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Let’s shine a spotlight on some deserving folks


“You just want to pet him.”

Free holiday parking set for GR ramps HOLIDAY DEAL

By Matt Vande Bunte

Lisa Hawkins, who has an eight-hour layover at Gerald R. Ford International Airport on Monday, visits with Gunner, a 9-year-old black Labrador retriever. The airport is launching a new therapy dog program to help take the stress and anxiety out of travel. (Lauren Petracca/


Gerald R. Ford airport introduces Gunner, part of therapy dog program By Andrew Krietz

Flying isn’t always a smooth endeavor, especially when you’re caught in an airport during the middle of an eight-hour delay. Lisa Hawkins, of Spirit Lake, Idaho, looked downright exhausted — “bored,” she said recently, while waiting for a flight to New York City’s LaGuardia Airport, with a final destination to Montreal, Canada. Thunderstorms along the East Coast pushed back her departure time. Then Gunner, a 9-year-old black Labrador retriever, walked over to console her. “When you’re having these moments where things don’t go as planned, this definitely takes some of the stress out of the day,” Hawkins said. Gunner is part of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport’s new therapy dog program, in partnership with West Michigan Therapy Dogs Inc. Throughout the week, one of two trainers and a dog walk around the common and terminal areas of the airport to provide assistance

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checkpoint, going through the metal detector … that was new, and we didn’t know what would happen the first time we came with our dogs,” Meinecke said. “But we prepared. The dogs were like, ‘whatever.’ They slid right through.” Airport officials and the trainers understand some travelers might give pause to having a dog in the airport, whether they don’t like them or they’re allergic, Meinecke said. If that’s the case, the trainer and the dog understand to back off. Hernandez said she hopes the program becomes something the airport becomes known for, perhaps expanding it with additional volunteers and more dogs to cover each weekday. Gunner appeared to enjoy his time in the airport, wagging his tail at anyone who would stop to visit. A vest he wears gives the OK to pet him, and a group of Army recruits waiting for their flight to South Carolina’s Fort Jackson couldn’t resist the temptation. “You just want to pet him,” said Kirk Brown, one of the group. “Can’t help but smile.”




to anyone who wants to relieve stress, said Tara Hernandez, the airport’s spokeswoman. The program comes at no cost to the airport, thanks to their partner’s nonprofit status and its volunteers — well, no cost except for dog treats. “As much as we want to be perfect at the airport, we know that travel isn’t,” said Hernandez, who discovered similar programs at four airports across the U.S., including in Los Angeles. “We wanted to have something that people could relate to, that would kind of ease that tension.” Dogs undergo an eight-week training course with West Michigan Therapy Dogs and are subjected to noisy environments, including hospitals and schools, said Amy Meinecke, director of programs for the nonprofit. Before setting foot in the airport, the dogs already are adjusted to the hustle and bustle of the terminals and loud noises, she said. However, an airport provides a different layer of complexity for the dogs and their handlers. “It’s having to go through the TSA

An annual program that was criticized last year again will offer free holiday parking in downtown ramps. Grand Rapids businesses that sell goods or products can get coupons for 60 minutes of free parking at the Louis-Campau, Monroe Center, Ottawa-Fulton and Pearl-Ionia parking ramps, then give them to customers. The program will run from the Friday after Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve. “It’s our opinion that the less than $2,000 investment (in the value of the free parking) buys a lot of goodwill for (the city parking system),” said Pam Ritsema, the city’s managing director of enterprise services. “We have always collected more revenue from the customers using the coupons than the value of the coupons.” The number of free parking coupons redeemed during the 2012 holiday season increased 3.5 percent from 2011, marking the fourth consecutive year of growth. After falling from more than 1,300 coupons used in 2007 to fewer than 800 used in 2009, redemption since has risen each year. The 986 tickets redeemed in 2012 were valued at $1,873. City data shows that some of those customers stayed parked longer than one hour and paid a collective $2,644 in ramp fees. Parking Commissioner Andy Guy last year criticized

Downtown businesses will have coupons for 60 minutes of free parking to distribute from Nov. 29 to Dec. 31. Lyon St.



Fulton St.

Division Ave.


Pearl St. M 2 on ro e C Fountain St. en te r



Commerce Ave.

Ramps included: 1. Louis-Campau 2. Pearl-Ionia 3. Monroe Center 4. Ottawa-Fulton

the program, and last week he again called for the parking department to conduct a thorough analysis of what good the coupon program does. He said the free parking promotion unwisely strives to position downtown as a competitor to suburban malls, when the city should be trying to build an increasingly urbanized culture. An example of trying to build that culture: The parking system, in partnership with the Downtown Development Authority, co-sponsored expanded Downtown Area Shuttle, or DASH, service during ArtPrize as a way for people to travel around downtown. A total of 9,570 people rode the ArtDash shuttles during the event from Sept. 18 to Oct. 6, according to city data.

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art. Then a woman can take textiles, create something mind-blowingly intricate and beautiful, and voila, a quilt is a craft? Yeah, I just played the sexism card during ArtPrize. Felt good, too. Ann was also incredibly gracious when I called her Sunday morning to apologize that one of the photographs we ran mistakenly showed another artist’s face instead of hers and to let her know a correction was coming. I was horrified at the mistake; she was amused. She said it

Michigan rejoiced when this story had a happy ending. The unsung hero award goes to Gerrit den Hollander, of Jenison, whose obituary recently appeared in The Press. He was born in 1916 in the Netherlands and came to Grand Rapids in 1955. During World War II, he and his family were part of the Dutch resistance, den Hollander hiding Jewish people and others in their home. A printer by trade, he also supported a resistance newspaper. One final thank you, to reader John McCabe, of Ada, for pointing out the life of Mr. den Hollander deserved recognition. We need to look after each other, and, John, thanks for being there on this one.

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David Dodde’s controversial entry “Fleurs et riviere” on the Calder. Well played, Todd, well played. The good son award goes to the incoming CEO of Steelcase, Jim Keane, who will succeed Jim Hackett when he retires in February, it was announced last week. The first people Keane called were his parents, Irish immigrants Keane who raised their family on Chicago’s South Side and scrimped and saved to make sure he got what they did not: a college education. The hero award goes to all the rescuers and citizens who turned out to help find 2-year-old Amber Smith, who was lost in the woods overnight in Newaygo County. All of West

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Julie Hoogland and

reminded her of the chuckle she got when newspaper Up North printed a typo dubbing her “Ann Loveless the quitter” instead of quilter. “I have never been a quitter,” she said. If you’ve seen the scope and beauty of her art, you would agree. The “Good Job, Grand Rapids” award goes to staff of the Ford Museum. When Herring the government shutdown hit, potentially locking ArtPrize entries inside, they erected a tent and moved displays outside, pronto. A final ArtPrize kudo goes to ArtPrize staffer Todd Herring, who provided spot-on comic relief at the awards ceremony. He came to the stage wearing flowers, a play on

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Campau Ave.


t’s time for another shout-out Sunday, a chance to put a brighter spotlight on people recently in the news. First up is Ann Loveless, winner of ArtPrize 2013. This Northern Michigan artist could not have been more gracious in handling people too quick to denigrate quilting as craft, not Loveless art. “I’ve seen this as just a great opportunity to educate people,” she told me, noting she is starting out with discussing artistic parallels between mosaics and quilts. Here’s my question: Does it strike anyone else odd that a man can take metal, weld it into a giant shape, paint it red, and voila, the Calder is

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