Briefly: Big News In A Small Format


The Land Information Access Association (LIAA) in Traverse City has a new executive director – only the second in the nonprofit’s 21-year history. Whitney Waara has been hired to lead the organization after LIAA co-founder Joe VanderMeulen stepped down in July to pursue writing and consulting opportunities.

Waara, a native of Marquette, Mich., most recently served as vice president of operations at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in Washington, D.C., and brings a background in strategic planning, grants, operations and organizational development. She oversees all of LIAA’s programs, including the UpNorth Media Center, which houses the public and government-access television services for northwest lower Michigan.


Realtors Sandy Gunning, Maureen Penfold, Matt Dakoske, Bob Brick and Tim Reid of RE/MAX Bayshore Properties in Traverse City and Kalkaska have been named to the 2014 list of America’s Best Real Estate Agents in the annual industry report published by REAL Trends in partnership with Trulia. REAL Trends is a consulting and communications company for the residential real estate industry and has been widely known as the trusted source for data, news, and trends for the residential real estate industry. Trulia is an online residential real estate site for homebuyers, sellers, renters and real estate professionals.


Alta Equipment Company in Traverse City is relocating to 1061 Stepke Ct. after renovating the building and constructing an addition. Company officials said they are “very excited about the opportunities we feel we have in the Traverse City area and have made a significant investment to back it up.”


Servpro, an industry leader in disaster cleanup, restoration and remediation services, recently honored Charles Hoban and Keith & Jessica Kinsey, Servpro of Grand Traverse Area, with the Millionaire’s Bronze award for outstanding revenue performance. The recognition took place during the company’s 45th Annual Convention held in Nashville, TN.


Sonny’s Body Shop has opened at 1824 Cass Hartman Court in Traverse City. The 18,000-square-foot service center takes the place of the original shop located on an adjacent property. The state-of-the-art facility includes a drive-up estimating garage, environmentally friendly spray booths, energy efficient lighting and a coffee bar. Formally the site of a machine shop and vacant at the time of acquisition, Sonny’s new service center houses more than twice the bays of its former location. Locally owned and operated since 1980, the shop has been owned by Robert Valleau and Doug Rice since 2005.


Short’s Brewing Company has announced an initial three-year financial commitment to the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy (GTRLC) for their ongoing work at the Glacial Hills Pathway and Natural Area, located near Short’s brewpub in Bellaire.

“Joe Short chose to open his brewery in Antrim County 10 years ago because this is a great place to live and to work,” said Short’s COO Matt Drake. “We want to keep Northern Michigan beautiful for generations to come, and are excited to be able to give back to our community. We enjoy riding the trails at Glacial Hills and have already witnessed their positive impact on our community.”


Shanty Creek Resorts in Bellaire has earned TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence. This recognition is given to destinations that consistently achieve outstanding traveler reviews of four stars or more on TripAdvisor. TripAdvisor determines these recognitions with a algorithm that takes into account review ratings of at least four, volume and recentness of reviews.


Michigan State University Extension (MSUE) Leelanau and the Master Gardener Association of Northwest Michigan (MGANM) have partnered to launch a digital map of community gardens in northwest Michigan.

“The map currently displays roughly twenty gardens, but that’s still only a small fraction of the community gardens in our region,” said Matthew Bertrand, of MSUE Leelanau. “We’re pleased to open the map up for submissions from the public.”

To qualify for publication, gardens must be gardened for and by community members. The map displays three categories of community gardens: food gardens, children’s gardens, and ornamental gardens. To explore the map or submit a new garden, visit

“Community gardens do best when people can walk to the garden and garden with neighbors. Because our region tends to be less densely populated, it can be harder for community gardens to thrive here. This map might help.” Bertrand said.


Abbigale Wilson, M.D., family medicine, has relocated to Bay Area Family Care. Bay Area Family Care is located at 906 Business Park Dr. in Traverse City. Dr. Wilson is accepting new patients and may be reached at (231) 935-8750.


Interphase Interiors has been awarded the national Haworth, Inc. 2014 Best In Class dealership for the third year in a row. The annual distinction is awarded to dealerships based on exceptional performance in marketing and brand development, sales and customer satisfaction, operational excellence as well as enterprise development.

Interphase’s Traverse City location has worked with the Turtle Creek Casino and Hotel, Munson Breast Health Center: A Patient Experience and more.


Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation (TART) Trails has relocated to ted at 148 E. Front Street, Suite 201 (2nd Floor above Talbot’s). Previously located in Old Town, the new office is on Front Street between Cass and Union streets.

“We are delighted to be back on Front Street and enjoy the energy, and hustle and bustle of the location. Our new space has more room for our volunteers and is conveniently located near the TART Trail for folks to stop by and say hello,” said Pam Darling, TART development director.


Tellurex Corp. in Traverse City recently launched its new website ( The new site is designed to brand Tellurex commercially, showcasing value-added design, engineering and assembly services of thermoelectric systems and devices.

Tellurex focuses its operating model on the delivery of thermoelectric expertise that it has developed and acquired during the past 28 years. Its efforts are concentrated in commercial product thermoelectric cooling applications in various industrial and consumer market verticals to include aerospace, medical, biomedical, food and beverage, as well as electronics, CCD camera and laser enclosure systems.


The Traverse Area Association of Realtors has received a $2,500 placemaking micro-grant from the National Association of Realtors – combined with a $500 local association match – to help make the Suttons Bay community a better place to live and work by transforming unused public spaces into vibrant community places.

The funds will be used to recondition one of the villages’ iconic British telephone booths, complete with wayfinding signage, and create a new public space at the interface of the Leelanau Trail and First Street where cyclists, hikers and citizens can meet and greet each other. They will partner with the Village of Suttons Bay, the Suttons Bay Chamber, TART Trails, the Suttons Bay Gardening Club and other local supporters on this project, who will also be providing additional resources and support.


Susan Smith, owner of the local Fish Window Cleaning, was presented with the Star Performer Award – Small Market for the third year in a row at the annual Fish Window Cleaning Convention in St. Louis, Mo. Smith received the award for having the highest total revenue in a small market during 2013. She was also recognized with the Navigator Award for her work with prospective franchisees. In 2012, Smith was awarded with the franchise’s top award, the Franchisee of the Year award. Smith opened her business with her late husband, Doug, in 2002. Her office provides service to commercial and residential customers from Emmet County to Leelanau County.


The Home Builders Association of the Grand Traverse Area recently announced the winners of the 2014 Parade of Homes Awards. The 25th annual Parade of Homes featured 13 new homes and three developments.

The prestigious People’s Choice award, voted on by Parade attendees, went to Pathway Homes (Gary and Cori Jurkovich) for homes with a fair market value of $300-$350K and $475-$650K. Blue Sky Building & Design (Eric & Samantha Olsen) also won in the category of $475-$650K.


The Acme Business Association recently adopted a new official logo for the organization. The new logo is much brighter than the previous one and the design has bold graphics with vivid yellow, blue and green.

“Our membership decided it was time to update the Association’s logo to better reflect the natural attributes and vibrancy of our beautiful area,” said Rob Evina, vice president of the association. “We considered several designs and we’re very pleased with the final version’s look and way it connotes the vitality of Acme.”


The Community Foundation board of directors recently elected new officers and two new directors for the 2014-2015 board year, which began July 1: Susan Cogswell of Grand Traverse County was named board chairman. She previously served two years as vice chairman. Virg Mouch of Antrim County was elected board vice chairman, after serving two years as secretary. Blake Brookes of Benzie County was elected secretary. Cogswell, Mouch, and Brooks have all been directors since 2009. Bud Cline, a Grand Traverse County representative, was re-elected to his role as treasurer. Cline has served on the Board since 2006.

The board elected Matt Davis of Antrim County and Jon Hawley of Benzie County as new directors for the current board year. Davis is the founder and CEO of Armor Express in Central Lake. Hawley is a retired public affairs consultant.


Rare Earth Hardwoods, a Traverse City–based manufacturer of premium flooring and custom millwork, announces an expansion. The 32-year-old company plans to enlarge its current showroom to display its offerings, including the exotic, specialty hardwoods harvested and imported from Brazil.

It will also focus on growing its environmentally friendly 3D (Dying Dead Down) Program at its Zero Impact Brazil (ZIB) production facility in Santarém, Brazil. Hailed as the highest form of low-impact harvesting, ZIB targets the removal of trees at the end of their life cycle in an effort to sustain its Brazilian forest reserve for long-term use.

Rare Earth Hardwoods is located at 6778 East Traverse Highway.


The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewa Indians has announced the distribution of $689,660 – the first installment of its twice-yearly two percent allocation of video gaming revenue to local units of government.

Its largest allocation – $100,000 – went to both Suttons Bay Public Schools and Traverse City Area Public Schools for their Indian Education Program. Northport Schools received $45,000 and Elk Rapids Schools, $30,000.

A government to government contract with Leelanau County for its prisoner housing contract received $63,875. Among the other recipients were the Grand Traverse Metro Fire Department, the Father Fred Food Pantry Program (via GT County), and the Leelanau County Senior Services Program.

Since the two percent allocation began in 1994, the Band has allocated more than $32 million dollars to hundreds of local organizations.


SCORE -Traverse City has recognized the following SCORE mentors for their volunteer service to the organization and commitment to supporting local small businesses: Marcia Billings, ten years; Louis Rodriquez, five years; and Bob Fenton, five years.


Kris Rockwood of Traverse City has launched Press On Juice, a producer of cold-pressed juices made from freshly pulverized fruits and vegetables.

After Rockwood was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, her doctor recommended she change her eating habits, specifically by eating less processed foods and more raw fruits and vegetables. Every bottle of Press On Juice is made with two pounds of fresh, raw, organic fruits and/or vegetables. Each serving is packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes that aren’t destroyed or altered by the heat pasteurization process common in nearly all commercially produced juices.

Rockwood’s juices are available at the Glen Arbor, Suttons Bay and Lake Leelanau farmers markets, as well as at her commercial facility at 2748 Garfield Road. Find her on Facebook or by calling (231) 409-9325.


Traverse City-headquartered National Coatings, a painting contractor servicing commercial and industrial clients, has opened its newest regional office in Williston, N.D. It now has six regional offices and employees more than 170 people. NThe company has completed three major projects in the area in the last 18 months: the Williston Community Rec Center, the Dakota Ridge apartment complex and the St. Joseph Hospital.


Yo2mo Marketing Agency in Traverse City has launched a new customer loyalty program, Northern Michigan Rewards ( The agency built the platform based on extensive feedback from both retailers and customers on what they want from a loyalty program.


Fifth Third Bank has announced its second $100,000 donation to the Cowell Family Construction Center project at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City. With this donation, Fifth Third emphasized the hospital’s use of local contractors.

“We appreciate the economic impact this facility will have on northern Michigan residents and patients in terms of job,s access, and beyond that, Munson’s commitment to the local economy through its support of local construction firms,” says David Shooltz, community president of Fifth Third Northern Michigan.

As part of its recent round of construction bids, Munson awarded $17 million in contracts to 12 contractors from the Grand Traverse region. The project broke ground in May and plans call for the center to open in 2016.

Local firms working on the project include Advanced Fire Protection, Bay Masonry, Bloxsom Roofing, Comstock Construction, DW Mechanical, Floor Covering Brokers, Grand Traverse Nurseries, Integrity and Balance, Molon Excavating, National Coatings and Windemuller Electric.