Briefly: Big News In A Small Format


Construction is underway on an $11 million expansion at Crystal Mountain Resort in Thompsonville. The project will add eight new downhill trails and a triple chairlift and will “transform the village center with a 31,200 square-foot, LEED-certified expansion and surrounding plaza to the Inn at the Mountain,” according to Crystal officials. The resort was awarded a $463,370 Community Development Block grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation for the project.

A new downhill skiing and snowboarding complex, “The Backyard,” is expected to be ready for the upcoming winter season. Crystal Mountain is also beginning construction ork on the Inn itself, a 12-month project expected to conclude with a grand opening in late 2016 to coincide with the resort’s 60th anniversary. The expansion will add 25 hotel rooms, bringing total Inn rooms to 54, and add a rooftop terrace that will serve as an open-air parlor and event venue. A coffee bar and specialty market will be added to the main level, while a new Village Plaza surrounding the Inn will serve as a village gathering place.


Riverine Apartments on Eighth Street in Traverse City is being converted into condominiums. Owner Richard Kuschell said the conversion is happening one building at a time, with five buildings in total. Kuschell and his father first purchased the property in 1994. Kuschell has converted other apartments around town into condominiums and was planning to do the same with Riverine years ago, but the project was stalled by the recession, he said. Two-bedroom, two-bath condos start at $134,900. “It is filling some of that need for workforce housing, Kuschell said.


Aetos Group, the unmanned vehicle startup launched by Northwestern Michigan College aviation colleagues, has been acquired by The Mistras Group, a New Jersey-based, publicly-traded company.

The Mistras Group is a global leader in technology-enabled asset protection solutions used to evaluate the structural integrity of critical energy, industrial and public infrastructure. The acquisition is expected to allow Aetos, which will be a wholly owned subsidiary, the resources to accelerate the company’s growth in serving those industries.

Aetos had just recently received its FAA Section 333 exemption, allowing it to use unmanned vehicles – or drones – to conduct inspections of facilities like oil rigs or pipelines.

Aetos Co-founders Aaron Cook, Tony Sauerbrey, and Nick Harwood signed employment contracts with Mistras and have relocated to Houston. CEO Bill Donberg will consult with Mistras.


Family medicine physician April E. Kurkowski, D.O., has moved her practice to Northern Pines Health Center. Northern Pines Health Center is located at 11293 N. M-37, Suite A, in Buckley. Dr. Kurkowski is currently accepting new patients, and appointments can be made by calling 231.269.4185.


Cherryland Electric Cooperative recently returned some $2.6 million to its members. The cooperative’s board of directors recently voted on the payout.

“It’s all part of the way an electric cooperative works, since we are owned by our members,” said Cherryland General Manager Tony Anderson. The refunds for members will be applied to their bills. Launched in 1938, Cherryland serves almost 34,000 members in parts of six counties. About 95 percent of the co-op’s members are residential customers.


Greenleaf Trust has been recognized as one of the 100 Best Workplaces for Women. One of a series of rankings by Great Place to Work® and Fortune magazine, this list is based upon employee survey feedback from more than 135,000 working women nationwide. Headquartered in Kalamazoo, Greenleaf’s local office is located at Park Street in downtown Traverse City.


The Larkin Group recently delivered its quarterly check totaling $2,408 to Traverse City Area Public Schools, as part of its “Score 20” for TCAPS program. “Score 20” is a program in which The Larkin Group gives 20 percent of the revenue the company receives from a new account, when the person asks to participate in the program.


Wilson Kester family law practice has expanded and relocated. The office can now be found at 457 Munson Avenue. The phone number is unchanged, 922-6800. Wilson Kester focuses on all aspects of family law, including complex legal matters, related criminal law and mediation.


Grand Traverse Industries has named its officers for the fiscal year beginning October 1. They are: Dan Stoudt, chair; Gerry McAvoy, vice-chair; Jennifer Ewing, secretary and Scot Zimmerman, treasurer. Founded in 1974, Grand Traverse Industries is a private, nonprofit corporation providing packaging and assembly, plastic bag manufacturing, vending, janitorial service, interpreter services for the deaf and hard of hearing, and more. It trains and employs more than 300 persons with disabilities. GTI has operations in Traverse City, Petoskey, and Mancelona.


Three National Cherry Festival employees recently received the Certified Festival and Event Executive (CFEE) designation from the International Festival and Events Associate (IFEA): Executive Director Trevor Tkach, Operations Manager Kat Paye, and Business Development Manager Michelle Elliott.

Additionally, the National Cherry Festival received an award for creativity and use of marketing mediums. The award received was in the category of Best TV Ad Spot or PSA for a festival or event with an annual budget $1.5 million or greater. The TV spot Cherries, Cherries and Cherries! was produced by Novum Productions of Traverse City.


Traverse Health Clinic is celebrating 40 years in the community. Originally established by a group of volunteer physicians and nurses who saw the need to provide limited free health services to people in need, Traverse Health Clinic is today a community health center with a staff of 41, providing comprehensive primary care to families five days a week.
Traverse Health has welcomed 1,197 new patients this past year, serves all ages and accepts all insurances, and also continues to care for the uninsured.


The Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge law office recently marked 25 years in Traverse City. Traverse City native Robert Parker joined the firm in 1997 after practicing law in town since 1980. He was named CEO of the firm – with 85 lawyers – 18 months ago.
The law office first opened in 1941 in Grand Rapids and opened the Traverse City office in 1990, with five partners and three associates – it has since tripled in size and moved to a new office at the corner of Front and Park streets. It also has locations in Muskegon and Ann Arbor.


Lindsey Jonkhoff-Rogers of Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home in Traverse City won the Selected Independent Funeral Homes Best Practices Competition, recently held in New Orleans. The Best Practices Competition provides four members the opportunity to present their unique business ideas. Audience members named Jonkhoff-Rogers winner for her Hannah Bear Project and community outreach efforts. Jonkhoff-Rogers created a coloring book that educates children about death, providing simple death-related vocabulary, while offering an opportunity to discuss feelings. Hannah Bear even made a surprise, special appearance during her award winning presentation.


To accommodate continued practice growth, The Center Plastic Surgery of Northern Michigan has added staff and new state-of-the-art laser skin care services. Licensed esthetician Mischelle Fisher brings 11 years of experience in both spa and medical aesthetics. Her specialty areas include aesthetic and laser therapies for aging skin.

The Center has also added Beth Rutter as business manager. She brings 18 years of experience in Management to the practice, most recently managing a northern Michigan-based dental practice.

This fall, The Center introduced Halo, a new technology that offers laser skin care therapy designed to simultaneously treat both the dermal and epidermal layers of the skin, speeding treatment and recovery times. The Center is also adding LaserLipo, a service that “melts” unwanted fat and tightens skin.


Dingeman & Dancer, PLC in Traverse City has received a Tier 1 ranking for Mediation from Best Lawyers®, the recognized guide to legal excellence in the United States for more than 30 years.

The ranking is achieved from feedback from clients and peers as well as information obtained from the firm. Best Lawyers, in partnership with U.S. News & World Reports, ranks more than 10,000 firms in 118 practice areas in 170 metropolitan areas and eight states. The report reaches the largest and most targeted audience of any peer review listing in the legal profession and is the most respected referral list of attorneys and law firms in practice.


The Jay Zelenock Law Firm is celebrating the beginning of its sixth year of operation in its location in the historic Old City Hall Building in downtown Traverse City. Zelenock is in his 17th year of civil law practice in Traverse City.


Traverse Area Association of REALTORS (TAAR) has welcomed RE/MAX Central Cadillac and its 13 realtors to TAAR and the Northern Great Lakes REALTORS Multiple Listing Service (MLS). The MLS is a cooperative partnership between the Central Michigan Association of REALTORS, the Northeastern Michigan Board of REALTORS, and the Traverse Area Association of REALTORS.


Stardust Kidz Consignment and Resale has opened at 727 E. Eighth Street in Traverse City. The shop buys and sells gently used infant and children’s clothing, shoes, accessories and more.; 231-642-522.


Northern Michigan media veteran Kimberly Purdy has been tapped by Trion Solutions, Inc. to establish the company’s Traverse City office. Trion Solutions is a national professional employer organization and value-added provider of human resources services, serving small to medium-sized enterprises throughout the United States. The Troy, Mich.- based company specializes in providing payroll and worker’s compensation benefits administration.

In her role as northern Michigan’s sales & marketing representative for Trion, Purdy serves as Trion’s primary liaison to client companies and prospects throughout northern Michigan, as well as to the broader business community. Purdy previously served as news anchor and reporter for 9&10 News and is returning to the area following six years of service to Special Olympics Michigan and Special Olympics Team USA in a variety of communications and development leadership roles.


The Leadership Lunch Club is returning for a fourth year of offering business and nonprofit leaders in the Grand Traverse region opportunities to learn cutting edge leadership and business practices. Speakers share wisdom gleaned by applying principles contained in leading business and leadership books. This year, several national speakers have been added to the roster.

The series kicks off on November 20 with John Borbi, speaking on the topic, “The Dark Side of Success.” Borbi is a nationally recognized expert in business ethics, who shares his personal story of success, ethical downfall and dramatic turnaround Participants will learn to develop strategies to manage and achieve balanced success, discover techniques to resolve moral and ethical dilemmas and avoid justifying unethical decisions.

The 2015-16 schedule continues with:

– February 12: Don Coe and Michael Lahti of Black Star Farms –“Leadership in Transition – Preparing the Way.”

– April 8: Tonya Wildfong of Team Elmer’s –“How to Create Raving Fans”

– June 10: Tom Root of Zingerman’s Mail Order in Ann Arbor – “Living Servant Leadership”

Complete event details and tickets can be found at The series is offered by Center for Coaching & Leadership Development (CCLD) led by owner and senior consultant Barbara Jordan Ellis based in downtown Traverse City.


New York-based financial tech company SmartAsset recently released its list of the top Michigan counties ranked by growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over a four-year period. No northern Michigan counties cracked the top ten, but Grand Traverse County came in 14th with GDP growth at $341 million. Leelanau County came in 55th with $75.9 million GDP growth, Antrim County 59th at $57.2 million, Benzie County 65th at $45.6 million and Kalkaska County 71st with GDP growth at $34.5 million.

See the top 10 fastest growing economies in the state below:

Oakland County – $3.95 billion
Wayne County – $3.3 billion
Macomb County – $1.9 billion
Kent County – $1.6 billion
Washtenaw County – $823 million
Genesee County – $808 million
Ingham County – $635 million
Ottawa County – $588 million
Kalamazoo County – $572 million
Saginaw County – $451 million


Two longtime TART Trails’ advocates – Jerry Glenn and Jim “Woody” Woodburne – have been named co-recipients of this year’s Jim Mudgett Trail Pioneer Award. Both men have worked for years on the Vasa Pathway and the North American Vasa event, are avid cross-country skiers and enjoy giving back to the ski community. Glenn also coordinated the replacement of the bridges along the TART Trail, including securing funding and recruiting volunteers and Woodburne also organized volunteers to remove invasive species along the Leelanau Trail corridor. Jim Mudgett was a founding board member of TART Trails who passed away in 2004. The award was created to honor and pay tribute to individuals who have shown leadership and passion for local trails.


Munson Medical Center’s stroke program and bariatric program have received national recognition.

The stroke program was recognized by the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines program for its high quality of care. The hospital received Gold Plus Achievement recognition for two or more consecutive years of 85 percent or higher adherence on all applicable achievement measures for stroke patients, and 75 percent or higher adherence with five or more select quality measures in stroke care.

The medical center’s Bariatric Program recently received national accreditation. The three-year “Comprehensive Center” accreditation was awarded by the American College of Surgeons and the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program. Accreditation is awarded to a bariatric surgical center only after a rigorous review process, during which it proves that it can maintain high practice standards, as well as provide the physical and human resources necessary to meet patient needs. Munson Medical Center also has been recognized as a Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence since 2008.