Detroit attorney Melvin Butch Hollowell to speak at annual César E. Chávez community commemoration

Melvin Butch Hollowell smiling.

Detroit attorney Melvin Butch Hollowell will be the keynote speaker at community events Thursday, March 16, honoring the life and legacy of César E. Chávez.

GRCC President Charles Lepper and GRCC Madrigal Singers also will participate in the event celebrating  the civil rights activist and labor leader.

The Committee to Honor César E. Chávez’s 2023 activities start with a social justice march, beginning at 11 a.m. at the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan, 1204 César E. Chávez Ave. SW in Grand Rapids.

A community gathering is planned for 11:30 a.m. at the Potter’s House Chapel, 810 Van Raalte Dr. SW in Grand Rapids, followed by a Unity Luncheon at Maya Mexican Grill, 1020 28th Street SW in Wyoming.

Hollowell is a managing partner at Miller Law Firm in Detroit. His specialties include election law, government and administrative law across the United States and Canada. He served as corporation counsel for the City of Detroit, overseeing 70 attorneys and serving as lead counsel for city departments, boards, commissions and agencies.

The community gathering will include performances from middle school, high school and college music students, and remarks from GRCC President Charles Lepper, Lupe Ramos-Montigny, chairperson of the Committee to Honor César E. Chávez, and others.

Innovative GRCC Secchia Piazza, with iconic SkyCone, earns statewide honors for Granger Construction

The innovative Secchia Piazza project and its already iconic SkyCone earned statewide honors for Granger Construction, the company that built the event space.

The Granger project team was honored with a Washtenaw Contractors Association 2023 Pyramid Award on March 10 in the category of Best Project Team for projects costing $3 million and $25 million.

The Secchia Piazza is located in Grand Rapids Community College’s Wisner-Bottrall Applied Technology Center, 151 Fountain St. NE.

Progressive AE was the architect for the project. GRCC artists designed some of the features, and the project was overseen by the GRCC Facilities Department, with Executive Director James VanDokkumburg.

“This project will forever change the skyline of Grand Rapids,” said Brad Hesche, Granger’s regional director of West Michigan.

“It is always fun getting to work on cool projects like this, but it is especially meaningful to be part of a team that is helping bring state-of-the-art higher education spaces to the communities where we live and work. This was a challenging build on many levels, especially given the one-of-a-kind design elements. But on behalf of Granger, I can say we are proud of everyone who was involved in helping successfully deliver these spaces for the GRCC community.”

The Secchia Piazza project transforming an existing outdoor patio into an indoor multi-use space, and another opportunity to tell the stories of students’ journeys from the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education to destinations around the globe.

The project included innovative and challenging features, including the SkyCone, a 31-foot wide by 15-foot-tall cone-shaped skylight with colorful glass panels that reshaped the campus and serves as an iconic landmark in downtown Grand Rapids.

Other key features include a custom floor feature, a Live Roof system and renovations to the Heritage Restaurant, a teaching restaurant for Secchia students.

Site logistics were a challenge for the builders.  The building is located on the corner of a busy downtown intersection, which left little to no room for laydown space. Additionally, the work within the building took place above and adjacent to occupied spaces.

The most prominent design feature is the SkyCone, which Granger leaders believe is the first of its kind.

This architectural feature included 20 colored panels, each made up of laminated glass panels with a colored film inner layer in seven shades of oranges, yellows and greens. The glass was set in a painted aluminum frame, and the entire system serves as the center portion of the ceiling for the new piazza addition.

Creating this kaleidoscopic roof system was challenging given both the design itself and the size and type of glass materials used. Between the room’s suspended acoustical tile ceiling and the skylight above, custom laser-cut plastic panels colored to match the skylight glass are supported by a custom fabricated aluminum structure to improve room acoustics while also enhancing the experience of light and color in the room.

Centered beneath the cone-shaped skylight is a 30’ diameter polished concrete tondo with steel/metal inlays, creating a unique form of circular art. The metal panel inlays were designed by GRCC artist Ben Benefiel to evoke the educational pathway students take from the Secchia Institute to culinary opportunities across the country and around the world.

Outside, the new addition features a terrace deck with views of the city, accessed by oversize sliding glass doors which also introduce fresh air and breezes to the event space.

This project required collaboration, highly skilled craftmanship and extensive coordination to ensure success. The team navigated extremely tight site logistics in a high-traffic, occupied facility and overcame numerous supply chain and volatile market challenges. In the end, they delivered a distinctive space that will leave a legacy for GRCC, its students and the surrounding community.

The Secchia Piazza is a gift from the late Peter Secchia and his family, whose generosity and drive for excellence helped the Secchia Institute create state-of-the-art facilities, attract top faculty members, and prepare students for rewarding careers in the hospitality industry.

GRCC’s culinary program was renamed after Secchia and his wife, Joan, in 2007. The Pietro and Regina Amphitheater, named after Peter Secchia’s grandparents, was added in 2012. Peter’s Pub was launched in 2016 as part of GRCC’s Fountain Hill Brewery, tapping into the demand created by Grand Rapids’ growing craft beer industry.

GRCC softball team’s pitching and timely hitting highlighted in successful Florida roadtrip

Izzy Regner, pitching a ball.

The Grand Rapids Community College softball and baseball teams completed their spring break trip in Florida, facing stiff competition and tallying nine wins along the way.

The softball team, led by freshman pitcher, Izzy Regner, finished with a 7-5 record, while the baseball team finished 2-8 against tough NJCAA Division 1 competition.

Highlights from the week for the softball team included first collegiate home runs for sophomore outfielder Jaye Guichelaar, freshman third baseman Lauren James, freshman catcher Samara Kolehouse and another by Regner.

Freshman outfielder Carly Sluiter had a game-winning single in extra innings, and James had a three-run shot that broke a scoreless game in the sixth inning against Illinois Valley that ended up being the only scoring in the game.

GRCC’s bats were solid all week long, batting .298 as a team.

Five players batted better than .300, including Regner, .545; Guichelaar, .526; Autumn Scott, .455; James, .368; and Alyssa Wierenga, .333.  Regner and Guchelaar both had a slugging percentage over .800.

Regner was the team’s best hitter, but she was dominant from the pitching mound, with a perfect 6-0 record, five of which via a shutout.  She allowed just five earned runs, with a 0.83 earned run average.  She also struck out 81 batters against just six walks in 42 innings.

The baseball team got off to a hot start defeating Coastal Alabama Community College in its opening game, 9-2, and two games later commanded Chipola College, 17-6.  The offense cooled down in the next five games. But despite losing, the team finished strong, scoring 15 runs in its final two games at Andrew College.

“I thought we had a pretty good southern trip playing against some of the top D1 community colleges, which should give us confidence,”  coach Mike Eddington said. “We had a chance to win five games. But more important than wins and loses, we learned what we have to work on to get better.”

Eddington said the team’s hitters can and will improve on their hitting approach, with a better idea on how the opposing pitcher is attacking GRCC hitters. He said the team’s pitchers did well, but isued too many walks. The defense needs to slow down and do a better job anticipating what to do before the ball is hit to them with multiple runners on base.

“Our players are excited to get the regular season started,” he said. 

Six GRCC baseball players batted .300 or better, led by sophomore Xander Reisbig who batted .462 with two home runs.  Joe Hoeks batted .368 with a homer run and nine runs batted in. Dylan Chargo batted .360 with a home run and a team-high 10 RBI. Tommy Reid batted .353, Zacarias Salinas batted .346 with a homer, and Trevin Laming batted .333. 

Sophomore Fernando Rivera-Calderon hit two home runs, giving the team seven total long balls during the 10-game trip.

Seventeen pitchers played for GRCC, totaling 39 strikeouts.  Sophomore All-American Jared Berkenpas and Connor Foley picked up the lone wins. Kellen Smith led the team with eight strikeouts.

The baseball team is scheduled to play again March 17 in Lima, Ohio as it takes on the junior varsity of the University of Northwestern Ohio.  The softball team isn’t scheduled to play again until March 24, when it hosts Delta College in a five-game conference series.  

This story was reported by Ben Brown.

GRCC In the News 03/15/2023


3/14/23 Community College Daily (American Association of Community Colleges)

Grand Rapids Community College student Maggie Voelkel, who will earn her associate degree in exercise science, drives a Zamboni at Van Andel Arena as a part-time job. She first took the wheel of a Zamboni in 2014 when she was hired to keep the ice clean at another local arena in Michigan. (Photo: GRCC/Phil de Haan)

Community-focused restaurant to take Cherry Street Deli spot

3/14/23 WOOD TV

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A couple hopes their new Grand Rapids storefront will bring your family around the dinner table.

… Jason McClearen, who said he “fell in love with how food brings people together” at the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education, said they are trying to change food service to make it more sustainable. Not only do they want to encourage customers to gather around the dinner table, but they want it to be possible for employees to do that, too.

Workforce development leaders seek state funding for community, short-term training

3/14/23 Grand Rapids Business Journal

West Michigan workforce development leaders say Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s latest budget proposal should include a greater focus on short-term training programs and community organizations currently excluded from state-funded talent initiatives.

The leaders spoke today during a roundtable at Grand Rapids Community College that featured Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity Director Susan Corbin. The roundtable was among a series of events scheduled across the state for local leaders to weigh in on Whitmer’s budget proposal.

Grand Rapids names street after late prominent pastor

3/14/23 MLive

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – The beloved, late Bishop Dennis J. McMurray will be honored with a portion of city street designated in his name, city leaders decreed Tuesday.

… McMurray is credited with making significant contributions to the Grand Rapids community and beyond. In October, he was named the 2022 GIANT Among Giants for his contributions in shaping the history, culture and quality of life in the Grand Rapids community at the annual event hosted by Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC).

IT Knowledge Base survey for faculty and staff

In efforts to better serve the needs of our campus community, the GRCC Information Technology Department would like you to take a few minutes to complete this short survey regarding our online Knowledge Base system.

Your feedback will assist us in planning future improvements to the system to ensure that we are providing relevant information for you 24/7.

This survey will be available until Friday, March 31, 2023.

Please reference the Knowledge Base Website while answering questions.

Click on the link to access the survey: GRCC IT Knowledge Base Faculty/Staff Survey

March 27, 2023 Economic Club of Grand Rapids opportunity for GRCC Students

The Economic Club of Grand Rapids has gifted us with the opportunity to have GRCC students participate in an upcoming luncheon FOR FREE.

The next event is Monday, March 27, with the topic, “Leading in an Era of Disruptive Change.”

Limited seats are available so please complete this google form and get more information here:

The RSVP deadline is 8 a.m., Wednesday, March 22 for this March 27 event.