---- — n To the more than 100 area sheriff's deputies, metro firefighters, dispatchers, county health workers, bridge inspectors and other emergency personnel who helped alert and evacuate people who lived downriver from Brown Bridge Pond after the Oct. 7 breach at the dam that flooded the valley. Emergency workers set up roadblocks near threatened road crossings and bridges, directed traffic, and helped clear flood debris from culverts. Kudos also to Elmer's and Alpers Excavating for their quick response in providing trucks, work crews, rocks and concrete to help efforts by general contractor Molon Excavating and the Boardman River Implementation Team to stabilize the flow out of the pond.
n To aerial photographer Jim Anderson of Traverse City for his images documenting the breach and flooding of the Boardman River below Brown Bridge Dam.
n To the National Writer Series for bringing writer, activist, women's rights and free speech activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali to speak at the City Opera House. Known for her critical views of radical Islam politics and terror, the Somali-born author of "Infidel" was named in 2005 as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. She and her supporters founded the AHA Foundation in 2007 to protect and defend the rights of women and girls in the West from oppression justified by religion and culture, including forced marriage, female genital mutilation and honor violence. Kudos also to retired U.S. diplomat Jack Segal of Traverse City who conducted the interview.
n To Consumers Energy for awarding a $125,000 matching grant to the State Theatre to turn the lights on at the top of State Theatre's façade. The lights glowed once again at a celebration downtown Wednesday attended by 300 Consumers Energy employees. And cheers to Rotary Charities for contributing $50,000 and other donors who contributed to the ongoing $250,000 exterior revitalization project at the State. The State was one of 10 projects statewide to receive to receive $125,000 matching grants as part of the energy company's 125th anniversary.
n To Ferris State University and Northwestern Michigan College for working together to offer a four-year criminal justice degree in Traverse City. Students will be able to take three years of classes at NMC, plus another year of classes taught locally by Ferris instructors to obtain a degree issued by Ferris.
n To the Garfield Township Parks & Recreation Commission, Grand Traverse Metro Fire and the Grand Traverse sheriff's department, which were to host a free self-defense and awareness over the weekend. The free class was aimed at helping participants respond quickly and effectively in a threatening situation.