Ladas Hoopes McNeill

Ladas Hoopes McNeill
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Taste of Muskegon

Taste of Muskegon
June 16th and 17th

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Nancy Beeman Chronicles The Men From Muskegon County We Lost in Vietnam

I am the son of a Vietnam Vet.  I am not from a family that really expected a lot of attention for my dad's service, when he got out...he came home, went to work and began raising a family.  It's not a topic we grew up discussing a lot, except for the times we'd get into the attic and bust out the slide projector to see pictures of his tours of duty...and quite often, those pictures are only from the places he went where there wasn't much fighting going on.

Today still, it's kind of just there.  There's never been a moment where he's opened up about all he saw and did.  He was a helmsmen of an LST class ship that was turned into a repair ship, so thankfully he wasn't on the ground like some were.  He also spent time as a radio operator on a ship which I think might explain some why he was so defensive of me in my early days of wanting to be on the radio.  I know however, that the memories are still there for him.  Years ago, he and I walked the LST 393 together.  He knew every single door.  He knew where everything was located, who slept where...where the galley and mess hall was... it was really the closest I ever got him to tell the story.  It's ok with me if he doesn't he's from the generation that doesn't talk much about such things.

He came home, but there were so many who didn't.  As time has gone on, more and more attention is shifting away from the WWII Vets, who we're loosing at a very fast pace, to guys my dad's age.  How do we remember those who didn't come home, and how do we change the way those who did come home from Vietnam, to the jeers and taunts we have seen so much of, to more of a gratitude filled honor.
Artists Rendering of New Memorial

Well, like a lot of things, all it takes is one person.  Meet Nancy Beeman.  Nancy's husband served in Vietnam, and her son in Desert Storm.  Nancy curates the Vietnam Memorial area on board the LST 393 and she has spent a lot of time getting to know the history of the young men from Muskegon County who were lost in Vietnam.  In fact, she's taken all that knowledge and put it into a DVD that shows you who we lost and what their military career was.  Behind us in the video, you'll see some of their faces, but the DVD has the whole story of them.

Nancy is selling copies of the DVD to raise a few bucks, about $10,000 in fact to make an addition to the "Final Approach" memorial out on the corner of Seaway Drive and Old Grand Haven Road.  She's taking mail orders for the moment, you'll find the address below, but for now, spend a few minutes with Nancy and I and hear why she embarked on the project and how she's looking for a hand to get the memorial built for those who have served in the "modern era" of Desert Storm until now.

All it takes is one person to start a movement.  I hope you could see and hear the dedication in Nancy's voice to the memory of our fallen, some of which only made it a day on the ground in Vietnam.  Her dedication and passion are real and this proposed monument will be an amazing addition to the Final Approach memorial.  I was compelled enough to offer Nancy a hand.  She's been looking for a way to get these DVD's out and continue the funding of the memorial, and since she doesn't have Ebay....well, I do.  In Muskegon, stop down to the LST 393 Gift shop for a copy for $20.  If you'd like to order a copy online, click on the photo of the DVD below and order a copy.  The DVD is $20 and we'll go $5 for shipping and handling.  Every cent will go to the memorial fund.  If you'd like to send a donation to Nancy or order a copy of the DVD by mail, please do so at the following address.  Vietnam Veterans PO Box 1637, Muskegon MI, 49443

Click Here to Purchase a DVD from My Ebay Store

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Positively Muskegon - Meet John Koval - He Gets the Job Done

There are those who without asking for much get a LOT of things accomplished and benefit the greater good with their words and actions.  Such is the case with John Koval.

John owns Smitter Pest Control for his day job, but with that job he adds something daily for the betterment of others.  Even if it's just a traffic warning he stumbles upon while out on the road...he shares it to save everyone else a headache.

Find John at Smitter Pest Control

I have been trying to find an angle to get John on, but like many others...he just sees things that need to be addressed and he handles it.  Sandy Corley Run needs an extra pair of hands?  John is there.  Recently, John grabbed the reigns and resupplied a little league field that had all their equipment stolen.  He'll pitch in to help build softball leagues, he'll go on Facebook live and share his thoughts and actions and he doesn't ask for anything extra.  He does things because they are the right thing to do.

Click Here for the Event Page

That being said, he's probably shaking his head at all of this, but when he asked if I could help get the word out about a good time he's part of in Norton Shores...I grabbed the chance to get him in the spotlight!  If John's's going to be done right!'s what he wanted me to talk about!  June 9th and 10th there's going to be some fun to be had in Ross Park in Norton Shores!  They are celebrating Flag Day with 2 nights of music, a men's softball tournament a "beverage tent" and more.  It's an honest attempt to get another fun activity off the ground in Muskegon.  The Event is being organized by Norton Shores Arts and Drafts

I was able to catch up with John to talk a little about the party and get you to save the date to enjoy Ross Park in Norton Shores a little.  Take a listen to our chat below.

John is the kind of guy we like to shine a light on!  He's always there with a hand to lend, he's kind to all he meets and he sees as much beauty and excitement in being part of Muskegon and Muskegon's future.  Ya, I kind of waited till he came to me with a story idea, but if I went to him and said "Hey..let's talk about you"  he'd politely say no.  So now that you know John a little more...head out to the party n Ross Park and say thanks for all he does, quietly behind the scenes to make the world a better place!

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Veterans Job Fair at the LC Walker Arena May 23rd - Public Welcome

Muskegon has always been a proud community that takes care of their own. But how do we give back to the amazing men and women who put their lives on the line for our community, cities, counties, state, and country? 
A job fair is a great place to start! I sat down with Mike Baauw, the Muskegon County Veterans Services and Programs Coordinator to discuss the upcoming event. While it is geared towards veterans, everyone is welcome. 

Baauw offered insight into what employers are looking for and helpful tips for job seekers. The Veterans’ Job Fair will be Tuesday, May 23, 2017 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the LC Walker Arena.  There will be 73 companies there looking to hire.  It's a vast resource for anyone looking for a job. 
Another opportunity to help veterans, RibFest will take place May 26th and 27th in downtown Grand Haven. There will be amazing food, entertainment, and new this year, a KIDS TENT interactive learning activity sponsored by the U.S.S. Silversides. Proceeds from this event go to help veterans all over West Michigan.
Take a listen as we talk about both.

A giant thank you to Mike for not only taking the time to sit down with Positively Muskegon today, but also for all he does to make lives better for all our veterans!  For more on the Ribfest Event, click on their poster below.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Muskegon Waves Athletic Team Set to Compete in the Michigan Victory Games!

To quote the Michigan Victory Games website - "Michigan Victory Games gives athletes with physical disabilities a chance.  A chance to compete, make friends, and feel the support of a team.  To experience the thrill of victory and the possibility of defeat.  To gain the kind of values, morals and skills that only sports can provide.  To instill a belief and inspire greatness.  To experience the spirit of competition we’ve provided for over 40 years."

That says enough for me to want to know more!  May 18th-21st athletes from all over Michigan will converge on the campus of Michigan State University for the fun and fellowship of the games.  Athletes as young as 7 can compete and there is no age cap for individuals who would like to be a part of the fun.  Some of the events include bowling, swimming, boccie ball, weight lifting, table tennis, track and field and more.  Teams and individuals compete and they are serious about the games!

You'll find teams like The Kalamazoo Courage, The Grand Rapids Eagles, The Ionia Trailblazers, The Royal Oak Charging Knights and our very own team The Muskegon Waves!

Meet the Muskegon Waves - Follow On Facebook

Yes, our very own team is about to make the trek east to "do battle" and bring home the gold, sliver, bronze and anything else they can grab.  From the time they spend practicing at Wesley School to the travel and rigors of the road, The Muskegon Waves are a dominating force, but then again, what would you expect from anyone in Muskegon?

I was invited by team coach Katie Ellis to learn a little more about the games, The Muskegon Waves and how you can get involved too!  Take a listen to our chat below!

An awesome endeavor for awesome people.  To know that life without limits is becoming more and more accessible to all amazes me.  Sure, we all have limits regardless of our physical abilities, but it's the constant testing of those limits that let us know we're alive...and anyone should be able to feel that.  To know they have made an accomplishment, were part of a team and maybe even surprised themselves with what they can do...that's applicable to anyone!  Join me in cheering on the Muskegon Waves at the Michigan Victory Games.  You can learn more about the Michigan Victory Games from their website linked below!

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

9/11 Tribute and Memorial Service In Muskegon and Grand Haven Fundraiser May 20th

Ike Villapando sent me a Facebook message and sad he wanted to show me something that he's been working on and wondered if I had time to meet up.  If you don't know Ike, well, let's just say his cool presence is plenty to get you to show up, but generally, he's also behind some pretty cool stuff going on and this time it's a whopper.

Ike has found a way for Muskegon and Grand Haven to share an event!

Let's be honest, our two towns could get along much better.  For as long as I have been here, that drawbridge has been more than a pain in the butt for commuters, it's been an invisible line between 2 pretty awesome cities.  Now, growing up in Sparta it wasn't all that apparent, but after a few years living here you get a pretty good idea of the "us and them" mindset.  Thing is, no one seems to remember why they think that way, they just do.  So?  How do you address that?  You find commonality.
Grand Haven VFW on Facebook

We were all effected by 9/11.  Not a soul living on earth that day will forget it.  A lot of time has past, and a lot of reflection and remembrance has been made and as we carry on, we should always remember what happened that day.  We should remember as one too.  Nothing could divide America that day, and the weeks and months that followed.  If for just one day we could all remember, we'd be ahead.  Well, September 11th this year will be marked with a shared event between Muskegon and Grand Haven.

We'll keep you up to date as September draws closer for the event, but for now, there's going to be a fundraiser at the Grand Haven VFW on First Street this coming Saturday.  You'll be able to enjoy some fellowship and food, there will be karate demonstrations, a live and silent auction and you'll also get a glimpse at the upcoming event and learn the size and scope of what's entailed.  The short story is, the procession begins in Grand Haven and works it's way to Muskegon and the hallowed grounds of the LST 393 located at the Mart Dock on Muskegon Lake.

For now, take a listen to Ike and I as we talked on the sidewalk outside the Grand Haven VFW.

Stay tuned.  We plan on being part of this great event for both of our cities right up till September 11th when it all happens.  We're proud to not only be able to bring you the story, we're more proud to do something the Lakeshore needs more of and that's being neighbors instead of competitors!   Don't forget too, the VFW has a fun Ribfest Event coming up in May, they have been great sponsors of Positively Muskegon for the Rib Fest event and we're thankful!  Details are in the poster below!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Andy O Editorial - To The Class of 2017

To the class of 2017

It gets to be about this time of year and I get to thinking back about my graduation all those years ago.  It was a while too…I remember my parents going to their 25th class reunion vaguely, and I thought “25 years out of school?  How the hell old are these people?”  Well, let me tell ya they go by quick…and I mean quick.  If you blink you’re going to miss it.  

While waxing nostalgic about those days, I usually try to think what very honest truth would I have liked to hear from someone a little older than me…if I had one honest piece of advice would I use it?  I have written a few I don’t remember the specific topics, but they usually center around being yourself, empowering others etc…I like to build up people…it will make everything in your life better if you do the same.  Those were years past, but this year…I don’t have any pearls of wisdom to go droppin’ around.  No, in fact this year I am afraid I have to turn to you and ask a favor.  I am asking because it’s going to take a few minutes to try and help fix, so if we get to work now, maybe we can get there.
I need to ask you the favor because us “grown up’s” have seemed to drop the ball.  See up here in the “big leagues” people have forgotten that the collective differing of opinions and discord are what everything in the USA was based upon.  It’s become a very scary area with nothing but polarized opinions…. instant on demand everything….and an extremely self-serving mindset where nothing or no one matters but number 1.  We seem to have forgotten that our communities are ours…we are the fiber of a country, yet increasingly, all we are given is a more and more centralized information.  We all think our issue is the most important one ever, and if anyone dares question it, they are the enemy.  People who were always “happily in the middle” are becoming harder and harder to find.  They have retreated to avoid the vitriol spewed back and forth among friends and family because that’s what they see on tv day in and day out.  They are glued to their brand of news and they are well practiced in the arena of argument, because they have a steady diet of it.  

There are those who put profits before people…and they have seem to forgotten that it was those people who made them those profits.  We have an overabundance of users and we have also somehow come to the conclusion that it doesn’t really matter who you step on to get to the top, step away and let the weak fall off.  In a nutshell…we’ve taken our eye off the big picture, the fact that real success is defined by how well those around you are doing. 

I am asking you pretty please to work toward common goals.  Find ways to make yourself better by listening to what people have to say when it comes to some things.  If someone disagrees with you, or you with them…take the time to talk to them, and for God’s sake…when you talk to them nowhere in the conversation should anything come up about calling your lawyer, or the “problem solvers” at the local tv station.  Do me the favor of being honest in your endeavors and be fair with your trade.  Please…don’t go around looking for the “easy path”.  There will come times when you won’t be doing exactly what you had hoped for in life, and that’s ok, but hold your ideals high and if you are in a situation that you can’t be part of…gracefully bow out. 

Don’t be a part of anything whose focus is to do nothing but make money and give as little back as possible.  Be a true friend to people.  Be genuine and engaging.  If you ask about someone, be sincere.  If you think you can lend a hand…do it.  Start talking to your neighbors again, help old ladies out if you get a chance and never be “above” doing anything.  Look at success as a multi-level win.  If you’re doing good, think about what you can do for the guy down the street, could you buy a hamburger from him instead of some big national chain?  Maybe the other guy down the street sells shirts…think how nice everyone around you would look in a new work shirt.  On top of that, think what that shirt says to the people you gave them to.  Yes, you thought about them that day…..that will be a huge help to you in the long run.
I am asking you please to work toward coming back to the middle.  A long long time ago, President Abe Lincoln said that the only way the USA will be destroyed is from within.  I don’t know that anyone ever imagined that the destruction would come from greed and intolerance but with our current situation they are the two things I am asking you as a favor to steer clear from.  We’ve got an awful lot of good things here and honestly, you deserve a better place than we had…but to turn in to this skid, we’re going to have to work together from both ends of the age spectrum.

Thanks for hearing my plea.  I wish you as much as you can handle of everything, and I do mean everything.  Everything because by the time you get to my age, I will hope you have seen enough love, life, loss and pain by then to understand just how fragile we all are, and how much better care we should take of each other, and ourselves  You are about to embark on a journey that will have more chapters than you can possibly imagine….may God be with you.   

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Sophia Cerniglia Founder of Breathing Becomes Effortless Foundation in Muskegon

Life throws some curve balls at ya.  In every case I have had one pitched at me, I have stood there shaking my head... for a while there I got a curve ball thrown at me, I ran and hid.  But in time, I learned that it doesn't stop them from coming and the important thing is to keep swinging!  I didn't figure that out till much later in life, but some have to figure it out much earlier.  This is the case with Sophia Cerniglia of Muskegon.

Follow BBEF on Facebook
At 6 Sophia and her family were given the diagnosis that she had Cystic Fibrosis.  CF is a genetic disorder that affects mostly the lungs, but also the pancreas, liver, kidneys and intestine.  Long term issues include difficulty breathing, coughing up mucus as a result of frequent lung infections.  That's the Wikipedia definition, in layman's terms Cystic Fibrosis sucks and there's no known cure for it.  Sophia and her family were told that she'd probably make it 18 years old. Talk about debilitation.  How do you even walk out of a room with that kind of news?

Now, Sophia is 26 and has shown those doctors a thing or two about time limits.  She still struggles with the symptoms, but she comes from a pretty tough family tree and has decided that since she, and many others are now living well past the time they were told, that something should be done about helping other CF patients that have beaten the odds, but still find themselves trying to keep life under control while they are treated.  She found a gap and took action forming the Breathing Becomes Effortless Foundation.

BBEF is there to help others like her.  Constant treatment, down time in the hospital or at home....they all add up.  Life doesn't stop for those fighting CF.  Bills have to get paid, rent. cars...medications and more all add up.  The idea of  BBEF is to provide a resource for those who need a hand from time to time and don't really have anywhere else to turn.

Grand Opening Event on Facebook

With the foundation up and running, it's time to help get it funded!  Sophia will be hosting a fundraiser at Bella Maria's Event Center on Pontaluna in Muskegon Sunday May 21st.  You'll find a great pasta bar....I hear her dad is an exceptional cook :), you'll find plenty of entertainment, silent auction, kids and families are welcome for the whole day.

I met up with Sophia at Bella Maria's to talk about her foundation and the event.  Take a listen to out talk!

Sophia is what Positively Muskegon is all about.  Find a bump in the road...don't just drive over it...take the challenge and make a difference.  Those curve balls we talked about earlier?  Smash the out of the park and don't look back.  Sophia is putting her life experience to work to help others that share what she has and offers a light of hope for those who are in fear of their disease keeping them from living life to their fullest.  Amazing...heroic and such a great example of owning it!  If you'd like to know more about Breathing Becomes Effortless, click on the logo below!  Stop out and see Sophia in person at Bella Maria's on the 21st.  You'll find tickets at the link below as well.