n To the late Connie Binsfeld of Leelanau County, a pioneer for women in Michigan politics and a longtime advocate for children, women and the environment. She died Jan. 12 at age 89 at a Leelanau County assisted living facility where she was in hospice. She was the first woman to hold leadership posts in Michigan’s House, Senate and executive branch. The former school teacher began her political career as a Leelanau County commissioner and was elected to the Michigan House in 1974. She served four terms there and in 1982 won a seat in the Senate. She was a surprise pick as John Engler’s running mate as Lt. Gov. when he first sought the governorship in 1990. They were re-elected in 1994. She chose to step down when Engler decided to run for a third term. Binsfeld was known for championing children’s issues and her advocacy on behalf of children, women and families.
n To the Traverse City Area Public Schools Board of Education for choosing to publicly interview the 14 applicants for a vacant school board seat Jan. 27. Board President Kelly Hall said the number of finalists will be determined at the meeting.
n To the pet rescue organization AC Paw for helping save Braveheart, a black cat discovered in a snowbank by Janet Hollifield of Traverse City. She contacted her sister, a volunteer for AC Paw, then rushed the cat to Bay Area Pet Hospital. An examination revealed hypothermia, malnourishment, anemia, kidney disease and a host of other conditions; the animal was given a 50 percent chance of survival but is now living with volunteer Jane Findley.
n To Greenspire School for hosting a year-long “PeaceJam,” an internationally recognized program that teaches students about Nobel Peace Laureates and joining local and global activist causes. Students have helped restore an “outdoor” classroom with the Grand Traverse Conservation District and created an anti-bullying video. Over the rest of the year students will create their own projects about community engagement.
n To organizers of the White Pine Stampede, who will bring back a 50K race for the first time in five years to go with the 20K and 10K races Feb. 1. This is the 36th White Pine. The race began as a 50-kilometer event. The finish line for the 20K has been moved to the Summit at Shanty Creek, roughly 150 feet from the 50K finish. The 10K will finish at Schuss Village. All races begin at Mancelona High School.
To William Koucky, who has created Grand Traverse Culinary Oils, which takes locally grown sunflower and canola seeds and presses them into culinary oils for sale at grocery stores and restaurants.