that reason, I will be dancing for Children’s Miracle Network at Hurley Hospital. Grand Blanc Gymnastics has worked directly with CMN for the past 10 years, and I feel it is a wonderful organization. Being a mother of a three year old has taught me many things, one of which is that anything can happen at anytime! It truly makes me feel more confidant knowing there is a Children’s Miracle Hospital like Hurley in my community. I have personally met so many different people right here in our area who CMN at Hurley has helped directly - a set of parents whose baby was born extremely premature or another whose toddler was diagnosed with cancer. Whatever the situation, the outcome is the same -CMN has been there to help. I hope I can give back some of what the organization has given to so many! THANK YOU for any support… and bear with me, as this will be the first time I have ever danced with a true partner before, and the word “nervous” doesn’t even begin to cover how I feel!

Keith Whitmore Keith Whitmore is part of the Graff family of dealerships, owning the Graff Truck Centers in the cities of Flint and Saginaw. They are the area’s premier dealers for Volvo and Isuzu trucks. Keith was born and raised in Sudbury, Ontario Canada, and actually came to Flint to play hockey for the old Flint Generals in 1993-1995. It was during this time that he met his spouse Kim and happily decided to stay in the area. The Whitmores have four children: Kay and Max (twin boys, 15 years old), Jacob 13, and daughter Tobi 11. If Keith is victorious in this event, he will donate winnings to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan.

Karen Church Karen Church has been with ELGA Credit Union for 37 years, being named CEO in 1993. She has seen ELGA Credit Union grow from a one-branch, three million dollar credit union with five employees, to a $390 million, ninebranch credit union employing 150 associates.  She is especially proud of her associates as they are truly committed to serving others. They work to improve members’ financial wellbeing while building lifelong relationships. Karen is involved…and encourages others to be involved... in the communities they serve as well.  Collectively, ELGA Associates gave over 2,400 personal hours towards community events in 2014. She’s an active member of St. Francis Xavier Church, Zonta Flint, 100 Women Igniting Change, and serves on the Advisory Board of the Community Foundation’s Women and Girls Fund.  She grew up as the eldest of seven children, has been blessed with a great marriage for the past 36 years, and has two terrific children, both Michigan State University graduates. She is also a devoted grandmother and loves spending time with her two grandsons. And…Karen can’t sit still when there’s music playing, so she will be dancing up a storm. Other dancers not pictured: Todd Sorenson and Michelle Shook.


Food & Drink //







ince the 1950’s, the mere mention of a Frankenmuth Chicken Dinner would get a family salivating, running to the family sedan or “soccer mom” van, and driving onto I-75 before they could say “Zehnders” or “Bavarian Inn.” Today, there is a fairly decent mix of restaurants on Main Street in Frankenmuth, all offering food fare, from gourmet hamburgers to pizzas to Chinese buffet. But until now the locale has been missing a place featuring a very popular culinary delight -- that of barbeque. Finally there is now a real honest-to-goodness, downhome, world-class barbeque joint, complete with the best of genuine blues music on weekends, right in the heart of the city.


Despite only having opened this past September, Slo Bones BBQ Smokehaus, located at 175 E. Jefferson St. in Frankenmuth, has already developed a reputation as the place to enjoy a menu that exudes great southern flavors with a local touch of the 'Muth. The idea for Slo Bones came from longtime Frankenmuth resident, Jim Jones. After traveling extensively to the best smokehouses and blues joints in the country, Jim came back from his journey fired-up to share the taste of Southern barbeque with his beloved community. Armed with an MBA in Finance, he set out to develop an ironclad business and marketing plan for such a venture, complete with five and ten-year specific goals. Moreover, he realized that any successful barbeque bistro can only be as good as its pitmaster. Initially searching the internet, he was surprised to discover a nationally-ranked, worldclass one in very close proximity! After making contact with “neighboring” pitmaster Dick Bourdow and sharing his plans for a serious barbeque house, Jones got Bourdow to come onboard, giving Slo Bones instant credibility. Now it was on to search for an executive chef…at which point, enter Chef Doug St. Souver. Some consider St. Souver a celebrity chef in his own right with his long and impressive culinary resume that includes national recognition. With formal culinary education from Oakland Community College, he has competed in four of cable TV’s prestigious Food Network competitions, winning three - while one of those victories is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records…for creating the largest popcorn structure! In 2010 he was designated Chef of the Year by the Flint/Saginaw Valley Chapter of the American Culinary Federation. He founded Artisans in Culinary ( in 2008, a company specializing in high-end manger skills focusing on garnish and display work, while he also taught tenures at Schoolcraft College, and Oakland Technical Center. He is currently at Flint’s Mott Community College in their culinary arts programs. 30


Chef Doug candidly admits to his initial apprehension at opening a barbeque eatery in Michigan’s Little Bavaria, but after buying in to Jim Jones’ plan and the opportunity to work next to a world-class pitmaster, he was all-in! Together, they started remodeling the former Sevin O'Brian's facility in June of last year, and St. Souver vividly recalls one day of note during the makeover. ”People often ask me if we were ever met with any resistance from the established restaurants in the city,” he mentions, and adds, “Zero! Absolutely none. One day, John Zehnder stopped in and said ‘…. I hope your brisket is consistent because I will be in here every week myself!’” That is quite an endorsement from the executive chef of Zehnder’s – that establishment, at one time, earning recognition as one of the ten largest restaurants in the United States. St. Souver continues, saying, “Yes, we are serving chicken, but it is all different and actually is a compliment to the Bavarian Inn and Zehnders chicken.” Slo Bones officially opened without any fanfare in September, having only a sign on the marquee that stated “Open at 4:00PM Today.” But response was absolutely phenomenal, and “I never thought we would be that popular so soon,” St. Souver says in amazement. He remembers that they actually had to ask people who were still there an hour after their closing (10:00PM) to leave so they could prepare for the following day.

// Food & Drink

Every restaurant has a signature dish, but at Slo Bones it becomes a pleasant challenge to narrow really good items on the menu down to a single entrée favorite. There are various barbecue techniques used all across the country, but here it is primarily Memphis influenced down to Texas style that is offered, and that consists of a dry rub smoked barbeque, finished with a choice of six very enticing and distinct flavors of sauces on the table, ranging from traditional mild to the sizzling hot Inferno, to a scorpion pepper-based sauce made with what is considered the second hottest pepper in the world! All of the sauces are Chef Doug’s concoctions, developed from his personal favorites -- very rich and smoky while complimented with a pleasant depth of flavors. The Ribeye Bourbon Tips consist of ribeye morsels sautéed in bourbon and olive oil, along with sautéed onions and red peppers, and finally covered with a house chop sauce. The kickin’ ribeye meat rub, sautéed in a touch of bourbon, the sweetness of peppers, and finished with the richness of the sauce absolutely makes the whole dish. Currently, this is served as an appetizer, but it will soon be an entrée presented over Cajun rice to be listed on the restaurant’s upcoming and newly-refreshed menu. Their house-cut ribeye entrée comes with butternut squash, rutabaga and turnip -- all sautéed in brown butter with a touch of oil and house seasoning. The soft, “burnt” butter becomes a nice golden brown without leaving a bitter taste, and it soaks into all of the dish’s ingredients. The staff at onthetown thought the Smoked Wings worthy of a signature dish too. They are prepared with a tossing of house rub and then sent to the smoker, arriving at the table to be coated with one of the six sauces, all of which boast their distinct and absolutely amazing flavors! Chef Doug gave onthetown a preview of their impending refreshed menu by revealing their Smokehaus Meatloaf entrée. It is a loads-of-flavor combination of ground brisket knuckle and ground chuck, sweetened with a touch of maple syrup and bourbon, all of which is then wrapped together and completely covered with a crosshatch bacon weave… and, of course, some serious smoker time. Make plans to visit now; this will certainly be a gorgeous dish of down-home, smoked barbeque heaven! Pitmaster Dick Bourdow and his own smoking barbeque team of Bavarian Smoke are already looking forward to barbeque competitions this year, along with “carrying the flag” of the Slo Bones Barbeque Smokehaus. Chef Doug St. Souver will be right there too, as he sees the competition aspect “…keeping us sharp [so] we get to see firsthand what’s out there.” He puts this all in perspective when he observes, “It’s been a huge pleasure to be in a place where they want to do great things with high standards. People want to see us because we are so unique to what everybody is used to here. Everybody sees us as a refreshing addition to Frankenmuth. We are not a chain; we are all local and all about family. This is good for everybody.” Visit Slo Bones website at 31

Culture //




32 Top: student, Tom Lillie playing the guitar | Bottom: ballerina, Arezu Tavakoli


// Culture


he halls of the Flint Institute of Music are filled with students of all backgrounds, carrying bags filled with musical instruments or dance gear, every week. This revered cultural center gem has been steadily operating since 1917. With 3,500 students and growing, The FIM has made a huge impact on the Flint area, especially for those who are in need of tuition assistance. Program Director Davin Pierson Torre, who has been with FIM for the past 20 years, says, “People assume that you have to be talented, rich and white to be a student here. And that’s what we battle. There’s a perceived barrier.” With half of the students at FIM being on a tuition-free or tuition assistance program, those ranging from three months to 90 years-old and from all different socio-economic classes, are able to delve into the world of music and dance. Torre says, “There is a great need in the community for music and dance for children and for adults. Grants, sponsorships and generous private donations have allowed us to bring in more of the community.” The importance of music and dance in a child’s upbringing is momentous. National and international studies have documented the benefits, and the results are astounding. These studies have shown that, not only do children benefit behaviorally, they also learn collaboration, discipline, working with ambiguity, and working in a team setting. Torre says, “It isn’t a math team; there is a lot of room for interpretation. They (the children) learn better in school and have better test scores. There is also a higher high school graduation rate, a higher rate of finding happiness in a career, and they are more likely to be registered voters who most likely will volunteer in their communities.” In order to serve the community, FIM is tirelessly looking for ways to raise money to keep increasing admissions. Recently, they held their 15th Annual Tuition Assistance Program Benefit Seeing Stars. About 30 restaurants from the area donate food while students play music in the background, and a collage-type performance dazzles spectators with all levels of talent. In one night, the FIM raises about 20 percent of the tuition assistance for the year. Fenton-resident Jennifer Fisch-Ferguson has been raised in the arts. Fisch-Ferguson’s son and daughter have attended FIM since they were four years-old. At one point, FischFerguson lost her government job and thought there was no way she could afford tuition until she found out about the tuition program at FIM. “I was thrilled about tuition assistance. I was raised with parents who thought music and dance [were] necessary and that was exactly [what I] wanted for my kids,” notes Fisch-Ferguson. Since her children have been students at FIM, they have shown increased self-esteem and confidence. Both children play musical instruments. “There aren’t adequate words to explain [what it’s like] to watch your kids to pick up something and go with it and enjoy it. My kids are becoming connoisseurs of a culture. When we take them to a symphony, they pay attention because they know something about [the music], and I think that is marvelous,” she says. This year FIM will celebrate its 98th season. Torre says she hopes the school will continue to grow with the revitalization of the city of Flint. “I see the connection between the downtown and the cultural center getting stronger and stronger. Flint could be a destination for our county and even those without, too,” says Torre. “We feel that these students having this opportunity will be part of the solution for the city of Flint. Literally, this could be part of the revitalization for Flint. It is much bigger than just taking piano lessons.”

Rob Kratz is a percussionist instructor



Culture //


John Potbury

Brings the ‘Luck o’ the Irish’ to the community BY PAUL ROZYCKI


ohn Potbury, Special Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for Genesee County, finds his job is an avenue for making his community a better place to live. People might think that a prosecutor’s concern consists of being a tough guy – which it often is – one who locks up the bad lawbreakers, among other things. But Potbury sees his role a bit differently, saying that in his position, “My main job is to help David Leyton as Genesee County Prosecutor. An important part of that…is to separate the truly bad guys who deserve tough prosecution from the good guys who have just made a bad mistake. My job is also to help victims seeking justice.” Thus it is that in this expressed attitude and approach to his mission in law enforcement that he exhibits a long-held inclination to serve the public and the community in which he lives and works as a kind of duty instilled in him since childhood. For John Potbury, this year’s Grand Marshal for the Ancient Order of Hibernians’ St. Patty’s Day Celebrations, learned two great and important lessons from his father over the years – his commitment to community service and his pride in his Irish heritage.

Potbury’s involvement in politics and community affairs began with his father, who served on the Flushing Planning Commission and was active in many other community groups. That example led John Potbury run for the Flushing City Council, where he served and was elected as the youngest mayor of the city in 1991. Looking back on his years as mayor, he takes pride in improvements enacted in Flushing during his time at the helm. During his tenure, the city began a recycling program (one of the first in the county), improved the city street lights, and removed the overhead wires to underground locations. Even twenty years later, he still remembers fondly the weddings he performed as Flushing’s mayor. He lives in Flushing with his wife, Sarah, (who was a member of the Mt. Morris City Council herself) and their two sons, Jacob and Jackson. Their own wedding had a green color theme to recognize the common colors of both his Irish heritage (orange, white and green in the Irish flag) and Sarah’s Mexican heritage (white, red and green in the Mexican flag.) 34

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Culture //


One of his earliest memories is of his parents St. Patty’s Day parties at their Flushing home, where as many as 200 people would stop by to lift a glass of green beer to toast the occasion. His commitment to community shows with his involvement in dozens of community organizations and non-profits, including the Rotary, Mt. Morris Kiwanis, Optimists, Heartbeat and, in particular, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, which is the oldest Irish Catholic fraternal organization in the nation. Its earliest origins can be traced to sixteenth century Ireland where there was a need for an organization to defend the Catholic faith. The American Hibernian organization was founded in 1836 in both New York City and the coal mining region of Pennsylvania. The organization is international, with groups in Canada, Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales, but the American branch is the largest. In the United States it helped newly-arriving Irish immigrants get established, and now it provides a link to Ireland for those who are many generations removed from the Emerald Isle. Today the AOH offers scholarships and support for many Irish causes and cultural activities across the nation. Potbury traces his Irish heritage from his great great grandparents. His great grandmother on his mother’s side came from County Sligo, and his great great grandmother on his dad’s side came from County Cork. He has enjoyed his Irish heritage from his youngest days. One of his earliest memories is of his parents St. Patty’s Day parties at their Flushing home, where as many as 200 people would stop by to lift a glass of green beer to toast the occasion. Even a major blizzard couldn’t stop the celebrations. In 1978, when a major snowstorm buried the area under several feet of snow, friends arrived on snowmobiles to keep the festivities going. John’s honor as the Grand Marshal of this year’s festivities isn’t the first in his Irish family. Three uncles—Jack, Mike and Ed Goggins--- have been

recipients of the award in past years. When he was chosen as this year’s honoree, he was, at first, daunted by the amount of work expected of the Grand Marshal. But he took up his duties with his usual energy. His major task has been to lead the first of several major fundraisers for the organization. This year’s activities featured a Pre-St. Patrick Day Fundraiser in February. The event was highlighted by the Miss Hibernia Pageant and Irish food and music. The Miss Hibernia winners received educational scholarships provided by the Ancient Order of Hibernians. On St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th, the events include Mass and award presentations at St. Michael’s Church in Flint, an Irish Family Walk down Saginaw St., a St. Patrick Day Party at Catholic Charities, and, finally, a St. Patrick’s Day ‘Pot O’ Gold Road Race’ in the evening. Even with all the hard work, John Potbury is very honored to “Carry on the Shillelagh”—the ancient walking stick and club, which, according to Irish legend, was used to ‘settle disputes in a gentlemanly manner.’ John looks forward to the ‘Wearin’ o’ the Green’ on St. Patty’s day as he leads the celebrations for the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Irish


Be Seen


The Flint River Watershed Coalition Annual Celebration

Terry Reechko & Marsha Schweikert

The U of M vs MSU Committee

Peggy Adams, Patrick Scanlon, Phil Phelps

2015 Voice of the River Annual Celebration Wednesday, January 28th: Watershed “2015





Kathleen Gazall, Rebecca Fedewa

Flint River

hosted River

their Annual

Collette Kelly, Gabrielle Veal, Brandy Smith Duane Elling, Rebecca Fedewa, Irene Bashore

Celebration” at the Flint Institute of Arts. Wade Pyles, Duane Elling, Ryan & Julie Londrigan

The Flint River Watershed Coalition (FRWC)

Linda Berker & Doug Shultz

promotes efforts to protect, preserve, and improve our area’s ecosystem through partnership, public education, scientific projects, and community involvement. For more information visit

Darren Bagley, Katy Hintzen, Sondra Severn Jack Minore, Pam & Greg Palinsky Vanessa Ferguson, Kris Johns, Chris Hamilton, Heather Griffin

Kathleen Gazall & Marcus Allen 38

Arlene Schmitzer, Linda Johnson Barnes, Tracey Orr

St. Rep. Pam Ferris, Genesee Co. Treasurer Deb Cherry

Be Seen


Club 410 & McLaren Foundation "Wonderland" Charity Gala

Dr. Ron Shaheen, Dr. Kathleen Kudray, Ron & Chris Strachan

The U of M vs MSU Committee

JoAnn & Tim Herman, Dr. Beverly & Mr. Sam Jones

"Wonderland" Charity Gala Saturday, January 31st:

Brent & Carrie Wheeler

Club 401

Committee and the McLaren Foundation presented their annual “Wonderland” Charity Gala. This event provides funding Laurie Prochazka, Kathy Abbott, Kari Prochazka, Erin Abbott Dr. Bello, Dr. Neelem Arora, Rey Bello, Dr. Madan Arora

for the Child Evaluation Clinic, operated Don & Patti Kooy, Maryann & Tim Livesay

by McLaren Flint. This clinic offers

Dr. Wadenstorer, Lisa & Mike Ash

medical funding as well as psycho-social evaluations of children who are suspected victims of sexual abuse. Since its inception 22 years ago, the clinic has served 3,500 children. The generosity of our community support goes a long way towards making a positive difference in children’s lives. Drs. Venkat & Rama Rao, Don Kooy, Dr. Mona Hardas, Dr. Samasandra Kiran Dr. Allan & Mrs. Ippolito, Kyle & Candy Cullen

Althea Cardwell, Regina & Derrick Williams

Kate & Tom James

Bob & Cathy Stacey, Roxanne & Joe Caine

Teresa Wright, Teresa & Mark Williams 39

Be Seen Craig McAra, Josh Galardi, Tony Young


Lori Williams, Toni Mar

Judge Mike Theile, Sumity Nagpal

The Hundred Club Matthew Norwood, Chris Roeser, Andrew Roeser Lou Winkelhaus, Joe Wilson, Leo Seide, Dan Grolleau, Pick Weaver

Tuesday, February 3rd: The Hundred Club held it’s annual dinner meeting

Dennis Lazar, Joe Wilson Lorry Goldman, Phil Goldman, Lou Winkelhaus

at the Flint Golf Club. The event was in honor of Patrolman Russell Herrick who was killed in the line of duty. Officer Herrick’s daughter Summer spoke at the event in memory of her father and about how The Hundred Club has made a lasting impact in her life. For more information visit Jeff Antcliff, Al Jakubowski

Mark Yonan, Robert Pickell 40

Chris Hamilton, Jamie Hresko, Jack Matsko

RJ Knoop, Tim Niles

Lee Churchill, Jerry Wenta, Rick Warmbold

Be Seen



Marcy Garcia, San Juana Olivares, Lindsey Younger, Armando Hernandez

The U of M vs MSU Committee

Stephanie, Aaron & Brian Cremeans

20th Annual Priority Children's Champion Awards Rich Vantol, Judy Fridline , Evilia Jankowski Dave, Dawn & Michelle McKeighan

Megan, Renae & Mel Reimel

Friday, February 6th: Priority Children held its 20th Annual Children’s Champion Awards Breakfast at Riverfront Banquet

Vinita, Anjali & Nick Justice

Center in Downtown Flint. For twenty-

Ben & Dawn Ramirez, Kathleen Holt, Holly Huestis

five years, Priority Children has believed that a voice for the children must be heard in the discussions about the future of our community and its initial mission remains the same today: To improve the quality of life for children and families in Genesee County. There were over a 1,000 attendees at this year’s breakfast. For more information Brittani Matthews, Mariel Hernandez, Jeremy Matthews


Blake Strozier, Janel Jamerson, Isaiah Oliver, Brian Larkin, Adrian Jones 42

Eric, Corby & Carla Vandefifer

Amy Krug, Linda Moxam Angie Hendershot

April is a time to raise awareness of child abuse and acknowledge the importance of families and communities coming together to prevent abuse. The majority of child abuse cases stems from circumstances and conditions which can be prevented when community programs and systems are available. Through the Paint Our Town Blue campaign, we rally our neighbors, businesses, schools, friends and families to make a difference in the lives of children across our county. By promoting safety, awareness and dialogue, we can prevent abuse from happening in the first place and help keep our children safe. For more information on how to become a Prevention Partner, contact Sam Roth at (810) 600-0101 or

If you suspect abuse or neglect, or need help, please call (855) 444-3911.

Be Seen


The Flint Institute of Music presents Seeing Stars!

Tracey Whelpley, Amy Kelsey

The U of M vs MSU Committee

Lindsay Pearson, Wendell Johnson

FIM Seeing Stars!

Jack & Carol Hinterman

Friday, February 6th: The Flint Institute of Music hosted its annual Seeing Stars!—a tuition-assistance program for the Flint School of Performing Arts. It has, over Carol Higgins, Joe HIggins, Pattie Higgins, Pat Perrine

the years, provided thousands of lowDonna Anbe, Sheila Zorn, Davin Pierson Torre

income students the chance to realize

Connie & Ron Robbins

their dreams of making music or dancing. Participation at this special event provides students who need financial assistance the chance to study music and dance at the Flint School of Performing Arts -- an opportunity they wouldn’t otherwise have. For more information visit Adam Lock, John Turner Nancy Lawe, Kathy Beawbren

Jeremy Winchester, Drew Pitts

Jared Brost 44

Mitch Plant

Elgie & Doretha Bright

Be Seen


Dr. Michael & Mrs. Christa Danic, Mrs. Beverly & Dr. Bradley Sweda

Genesys Affair of the Heart Charity Gala The U of M vs MSU Committee

Scott & Donna Fraim, Steve & Ann Roy

Genesys Affair of the Heart Charity Gala Friday, February 6th:

Carol & Gary Hurand

Genesys Heart

Institute hosted its Annual Affair of the Chancellor & Representatives of University of Michigan-Flint Kim & Scott Bonzheim, Nancy & Curt Bonzheim

Heart this year at Farmers' Market in Craig & Lenetta Coney, Clarence & Gloria Pierce

downtown Flint. Proceeds from this

Gavin & Barbara Hunyady, Bethany & Walter Griffin

year's gala will help establish a new health education program with the University of Michigan-Flint. University students will create a series of videos focused on lifestyle changes that can help prevent disease -- particularly diabetes and heart disease, which have a high incidence rate in Genesee County. These videos Gary & Denise Paavola, Mrs. Rebecca & Dr. Wayne Kinning

will be shown online, in physician offices, and in previews at local movie theaters.

Deb Piper & Dr. Lawrence Walny

For more information visit

Matt & Rheannon McDonald, Drs. Anitha & Sumilkumar Rao

Emily Stroup, Steve Brooks, Dr. Dennis & Mrs. Gina Desimone

Dr. Abed Osman, Dr. Matthew Ebinger, JoAnn Herman, Tom Lillie 45

Be Seen


8th Annual Community Gala at the Flint Institute of Arts

Kristin Lindsay, Phyllis Sykes, Laverne Ross

The U of M vs MSU Committee

Mrs. Janice & Dr. Samuel Dismond Chris Watson, Paul Herring

8th Annual Community Gala at the FIA Archie & Colleen LeFlore, Gloria & Clarence Pierce Yvonna, Jeff & Quiana Wheeler, Lou & Nate Bruce

Saturday, February 7th: Flint Institute of Arts hosted its 8th Annual Community

Mary Garcia, San Juana Olivares, Armando Hernandez, Sixto Olivo Louis Hawkins, Chakaia Booker

Gala. The Gala featured a lecture at 6:00pm by Belinda Tate, Executive Director at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, who is one of the country's leading experts in African-American art, followed by a viewing of the new exhibition. Funds raised support both FIA exhibitions and programs. For more John Henry, Gracie & Sam Harris

information visit Jennifer Acree, Mitch Hurst

Anthony Alexander, Anthanette Taylor, Lenetta & Craig Coney 46

James & Cynthia Pendelton

Amas Muhammad, Michelle Mancinelli, Lynda & Dean Yoetis

J U N E 1 8, 2015



• The pageant will award a total of $1,000 in scholarships annually to Miss Grand Blanc and two court members along with many other prizes. • The Queen and court participate in community events throughout the year. • High school girls aged 16 – 18 living in Grand Blanc School District are eligible.

805 health park blvd. grand blanc, mi 48439

A Division of Epoch Hospitality Group


c e l l e r @ e p o c h c at e r i n g . c o m w ww.g enesy scater i ng .com

810.730.8230 •

Be Seen


The Genesee District Library - Black History Month Brunch Sandra Williams

The U of M vs MSU Committee

Sylvester Smith Victoria Anglin

GDL Presents Black History Month Brunch Dr. Beverly Jones Jackie King

Saturday, February 7th: The Genesee Deborah Martin, Karen Johnson

District Library presented the 14th

Alisha Finney, Robin Lynch

Annual Black History Month Brunch at the Riverfront Banquet Center in downtown Flint. Part of the proceeds from the event will go to benefit the Genesee District Library’s Summer Reading Program for kids and teens. For more information visit

Deborah Wilson Matt Franklin

Ishmael Sisters 48

Sheery Houston

Emma Epps, Toni Sims


// Community



hen I first met Dr. Karen Williams-Weaver, a rich and warm aroma filled the air. Our interview was set to take place inside of the Shea LaVelle Boutique in Flint. Karen was busy behind the counter… on the phone…when I walked in, so I browsed the shelves filled with her self-made natural hair, skin, and body products: Whipped blends of African shea butter and Australian emu oil, moisturizer for burned skin, nursing mothers, and new tattoos, and even products for balding. When her call ended, she walked over and greeted me with a genuine smile. I was certain the glow of her skin was a testimony to the products she proudly displayed in her store. Few people believed Karen would make a successful career shift from mental health to health & beauty, including her husband of nearly thirty years.

But two years ago, she followed her passion and opened up the boutique along Court Street, in the same city in which she grew up. It was a far cry from her days of being department head of behavioral services and clinical psychologist at Mott’s Children’s Health Center. But change is something Karen is committed to, and it’s the reason for her involvement in the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People, also known as NAACP. The organization is known for being one of the oldest groups dedicated to helping African-Americans with their civil rights. For the fourth year, Williams-Weaver will chair the committee that plans the Flint chapter’s largest fundraiser, the Annual Freedom Fund Dinner. “The event raises money and provides services like advocacy work, voter education, and scholarships for youth,” says Weaver. “We advocate for social rights. These can be race or… genderbased. For some, the fight was whether you were an African-American, [while] for others it was because you were a woman,” says Weaver. This year four to five high school seniors who are planning to attend college or a trade school will each receive a $1,000 scholarship. Weaver says many of the services provided by NAACP –Flint would not be possible if it weren’t for the annual formal gala that expects to sell about 400 tickets this year.



During our interview Karen’s husband, Dr. Wrex Weaver, makes his way into the boutique while trying to carry several boxes. Karen jumps up with excitement as she rushes to open the door for him, ”Oh, yes!,” she exclaims. “They finally came in.” Doesn’t take long to notice Karen is indeed following her passion. Although she admits there are parts of counseling youth she misses, it seems like she’s still on the path of helping others find healing. Whether it’s through the work she does for NAACP or tending to customer needs at her Shea Lavelle Boutique, Dr. Karen Williams-Weaver keeps the mission of the NAACP close by which states that the organization aims “…to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racebased discrimination..”


Community //


Christmas In Action of Genesee County Each year on the last Saturday in April, you can find a group of volunteers working away on any number of ‘low income, senior citizens’ homes. Christmas In Action of Genesee County (CIA) is that group of volunteers. The homes that are worked on are in need of repairs, have safety code issues, and/or need mobility aids for the senior. Funds for materials are earned throughout the year via fundraising and corporate sponsors.


is part of a nationwide non-profit organization originating out of Midland, Texas. CIA of Genesee County started in the Fenton and Linden area in 2007. The group is chartered in the cities of Fenton and Linden, as well as in Fenton, Tyrone and Argentine Townships. Every year CIA seeks out financially-challenged senior citizens who are in need of home repairs. Many times these people just do not have the economic resources to get items fixed, some of which pose a safety hazard to their quality of life. There is a select criteria the senior must meet to qualilfy for the program. Over the years, CIA has replaced roofs, bathrooms, kitchens, sidewalks, flooring, windows, doors, painted inside and out, installed insulation, wheelchair ramps, raked yards and generally cleaned and organized for seniors. These projects are all completed on one work day with area volunteers of all skill levels. Each house has a House Captain (generally a local builder) and a House Coordinator. These two manage the project, both its timeline and its volunteers. Local builder and remodeler Bruce Reeves, serves as a House Captain and President of CIA. “It’s a true labor of love. It’s about giving back to our community in a tangible way. The people we help are financially burdened with no means of fixing their homes. We just want to make their twilight years comfortable,” he says. These projects rely on the community for volunteers and funding. Volunteers range in age from 12 and up with any skill level. CIA is continually in need of financial sponsorship. Sponsorship names will appear on shirts and signs. Materials and food donations help to support our volunteers throughout the work day.

“It’s a true labor of love. It’s about giving back to our community in a tangible way. The people we help are financially burdened with no means of fixing their homes. We just want to make their twilight years comfor table.” 50


// Community

YWCA of Greater Flint

Announces New Chief Executive Officer Heidi McAra has been named Chief Executive Officer of the YWCA of Greater Fint, according to an announcement by Board President Laurie Prochazka. McAra’s appointment was effective December 1, 2014, and she assumes the role fulltime beginning January 5, 2015.


eidi brings a comprehensive skill set to the position, along with a passion for the work of the YWCA in empowering women and providing vital community programs related to domestic violence and sexual assault services,” Prochazka says. “She has a strong knowledge of the community and a keen appreciation for the role of collaboration in the nonprofit sector. We are delighted to have her leadership as we set our strategic direction moving into the new year.” McAra earned her law degree from Emory University School of Law in Atlanta, Ga., in 2003, and moved to the Flint area in 2006. She worked in the field of law for several years before starting her own business, Paw Palace, in 2010. McAra grew her business into two successful locations, honing her abilities in budget and financial management, strategic planning, human resource and facilities management. She is a member of the Community Foundation Board of Directors and has served as chairman of Gen Forward Network, on the Capital Campaign Committee at St. Christopher's Episcopal Church, on the Drive Flint Steering Committee, and as past president and former Vice President of Community for the Junior League of Flint. McAra and her husband, Craig, have two children and reside in Grand Blanc.


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// Real Estate

Cooper Commercial

Works to Bring Jobs to Genesee County BY TARA MORENO


ooper Commercial has been exclusively focusing on the commercial real estate market of Genesee County for the past 26 years. The company is the largest of its kind in the area with seven top notch realtors. It has been particularly successfully changing the face of Genesee County’s industrial vacancy issues over the past year and a half. Win Cooper says the Industrial Market has really firmed up in that time. “A significant number of vacant buildings in Genesee County have been leased or sold,” he states. Cooper also asserts that it’s an exciting time for real estate in Genesee County with the market values increasing. “You could buy an industrial building in the City of Flint for $5-$10 per square foot; there [have been] a significant number of buildings available that Cooper Commercial recently sold in that price range. An industrial building in the surrounding townships could be purchased for $15-$20 per square foot, and, because most of the inventory has been absorbed, many of the prices have gone up by $10 psf,” Cooper points out. Comparatively, a new build would be three to four times the cost of the existing vacant buildings that are currently for lease or for sale. “The existing buildings are really a great value,” he adds. With the market in an upswing, more jobs could be in Flint’s future. Recently, a 260,000 square foot industrial building on Matthew Drive in Flint Township, just west of Bishop Airport, was sold by Cooper Commercial. Cooper was really excited about the recent sale. He is hopeful that the job market will make a comeback in the Flint area and fill the building. “Cooper is always trying to bring jobs to town. That is a big focus for us,” he explains. Another important sale for Cooper was the former Hutchings Automotive Building on Holly Road. The 61,802 square foot building was recently leased by auto part giant, Magna Automotive, bringing 100 jobs to the area. With over a hundred years of combined experience in commercial sales, Cooper Commercial is not short of sales talent. Senior Vice President Leo Seide has been with the company since 1990. Seide's experience living in Genesee County spans over 70 years. “My roots are deep in Flint. I was born here, I was raised here, [and] I went to school here,” says Seide regarding his allegiance to Flint. He contends that Cooper Commercial is in a league of its own and has helped the community in many ways since he has been on board. “We’ve done some nice projects in the area. You know our role is to help people, and that’s what we do…put people in properties that they need and assist them in a major move. We’ve been able to bring in investment dollars and jobs for the county, and that’s something that is important. We look forward to the future,” says Seide. For more information, call Cooper Commercial at 810-732-6000.

“You know our role is to help people, and that’s what we do…put people in properties that they need and assist them in a major move. We’ve been able to bring in investment dollars and jobs for the county, and that’s something that is important. We look forward to the future.” 53

Real Estate //


Real Estate Connoisseur

Leaves Impression on Genesee County BY TARA MORENO


eing a top-notch real estate broker requires hard work and dedication. Rob Moen of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Michigan Real Estate of Grand Blanc has left quite an impression on the real estate business in Genesee County over the past 20 years. Not only has he helped his clients get into homes they love, but he has also proven to be a valuable commodity for national franchise Berkshire Hathaway. He joined the company last year and since has quadrupled his staff of real estate agents. The Grand Blanc location is currently home to about 50 REALTORS®. Moen says working for the company makes it a lot easier to cater to his clients. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Michigan Real Estate is unique because it is a full-service home buying or selling, onestop enterprise. The location not only houses the Moen Realty Group but also a mortgage company and a title company with ties to both the home inspection and home warranty businesses. “If you are going to buy from me, I can provide you with all the services that are related to purchasing… or selling a home. The benefit to that is accountability. When everyone works in the same building, it raises the bar on the quality of work that a client gets,” says Moen, confidently. At this time, Moen does a lot of work with relocation and new construction projects. He also attends regular workshops and educational classes to bring the latest information in the industry back to his company. “One of the things that sets me apart from a lot of the other real estate agents is my knowledge in the construction part of real estate. With my help, my clients go into purchasing the house with their eyes wide open so they don’t have any surprises after moving into the house,” says Moen.

“Volunteering doesn’t make me any money, but it gives [me] more ammunition to be a better realtor for my clients because I have my finger on all the things that are going on in the industry that could be a pitfall in the middle of a deal.”

With 85 percent of his business coming from referrals, it’s safe to say Moen knows what he is doing when it comes to buying and selling real estate, but it isn’t just about selling real estate for him; it’s about giving back to the community too. Besides working under the name of one of the largest real estate companies in Michigan, Moen volunteers services to a plethora of non-profits in the area. He donates his time to Women’s Shelter of Flint, Women’s Council of REALTORS®, Catholic Charities, Habitat for Humanity, and he volunteers by providing care packages to the people who come to the North End soup kitchen. He is also on the board of East Central Association of REALTORS®, REALTORS® Who Care, which helps Special Olympics, and is President of the Women’s Council of REALTORS®, where he is currently governor for the state chapter. “Volunteering doesn’t make me any money, but it gives [me] more ammunition to be a better realtor for my clients because I have my finger on all the things that are going on in the industry that could be a pitfall in the middle of a deal,” he explains. Moen’s success is apparent. When choosing a realtor, it is important to select someone who is extremely dedicated to the business. And Moen’s life actually revolves around his clients whom he calls friends. He says, “Being a successful real estate agent is a lifestyle. When I go out to dinner, I see clients, [or] I go have coffee and I see clients, [or] I go to lunch and I see clients. So much of business is [in] my own personal sphere of influence [that] it is part of my life to help people.” For more information on Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Michigan Real Estate of Grand Blanc and The Rob Moen Group, visit www. or call 810-691-0019.



Tom Staley

A Builder of Dreams



orry Tom, but I had to borrow the above title right from your business card. I can see that you've made many dreams come true, as I have been in a few of your homes and interviewed your clients. Building is all Tom Staley has ever known. He became a carpenter by trade and graduated from Ferris State University's Building Program. His father, a master plumber, gave Tom a parcel of land from the family farm on W. Potter Rd. where Tom built his first home (and made a whopping $700.00 profit selling it) at age 22. He considers himself a custom home builder -- not a developer -- using "Quality is an attitude" as his motto. His initial approach has been very hands-on when building a home. His son Ben, age 39, joined Tom as a young teen and has worked as a finish carpenter for his dad ever since. However, Ben did have some time away from his dad in order to graduate from Michigan State University. Their business is based in Flushing where they have built many custom homes (26 in Thornridge on River Rd. and at least 12 in Crystal Creek). They have also built and remodeled many custom homes on Lake Fenton, Silver Lake, Lake Ponemah, as well as

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in both Davison and Owosso. They have even traveled to Gaylord, Michigan, to build a vacation home for a former client. Tom’s mentor was the well-known local home designer Richard Harris, and Tom's largest custom home to date measured 9,000 square feet at a cost of over two million dollars. The median price of a home today averages around $250,000.00, a far cry from the $35,000.00 average when Tom first started. Their most challenging project was a remodel of the Jack Goggins home at the entrance to Flushing Golf Club. Anyone can drive by and take a look at what used to be a one-story home. Staley will build homes year-round, employing "many excellent subcontractors." Not wanting to offend anyone in particular by omission, Tom mentions that his drywall installer has been with him for 32 years. "My subcontractors say they work a different way when they work for Tom Staley Builders." Clients say that they loved the building process and would do it again. In fact, the Staleys have built many second homes for previous clients and even remodeled those same homes 20 or even 30 years later. That reputation led to the remodeling of an office for Dr. Jim Straley, DDS., building a home for his son, Dr. Jeff Straley, DDS., and then remodeling that same office for Jeff once again. Tom also built a custom home on Sugarbush Golf Course in Davison for former Flint Mayor Don Williamson. And Howard & Rita Shand love their Staley custom-built home in Crystal Creek… designed by Richard Harris.  As Howard states, "It was an excellent experience. He's a quality builder who built what was, for us, the perfect home. Both he and Ben were easy to work with." Currently, father and son are building a 7,000 square foot home in the Grand Blanc area. Even though the process has changed a great deal since 1973, with more rules and regulations, Tom says that building has become easier with better materials, more choices, and easier installation. Some of that process has been aided by Bill McKay, senior kitchen & bath designer at Starline Kitchen and Bath on Pierson Rd. in Flushing. Bill says of Tom Staley, "There's something special about Tom building a custom home; he has an eye and a feel for the right look with no Tom Staley kitchen ever the same." Tom is and always has been involved in the community. He has sponsored and coached Little League Baseball since he began as a builder. He is a member of the Flushing Chamber of Commerce, on the board of the Flushing Restoration Foundation, and is also currently the vice-president of the Builder and Remodelers Association of Mid-Michigan. Staley was involved in both phases of the restoration of Flushing City Hall - the Tom and Jean Parrish Community Center and Goggins Hall. He has won too many awards to mention here, including "Builder of the Year" multiple times. Not bad for a guy who started out on a farm and now sells custom homes primarily by word-of-mouth. When asked if he plans to retire soon Tom, age 64, says, "Nope, I like the job too much. Hopefully, I can design the homes, and Ben can build them. And then Ben can pick me up and drive me out to the completed home." Tom or Ben can be reached through their administrative assistant Pam at 810-659-4591 located at 771 E. Main St. in Flushing, Michigan 48433 or by e-mail at TCNTRCTR@


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The “Voice” of the Greater Flint Area! BY RAY SMITH


ommunications Technology, Inc. also known as CTI is an independently and locally owned voice and data communications company in Burton, Michigan. For more than twenty years they have provided Michigan businesses with solutions for their major technological needs, including Internet, voice and data cabling as well as installation and support of business phones and computer networks. In fact, CTI’s mission as stated on its website pledging “to deliver strategic technologies with integrity and innovation resulting in the highest level of customer profitability, satisfaction and competitive advantage." When the company was first formed, it was known as Allen Audio and Communications. Its president, Jeff Allen is a University of Georgia graduate and is part of the Genesee Regional Chambers, the Technology Assurance Group (TAG) National - an organization of the leading unified communications companies in North America - and the Network Equipment and Communication (NEC) Dealers Association - a consortium of technology providers giving a communication channel between members and business partners. He has previously been president of the Rotary Club in Burton and has a U.S. Army Medal of Achievement among the many honors he has earned. Among the many services that CTI provides businesses includes a business phone system installation, unified communications, wireless access, data backup, mobility, conferencing and cloud-based communications. Though it has partnerships with a number of companies for equipment and supplies, CTI has a long-standing relationship with NEC and is NEC certified, just one of twenty-three different product certifications of the company which also includes Samsung, Cisco and Toshiba. In addition to business solutions, CTI is also involved with a number of non-profit and charitable organizations, including Adopt-a-Pet, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Boy Scouts of America, Flint Institute of Music, Flint Women’s Shelter, Goodwill Industries, Old Newsboys and Rotary Club of Burton. This holiday season, the company adopted a family of seven for Christmas through the Shelter of Flint to provide them Christmas presents. Several Michigan businesses have been serviced by CTI for technological needs, including Aladdin’s Cleaning and Restoration, Cason Home Loans, David Chapman Agency, Goyette Mechanical, Lutheran Homes of Michigan, Cummins Allison, C&L Ward, Security First Insurance and Signature Track Systems. Taking a consultative approach to customer needs and making recommendations has helped make CTI a valuable asset to Michigan businesses looking for technological solutions. The CTI team has thirteen members, starting with Jeff Allen as president. There is also Sonya Allen who is responsible for directing Operations, Accounts Receivable, budgeting, and other administrative responsibilities. She was also a paralegal for thirteen years before joining the company and has an Associates Degree in Business Administration from Baker College. Each month on the website, the company posts a new press release from Jeff that gives insight on new business communications, strategies, and products that are also offered by CTI. Other members of the CTI team include Sheila Zimmer, office manager, Chris Schiepek, Jennifer Hunter, Joel Ahearne, Dale Blakeslee, Doug Laur, Colleen Sayers, Tracy Cole, Brian Thompson, Erica McDonald and Steven Samida. CTI has two locations in the state - one in Burton, Michigan, on Lapeer Road, and the other in Brighton, Michigan, on West Grand River. To contact them for a service or quote request you can call 810-743-6900 or visit the company website at


From The Desk Of... LENNETTA BRADLEY CONEY Executive Director of the Office of College & Community Advancement // Mott Community College President of the Foundation for Mott Community College


ennetta B. Coney is the current President of the Foundation for Mott Community College (MCC) and Executive Director of the Office of College & Community Advancement. In these two respective capacities, she is responsible for private fundraising, special events, and multicultural affairs at MCC. While The Foundation’s purpose is to assist students with scholarships, promote special projects at the college, and enhance the quality of education and opportunity in this community, it is the responsibility of Lennetta to ensure that the intentions of both departments are realized. Thus onthetown was curious to view her office to see, firsthand, how she takes command of her multi-tasking skills.

It takes three very functional bureaus for Ms. Coney to keep her day-to-day business operations organized. Observing her main desk reveals that it displays evidence of some of her dynamic personality. Starting from the left, a purple vase stands tall, a gift from a counterpart at Ann Arbor’s Washtenaw Community College. The vase sets the tone for Lennetta’s purple theme, replete throughout her office. A prototype of a MCC bear mascot is a gift from retired Genesee County Circuit Court Judge Tom Yeotis. “His thoughts were the inspiration for MCC’s big bear mascot which was put in place in 2008,” Lennetta points out. A butterfly card also stands upright and was given as a thank you,” she says, adding, “It is so picturesque, so peaceful to look at.” Two small homemade flowers with photographs of her daughters, Lauren and Erin, hold a special place on the desk. “They were really young at the time [of the picture], but it is a sample of their artistry, and I keep it close to the statuette,” she explains. The statue, crafted by the popular AfricanAmerican artist, Fennel, was given to her on a past Mother’s Day, a gift from spouse Craig. Interestingly, and over a year later, while visiting an out-oftown art gallery, Craig pointed out an exquisite painting depicting an amazingly similar pose to that of her Fennell statue. Later that same year, Craig gave it to her as a Christmas present. “To me, the painting and statue complement each other because they symbolize the essence of African-American women who stand for elegance,” she says with sincerity. And a petite paperweight globe showing caricatures of two women portraying an animated shopping spree is Lennetta’s reminder that she admittedly, is “born to shop,” while the purple striped chopsticks are a symbol of her fondness for sushi. A statuette of a bull on a pedestal with a timepiece is actually the winning prize from the Rotary Club in their annual contest for her accurately guessing a closing number on Wall Street. This, in turn, relates to an hour- glass given to her by the Council for Resource Development – a community college fundraiser professional development group – as they are both visible reminders to gage her time. And mementos from President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle garnish all three desks as Ms. Coney is a supporter of his administration. But perhaps her most cherished piece is the gold “good luck charm” paperweight. It was a gift from her uncle when she spent time working in New York City back in 1979 through 1986. Darwin Davis was a senior vice president of a large conglomerate, and one who broke the executive glass ceiling for African-Americans in Fortune 500 companies. The inscription says “One leaf is for hope, one is for faith, one is for the love you know, and God put another one in for good luck.” Lennetta reflects, “It is more than a paper weight for me as Uncle Darwin is now deceased. It serves as a great reminder and keeps me on focus.” With all of her well-deserved and recognized awards, her longtime diverse professional engagements…as well as her valuable commitment and involvement in our community, Lennetta Bradley Coney is a credit to all of the great people of Flint and Genesee County. For more information on the MCC Foundation, visit 57

Business //


Expert Human Resources

Saves Companies Time � Money Avoid employment litigation and noncompliance fines: hire Exper t Human Resources BY CHELSEA MILLS


ecently, I had the pleasure of meeting with Vanessa G. Nelson, president and owner of Expert Human Resources in Flint, Michigan. When asked why she started her company, Nelson states, “Employment litigation increased 2000% since 1995, [and] the average lawsuit settlement is $165,000. If the case goes to court, it can cost $1 million or more. Employment law non-compliance fines can cost upwards of $100,000. It is way too much for employers to operate their businesses and try to keep track of red tape and issues.” These staggering facts spearheaded Nelson to start Expert Human Resources in 2009 to help companies protect their assets. Nelson, who was born and raised in Flint, Michigan, knew early on that she wanted to help others. She learned a strong work ethic from her role model and mom, Ione Larry who, Nelson states, always worked hard, took pride in all of the work she did, and is a strong leader. Nelson’s career path began over 30 years ago when she worked at Sparrow Hospital. She then went on to work at Hurley Medical Center in 1991 where, in 2000, she was promoted to Human Resources as a Benefits Specialist. After working in benefits for four years, a promotional opportunity became available in Labor Relations, a position she competed for and won. Nelson states, “I knew that Labor Relations was my passion almost immediately. I LOVED it!” She adds, “I had found my calling. “ During Nelson’s tenure at the Medical Center, she earned her Masters Degree from Central Michigan University, Certified Labor Relations Leader Certification from Michigan State University, and the prestigious Senior Professional in Human Resources Certificate from the Human Resource Certification Institute. While Nelson worked on her Master Degree, she wrote her thesis (business plan) on the “feasibility of starting a Human Resources consulting firm in Michigan,” she declares, further stating that, “I conducted all the research, surveys, market analysis, etc. and ultimately received an ‘A’ on my thesis. The professors thought my idea was so outstanding I decided to execute my plan.”

“Many business owners don’t have the time or the manpower to dedicate to protecting their companies, which is where Expert Human Resources can help. Our consultants have over 100 years of combined HR and employment law experience, and we stay upto-date for our clients." Simultaneously, while working on her Masters, Nelson noticed that many of her colleagues would complain about being sued and having to pay large employment settlements, jury verdicts, and/or non-compliance fines. It was then that Nelson had an “Aha” moment and realized that many of those incidents would not have happened if those colleagues had certain policies or procedures in place, as well as if they had kept up with the changing laws, or had their managers properly trained to observe the workplace. Nelson lights up as she describes that, “It was then that I realized I could help companies save money!” Due to Expert Human Resources being so well received, in 2013, Nelson retired from the corporate arena. She states, “Many business owners don’t have the time or the manpower to dedicate to protecting their companies, which is where Expert Human Resources can help. Our consultants have over 100 years of combined HR and employment law experience, and we stay up-to-date for our clients. Expert Human Resources works closely with businesses to make sure they have the right policies and procedures in place. We train managers and



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TESTIMONY "My name is Jeannie Reynolds and I attended your class 'Human Resources and the Law: …'. Vanessa – myself and everyone in my area of the room commented on how wonderful your class was – you have a definite gift for teaching with clear information, taking time for questions and your Sweet/humble persona wish we would’ve had more time. I am so glad I attended – hope to see you every year!" supervisors to protect the workplace, conduct HR audits to eliminate or reduce risk, perform workplace investigations to ensure policies are adhered to, and we help to make sure companies are consistent with their policy application across all avenues of the business.” And expert Human Resources also has memberships available for only $99 per year, which is a great affordable price for many small businesses. The basic membership includes one FREE, 10-minute call each month to discuss any HR or employment law issue, free access to seminars, free customizable forms, sample job descriptions, employment law interpretations, hiring and termination toolkits, and more! Based on the level of service needed, a business can upgrade its membership at any time. Vanessa G. Nelson is also a sought-after speaker in her industry. She recently presented Human Resources and Employment Law: Don’t Put Your Company at Risk! to the National Association of RV and Parks Conference -- to roomful of about 80 participant’s in Las Vegas, Nevada. Nelson reports, “After the presentation, I received a flood of emails from the attendees, thanking me for presenting and for all the tools I gave them during the presentation. One of the freebies I give to all businesses is a social media policy. Employers need to understand and communicate the social media policy to their employees to protect their companies’ reputations and bottom lines,” Nelson explains. You can find a copy of Expert Human Resources’ Social Media Policy Sample on her website under the ‘Shop’ section. You can also find her FREE e-Book entitled, Management Guide to Crucial Human Resource Strategies. This book explains how to be proactive and avoid common employee- related litigation and non-compliance fees.

Nelson also has other valuable information that can be found on her blog, including ‘5 Smart Things to Do in 2015 to Protect Your Business’ and ‘Affordable Care Act Update: Employer Mandate in Effect January 1, 2015.' “We are different at Expert Human Resources. We are [concerned with] preventing employment lawsuits and helping companies maintain employment law compliance because that is where our clients are most vulnerable,” Nelson explains. “We are protecting our clients’ assets.” Get connected with Vanessa G. Nelson and Expert Human Resources today. Expert Human Resources has worked with over 60 companies, including McDonalds, MTA, Genesee District Library, Suski Chevrolet Buick, Old Newsboys of Flint, Pain Management Center of Flint, Village of Birch Run, Hank Graff Chevrolet, Balance Concierge, Richfield Trailer Supply, Lapeer County Vision Center, I-Ken Video, Lawrence E. Moon Funeral Home, Energy Sciences, and many more. Expert Human Resources is also a benefits partner with the Saginaw Chamber of Commerce and the Birch Run Chamber of Commerce. Expert Human Resources has clients all over Michigan, as well as in Texas, Maryland, Georgia, New Jersey and Washington. Expert Human Resourcesis located at 2425 South Linden Road, Suite D126 Flint, Michigan (Oak Creek Office Park) (877) 356-6175.

DID YOU KNOW? • The average employment lawsuit settlement exceeds $165,000. • Awarded lawsuits can exceed $500,000. • Add in lawyer fees and court fees and your costs skyrocket!







onthetown Magazine Volume 5 Issue 1  

onthetown’s first issue of the new year offers a multitude of features. To begin with, we must congratulate John Potbury for being this year...

onthetown Magazine Volume 5 Issue 1  

onthetown’s first issue of the new year offers a multitude of features. To begin with, we must congratulate John Potbury for being this year...