Traverse City Record-Eagle

January 28, 2013

Cheers: 01/28/13


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---- — -- To the Grand Traverse sheriff's and Traverse City Police departments for providing a permanent drug collection container at their headquarters on Woodmere Avenue. Area residents with expired, unused or unwanted prescription or over-the-counter drugs can toss them there from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

-- To the Michigan Department of Military and Veteran Affairs' new Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, which will be charged with helping veterans collect what they're owed in terms of medical treatment, pensions, schooling, disability compensation and employment assistance. Michigan has the nation's 11th-highest population of veterans but ranks dead last in Veterans Administration money. In 2011, the VA spent around $3,900 for the typical Michigan veteran; the national average was more than $5,500.

-- To the Front Street Writers program, celebrated its first semester at a recent public reading. The yearlong, tuition-free creative writing program, a collaboration between the National Writers Series and Traverse City Area Public Schools, started in September. The 22 students in the program, which meets four days a week, also attend National Writers Series events at the City Opera House.

-- To Keeping Independent Seniors Safe, or KISS, which pairs volunteers with an older person who becomes a phone friend. KISS is sponsored by the Volunteer Center at United Way of Northwest Michigan and the Grand Traverse County Senior Center Network and is intended to help seniors stay in their homes. For more information call United Way at 947-3200 or visit www.unitedwaynwmi.org or www.volunteernwmi.org.

-- To the State Theatre for opening its doors to dozens of area residents who gathered to watch President Barack Obama's second inauguration on the big screen. The State has hosted a free live screening of the inauguration since the theater reopened, and added the historic event to their roster of Martin Luther King Jr. Day events. It's part of the theater's ongoing effort to be a "town hall" for Traverse City.

-- To Rotary Charities of Traverse City for offering a $500,000 challenge grant for the Cowell Family Cancer Center project at Munson Medical Center. The grant will match every dollar donated beginning Jan. 21 up to $500,000. Philanthropy for the cancer center began with a $5 million gift from Traverse City resident Casey Cowell in December 2011.

-- To builder Todd Gokey and his partner, Beth Maclean, who have renovated the former Big Eazy Rhythm & Blues Grill near Garfield and Airport at the Cherryland Mall and reopened it as the fine dining Copper Falls Steakhouse. Gokey, owner of Northland Signature Homes, said they replaced the dark interior with windows and open space.