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Vol.I No. III

Stan Liberty

Says Farewell To Kettering





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Director Karen Smith Editor Marcia McGee Office Manager Laura Ulman Contributing Writers Michael Bancroft Edith Campbell Michael Kelly Lauren E. Kenney Michael G. Thodoroff Vagios Young Designed by Shar Graphics Photography Debby Molina Cover Photographer Debby Molina on the town Produced and published by Link Publishing Group LLC P.O. Box 320275 Flint Mi 48532 810-407-6828 Fax 810-407-6831 For advertising information call: 810-407-0305 or 810-348-7323 MISSION STATEMENT on the town Magazine captures the positive way our community lives and breathes. Dynamic in scope and editorially eclectic, it reflects the people, community and lifestyle of Genesee County and its’ surrounding areas on a grand scale. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without expressed written consent of the publisher. on the town Magazine is owned and operated by Link Publishing Group L.L.C.

Welcome to on the town Dear on the town Readers, Welcome to the third issue of the new on the town magazine. Your responses have been just great. I am happy to say that so many of you have given us the compliment of subscribing and writing to tell us how happy you are that we are back. We are glad to be back, and plan to stay. The topic of alternative energy is hotter than ever and this month we feature some ideas on solar energy, electric vehicles and give you a hint of what is happening at Kettering. Kettering President Stan Liberty is leaving and was gracious enough to give me an interview focusing on the achievements of Kettering during his tenure. He was modest enough not to call them his achievements, but those of the college. In my view, very little of those accomplishments would have happened without his focus and leadership, particularly his innovative approaches to entrepreneurship and collaboration with other entities in the Flint community. Flint will miss Stan and his wife, Angie, and their contributions to the educational, business and cultural climate in the area. I wish them the best of luck on their return to Peoria. We are beginning a new feature this month: Power Couples. When looking at the political, business, cultural and social landscapes of the community, it is clear that much of the progress is driven by couples. Of course, individually, both halves of the couples we are featuring qualify as stars, but double that power and, WOW! For our first feature, we have chosen the dynamic duos (yes, I really said that) of Steve and Tiffany Flynn, Kay and Michael Kelly and Lennetta and Craig Coney. We plan to continue this feature throughout the year. If you have a couple you would like to nominate, please send me an email. Lastly, be sure and turn to the photo spread on Will and Kate’s wedding reception right here in Flint. Organized by the energizer bunnies, Steve and Rosanne Heddy, the event benefited the YWCA. Guests dressed the part with hats and “fascinators” in abundance. They also changed their names to become royal. Note my tiara in the picture above.


Marcia McGee, aka The Countess of Cabernet

To subscribe to “on the town” Magazine: Mail a check or money order for $24.99 for six issues to P.O. Box 320275, Flint, MI 48532. Make checks payable to Global Marketing and Advertising. on the town



6 10 11 12 16 18 20 26 32 36 42

Stan Liberty Says Farewell to Kettering and Flint

Power Couple: Steve & Tiffany Flynn

Power Couple: Craig & Lennetta Coney

Power Couple: Michael & Kay Kelly

A Local Business with a Bright Future Mid Michigan Solar

Flint Has a Role in the Production of GM’s Chevrolet Volt

A Red Hot Smokehouse Alexander J’s Flint’s Pied Piper of “Foodie” Nation

40 Years of Perpetual Esteem Sharp Funeral Homes

A Landmark in the Making Tia Heltia’s Genesee Regional Women’s Hall of Fame

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8 22 30 34


Lenore Croudy Birthday Tribute Royal Wedding

Growing Up Artfully Priority Children


on the town


Stan Liberty Says Farewell To Kettering and Flint

by Marcia McGee Dr. Stan Liberty is leaving his post as president of Kettering University this month, having left a significant mark on the institution since he began in 2005. Under Dr. Liberty’s leadership, Kettering has re-articulated its mission and vision and developed a new strategic plan. The new plan and mission embrace collaboration and Kettering has rapidly become an active partner in regional economic development. For example, Kettering is now the institutional home of a Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center. It has business incubation facilities and a business start-up and growth accelerator (Tech Works) focused on advanced technology commercialization. Recently, Kettering opened a new multi-tenant laboratory innovation center. The innovation center was envisioned by Dr. Liberty when the original project, a facility focused on fuel cell research with Delphi, could not be executed due to the Delphi bankruptcy. Swedish Biogas is the first tenant and Dr. Liberty says the first three tenants will be energy-related businesses. The project was done in collaboration with the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the Mott Foundation. “We are excited about the possibilities the Innovation Center offers businesses and our students. Hopefully, it will be sustainable. Our vision is for Kettering to assist in the growth of the region.” The Michigan Small Business Technical Center, together with TechWorks and the incubation facilities, provide Kettering with most of the tools to execute this 6 on the town

vision. “The only missing piece in the region is a significant source of risk capital,” he explained. “However, my experience tells me that if we can build a regional entrepreneurial spirit, risk capital will come.” Dr Liberty said, “The new economy for the region will be a ‘back-to-the-future’economy in which we will rediscover the entrepreneurial spirit that existed on the banks of the Flint River 100 years ago.” To that end, Kettering has developed a universitywide program to foster that spirit. The school now has a student entrepreneur society and is infusing entrepreneurship and innovation programming throughout its curricula and throughout the university with grant support from the Kern Family Foundation. Most recently the foundation awarded a $1.6 million grant to Kettering in support of these efforts. Kettering-sponsored research activities are growing and a first faculty “spin-off” company has been created based on Kettering-owned intellectual property. “And,” he added, “there have been more than a dozen companies formed by students.” Another accomplishment in the past six years has been the collaboration with the Flint Center of Energy Excellence and Swedish Biogas International to conduct research on enhancement of bio-methane production from the Flint Waste Water Treatment Plant. Several million dollars have been awarded to Kettering by the C.S. Mott Foundation in grant support of many of the university’s strategic initiatives. In addition, Dr. Liberty points out, “Kettering has also expanded its

program offerings in the sciences, engineering and business.” He went on to say, “We have also opened up new opportunities in China including professional development programs and dual undergraduate degree programs with Chinese institutions that are precursors to growth in our international reach.” Kettering’s diversity initiatives – specifically pre-college programs – are receiving strong external financial support, and in 2009 Kettering’s AIM program was named “Pre-college Program of the Year” by the National Association of Multicultural Engineering Professional Advocates. Kettering’s LITE program, a pre-college program for young women, received the 2010 WEPAN (Women in Engineering ProActive Network) Women in Engineering Initiative Award for advancing women in engineering. The school is also very engaged in the national First Robotics program, hosting two large competitions annually in its recreation center and also sponsoring a First Robotics team made up of area high school students whose schools do not have a First Robotics team. “We offer First Robotics scholarships, and we have one of the highest percentages in the nation of entering freshmen each year with First Robotics experience,” Dr. Liberty said. Another innovation of which he is proud is the “Arts at Kettering” program in collaboration with the Flint Institute of Music/Flint Youth Theater and the Flint Institute of Arts. “Throughout Kettering’s history we have had very limited opportunities for students to participate in fine and performing arts programming,” Dr. Liberty explained. “We have been able to raise enough gift money to support the program through 2012 and we are working on establishing a $1 million endowment so the program can be perpetuated.” The program is open to all Kettering students at no cost and has been a great success. Students can take private lessons on instruments or voice and they perform in ensembles. “They also participate in a wide variety of workshops ranging from photography to theater and dance,” he said. The weak economy has led to enrollment decline at Kettering, but as the economy improves, that will pick up. In the past, the majority of students were sponsored by auto-related businesses before they even entered the door. Now, says Dr. Liberty, Kettering has a much more diverse set of corporate partners, who

come to job fairs at Kettering to recruit co-op students. “We have students working in all kinds of industries: financial, aerospace, pharmaceutical, government labs, and even at DisneyWorld.” Liberty, a native of Maine, became Kettering University’s sixth president in 2005. He earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering at the University of Notre Dame. Dr. Liberty came to Kettering from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, where he had served seven-and-a-half years as provost and vice president for academic affairs. Prior to joining Bradley, he served as dean of engineering for 13 ½ years at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and as that university’s interim vice chancellor for academic affairs. He also served as department chair of electrical engineering at Old Dominion University and as a faculty member at Texas Tech University. In all of those positions, Dr. Liberty served on many advisory committees and boards in the interest of advancing science, technology and energy research. Continuing his long-standing policy of being an active and contributing member of the communities where he has lived, Dr. Liberty served on the Strategic Board of the Genesee Regional Chamber of Commerce, the boards of Kettering University, PalNet (a Flint area higher educational library consortium); the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Michigan, Michigan Virtual University, the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, the national Commission for Cooperative Education, and the Tri-county Venture Capital Fund, LLC. His wife, Angie, also a native of Maine, has been involved in many of the college activities as well as serving on the board of the Flint Cultural Center Corporation, Friends of Sloan-Longway and Kettering’s Friends of the Library and Archives. What’s next? Stan and Angie are moving back to Peoria where their daughter and grandson live. He plans to continue his favorite activities: coaching his grandson in baseball, golf and fishing. The couple are planning to spend more time traveling to visit their son in North Dakota, and their twin grand daughters. Dr. Liberty says that “retirement” is not yet a word in his vocabulary and he is “prepared for unexpected opportunity.” During his four-decade academic career, he has built up a huge network of contacts and he is already exploring possibilities that are emerging from that network. on the town


Lenore Croudy

Birthday Tribute March 30, 2011 Flint Institute of Arts Mark Kennedy, Larry Gawthrop, Amy Fugate, Lenore Croudy, Scott Jenkins

Jim & Linda Delaney, Laurie & David Prochazka

Lenore Croudy, Bill White Jim Delany, Sally Shaheen Joseph, Judge Duncan Beagle, David Prochazka

Michael J. Thorp, Lennetta Coney, Rob Jewell

Janet Felton, Beverly Shomsky, Grace Glass, Dr. John Snell, Sally Shaheen Joseph

Standing: Lynne Hurand, Carolyn Nash, Carol Hurand, sitting: Gary Hurand, Bess Hurand 8 on the town

Veronica &Willie Artis

Kay Schwartz, Reta Stanley

Scott & Priscilla Jenkins, Chief Theresa Lock, Chief Alvern Lock

Lennetta Coney, Sally Shaink, Lenore Croudy, Richard Shaink

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Steve & Tiffany Flynn

Steve and Tiffany will celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary in October with a cruise to Rome, Venice, the Greek Isles, Croatia and Monte Carlo.

Residence: Davison Occupation: Steve: Director of Member Services,

Genesee Regional Chamber of Commerce for 3 ½ years. “As director, my responsibilities are not limited to, but currently include overseeing successful growth in membership, retention of current members, developing member affinity programs, conducting networking events, providing small business resources, departmental budget and metrics reporting, newsletter content, providing ribbon cutting and dedication ceremonies for new businesses, facilitating four sub-committees: Women’s Business Committee, African-American Advisory Committee, Small Business Committee, and the Genesee Regional Young Professionals (GRYP).

Tiffany: District Chief of Staff for Congressman Dale E. Kildee for 25 years. “I handle the Congressman’s schedule, Economic Development for the community, manage his three Michigan offices ((Flint, Saginaw, Bay City), make public appearances and speeches representing Mr. Kildee.” Past Jobs: Steve: The rest of my background

includes sales in logistics, PVC building materials, automobile sales and collections at Citizen’s Bank while attending Mott Community College.

Tiffany: No real job before Congress-

man Kildee.

10 on the town

Background: Tiffany: President-elect of the Rotary Club Steve: Born at Camp Lejeune, NC while years).of Flint (only the 6th woman in 95

father was in the Marine Corps, K-5 at St. Agnes Catholic School in Flint, Clio Middle School, 6-8. Clio High School, class of 1979. Mott Community College.

Tiffany: Born in Flint, attended el-

What motivates you? Steve: A desire to retire ahead of the

curve and enjoy it.

ementary school in Flint and Montrose and middle and high school in Lapeer. Lapeer West HS, class of 1983. Attended Coastal Carolina Community College (played softball) and the University of Michigan.

Tiffany: Results, the ability to see a positive outcome. Congressman Kildee continues to be a motivator through his example of hard work and a desire to do what is right.

Hobbies: Steve: Travel, Harley Davidson mo-

Mentors? Steve: I have been able to gain knowl-

torcycles, music, trivia, golf, poker and boating.

Tiffany: Travel, golf and boating. Volunteer Work: Steve: Habitat for Humanity, RePaint

Genesee, and many GRCC-partnered community events.

Tiffany: IMA Children’s Recreation

Fund, Priority Children, The Foundation for Mott Community College, Genesee Global Action Team, board of directors of Forest Creek Condo Association.

Community Activities: Steve: Davison Eagles, Junior Achieve-

ment board member, Fox 55 Green Team, Back to the Bricks committee member, Flint DDA Holiday Parade committee member.

edge and experience from many people in my life, but my father, Jerry Flynn, deserves the title if only one person were to have it.

Tiffany: Libby Maynard and my mother, Jeannie Winter, who was the first woman from Flint ever promoted to the UAW International Staff. What makes you successful? Steve: My wife, Tiffany, and the rest of

my family.

Tiffany: Hard work and my reputation means everything to me. Motto? Steve: Work hard, play hard. Tiffany: Well-behaved women rarely

make history.



Craig & Lennetta Coney

Residence: Country Club Meadows in Flint

Hobbies: Craig: Basketball, table tennis, pool

Occupations/titles: Craig: Vice President, Career Alliance

and scuba diving.

Lennetta: President, Foundation of

Volunteer Work: Craig: Board member of the Mott

for the past 13 years.

Mott Community College and Executive Director of College & Community Advancement for 24 years.

Past Jobs: Craig: Retired from Genesee County

Friend of the Court after more than 20 years of service.

Lennetta: Worked as an account ex-

ecutive for an advertising agency in New York City before returning to Michigan.

Marriage: Will celebrate 25 years of marriage on July 5, 2011.

Where did you grow up? We both grew up in Flint and are proud to say we are products of the Flint and Genesee County community.

Education: Craig: Flint Central High School, BA

from Oakland University.

Lennetta: Flint Southwestern High

School, BA from Howard University in Washington, D.C., MA from Michigan State University, post graduate/doctoral work at Long Island University and Michigan State.

Lennetta: Being a bargain shopper and a personal shopper for others.

Community College Bruin Club, the Greater Flint Area Sports Hall of Fame, and Kearsley Manor.

Lennetta: Serves as co-chair of the

Flint Institute of Music’s Black Classical Music Family Festival, member of the Mott Children’s Health Center’s program committee, board member of New Paths and the Genesee County Educational Foundation.

Community Activities: Craig: Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity (Boule)

Lennetta: Being grounded in spiritual

life: “Trust in the Lord God with all your heart and and lean not unto your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and direct your path,” Proverbs 3: 5 & 6.

Mentors: Craig: Parents Lonnie and Cloteal Co-

ney, Judge Thomas Yeotis, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, past basketball coaches Cliff Turner and Stan Gooch and cousin Gerald Moore.

Lennetta: Parents Lenn and Edith

Bradley, the late uncle Darwin Davis, Sr., senior vice president, Equitable Life Assurance Society.

Motto: Both subscribe to the wisdom of Booker T. Washington.

and Big Brother for 35 years, Big Brothers/Big Sisters Program.

Craig: “If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.”   Booker T. Washington

Lennetta: The Links, Inc. – Flint

Lennetta: “Success is to be measured

Chapter, general program chair – Flint Rotary.


a couple:

Ushers and announcement clerks at Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church.

What motivates each of you? Craig: Aspires daily to walk in a way

that will be a role model for the young people that he comes in contact with on a daily basis.

not so much by the position in life reached as by the obstacles overcome while trying to succeed.” Booker T. Washington.

What makes you successful? “Our faith in God, support of our family, achievements of our children and the will to get up every day with joy in our hearts and the desire to face a new day and all that it brings while we seek to make a significant contribution to our community and beyond. on the town




Michael & Kay Kelly

Residence: Flint’s College and Cultural Center neighborhood. Occupations/titles: Kay: Director, Kearsley Park Project,

City of Flint Parks & Recreation Department since 2004

Michael: Executive Director, Public Information, Mott Community College since 1997.

Volunteer Work? Kay: Flint Institute of Music Gala and

Auction committees; Flint Institute of Arts Rubens Society; Master Gardener; Children’s Museum; Healthy Kids, YWCA; Healthy Communities, Riverbank Park Committee; St. Matthew Altar Society ;Whaley Historical House; Flint Women & Girl’s fund; Genesee County Historical Society.

Past Jobs: Kay: Special Events Coordinator, Hurley

Michael: Kearsley Park Players; edit

Michael: senior director, Education

Community Activities? Kay: President, Keep Genesee County

Foundation; manager, Barneys New York, New York; manager, Wolfman-Gold & Good Company, New York; working actress in NYC.

& Information, Michigan Credit Union League; executive director, Michigan Credit Union Foundation; executive director, Michigan Chiropractic Society; producer/coordinator, Home Learning Center, Flint Community Schools; Host/Producer, WFBE Public Radio.

Where did you each grow up and go to school? Kay: Born in Little Rock Arkansas,

raised in the north end of Flint, attended St. Agnes; Grand Blanc High School; BA, UM-Flint; MFA,Wayne State.

Michael: Born and raised in Flint.

Mother’s family goes back five generations. Georgetown Prep (Maryland); BA, Notre Dame; MA, Wayne State.  

Hobbies? Kay: Gardening, Travel, Theatre! Michael: Research and writing in the

field of American History, hiking through the woods, acting on stage. 12 on the town

an historical journal; lector at St. Matthew’s Catholic Parish in downtown Flint. Otherwise, I enjoy helping in area clean-ups (there is something genuinely satisfying in cleaning an area of trash) and occasionally being useful to others.


Life is so interesting in itself that there is never a shortage of things to do and participate in.

Mentors? Kay: My dearest late friend, Donald F. Dwyer, Jr.


Senator Don Riegle has been a friend and mentor for decades but the person who most shaped and inspired my life is my father, Raymond J. Kelly, Jr.

Motto? Kay: It’s not where you come from, it’s

where you are going. Beautiful; Safe and Active Flint Coalition; Michael: Eschew Obfuscation. Health Improvement Committee, Greater Flint Health Coalition. Past activities too numerous to list. Member of Allegro; The What makes you successful? Hundred Club; Shakespeare Club. AcKay: I guess it is because I care. tive leadership role in special events, fund Michael: Probably the fact that I find life raising and programming for Flint Institute so interesting that I always want to be a of Music, Whaley Children’s Home, Flint part of it. Community Players, Pewabic Pottery of Detroit and Royal Oak Foundation. Passions?


Keep Genesee County Beautiful; Michigan Productions; Riverbank Park Committee; Flint River Corridor Alliance; Selective Service Board #25; steering committee, Ballenger Eminent Persons Lecture Series; Riegle Award, Flint Jewish Federation; American Political Items Conservators; editor, The Keynoter, a journal of American political history

What motivates each of you? Kay: I have the luck and joy of waking each day.

Kay: Kearsley Park, theatre, gardens, travel and Mr. Kelly

Michael: Faith, words, trees, water

and – most importantly – my bonnie Kate. Fortunately, all these things are to be found here in Michigan.

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14 on the town

on the town


A Local

Business with a Bright Future

by Michael G. Thodoroff They are in a solid position to post gross revenues over one million dollars. They have already won the prestigious “Genesee 10 To Watch” award that goes to the area’s top businesses that are past the startup phase and have measurable strengths related to growth, leadership, business operations, technical innovation, and/or special work in the community. They are poised to capitalize on the upcoming State of Michigan’s high priority initiative to encourage “Net Zero” applications for communities, both commercial and residential, to install renewable sources of energy. They are recognized throughout our state as the most respected name in their industry. Does this sound like a division of some mega-conglomerate Fortune 500 company? Or maybe it sounds like a publicly traded startup company on one of Wall Street’s stock exchanges. Surprisingly, the answer is a resounding NO. The company making all the right moves is the locally established Mid Michigan Solar with Flint-born and raised CEO Howard Croft at the helm. A dynamic person with a staunch entrepreneurial spirit and a sound, visionary business plan, Croft was always an energetic, focused worker who systematically built his technical knowledge and skills while keeping his priorities in order. Howard Croft’s work ethic began while working at McDonald’s during his high school years. After graduating from Flint Central in 1983, he served a tour in the U.S. Army for three years. Returning home, he worked at various jobs at the Western Wheel Company in Howell and General Motors Acceptance Corporation in Troy but longed to get closer to home in the Flint area. He applied for an apprenticeship program at General Motors’ (GM) Flint Truck plant where he eventually became a journeyman electrician. In 2008, after 15 years, Croft decided to take advantage of GM’s employee buy-out program and partner with a friend in a general contracting business in Florida, primarily landing solar energy installation contracts. Howard reasoned his electrical background along with his friend’s construction background would make for a potent business venture. “Being an electrician, I had a very short learning curve in solar,” he said. He soon found himself involved in a project where a credit union building was the first “Net Zero” commercial job in Florida installing several arrays of solar panels. (When applied to a home or commercial building, Net Zero energy simply means that they generate as much energy as they consume when measured on a monthly or annual basis.) 16 on the town

After more than a year of designing and installing solar, word of his involvement and expertise spread to Michigan and he received a call from the Department of Labor. John Sarver and State Representative Lee Gonzales were trying to move Michigan forward in the use of renewable energy and were asking people with this specific experience to attend a state energy fair. Much to Croft’s surprise, he realized that within the four other solar companies that attended the energy fair, he personally completed more solar projects in about three to four weeks than the total of those companies did in the past year! “I knew then that Michigan was committed to moving forward with renewable energy,” he remembered. Within a few months after that energy fair, Croft returned home and launched his own solar company. In June 2009, Howard Croft and Mid-Michigan Solar became a viable resource of renewable energy. “What I became through this process is a single point of contact,” he explained. “I am the owner, I am the one contractor who holds all of the credentials, I can make all the decisions and I can pull the permits. Typically, it takes more than one person to do all of that. More importantly, I think it’s not really about selling your jobs, it’s about selling your competency.” Howard soon learned of Detroit Edison’s quest to look for a contractor to do renewable energy feasibility studies on their own buildings. Nova Consultants out of Troy was one of the applying contractors who invited Croft to submit his qualifications for possible sub-contracting jobs. While Mid Michigan Solar hit every “mark” that Nova required during their research, their management was tentative. Their concern was that although his technical knowledge was sound and he certainly had the credentials, he had limited time in the actual business. Sachit Verma, one of Nova’s project managers, then offered to have Croft install an array of solar panels on his own house. This turned out to be such a great success that Verma recommended his work to Nova’s principle owner, who also had solar panels installed by Croft on his house, as well. Detroit Edison eventually awarded the $18 million contract to Nova Consultants. Now, Mid Michigan Solar is Nova’s exclusive installer of solar panels. However being from Flint, Howard Croft had a concern that, even though he had as much experience as anybody in the state, he did not want to see anybody in the city of Flint giving a solar contract to

some company from outside of his city simply because they were not aware of Mid-Michigan Solar. He reasoned, “I decided then to do things a little unconventionally. I put what little funding I had into marketing and networking. I also arranged a meeting with the mayor and his administration.” Following that encounter, he was asked by the city to join a recently formed energy council known as the E3 Innovation Network. This was a specific renewable energy initiative funded by the Mott Foundation with involvement of the Genesee County Regional Chamber of Commerce. The formal announcement of the E3 Innovation Network will be at the end of June and will highlight a website where suppliers and users will be able to bring people together to partner under energy usage and projects. Meanwhile, a steering committee is active, with Croft a member of its advisory team, to provide the necessary guidance for the city’s energy direction. One of their first initiatives was to invite 14 business leaders, including Croft, from the city and county and, along with the mayor and the Michigan Department of Labor director, travel to Sweden for a Global Energy Conference in 2010. While staying active in his community, Croft looks forward to landing future solar energy projects both locally and across the country. He believes consistent, experienced installers are the prime requirement for the successful completion of any solar energy projects. He explains that in Michigan there are fundamentally three scenarios towards solar contracting. There are the existing electrical companies who basically have rolled solar into what they already do because solar is mainly electrical. Then there are the very large electrical contractors with huge multi-state projects going on at the same time. They will train their employees to install solar but do not follow up with the tedious maintenance items. The third scenario describes Mid Michigan Solar. It is a dedicated solar company with experience, technical knowledge, credentials and certifications. They not only have expert installers, they are in a position to provide consultation, design, engineering, installation and maintenance follow-up. Croft is one of only 15 people in the state that is certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners. This distinction is designed to serve professionals who have demonstrated their competence in specialized fields such as solar PV, solar thermal and small-scale wind by successfully passing the NABCEP exams. This program helps consumers identify qualified “best choice” installers. Additionally, installer certifications require a combination of training and installation experience before a candidate can qualify to sit for the exam. Through his company’s inception, Croft has made the formation of partnerships and alliances a basic ingredient of his business plan. The list of alliances is impressively extensive and can be observed by going to his website: http://www.midmichigansolar. com/. Croft cited a Detroit Edison program that was funded by the Public Service Commission to provide significant rebates to both residential and commercial consumers for the installation of solar arrays and related energy saving resources. They projected the funds would be sufficient for three to five years. Much to their pleasant surprise, the funds only lasted from September of 2009 to May of this year. Croft reasons that when the paradigm of solar power eventually shifted and people began to see the actual paybacks of installing these systems, word spread rapidly and more people continued to apply even after the program came to an end. As a result, Detroit Edison turned over all the applications to

United States Solar from Brighton for follow-up. They, in turn, hired Mid Michigan Solar to do all of the installations. “This obviously creates a good revenue stream for us,” he noted. “We are positioned well in the state.” Croft notes that about the same time of the formal announcement of Flint’s E3 Innovation Network, Mid Michigan Solar will be opening their much anticipated product showroom. Located at 201 Dort Highway, just south of Robert T. Longway Blvd., it will house office space, conference rooms and a very unique product display area that will exhibit the state-of-the-art products from many partners. Howard Croft has strategically positioned Mid Michigan Solar in a solid, sustainable business entity but his 24/7 hours of operation places a premium on his family time. He and his wife of 21 years, Elizabeth, are proud parents of one daughter and four sons ranging in age from 11 years to 21 years. He affectionately refers to his family as Mid Michigan Solar’s marketing department as they are always sporting logo apparel. And while he continues to lead his company into a solid sustainable future, he is acutely aware of his journey. Croft advised, “ If you are going into business, make sure you are going to do something you enjoy because it will be hard work. I have consistently viewed what’s happened so far as a responsibility and not as an opportunity. I’ve never looked at this from a standpoint of what I can [financially] make but what I can do. This is my hobby and my business. It will reflect my personality, we will be visible in the community and we will continue to get people involved through work, partnerships and alliances. I do believe this is what I am supposed to be doing.”

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Flint Has a Role in the Production of GM’s Chevrolet Volt

by Marcia McGee Flint has been a part of GM’s new product lineup since the company’s beginnings. The new era of alternative energy is no exception. General Motors is investing more than $230 million in four GM plants in the greater Flint area to support the production of the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze and Volt, representing more than 500 jobs. The four plants include Flint Engine South, Flint Metal Center, Flint Tool & Die and Grand Blanc Weld Tool Center. “These four GM manufacturing plants have a key role in GM’s production of the next generation of fuel-efficient vehicles, the Chevrolet Volt and Cruze,” said Larry Zahner, GM manufacturing manager. Key activities performed by the four plants include development of automated equipment and tooling for the Chevy Cruze and Volt assembly plants, die development and stamping of body panels and other components and the manufacturing and assembly of key powertrain components including the 1.4L four-cylinder engine generator for the Volt and the 1.4L four-cylinder turbo engine for the Cruze. • Flint Engine South: General Motors Company is investing $202 million in Flint Engine South to renovate the former I5/I6 manufacturing operations for production of a 1.4L four-cylinder engine generator for the Chevrolet Volt and a 1.4L four-cylinder turbo engine for the Cruze. The project represents approximately 240 employees. • Flint Metal Center: GM is investing $1.7 million in Flint Metal Center to refurbish press lines that will produce sheet metal stampings for the Volt, representing 30 jobs. • Flint Tool and Die: This facility designed dies for the Chevrolet Cruze and is responsible for the construction and tryout of stamping die sets for the Volt program. All 18 on the town

dies for the Chevy Volt were engineered at Flint Tool & Die. Approximately 50 percent of dies for the Volt were designed at this facility. • Grand Blanc Weld Tool Center: GM is investing approximately $30 million in this facility to build the robotic weld tool cells that will assemble the Volt body at the Hamtramck assembly plant. Approximately 250 employees are working on this project, including 60 who are installing the weld tool equipment at the assembly plant. Grand Blanc Weld Tool Center also built the robotic weld tool cells for the body shop to assemble the Chevrolet Cruze at Lordstown (Ohio) Assembly. The plants have also made significant progress in reducing their impact on the environment. These four plants recycle more than 97 percent of the waste they generate. Materials recycled during the last year include 12 tons of batteries, 47,000 tons of scrap metal, 616 tons of oil, 229 tons of wood and 74 tons of plastic and paper. The Volt is an electric vehicle that offers a total driving range of 379 miles, based on EPA estimates. For the first 35 miles, the Volt can drive gas- and tailpipe-free using a full charge of electricity stored in its 16kWh lithium-ion battery. When the Volt’s battery runs low, a gas-powered engine/generator seamlessly operates to extend the driving range another 344 miles on a full charge. The Volt will be available to customers nationwide by the end of 2011. It was launched in California, New York, Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Virginia and Washington, D.C. Locally, the Volt is available at Serra Chevrolet.

420 W. Fifth Avenue, Flint, Michigan 48503

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A by Michael Bancroft

Alexander Jovanovski Jeff Johnson

Alexander J’s is a smokehouse! And I can promise you that if you don’t know what a smokehouse is or have never been to one, once you try Alexander J’s you will be back again and again. Alex Jovanovski (pronounced yo-va-now-ski) and his business partner, Jeff Johnson, have created a full menu restaurant where the food is superb, the staff warm and friendly, and the atmosphere is inviting. A restaurant like this doesn’t come together just by luck, but it sure does help. Alex and Jeff went to the same high school several years apart in Macomb County and had several friends in common but never were friends themselves. At age 13, Alex began working in his family’s restaurant as a dishwasher and got to see the inner workings up close. After high school ended, Alex went into construction, got his builder’s license, and as a project manager has built over 700 homes and buildings. But construction in Michigan is not what it once was and Alex decided he wanted to go back to his roots and start an eatery. Meanwhile Jeff started in the restaurant business at age 19. He worked his way to the top and eventually became the general manager of a three-and-a-half star restaurant in St. Clair Shores. He also went on to own his own bar and grill from 1999 to 2007. In 2009, through a friend of a friend, he had a chance introduction to Alex and discovered that they could put their skills together and make a restaurant the way it should be. They both knew what kind of place they wanted to run and they knew that they had the tools and the experience to build or refurbish any building. But where to start a business? Genesee County is a decent drive from Macomb but Alex and Jeff saw opportunity. “Flint has come down economically but it’s on its way back up,” says Jeff. They knew that they wanted a standalone building and not something in a strip mall. But it couldn’t be a food spot that had just recently gone out of business because people might confuse the old with the new. Finally, after looking throughout the greater Detroit Metro region they found a gem on Fenton Road in Mundy Township just north of Hill Road. They could have gone anywhere but they

“Flint has come down economically but it’s on its way back up.” --Jeff Johnson

20 on the town


were willing to take a chance on the town here in Genesee County. The former restaurant had been closed for more than three years but it had all of its dishes, silverware, cooking utensils, working stoves and refrigerators, tables and chairs, and more luck with one good surprise: a great big, fully functioning food smoker. If you haven’t seen one before, it’s about six feet long by six feet deep and ten feet wide. Inside is a rotisserie rack that rotates various meats through the smoke from hickory logs or apple wood that imparts a flavor that you can’t get from a bottle. Both men had limited experience using a food smoker so Alex went to work in his cousin’s restaurant in the Detroit area to learn firsthand how to work a smoker. Fortunately for Alex, and for us, he’s not only a quick learner but also now an expert at the smoker. Yes, there are some other good restaurant smokers in the area, but Alex was born for this. Smoked: bacon, pulled pork, spare ribs, pulled chicken, turkey breast, and beef brisket, all smoked food in a variety of settings that will compel you to make a return visit to experience all the menu has to offer in its wide array of choices. Honestly, after trying more than my fair share of the menu, I couldn’t recommend just one thing. And smoking isn’t all that they do. They also have a sizable selection of soups, stand-alone salads, pasta dishes, sandwiches, burgers, and get this: 19 different appetizers! One group of customers came in over the course of ten days to work their way through the appetizer selection. Alex is right when he said, “Once we get a customer to come in, we keep them.” I will mention this: outside of some of the better soul food shops in Flint, this is a good place to get collard greens done well. I’ll also let you in on a secret about the great food at Alexander J’s. They have hired Bryant Jacob to be their head chef. Chef Jake, as he is known by his admirers, worked at the Grand Blanc Inn back in its heyday. He and his sous chef brother, Chris Jacob, are a dynamic duo. It was a pleasure to meet with Chef Jake, who had a hand in developing the menu and is obviously an integral part of the team. Jeff and Alex did all of the work on refurbishing the building and they’ve made it a very inviting place: vibrant, but not loud. Sure, they’ve got more than twenty screens for sports, news, and Club Keno playing in the background. But they’ve also got a karaoke night, darts, billiards, and a Flat Screen Golden Tee in their game room. There’s also a fully stocked bar with pub seating. It’s certainly a family friendly place and there is a decent “after church” crowd on Sundays. Their side dining room seats 50 for private events and they even do catering. But it’s not just the great food and wonderful amenities, it’s the staff and owners and how they make you feel. Harry Aydinian, a jewelry store owner, is a regular at Alexander J’s. He says, “I could spend my money anywhere but I go there because it’s so warm. They make you feel like family.” Next week when you’re out on the town you have got to follow Harry and check out Alexander J’s.

The April 29, 2011 To benefit the YWCA of Greater Flint

Duchess Linda deCamptown Races, Duchess Davin de la Torre, Gary Wiese, The Duke of Winfield in the Hills

Royal The Royal Jester Rob, The Jewel of Earl

Brian Haggert, Kay Kelly, Lady Kate of Cedarhurst & Michael Kelly, Earl of Beaconsfield

Lady of the Treasury Deb Cherry, Sir John Cherry & Lady Pamela Faris of Vienna

Sarah Santini, Princess Loon, Susan Wintz, Duchess of Whigville

Betsy Andes, Queen Elizabeth of Hearts, Sheila Zorn, Her Grace, The Duchess of Devonshire, Sally Branoff, Duchess of Greenbush 22 on the town

Gloria & Dr. Erik VanDuyne, The Duke and Duchess of Briarcliff

Queen Kitty, Duchess Marquesa Susan of DeCourval

Mark Lemon, Duke of Case Isle & Jennifer Tremaine, Duchess of Inglenook

l Wedding Sir Stephen Harding & Lady Rosanne Margaret of Heddyshire, His Lordship Robert, Holder of the King’s Ransom & Lady (Still in waiting) Lynne Jayne of Mayfair on Avon

Heather Kale, Lady in Mating, Countess of Heather of Conception, Queen of Flynn-ed Land, Tiffany, Steve, Duke Errol of Flynn, Queen Kitty, Lord Richard Edmund Fletcher

JR and Crystal Ewing (Ron Butler & Wendy Jamrog), the Texas Billonares, Mary Anne & Bill Reising, Duke & Duchess of Parkside

Paul & Jean Newman, Lord and Lady of Westwood, Harmony Langford, Dutchess of Cork

Betsy Andea, Queen Elizabeth of Hearts, Sheila Zorn, Her Grace, The Duchess of Devonshire

Rae Chittick, Duchess of Baldwin, Colleen Talbert, Her Lady of Leisure

Queen Kitty, of the Downtown Royal Court, Princess Stephanie of Martinishire

Ellen Brothers, Lady Fascinator of the Gloroius Cabochon, Mona Sahouri

Debbie Cambell, Duchess of Woodbrier, Lynn Hurand on the town



Artisan’s Gourmet Deli

Pied Piper of “Foodie” Nation

by Michael G. Thodoroff

Watch out, here they come! They’re everywhere and their numbers keep growing. They call themselves “Foodies.” While there is no dictionary definition of a Foodie, it is generally considered to be a person who finds eating a joy, likes to dabble in cooking, but more importantly is enamored with cable television’s Food Network programming. This cult following is rapidly sweeping the nation including Flint and Genesee County and the person leading this charge is our own local Foodie “Pied Piper” of sorts, Doug St. Souver. As proprietor of the recently opened Artisan’s Gourmet Deli at the Flint Farmer’s Market, Doug is very involved and committed to this community and is a bona fide Food Network personality. Over the past five years, he has participated in four Food Network challenges resulting in three first place champion medals. These challenges are a strict test of culinary talent, technical food skills and a dose of creativity where three to four teams considered expert in their fields construct a themed food project under a strategic time constraint competing for the champion’s title. While Doug’s public persona has certainly blossomed since his exposure on the Food Network, his path to this popularity would surely make for a good “made-for-TV” mini-series. A Waterford native, St. Souver pursued a career in the criminal justice and corrections field rehabilitating drug and alcohol abusers. Later he worked at various local construction jobs, eventually starting his own property management/building company in Davisburg. After several years, however, he suddenly walked away from the building trades. To make ends meet during this transition period, he worked at a golf course, handling grounds maintenance duties. His days typically would end around 2:00 pm so he would go home, fix dinner for his young family and watch many of the Food Network Channel’s programs. It wasn’t long before he declared, “Hey, I can do that stuff!” He thought the best course of action would be to go back to school in a culinary arts curriculum, get the technical foundation and see what future avenues opened. 26 on the town

He enrolled in the Culinary School at Oakland Community College (OCC), and while taking classes there, learned that one of his instructors had recently appeared on a Food Network Challenge program. According to St. Souver, when a person appears on one of their episodes, they informally become a part of their “system.” Subsequently, the Food Network producers rely on them for participant leads in future programming. Thus, the producers contacted Tariq Hanna for a soon-to-be filmed Fruit Carving Challenge. Tariq had to decline so he thought this would be a great opportunity for St. Souver to show his culinary talents. “This all happened so fast,” St. Souver recalled, “The next thing I knew I was on a plane to Hawaii for a Food Network Challenge filming!” The challenge was based on a tropical theme titled “Fantasy Fruit Sculpture” where Doug and his team carved huge palm trees out of fruit mounted on an island of carved fruits and vegetables. “I found out rather quickly that my construction background came in handy during the design and building of my scene,” he pointed out. Doug came home with the first place champion’s medal and his culinary career was officially launched. Since that first challenge in 2005, he has participated in three more competitions. There was a return match of the Fruit Carving Challenge where St. Souver garnered a runner-up medal. He was then asked by the Food Network to participate in a project that could yield the title of the world’s tallest popcorn structure. Once again, Doug’s construction experience helped in the design and composition of the classic Disney movie’s Mickey Mouse Wizard character resulting in an entry into the Guinness Book of World Records. In his latest challenge, his team constructed an all-edible, three dimensional rendition of a farmer’s field of crops complete with barns, sheds, farm implements and of course, a tractor, resulting again in a first place medal. However, looking back on his challenge experiences, he realizes the true end result. “What it really did was it gave me the confidence to say ‘I can do this!’” he said. “It helped me to take myself out of the box and

really challenge myself. I now make it a point to challenge myself everyday.” But there is more to St. Souver that just Food Network Challenges. He is an ice sculptor with the locally based ICONICE and an instructor at Mott Community College’s (MCC) Culinary Arts program and is currently enrolled as a student, pursuing his education. He also teaches culinary classes at Schoolcraft College and the Oakland Technical Centers. He is the founder of Artisans In Culinary ( which has a mission to make food entertaining, beautiful and easy. Artisans In Culinary at The Market sells local handcrafted foods and products and other food options ranging from gourmet cupcakes to aromatic candles. Recently, he opened Artisans Gourmet Deli in the Flint Farmers Market specializing in artisan soups, sandwiches, salads, fresh fruit items, breakfast fare, ice cream and Michigan’s own Faygo Pop.  Obviously, with all of these ventures going on in his vocational life, he relies on his business partner and marketing director, DeAnn Alexander, to help keep things organized. A self-professed Foodie, DeAnn first approached Doug while attending one of his fruit carving demos. At the time, she was in the process of developing her own business titled Foodie Road Trips (, where she would arrange tours to see the personality stars and trips to locations that were featured on the Food Network. Since they both were trying to reach the same people with basic similar interests in food, she started a conversation with Doug on the marketing aspects of what he was doing. Further discussions revealed that it would make good business sense for both of them to join forces. DeAnn explained, “Having a marketing background, I understood the specialty of marketing for chefs as opposed to marketing a general business company, because there is a difference. And, the same people that were coming to see Doug were the same Food Doug St. Souver and daughter Alexa Network fans I wanted to reach.” Together they make a cohesive team. Artisans In Culinary is developing a Culinary Marketing Division to guide other food entrepreneurs through the maze of licensing, legal logistics, production and marketing of food products. Another project is an upcoming event that will be dubbed the Flint vs. Detroit Urban Chef Contest. According to St. Souver, this will be a mentorship program featuring two age groups of 16-to-18 year-olds and 22-to-30 year olds. They must be able to present themselves in public speaking, essay writing and of course, cooking skills. The Flint semi-finals will be September 10 at the Farmer’s Market with the winner travelling to Detroit’s Eastern Market for the finals on October 7. Doug and local renowned chef Nate Brown will be serving as mentors and organizers for the Flint participants. Being a single parent, Doug enjoys being heavily involved in his children’s lives. Daughter Alexa is working this summer at the Artisans Gourmet Deli. Son Logan, while only a freshman in high school, seems to want to carry on his father’s torch as a master fruit and vegetable carver. Doug said that as long as he’s been carving, Logan has been observing at his side and now is the lead carver on many of his fruit and vegetable carving projects. It is apparent that Doug St. Souver has followed his passion in his life’s journey. He is humbled by his notoriety and success from exposure on the Food Network but always lends a jovial dose of humor in any conversation. “Every day I reach for my personal goals to laugh, to learn and to love,” he solemnly stated. “When people say live, I say love. And that’s because you can live every day and not have something in your heart. I have food in my heart, I have people in my heart and I have growing and learning in my heart. So, if I laugh, learn and love every day, then I’m good to go!”

“Designing for our Community” Founded 1968 - Downtown Flint MOTT FOUNDATION BUILDING 503 S. Saginaw • Suite 100 Flint, MI • (810) 239-4691

Burtrum Furs of Grand Blanc, Inc.

• Womens & Mens Furs • Cashmeres & Leathers • Consignment & Estate Furs We offer repairs, restyles, cleaning, computerized monograms, insurance appraisals, storage and more.

810.771.4563 321 East Grand Blanc Rd. Grand Blanc, MI Since 1937 on the town


Taking You Beyond Point of Sale Helping our clients create greater success by leveraging today’s latest point of sale technology into increased profits through hard work, commitment and strong relationships. • • • • • • •

POS Hardware & Software Online Ordering Solutions Credit Card Processing Web Based Reporting Advanced Surveillance Systems Gift & Loyalty Programs Smart Phone Integration

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28 on the town

11 Happ am - 6 pm y Hou r All W $1 o eek

ff drin


Alexander Jovanovski Summer Hours Jeff Johnson Sunday Noon - 9 pm Mon. Tues. Wed. 11 am - food till 10 pm, bar closes at 11 pm Thurs. Fri. Sat. 11 am - food till 12 midnight, bar closes at 2 am

5490 Fenton Road • Mundy, MI 48507 • (810) 715-9137 •

on the town



Growing Up June 2, 2011 Hosts: Dr. Daniel & Mary Ryan

Pete & Jen Bade, Dr. Bobby Makkamala


Dr. Michael Boucree, Ivan Griffin, Gloria Scruggs Bonnie & Hank Graff

Steve & Rosanne Heddy

Kimberly Cross, Brian Sceiszka, Gail Munroe Janelle Stewart, Mary Kachman, Kathy Hutchings

Jane Tagge, Becky Braden, Lyn Terwilliger Teresa Rowe 30 on the town

Lubna Bathish Jones, Mona Sahouri, Dr. Saed Sahouri, Dr. Bobby Mukkamala, Ghassan & Manal Saab, Raghad Farah

Dr. Sayee Kiran, Dr. Mona Hardas, Nita Mukkamala, Julie Yonan

Rebecca Schmidt, Linda Moxam

“Your Best Deal is Always in Owosso!”

1500 East Main Street • Owosso MI, 48867 • 888.719.9158 •

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40 Years of Perpetual Esteem by Michael G. Thodoroff photos by Eileen Mangold It will happen to all of us. It happens at a business meeting or a backyard barbeque. As the introductions go through the group, there’s that rare but inevitable occasion when you meet a person you never knew but after some casual conversations, you feel like you’ve known that person for a long time. When you meet Roger L. Sharp, that feeling of camaraderie is ever prevalent. As CEO of Sharp Funeral Homes, Roger is an energetic, passionate person --Roger Sharp who seems to defy the laws of aging. His long time passion for cars – especially Corvettes – is only surpassed by his love for his family and his business

“In order to serve the people in time of need, I need to know the people and I do that through community service.”

32 on the town

– in that order. He acknowledges the fact that in order to be successful in the funeral business, a person must possess a keen sense of empathy and the desire to help people in a time of emotional need. He and all of his employees share those qualities and can backup that notion by celebrating their 40th year in the local funeral home business last December. And while he is looking forward to the next 40 years and beyond, he fondly recalls just why he chose to go into this line of work. It was in his elementary school years that a close neighborhood friend passed away. Roger’s parents took him to the funeral home to pay respects and this innocent life experience left a lasting impression. During his high school days, he sought part time employment at a funeral home in downtown Flint. The Algoe-Gundry Funeral Home was located across from St. Matthew’s Church and had a prestigious perception because they buried community leaders and dignitaries. Roger recollected during his days

Sharp Funeral Homes Locations : Miller Road Chapel 8138 Miller Road  Swartz Creek MI 48473 Fenton Chapel  1000 Silver Lake Road  Fenton, MI 48430 Linden Chapel  209 E. Broad Street  Linden, MI 48451 Sharp Funeral Home & Cremation Center  6063 Fenton Road  Flint, MI 48507 Roger (RJ) Sharp Jr., Stephanie Sharp Foster, Michael T. Scully and Jennifer Sharp Scully at Algoe-Gundry, he was the lawn keeper, janitor, bookkeeper, car washer, embalmer and all-around utility person for the entire funeral home. After high school he went on to earn degrees from Ferris State University and the California College of Mortuary Science. Following his service in the U.S. Army, in 1970 he purchased the former Bendle Funeral Home on Miller Rd. in Swartz Creek. In 1989 he acquired the former Bowles and Sons Funeral Homes in Linden and Fenton. Shortly afterwards, he built a modern new facility on Silver Lake Rd. (Fenton) and relocated the Fenton Chapel to its’ current location. Sharp also renovated a building in Grand Blanc Township on Fenton Rd., completing the fourth of the Sharp Funeral Homes. Sharp’s business has grown to over 900 funerals per year today from only 39 funerals in 1970. He attributes part of this tremendous growth due to his extensive involvement in the communities he serves. “In order to serve the people in time of need, I need to know the people and I do that through community service.” Sharp said. His credentials range from the past vice-chair and current treasurer of the Health Plus of Michigan Board of Directors to a founding member of the Swartz Creek Chamber of Commerce, for example. Additionally, he credits his prosperity to his 50 loyal employees and four family members who help in the dayto-day operations. Roger (RJ) Sharp Jr. is the president of

the business operations, while daughter Jennifer Sharp Scully is vice-president of Sharp Funeral Homes and manages the Miller Rd. Chapel. Her husband, Michael T. Scully, is the president of the funeral operations and has been with Sharp’s for over 25 years. Roger’s daughter Stephanie Sharp Foster is the treasurer of Sharp Funeral Homes and is the manager of the Linden Chapel. On a more serious note, Sharp says he is frequently asked if corporate ownership is in their future especially in light of the nation’s trying economy. He is, however, very emphatic on this sometimes controversial topic. “There is a huge difference between independendent and corporate funeral home operations. And that, quite simply, is the desire to please,” he firmly stated. He goes on to reason that if he were forced by a corporation to please with profit and loss, he personally would completely lose the desire to please. He believes the corporate leaders of conglomerates come in, buy funeral homes and raise prices to recover their investment and as a result, diminish services provided and, either intentionally or unintentionally, alienate the former owners. Another factor that enhances Sharp’s service is his approach to aftercare. Roger firmly believes in this important part of a funeral process. Today, it seems that other funeral homes use aftercare as a method to secure future business or pre-need business. He goes on to mention that because of the nature of its sensitivity, their aftercare program grew to the point where they

had to hire a professional to administer it. “Aftercare should be in the hands of a professional to handle the people’s emotional needs and not in the hands of a funeral director,” he said. Sharp’s aftercare administrator is Ann Turner Podlesak. Ann assists families after the death with Social Security benefits, veterans benefits, retirement benefits, life insurance processing, probate court, secretary of state, and any other needs that may arise. Not a typical “9 to 5” job, she makes herself available anytime to answer questions for families. Sharp’s has been providing this service for many years at no additional cost to family of the deceased. The bottom line at Sharp Funeral Homes is that they provide a peaceful and soothing environment where people can gather to honor and celebrate the life of a loved one while preserving longstanding traditions and customs. And after 40 years of service, Roger L. Sharp is eagerly looking forward to the next 40 years and beyond. “I have been an over-achiever all my life,” he reflected. “But I am proud of the position I hold in my company. And the station in life that I hold is more than I’d ever hoped to achieve because I was ‘born on the other side of the tracks.’ I am also proud that my children are all college graduates and funeral directors. I just pray they get half the satisfaction out of their jobs that I get out of mine. Plus, with six grandchildren, it looks like we have a good start on our next generation of funeral directors!” on the town


May 2, 2011 Cork on Saginaw

John and Stephanie Matonich

Honorable David Newblatt, Jack Battles, Sheryl Thompson

Scott and Jane Shively

Linda Moxam, Bess Hurand, T. Ardele Shaltz

Sherry Dodge Schlinker, Tiffany Flynn, Joe Kiple

Harriet Kenworthy, Jimmy King

Holly Rosser, Heather Kale, Amy Krug

Al Koegel, Joe Serra, Bob Fuller

Sheryl Thompson, Gail Stimson

Carol Hurand, Peggy Jury, Lynne Hurand

Sandra Applegate, Helen Philpott, Susan Philpott Preketes

Katie Boucha, Connie Moran

34 on the town

Commitment to our customers Established 1865 quality products

toll free 800.875.4811 phone 810.234.8681 fax 810.234.6142

Supports “on the town” Magazine and Genesee County’s Efforts to Become Greener and More Energy Efficient! • (810) 814-1223 on the town


A Landmark in the Making by Michael G. Thodoroff photos by Eileen Mangold Despite the not so glowing national perception, the city of Flint is rich in this nation’s formative history. Through the years, the city officials have commemorated significant local events and places to be recognized for generations to come by declaring these as historical landmarks. Today, there is a local business that is on its way in defining a future landmark. Located on Saginaw St. just south of Bristol Rd. is one of the best Mexican restaurants in Genesee County: Tia Helita’s Mexican Cuisine. They have earned the designation of the Best Mexican Restaurant in Genesee County on The Flint Journal’s “Best Of” readers poll, three years running. Tia Helita’s principal owner Monica Reed says that while they

Mellia, Sonia, Monica

are humbled by the consecutive honors, they will continue to build on the successful formula they have honed over the years. “We will always keep the traditions of quality Mexican/American food that my grandparents started,” she emphatically stated. While Monica admits there are no factual historical records defining the origins of her grandparent’s restaurant business, it sure makes for spirited family discussions on just how it all started. Monica’s mother, Sonia Tate, was a freshman in high school when she started working for the El Charrito restaurant back in the early 1970’s. It was was a converted soda fountain shop on Fenton Rd. across from the old Cody Elementary School. Before starting this restaurant business, proprietors Urbano and Mary Villarreal loved to host big family gatherings on the weekends where 36 on the town

the cooking was center stage. Urbano worked construction while Mary worked at St. Joseph’s Hospital, but after much encouragement from family and the many friends who also came over to feast, made the career move to open El Charrito, featuring the family’s Mexican cuisine. According to Sonia, Urbano and Mary thoroughly enjoyed their restaurant and wanted to keep the business always in the family. Other family members eagerly committed to help the Villarreals get the restaurant established in the community, including their only daughter, Helen, who eventually would run the day-to-day operations. El Charrito expanded to three locations during the 70’s but after about ten years, decided to focus on one location. They leased a building on the corner of Richfield Rd. and Western Rd. across the street of the ever popular Shenanigan’s Bar & Grille. “That was a great, fun place,” Monica recalled, “People would stand in line for the longest time but after awhile, everybody would get to know each other and soon, they became some of our most loyal customers – and still are today !” An opportunity arose in the early 90’s for El Charritto to move in a modern, larger building in the same plaza that Shenanigan’s occupied. This made good business sense as they were able to secure a liquor license. It was at this location during Monica’s high school years where she began working at El Charritto. However,

after graduating from Flint Central, she decided to pursue a medical career at Baker College. After a few semesters Monica realized that the founding members of the family business were getting up in their years but they were steadfast in their vision of keeping the restaurant in the family. Helen, by her own admission, wanted to start relinquishing her day-to-day duties so she approached Monica and asked her if she would want to take over the operations of the restaurant with ownership included in the plan. Monica remembers having emotions of complete surprise along with moments of elation. She ardently accepted this proposal and in doing so, changed the restaurant’s name to Tia Helita’s - Mexican for Aunt Helen – to honor her beloved aunt. Monica developed the restaurant’s business by opening another location at the Lincor Plaza across from the Genesee Valley Shopping Center in 1996 and named it “Tia Helita’s Too!” However, after a year at that small location, she realized that Tia Helita’s was not going to veer from its roots of quality homecooked meals and decided to concentrate on their main location. Shortly after that move, Monica was informed that Danny’s Fine

Sisters Mellia and Monica Italian Food restaurant was going to close due to its owner’s retirement. This was a grand location for an eatery as it was just off the busy intersection of Saginaw St. and Bristol Rd. The classically-styled building came complete with a banquet room and a liquor license. The building itself had some historical significance as it was originally constructed in 1939 as the Burton Theater. Having a large auditorium for cinema viewing, it later served as a facility where Holy Redeemer Catholic Church conducted their holiday masses and related activities. By the late 60’s the theater portion of the structure was razed but parts of its original lobby are in use today. In May 1998, Tia Helita’s moved into the old Danny’s building and the business has continued to thrive ever since. Due to the expansive dining area, more of the Villarreal descendents began their working careers there. Along with Monica’s sisters Mariah and Mellia, who are integral to the day-today operations, Sonia’s mother, Dorthea

Molina, has become a fixture at the restaurant and is considered a celebrity by some of the customers. Back in the early 1950’s when Dorthea was working at a local café in her home state of Texas, she was approached while tending the counter by a Hollywood film director who asked her if she would like to audition for a part in a major motion picture. Dorthea, being an adventuresome person, went directly to the audition in her work clothes. To her surprise, she won the part over 50 other young women ! The movie titled “Viva Zapata” was directed by Elia Kazan – a celebrity in his own right – and starred actors Marlon Brando and Anthony Quinn. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards in 1952. And as a testimony to her beloved grandmother, Monica dedicated

a small room within the dining area of Tia Helita’s affectionately known as “Grandma’s Room.” In this quaint room are actual framed photos from the movie showing Dorthea “in action.” To add to this unique ambiance is another ”room-within-a-room” where only one small table resides and is partially closed-off with beautiful Mexican themed draperies. Monica said that many proposals of marriage have been made here. Monica Reed has established herself as a keen proprietor of Tia Helita’s Mexican Cuisine. She has honored Urbano and Mary Villarreal by keeping their founding vision alive and in a position to prosper well into the future. But she is grounded by the fact of how blessed she is to have chosen this career. “ I believe things happen for a reason,” she said with emotion. “I’m so lucky for the way things turned out because when I was younger, I did not always see the ‘big picture’. I’m very grateful for my grandparents laying the foundation to have a family business. I love dealing with our loyal customers and I love this community. I wouldn’t know how to do anything else. I’m truly blessed because this is what I love to do.” on the town


Experience the DON FRANCO Difference

“Personal Service with Integrity” Since 1963

2381 East Hill Rd. Grand Blanc 810.694.8300

Walk-ins Welcome Consultations Free

Proud to be a driving force in Genesee County

38 on the town

G-3310 Beecher Rd. Flint 810-230-2727 (Next to Diplomat Pharmacy) Jewelry Repair on Premises

Customer Service Information

(810) 767-0100

Family Owned & Operated for Three Generations

Come Enjoy Authentic Mexican Food in a Nice Dining Atmosphere.

Dine In • Take Out Full Catering Available Appetizers • Dinners • Lunch Specials Happy Hour Drink Specials 3-6pm Monday -Friday G4070 S. Saginaw • Burton Just S. of Bristol Rd.

810-742-5525 on the town


Founded in 1979 We are ISO 9001:2008 Certified RFID Capable



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Serving the Needy Since 1950

Providing shelter, food, clothing, education and spiritual help for individuals and families. Find us on 605 Garland • Flint, MI • 810-233-8787 40 on the town

Mention This Ad for a FREE Complete Vehicle Detail Conley’s Collision, Inc 3602 N Franklin Ave. • Flint, MI 48506 (810) 233-3600

Servicing Downtown Flint Since 1972 PRINTING • Business Cards • Brochures • Calendars • Flyers • Posters • Postcards • Presentation Folders • Tent Cards • T-Shirts • Signs VINYL • Banners • Posters (Wide) Visit our website at • Window Decals • Yard Signs And Much More We are located in downtown Flint, Michigan at 134 W. Second Street

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Genesee Regional Women’s Hall of Fame by Lauren E. Kenney The Zonta Club One of Flint is proud to sponsor The Genesee Regional Women’s Hall of Fame, permanently located at the Sloan Museum in Flint. The Hall of Fame was founded in 2010 by the Zonta Club and recently had its second annual induction ceremony and was pleased to honor seven incredible women into its family. According to Flint Mayor Dayne Walling, April 22nd shall be known as “Flint Women’s History Day.” Because this is such an important day for the Hall of Fame, the Zonta Club hopes to have its induction ceremony on or around this date every year. Pam Fernsler, a member of the Zonta Club One, came up with the idea for the Hall of Fame and presented her idea to the club as well as the board of directors of the Zonta International. She was supported in every aspect. The idea behind the Women’s Hall of Fame is to honor the women who have made a difference in the City of Flint. Candidates for the Hall of Fame must have achieved prominence within Genesee County and contributed to the history of the region, have distinctive accomplishments in their chosen field of endeavor, profession or otherwise, and/ or contributions made of an enduring nature to the social, cultural, economic or political well-being of the community. They also may have given service or made a commitment which significantly advanced the status of women in society or possess character and personal ideals that would serve as a positive influence on the youth of Genesee County and serve as a role model for other women. Once they’d found a home for The Genesee Regional

Sybyl McPeake Atwood

42 on the town

Dolores Ennis

Women’s Hall of Fame, the Zonta Club received funding from the Women’s Hall of Fame in Lansing, Michigan. Fernsler also stated that they hope the Hall helps to “move women to the forefront” by encouraging and inspiring them to give women the push they need to speak loudly, let their voices, along with their ideas, be heard by the community. The Zonta Club hopes that Mary McFarlan Whaley this will help women make a difference in their hometown and in their lives. The women who have been nominated and inducted into this Women’s Hall of Fame have done just that. They have raised themselves above obstacles in their time and let their voices be heard above the noise of many of society’s expectations. The Zonta Club was founded in 1923 and their sole purpose is to enhance the status of women. There are some well-known women in the Hall, such as 2010 inductees Margaret Eliza McLaren and Ruth Rawlings Mott, both legends Flint. Another well-known inductee was Olivia (Libby) Maynard, who is one of the women who made history change as well as the politics in Flint. In 1978, she was the first woman nominated for the office of Michigan’s Lieutenant Governor. The other 2010 inductees included the Ladies Library Association of Flint, Dr. Gladys Beckwith, Sybyl McPeake Atwood and Dolores Ennis. The 2011 inductees include Eleanor King Hornung, Julianne Princinski, Dorothy Segal, Edith Prunty Spenser, Mary McFarlan Whaley and Charlotte Williams.

“These women are not just prominent business women, some are ordinary hardworking, child rearing-women. They are the role models for today’s women,” stated Joshua Justice, the guest services supervisor at the Sloan Museum. Many of these women had children of their own and still continued to push past the societal limits of their time and make a change in their community. One such mother in particular was Eleanor King Hornung. She worked at the AC Spark Plug Factory during the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s. Continuing to work after she gave birth was highly frowned upon during that era. She was elected secretary of UAW Local 651, the first and only woman on the ballot. She was a pioneer for the working women of today and young women can benefit from her example. Women who have passed on are put in the Historical category while those who are still living and active in the community today are placed in the Contemporary category. If you would like to nominate someone for the Women’s Hall of Fame or would simply like more information about the process, please contact Pam Fernsler by email,, or phone, (810) 695-2824. For more information on the Sloan Museum, go to Ed. Note: Lauren Kenney is a student writer from Mott Community College

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When was the last time you had a check-up on your medical equipment? ElectraMed Service Department Offers Preventative Maintenance Checks, Electrical Safety Checks and Diagnostic Equipment Repairs

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44 on the town

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onthetown Magazine Volume 1 Issue 3  

The topic of alternative energy is hotter than ever and this month we feature some ideas on solar energy, electric vehicles and give you a h...

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