Traverse City Record-Eagle

October 8, 2012

Cheers: 10/08/2012


---- — - To the National Writers Series for bringing Ayaan Hirsi Ali to speak Thursday at the City Opera House. Hirsi Ali, 42, a Somalia-born activist critical of Islam and its treatment of women, is author of the best-selling autobiography, "Infidel." She is now living in the United States.

- To Pathfinder School, which celebrated its 40th anniversary last week on its 22-acre campus along M-22 at the base of the Leelanau Peninsula. About 100 students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade are enrolled in the independent day school, which offers small classes, individualized instruction and experiential education.

- To Traverse City autism teacher Scott Jongekrijg for creating a new interactive educational web site for autism students. Autism Unlocked is both a learning and entertainment site. It offers students with autism a 24-level animated conversation simulation; a fun zone with animated games, video clips, music and a drawing pad; and a leveling system that allows teachers and parents to have control of their student's or child's experience and a tracking system to follow progress.

- To Peninsula and Acme townships for adopting an ordinance that bans year-round use of newly legal and louder consumer-grade fireworks. Their ordinances are similar to Traverse City and ban fireworks except for the day before, the day of and the day after a federal holiday. Violations, a civil infraction, are punishable by fine, usually $100 for the first offense.

- To the organizers of Saturday's Benzie Small Farm Tour of three sustainable farms in that county. The tour was planned by Grow Benzie, the Michigan Land Use Institute, the Benzie County Conservation Department and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service. Another farm tour will be offered Wednesday in Leelanau County

- To Virginia LeClaire for her soon-to-be-published book, "The Traverse City State Hospital Training School for Nurses." LeClaire spent two years researching, documenting and writing about the training school and its graduates. The school operated from 1906 to 1947. LeClaire is donating all proceeds to the History Center of Traverse City.

- To Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore which set a new all-time visitors record — 1.43 million people so far this year with nearly three months in 2012 to go The prior record was set in 1999 with 1.36 million visitors. Last year's total was 1.34 million. Business, government and area residents attribute the new record to a "Good Morning America" viewer poll that named the Sleeping Bear Dunes the "Most Beautiful Place in America."