This site is meant to facilitate the upward flow of information to help our elected officials stay in touch with those they represent. Also as a means to help us (the voters) help our leaders lead.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Fire at the Kensington.

Long on pics; don't forget to click on them to make them bigger.

Last night I awoke to the rumble of big trucks and a smell of smoke. I finally got up at 3:30 walked down to the corner and through the smoke could see alot of lights flashing. It looked bad, it was.

This was a huge fire just off the corner of Strong and Peck on Peck. The venerable brick apartment building "Kensington" with I would guess 12 apartments was fully involved by the time I got there. I would guess the fire started around 3am. I would also guess the fire started on the 2nd or 3rd floor.

By the time I got there the 2nd ladder truck had arrived. The firemen had there plan in motion. They seemed to be fighting a losing battle. Mainly they fought what looked like a staying action to prevent complete colapse and to protect the buildings next door.

I got enough smoke and left at 4am. The second batch of Pics were shot at 9;30. As you can see the buildings roof was gone and the firefighters had been working hard all night. A 3rd ladder truck had arrived along with the much appreciated I'm sure Norton Shores Canteen which was a school bus type vehicle fitted out to let the firefighters relax and drink and eat something.

My hats off to and a big Bottom Two Thumbs UP for all the fire fighters and first responders.

Casualties I know nothing about other than I saw a lady being treated for what seemed to be smoke inhalation. I hope that was all, but I don't know yet. The suffering was also apparent in the people wandering around with handfulls of their belongings.

Regards, and Prayers
Live Dangerously Be A Conservative

3:30 night pics.
click to enlarge

Next pics are from 9:30 am click to enlarge

<<<<< edit >>>>>
At 3pm I saw flames had erupted again and were put out but smoke was still comeing from the structure.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Grand Opening. Great Lakes Naval Memorial and Museum

Grand Opening. Great Lakes Naval Memorial and Museum

For a fuller experiance single click on the top video on my side bar. You know the one with the pretty girl. lower the vol. on your computer to your comfrot level and enjoy reading my blog.

Click on pics to enlarge.

Saturday had the makings for a nice day. The oppressive heat wave had lifted, and there was a breeze in the air. As I got closer to the Muskegon Lake Channel the lake breeze was refreshing. A perfect day to help celebrate what so many people in Muskegon had been working for years to put on; efforts of which I’m sorry to say I was not a part; and something I was only vaguely aware of. The Grand Opening of “The Great Lakes Naval Memorial and Museum” heralded this effort.


This was pulled off through the selfless efforts of lots of people. This was an example of a community pitching in their time talent and money behind the scenes to make something nice for Muskegon, it not only is educational in the “museum” sense of the word; but helps show future generations the respect and honor in which we hold those who helped preserve our way of life in such courageous fashion.

As I say, I played no part in this and that I hope will change in the future.
The event celebrated the Grand Opening of this building which serves to hold a museum as a memorial to the two ships Muskegon has on display at South side of the Muskegon Channel. More than that, the museum is filled with graphic laden pectoral partitions leading one through a display filled path winding within the structure; taking one back to a different time. Nostalgia is everywhere.

The displays are instructive but when viewed along this winding corridor through the past, one gets a feeling of what it must have been like to live during those times when the nation was at war.

A couple of strikingly large commissioned art pieces add to the feeling of those times. Below is one of them.

The building was christened The Robert G. Morin, Sr. Facility. The building has a library and gift shop, along with a convention center and a 72 seat theatre. Tours are offered as well as group overnight visits. This is quite a community resource.

The event Saturday started with tours of the submarine USS Silversides, and the Coast Guard Cutter the USS Mclane. These boats were the actual boats that fought and served in WWII. They are both moored alongside the South side of the Muskegon Channel. I arrived as they were serving hotdogs and stuff. The line was long and friendly as were the tables spread around.

The “Opening Crermony” took place on the deck of the USS Silversides our own WWII submarine. Chairs and bleachers held the crowd. Lots of the major players responsible for the Museum were on hand, I cannot list them only to say that there were many. A check of the linked site above lists on the side bar the most influential ones.

Local Dignitaries were on hand and included State Senator Jerry Van Woerkom who introduced Congressman Pete Hoekstra. In the backdrop of the podium was the channel and boats sailing past.

As Congressman Hoekstra took the podium and began his speech, it dawned on me he was speaking without notes and not a teleprompter was in sight. Of the times I’ve heard him talk this seemed the most animated. When he referenced this as an example of voluntary community service free of government entanglements he was on a roll. As he talked of how the building and even the ships were but only symbols of the respect the community had for the people that served on them and helped keep our country free; Pete was talking from the heart; freely and without aid.

As I was sitting and listening I happened to be sitting next to an original crew member of the USS Silversides, we started talking. His name was Gordon L. Hiatt who later told me a fascinating story about his time on board the Silversides. He and his wife are pictured below.

Mr. Hiatt told me of how a Japanese submarine surrendered to the Silversides and that a crew from the Silversides had to pilot the Japanese ship into port on Armistice Day. A Japanese crew was not allowed for obvious reasons. He said he was one of three left that crewed the Japanese boat. Mr. Hiatt also said that this particular sub had two airplane launchers (catapults) fore and aft with a compliment of three planes. He claimed that this boat was going to bomb the Panama Canal. I was glad I met this man.

As the ceremony ended people were mingling exchanging stories and friendships. Below is a picture of the crowd and Pete talking to different people; among them Jim Riley fellow Muskegon blogger and also John and Susie Hughes who played a crucial role in making this all possible. Hughes builders cut costs to make this a financial possibility. Susie too is Vice Chair of the Muskegon County Republican Party.

As things were ending I got this picture of Pete giving his thanks and respect to Robert G. Morin after whom the facility was named and who I’m told was a prime mover.

Regards, Live Dangerously Be A Conservative.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Day with Rep. Hansen. A PD at work

For a fuller experiance single click on the top video on my side bar. You know the one with the pretty girl. lower the vol. to your comfrot level and enjoy reading my blog.
click pics to enlarge.

Just doing my job.

I’ve had a busy week for this old man. This blog and yesterdays will recap some events I’ve had.

State Rep.Goeff Hansen came to Muskegon Sat. to attend the Muskegon Heights Mayor’s breakfast, Karen Buie had let Goeff know about it. I decided to tag along. I’m glad I did. Karen couldn’t make it. Goeff Hansen is running for the 34th Michigan Senate Seat.

The breakfast was good. The Mayor and the city Council members each said some words. Goeff was the only politician outside of them that was present and he was acknowledged by the Mayor. Below is a pic of the Mayor and Goeff talking and on-lookers enjoying.

After the meeting Representative Hansen mingled and seemed to fit in. The Fire chief was there and Goeff was a volunteer firefighter for a number of years so they had plenty to talk about. Before that he talked with the policemen that were there and they talked of the State police post in Hart that Representative Hansen was instrumental in reopening. In fact Hansen’s Grocery rented for a dollar their parking lot to temporarily house the State Police in trailers. The Heights Police were well aware of the whole thing and took note he was there.

After it was all done and we were leaving Mary Valentine came in, I could tell Goeff got a kick out of one upping Mary in her own back yard.

It was still early and Goeff had some free time. I asked if he wanted to see my side of Muskegon and some projects I was working on. Off we went. I went first to Marion’s Nelson Community Association Plant sale that I blogged about in my last post. No one was there yet, and it was still early well before the lunch crowd so I decided to take him to Mia & Grace Bakery and Bistro to introduce him to Jamie and Jeremy the Chef owners. Below is a link to an article I wrote about them well before they opened their door for business.


Picture of Jeremy and Goeff talking.

I was greatly intrigued by them both and their vision. I had my doubts whether they could survive, I’m ever happy that those doubts were ill founded. Muskegon is blessed that these two stubborn gifted people chose to open up here in spite of the regulatory mess that is Muskegon and I’m happy to see the people of Muskegon supporting the quality they bring.

Glad we went when we did; the staff was just starting to get ready for the Lunch crowd. Jeremy was there and had time. His wife Jamie had gone to the farmers market to pick up some fresh veggies for today’s lunch. Mia & Grace is a “farm to table” operation as much as possible. Not only do they buy their vegetables fresh locally from farmers, also all the meat and eggs etc that they can. BTW their braised pork bellies I’ve been told are to die for.

Another unique aspect of their store is that the menu is seasonal which gives those two young creative chef’s ample opportunity to experiment. Goeff was talking to Jeremy about asparagus and when he mentioned guacamole asparagus, you could see Jeremy’s ears perk up. He and I had never heard of that before. I wouldn’t be surprised to see that on Mia & Graces ever changing menu before too long.

Jeremy and Goeff spent a long time talking about the surprising amount of things they had in common. They knew the same farmers that they both deal with; Jeremy in the restaurant and Goeff in the grocery store. Both were staunch “buy local” advocates. Goeff talked about all the legislation along those lines and they both hit it off.

As we left Mia & Grace and right up the street I pointed out the 1st Congregational Church and jokingly said that we just missed a free gourmet breakfast they serve every Sat. Morning. Goeff knew the Church and had just done something with them. He is a Congregationalist back in his home.

I told him how I had tried to get the County Republicans to volunteer to serve breakfast but couldn’t get support. He said he’d be happy to as long as he could actually do the serving and not just stand around. Monday I talked with the people who organize the event and we tentatively set it up. I’ll let you know how it turns out. Below link to previous post.


Perhaps I shouldn’t rub it in or mention it but I heard a rumor from two places that the Governor may be coming to serve breakfast in the future. This is just a rumor but I’m glad that Goeff at least will be doing this before the Governor comes and takes advantage of what is in our own back yard.

Maybe it takes an outsider to appreciate what opportunities we have in Muskegon.

We then went to the Farmers Market where again Representative Hansen knew a lot of the farmers. Below are some pics of that experience.

Next I took Goeff to Love Community Garden that Morning Bear and Pastor Phillips thru his Love Fellowship Baptist Church have set up and is flourishing. Sadly no one was there at the time. He seemed to like the idea and mentioned something he was working on about seeds being given to local people. As I find out about it more I’ll let you know. This garden is really starting to become a blessing to the neighborhood.

Monday I was there with Morning Bear early in the day and she asked if I could stay as she was alone Alberta couldn’t make it and a group of kids were coming from Nelson School right next door to start to work on the two raised beds we had saved for them.

About 20 kids and their teachers came. The teachers broke them up into groups of 5. One group would be with Morning at their beds and the rest I took on a tour of the other garden beds. I enjoyed it, and all the kids were participating. I hammed it up showing how safe the cow mauure compost was by crumbling it in my hands and smelling it while showing how the plants got their food from the soil and why we pull the weeds. The kids got off on that kind of stuff.

This was set up on the fly and I wasn't expecting it and my camera was home. I ran back after I did my thing picked up my camera as the kids were leaving; but got these pics.

This will turn into part of their class for the season. They will come every week, every Monday.

Along the same lines I showed Goeff our Benson’s Drugs, he of course first noticed the Country Dairy Milk sign right in front. A two door freezer now sells frozen quality meat from the Butcher Block and up front they sell bags of onions and potatoes and some apples and bananas by the piece. It’s a start and I hope I was a small part in their decision to keep doing this.


As you can figure out, I’m becoming a believer in Goeff Hansen. Aside from that however, as a precinct delegate I am just doing my job. I am supposed to show candidates around my precinct and introduce them to people I know. That is the job of a Precinct Delegate, That is what I’m doing. It’s a good thing when what I do fits so well with what I’m supposed to do.

As we headed down Sanford a block from my house I saw something that caused me to tell Geoff to put on the brakes. We circled the block, I got out and took these pics. Yea old swimming hole city style. This was left from the big rain the night before. The kids were really likeing it.

Monday I also met Jay Riermsma at the Holiday Inn for lunch. His campaign manager Jane and Karen Buie were there along with me.

We all had a nice political talk, and I got to learn something about Mr Riemersma along with his charming campaign manager. I also have a commitment from him for an interview on this blog. The interview should be happening fairly soon.

One last thing; after Marion’s plant sale we leave the one’s people don’t want out for people just to take. The next day (Monday) I took them all, probably 20 to 30 flats to my fellow Precinct Delegate in the Heights, Larry and his neighbor Adrian planted them by the time I stopped by later. Larry has a huge garden he started this year in his new house he is rehabbing. Pics are below. He and Adrian gave the rest to neighbors.

Regards, Live Dangerously Be A Conservative.

Sorry for the Delayed Blogging

click on pics to enlarge

Sometimes I wonder if what I’m doing makes a difference. If all the hassle and work is worth it; you may know the feeling.

I have been helping an old friend of mine every now and then over the last few years. His name is Marion. He is a soft spoken older gentleman with a heart of gold. Marion got upset with the bureaucratic inefficiencies and things he saw as wrong in the Nelson Neighborhood Association and walked out. He simply set up his own group. He called this group the Nelson Community Association. That was over 20 years ago.

Over the 20 some odd years since then, he has quietly kept that group alive. Marion runs a very small food pantry through which he gives out and sells food to about 20-40 people. He has to buy the majority of the food from food banks and the like. Sometimes that food is free as with his share from the recent US Post Office Letter Carriers Food Drive. Other times it's not.

That is the time when I can help out. I have a pickup truck you see; Marion has never driven a car.

Did I mention that Marion is at least 80 and recently had brain surgery? The holes in his head are still healing. Let me add also that this association he set up is a legal neighborhood association.

Don’t expect newsletters and meetings and the like. Marion runs it himself with occasional help from a few of his neighbors, which he occasionally finds who are willing to do the heavy lifting for him. His food pantry only opens when he thinks it’s necessary. He calls up everyone on his list personally letting them know that the “store” will be open around noon always on Sat. This happens probably every other week, but no set schedule. He does this with the neighbors he feels can afford to pay something for the food. Like me and it usually isn’t much, and it depends but maybe a couple of dollars for a bag full. If I'm flush I'll give him an extra five. For some it’s more some it’s less. Nobody argues price, they know it’s fair. Marion also fixes up bags and hand delivers them to some worse off than he. No charge in these cases.

Marion doesn’t need to gather financial information for his pricing scheme, these are his neighbors and he’s known them for a long time. They don’t argue because they’ve known him for a long time.

If you’ve read my blog you are familiar with Marion. I will help him occasionally and if it seems worthy I will blog about it. He has a fundraiser every year and it's coming up and I again will post about it. The deal is parking for the Summer Celebration and the July 4th fire works.

I really like this guy because he is a doer, he doesn’t let bureaucracy get into his projects. While he has never driven he has gotten to know all the players in city government, he has gotten to know them through his battles to be able to have an organization like his in direct competition with the other Nelson Neighborhood Group; from his battles to be able to run a food pantry as he does.

Marion is a fountain of knowledge of how the city works. For someone who doesn't drive or use computers that guy gets all over the city and knows everything. When I need to know who to go to he can be helpful. I used to sit and listen to some of his political stories for hours. He is constantly fighting against city hall and their encroachments upon our rights and mainly the abuses and corruption within.

Getting back to my blog, once a year Marion has a Plant sale. Although he makes some money, he mainly does it so his neighbors will be able to afford flowers and vegetables which he hopes will help them to fix up and pay more attention to their yards. He recently upped his price per flat from $1 to $2 due to the money that he pays me for gas.

That’s where I come in each year I take a day off to go pick up these plants; Marion comes along, he still tries to do half the work. Last Thursday, we left his place at 9am and ended up back at 9:30 pm. I have made a set up for my truck that provides a shelf to carry more plants. I've built it so I can build it and unbuild it as we load and unload. It works. I save the rig in my basement.

Over the years Marion has gotten to become friends with Greenhouse owners from North of Montague to Holton to Airline Road. At the end of their busy time, (this year was last Thurs.) the greenhouses will set aside anywhere from 20 to 240 flats of plants that they have extra and would probably throw away anyway. They’ve gotten to know Marion and what he does and they feel good doing this for him.

Whether it was the economy or what have you, we collected more plants than we ever did. It never took 12 hours before to collect them. Well we then stored them in Marion’s back yard until the following Sat. Morn. People start lining up for numbers early. They are let in at noon. This year I didn’t help on the Sat. Marion is good at finding help among his neighbors. I had political stuff to do. Below is Marion’s back yard and some of the flowers and veggies. For being next to the expressway, in a poor part of town on a narrow 50' lot, he has a backyard to die for.




I only took 2 pictures of the Sat. flower sale. I was busy that day, Goeff Hansen was in town and we were going to the Mayor’s breakfast in the Heights that morning and Goeff had some time to kill and he wanted to see the stuff I was trying to do and help with in my precinct. I took him to Marion’s plant sale. Goeff really likes this sort of thing. Getting out of the political thing for a change; I will write another blog after this one about what all we did Sat. but suffice it to say I haven’t had time or energy to blog till now. Goeff is in one of the Pics below. We came late and there were just 20 or so in line left with #s. Also a few hangers on.

The stories I have of Marion are becoming, in my mind at least, legendary. Let me share one brief story. I went to Meijer’s one day a few years back and ran across Marion. I always offer to drive him home when this happens. This is hard for me as I like to breeze in and out as quick as possible. Marion however spends a great deal of time in preparation for his bus trip to Meijers. Price and quality comparisons are the name of that game along with constantly sorting through his envelope of coupons he saves.

Well this one time he seemed to be in a panic. He had discovered the holy grail of coupon shopping and he was the first to find this “loophole”. As he excitedly explained it to me, I too became caught up in the fun. This is how it worked, at least in general, the specifics have blurred over the years. Meijers was giving out coupons of I believe $10 for purchases over $30 to be used on your next purchase as a reward for shopping at Meijers. They were also running big sales on items and some of those items had manufacture’s coupons right on the package. Marion had it figured out how once we bought the first $30 worth we could keep going back and back and back. We actually would go through checking and get a couple of dollars cash back and the $10 coupon for our next purchase. We kept doing that, and loading up my truck with free food.

This was completely legal, however we both knew it wasn’t fair to Meijers but we justified it in that ALL the food went to Marion’s pantry. Finally management came down and said they had watched us make several trips to our truck and we said we did and they said they would appreciate it if we stopped. We did.

We both still remain big fans of Meijers

We left and went to Marion’s pantry and unloaded the food. Below is a Pic of Marion during our pick up of food from the Post Office Letter Carriers food drive.

Is this worth all the hassle and work, well I think it is and like my new favorite saying says; What other people think of me is none of my business.

Regards, Live Dangerously Be A Conservative