To the late Bill Russell, a businessman who broke barriers all his life, including opening the region's first Indian-owned manufacturing plant in 1975. Russell, who recently died at age 77, started and owned Nish-Nah-Bee Industries from 1975 to 1998. It employed 550 Indian and non-Indian workers at its peak. The 11th of 12 children, he lived in a home with a dirt floor. He graduated from high school in the early 1950s and joined the Marines. He enrolled in Northwestern Michigan College in 1958 and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree at Michigan State University and a master’s degree in accounting at Central Michigan University. Nish-Nah-Bee Industries was an auto components supplier to General Motors.
To Mandy Jelinek of Suttons Bay, who is working to keeping her late husband Jeremy’s dream alive. Jeremy Jelinek died in an October crash; now she is working to operate the family's apiary. Mandy, brother-in-law Andrew Jelinek and Jeremy's friend Robert Herman regularly truck bees to farms for pollination.
To the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay, the City of Traverse City and the Grand Traverse Health Department for monitoring bacterial contamination at East Bay Park and installing a filtering system expected to reduce contamination and prevent beach closings. Officials posted two or three health advisories at the beach last summer and five in 2011.
To honor student Erin Fluharty, who will walk away with a high school diploma, six college credits, CPR certification, firefighting background and the 2013 Michigan Breaking Traditions Excellence Award when she graduates from Traverse City West High School. Since November, Fluharty, who wants to be a firefighter, has been attached to The Grand Traverse Metro Fire Station 1.
To TART Trails for again organizing the Traverse City Ride of Silence to raise awareness of bicycle safety. Cyclists took to the streets to honor riders who have been killed or injured on public roads.
To Tom Kelly, who launched the first sailing schoolship program on the Great Lakes 25 years ago, who is retiring. More than 94,000 people have sailed on Inland Seas Education Association schoolships since 1989, when the first students stepped aboard the schooner Malabar. The schoolship Inland Seas has been its floating classroom since 1994. Kelly will be remain an adviser and share captain duties with Ben Hale.
To the United Way of Northwest Michigan Volunteer Center for launching an iPhone application to match people with services in Grand Traverse, Antrim, Benzie, Kalkaska, and Leelanau counties. The free application displays current volunteer opportunities with human services, environment, arts and other organizations.