Grand Haven ArtWalk to blend arts, culture with community for 19 days

By Tony Wittkowski | Reporter | MLive – Muskegon Chronicle

GRAND HAVEN, MI — Before ArtWalk in Grand Haven, Bob Peskorse had never submitted any of his photos for competition.

Last year, the Grand Haven resident submitted a landscape shot of ice on Lake Michigan that was taken late in the day two winters ago.

“It was a good experience,” Peskorse said. “It was the first time I had entered anything like that. Luckily, I won second place in the Juried Award portion.”

It was an opportunity to have his work viewed by the artist community with a critical eye, something that ArtWalk was created for.

ArtWalk annually features artists from the local area and beyond who participate in an art competition in the following categories: photography, paintings, drawing,  mixed media and sculpture.

ArtWalk 2014 is scheduled to begin Wednesday, Sept. 24. It is set to run through Oct. 12 in downtown Grand Haven.

ArtWalk Coordinator Allison Jeske-Revell has been with the Grand Haven Main Street Downtown Development Authority since it first began holding the art-filled event.

“Grand Haven becomes a creative mecca for art,” Jeske-Revell said. “It’s a competition art style and they vote on their favorites pieces.”

During ArtWalk, Jeske-Revell said there will be 66 venues located throughout the Grand Haven Main Street District.

The first year ArtWalk began was in 2010, one year after ArtPrize, held in Grand Rapids, made its debut.

“We felt that our community could hold a similar event (to ArtPrize) and were able to emulate it successfully,” Jeske-Revell said. “Why not give them a similar opportunity along the Lakeshore communities? It’s grown each year.”

Since its first year, ArtWalk has been adding new components to the 19-day schedule. The youth competition is a big portion that has become a favorite among attendees.

Last year there were almost 100 entrees for the youth competition that is held with different age ranges.

There will also be an art market where artists can come down and sell other pieces they might have that are not part of the show.

In addition, a large amount of artists who will be flooding the streets of downtown Grand Haven will be coming from outside of the state.

“We have some who come in from New York City. We have an artist from Ontario and another from Chicago,” Jeske-Revell said. “Having said that, there is a really good local turnout. Our local artists are pretty loyal.”

Local artist Peskorse has been shooting photos for 25 years. When he moved to Grand Haven, Peskorse said there were so many nice things to photograph that he threw himself into his hobby.

Peskorse will be in the photography category again this year with a few canvas prints.

“The first time I walked around I noticed some kind of exhibit, so I decided I would like to be a part it,” Peskorse said. “I would just say it’s a good experience getting your work out there, whatever it may be. Allowing other people to see your work is important.”

Notable events for 2014 ArtWalk include:

ArtWalk Kickoff Picnic, on Wednesday, Sept. 24, at noon: Join the mayor and city council members along the newly remodeled streets of Centertown at the parking lot located at 700 Washington. The community will celebrate the ArtWalk kickoff with lunch, live entertainment and painting activities.

Art Bike Parade & Family Art Day on Saturday, Sept. 27, at 11:30 a.m.: An exhibition of artistically modified bicycles will parade down Washington Avenue. Following the parade, Family Art Day will feature interactive painting for children with participating ArtWalk artists.

“Sunday on the Grand” Voting & Art Market on Saturday, Oct. 4, at noon: Anyone who has decorated and designed plaques for this community art project is invited to bring them to downtown Grand Haven for public voting and awards.

Youth Competition Awards Ceremony & Reception, Tuesday, Oct. 7, at 6 p.m.: The winners of the ArtWalk youth competition will be announced at the Loutit District Library, followed by a reception for all entrants and their families, which will include food, drinks and dessert.

Public voting on ArtWalk pieces ends at 6 p.m. on Oct. 7, with an awards ceremony held at the Tri-Cities Historical Museum at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 9. For more information about ArtWalk events, visit and check out its Facebook page.

Tony Wittkowski is a staff reporter at MLive Muskegon Chronicle. Email him at and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Sept. 23, 2014)


Muskegon Community College sports recap: MCC volleyball defeats Lake Michigan College, falters against ranked teams

By Tony Wittkowski | Reporter | MLive – Muskegon Chronicle

MUSKEGON, MI — Muskegon Community College volleyball had its ups and downs this past week.

mccThe No. 17 Jayhawks traveled to Benton Harbor on Thursday, Sept. 18 to play Lake Michigan College. They proceeded to defeat Lake Michigan in three straight sets by a score of 25-10, 25-19 and 25-14. At that point, MCC held a record of 4-1 in league play and 9-6 overall.

Leading the way for the Jayhawks in the dominating effort was sophomore Brandie Jones with 11 kills, sophomore Meghan Birr with 33 assists, freshman Morgan Kelley with four aces, sophomore Brooke Morgan with eight digs and sophomore Autumn Winger with three blocks.

Following that win and another over Kellogg Community College, head coach Rick Rykse had plenty to say on their momentum.

“The aggressive serving accounted for many of our errors and also led to some easy transition points,” Rykse said. “Our passing also improved greatly and allowed many more options on offense.”

Over the weekend, the squad’s luck changed when it participated in the Parkland Invitational in Champaign, Ill. on Friday, Sept. 19 and Saturday, Sept. 20.

The Jayhawks started their day against No. 7 Kirkwood on Friday and lost 3-1 in sets of 25-12, 22-25, 25-21 and 25-20. Next they played No. 6 Illinois Central and fell 3-1 again in 25-17, 20-25, 25-16 and 25-21 sets.

Things didn’t get easier as the Jayhawks began Saturday play against No. 1 Parkland, where they lost in their best performance over the tough weekend stretch. MCC lost 3-2 in sets of 25-23, 22-25, 25-9, 22-25 and 15-12.

The Jayhawks finished the tournament against Lincoln Land and lost 3-1 on sets of 25-22, 22-25, 26-24 and 25-15.

Leading the way for MCC was Brandie Jones with 58 kills, Meghan Birr with 158 assists, Autumn Winger with nine aces, Brooke Morgan with 74 digs and Dani Jones with 11 blocks.

The Jayhawks finished the tournament 0-4, with three of those losses coming against ranked opponents.

MCC now holds a record of 9-10 on the season and returns home at Bartel-Rode Gymnasium for conference play against Lansing Community College on Tuesday, Sept. 23.


The women’s soccer team traveled to Jackson on Saturday, Sept. 20 where the Jayhawks lost 5-2 to Jackson College.

Kaitlin Richardson scored the lone goal for MCC in the first half with Alyssa Benedict credited for the Jayhawks’ goal in the second half. The Jayhawks had a handful of chances to score when both Taylor Walker and Kortnie Heinig hit the crossbar.

The Jayhawks moved the ball around well and found the players and spots that they wanted to exploit. MCC is in search of its first win of the season and will get the chance on Saturday, Sept. 27 when it takes on Delta College at Orchard View High School.


The Jayhawks traveled to Benton Harbor to play Lake Michigan College on Wednesday, Sept. 17, where they lost 2-1. Lake Michigan took a 2-0 lead into halftime and held on to win 2-1.

The lone goal for the Jayhawks was scored by freshmen Chaise Schuiteman, who was assisted by sophomore Aaron Dault. Freshman goalie Thomas Swiatek made his first start in net on the season and made 10 saves on 12 shots with a save percentage of 83.

MCC fell to a 0-9 record after being shut out Saturday, Sept. 20 against Ancilla College. The Jayhawks will be back in action Wednesday, Sept. 24 where they will take on Jackson Community College at Mona Shores High School.


The men’s golf team traveled to Jackson on Friday, Sept. 19 and Saturday, Sept. 20 and finished in eighth place in the Bill Bockwitz Intercollegiate Tournament.

As a team, MCC finished with 319, 319, (638, +62). Some of the individual scores for the Jayhawks included Joel Maire 73, 79, (152, +8), Tyler Krim 80, 79, (159, +15), Noah Carter 82, 77, (159, +15), Jeff Stevens 84, 78, (162, +18), Dylan Krim 84, 83, (167, +23), Ty Geertman 84, 85, (169, +25) and Connor Love 82, 92, (174, +30).

The golf team will be in action again Saturday, Sept. 26 for the Muskegon Community College Invitational at the Lincoln Golf Course.

Tony Wittkowski is a staff reporter at MLive Muskegon Chronicle. Email him at and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Sept. 23, 2014)

Getting back on the horse: Norton Shores woman holds safety seminar after near fatal accident

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By Tony Wittkowski | Reporter | MLive – Muskegon Chronicle

NORTON SHORES, MI — Jennifer Luttrull has been around horses for a good portion of her life, but earlier this year an accident almost changed that.

While riding a half draft mare down a back road, Luttrull lost control as the horse she was on began to canter back toward the barn. The North Muskegon resident leapt from the saddle, falling to the ground where she remained partially unconscious. What would happen next nearly killed her.

“I thought I was fine and tried to get up, but the (paramedics) told me to stay down,” Luttrull said. “As a horse person, we feel like we are invincible. Had they not been there, I would have died.”

Doctors said the fall caused a brain bleed, where localized bleeding began to collect in the surrounding brain tissue after the fall. Had the first responders not told Luttrull to remain still, she could have died.

Through this experience, Luttrull decided to plan and later host an equestrian safety seminar that focused on the basics of dealing with horses in unfamiliar situations.

The seminar took place on Saturday, Sept. 20 at Luttrull’s farm, a place she has spent her time breeding and raising draft horses.

There she showed Fruitport and Norton Shores firefighters, Pro-Med officials and officers from Muskegon County Animal Control how to tend to a horse that is either injured or riderless. In return, the firefighters and paramedics shared a few tips on what to do in case first-aid is required.

“(The fire department and Pro-Med) did a great job explaining things that could theoretically happen, as well as how to secure someone on the ground and to keep their neck safe,” Luttrull said. “What I really appreciated was them trying to come up with things that could happen within a barn.”

A misunderstood animal

With most of the firefighters having minimal to zero experience with horses, Luttrull and a few volunteers covered a wide range of topics.

Officials were shown a horse’s eating habits, the mentality of the horse – which was commonly referred to as “fight or flight” – and how most horse accidents occur.

Afterward, they were taught how to facilitate a halter out of a lead rope if nothing was readily available.

Luttrull also drew a chalk outline of a horse lying on its side and went over the correct way to approach an injured horse.

“They will kick if they feel threatened,” Luttrull said, motioning toward the back end of the horse. “Keep yourself safe first, and then see what you can do for the animal.”

One of the main points taught to the group was how to make oneself noticed before approaching the large animal.

“With their eyes being on the side of their faces, horses have blind spots, so you have to be careful when approaching them,” said Jane Williamson, a Rockford resident from Four Feathers Farm. “Imagine if somebody came up to you in a dark room, then reached out and touched you. That’s scary.”

Lt. Casey Rosenberg of Norton Shores Fire Department learned how strong horses can be when he had the opportunity to lead one out of its stall.

“It’s like you’re not even holding onto them,” Rosenberg said. “It’s pretty impressive to see how powerful they are. I liked that we got to move them through this course that was made to be a simulation of a barn fire.”

The crowd that assembled in the barn was receptive and often expressed their surprise when learning something new.

Luttrull said she was surprised by the amount of questions they received during the seminar. At least 45 minutes were spent answering questions.

During the seminar, while people interacted with the horses – which included lifting up a hoof for inspection – Luttrull could be seen smiling.

“This was something that was dear to us because of this incident of mine,” Luttrull said. “It really turned out well. It’s something I didn’t think we would be able to do.”

Tony Wittkowski is a staff reporter at MLive Muskegon Chronicle. Email him at and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Sept. 20, 2014)

Ludington boys cross country team wins Oakridge Invitational, Mason County Central’s Zac Benham posts best time

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By Tony Wittkowski | Reporter | MLive – Muskegon Chronicle

MUSKEGON, MI — Mason County Central’s Zac Benham medaled with a time of 16:22, and the Ludington boys cross country team won the Oakridge Invitational with 60 points on Saturday.

In the early hours of the morning, teams readied themselves for a course that was described by many as a bit sloppy. Two divisions took part in the invitational, which seeded some of the fastest high schoolers in the state.

Benham, a junior who ran the fastest time out of both divisions, said the course was a bit tougher than usual.

“The course wasn’t ideal for footing,” he said. “You could really feel it in your calves when you tried to go faster, but I felt like it was a good time for the conditions.”

Divison II

Mason County Central won the Division II varsity boys 5000 meter run with 67 points, followed by Muskegon Western Michigan Christian (108), Montague (125), Hart (136), Shelby (140) and Holton (162), which edged Mason County Eastern (166). Then came Muskegon Oakridge with 171, followed by Kent City (176), Walkerville (180), White Cloud (243) and Ravenna (319).

Prior to the race, Benham stuck to his usually routine – toast two hours before the race and water up to an hour before accompanied by additional stretching. Benham said he was more focused on the overall process of the race than just the outcome.

“I tried to hit certain splits, but when you compete with the top guys from Michigan, you really just want to worry about your time and pace,” he said.

Benham ran here last year and finished second overall, beat by a runner who now competes at the collegiate level.

“He’s a very good runner who snuck up on me and beat me,” Benham said. “I’ve kind of learned my lesson here from last year.”

Mason County Central cross country coach Ed Sanders said this was race they had been training hard for.

“We had homecoming week this week so the distractions are at a maximum high right now,” Sanders said. “This is probably the hardest week we’ve had this season. We’ve done a lot of mile repeats and we did some good distance.

Divison I

Ludington (60) finished first place overall in Division I, edging Middleville Thornapple Kellogg (61) by one point.

Although Middleville placed two racers in the top 10, Ludington matched Middleville’s total of three in the top 20 finishers.

Muskegon Orchard View finished with 82 points, making the podium just ahead of Muskegon Mona Shores (83). Holland (94) and Muskegon (133), which rounded out the bottom portion of Division I.

Tony Wittkowski is a staff reporter at MLive Muskegon Chronicle. Email him at and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Sept. 20, 2014)

Middleville girls cross country team wins Oakridge Invitational, Hart surprises with three top-5 finishers

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By Tony Wittkowski | Reporter | MLive – Muskegon Chronicle

MUSKEGON, MI — Melissa Winchester finished nearly 30 seconds ahead of the next runner to help the Middleville Thornapple Kellogg girls cross country team win the Oakridge Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 20.

Two divisions took part in the invitational, which also hosted several Muskegon-area schools and a few farther north.

Running in Division I was Winchester, who surpassed her third overall finish in last year’s Oakridge Invitational. The Middleville senior finished with a time of 19:32 – one of two runners to finish under the 20-mintue mark.

Winchester said the course itself was good, but there were certain areas that gave her some trouble.

“It was a little sandy in some spots,” she said, “but it was pretty good for the most part.”

Division I

Middleville won both individually and as a team, scoring 20 points, which left a gap of more than 40 points from the rest of the field.

Following Middleville was Ludington (67), Holland (71) and Muskegon Orchard View (82).

Before each race, Winchester says she looks up some inspiring quotes that concern running. That coupled with the advice her coach gave her pushed her in the direction she needed to go.

“(Our coach) told us to go out hard and try to keep that pace throughout the race,” Winchester said. “It was something we constantly talk about.”

Middleville coach Tammy Benjamin said it has been a tough week for her runners, as now they can look forward to their next invite.

“It’s been really hard for them,” Benjamin said. “We had a lot of illness, but I thought they ran well. We had raced Wednesday for a league meet and then we had to come back with a hard workout. So, we didn’t have a lot of rest.”

Middleville has been coming to the Oakridge Invitational for years now, starting in the 1990s when the invitational hosted several powerhouses, Benjamin said.

“We come here almost every year. It’s nice for us because we are in the Grand Rapids area and we see so many of those schools all the time,” Benjamin said. “It’s nice for us to get away and go up against different schools.

Division II

The runners from Hart helped secure a win in their division by blowing away the competition by scoring a remarkable 24 points.

Following Hart’s effort was Ravenna (77), Mason County Central (87), Western Michigan Christian (106), Montague (123), Kent City (138), White Cloud (168) and Shelby (174) in that order.

Hart showcased a great performance by placing three runners in the top five. This didn’t go unnoticed from other coaches.

“The Hart team did great for a smaller school, they were impressive with their grouping,” Benjamin said. “I would have liked to see our grouping be a little better, but it was a good day.”

Tony Wittkowski is a staff reporter at MLive Muskegon Chronicle. Email him at and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Sept. 20, 2014)

Local poets invited to read at James Jackson Museum for worldwide poetry event

The James Jackson Museum of African American History will host "100 Thousand Poets for Change", where poets from Muskegon can read a few of their favorite pieces. (Jeff Schrier |

The James Jackson Museum of African American History will host “100 Thousand Poets for Change”, where poets from Muskegon can read a few of their favorite pieces. (Jeff Schrier |

By Tony Wittkowski | Reporter | MLive – Muskegon Chronicle

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, MI — Dylan Hock is trying to bring his community together one stanza at a time.

The James Jackson Museum of African American History, located at 7 E. Center St., will be hosting the program “100 Thousand Poets for Change” on Saturday, Sept. 27 from 3–5:30 p.m.

Hock, who is both a board member for the museum and a local poet, said the reading is a worldwide poetry event focused on bringing about change in local communities. The night will allow local poets to stand up and read some of their works that reflect the many sides of Muskegon.

“I’m a poet and a writer and have been active in the community for years,” Hock said. “I was looking for a way to bring the community together.”

The event is free, but donations are appreciated as the museum that is hosting the reading is not covered by grants, Hock said.

The themes and topics will range all throughout the event, as Hock said he is hoping to see the local talent come through.

“People will ideally read their own work, but they are welcome to read other material,” he said. “Original material about the Greater Muskegon area will be much appreciated. This is about addressing some of the things they would like to see changed or improve.”

One by one, each reader will come up to the front of the room and read approximately five minutes each. The allotted time that each person will be given can change depending on how many choose to participate, Hock said.

As of a week before the event, Hock said that around 30 people have already reserved a chance to read. The Muskegon native will also be ready from his own personal collection.

“I’m going to read some original material that I’m going to pull up from my archives,” Hock said. “We will also be filming the event and will be putting it up on social media after it’s done being processed.”

While this is the first time “100 Thousand Poets for Change” will be held in Muskegon, a better portion of the world has held such readings on the same day for the past three years. According to the event’s website, “Poets for Change” has been held in more than 550 cities in 95 countries.

The event won’t be limited to just poetry readings. Hock said it’s open to just about anything that doesn’t require a lot of props. This includes anything from a simple skit to slam poetry.

“It’s a slightly wider event beside the usual performance pieces,” Hock said. “This is really just a way to get to know the people.”

Tony Wittkowski is a staff reporter at MLive Muskegon Chronicle. Email him at and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Sept. 21, 2014)

Norton Shores resident teams up with firefighters to teach equestrian safety seminar

The concept for the equestrian safety seminar originated from Norton Shores resident Jennifer Lutrell, who was involved in a horse-riding accident. (Matthew Hall | AP Photo)

The concept for the equestrian safety seminar originated from Norton Shores resident Jennifer Lutrell, who was involved in a horse-riding accident. (Matthew Hall | AP Photo)

By Tony Wittkowski | Reporter | MLive – Muskegon Chronicle

NORTON SHORES, MI — Jennifer Lutrell is hoping to teach the public a thing or two about horse safety following a near fatal accident that occurred earlier this year.

The community-based equestrian training seminar organized by Lutrell will also involve the Norton Shores Fire Department, which will be teaching the basics of first-aid on Saturday, Sept. 20 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.

The free seminar will be held at Lutrell’s farm, located on 466 E. Mount Garfield Road, where she has spent her time raising and breeding draft horses.

This concept originated from her accident when Lutrell was thrown from her horse, causing her to remain in the hospital from a brain bleed. Lutrell said she hopes to educate first responders of the potential dangers while working around horses that might become free because of an injured rider.

“They didn’t know what to do with the horse at first,” Lutrell said. “I went to school with the (fire) chief in college and he and I talked about the subject. I wanted to bring the horse community together.”

She also requested help from the Norton Shores Fire Department in helping to educate horse owners on first-aid measures that can be taken in the event of an accident. The seminar will include draft horse specialists and trainers.

“I am very pleased that Jennifer reached out to the Norton Shores Fire Department for assistance in getting the safety message out, so hopefully no one else will suffer the injuries she has sustained,” said Norton Shores Fire Chief Bob Gagnon. “She is an amazing woman and I know her efforts will help to make a difference.”

For Gagnon, he knows that it is training seminars like these that can be the difference between life and death.

What seemed to draw Gagnon to the effort was the dual teaching that would take place. Even for those in the fire department who are familiar with horses, there is plenty to learn on how to react to a loose horse at the scene of an accident.

“This first concept for (the seminar) was back in late May,” Gagnon said. “It started out with a couple firefighters who could talk to the neighbors. ER doctors and nurses began to take notice. She’s put in a lot of time on this and I think it’s going to be beneficial.”

Lutrell said she isn’t sure on how the talks began to join forces with the fire department, but the experience is something she will try to pass on to others.

“It was a random talk between the chief and myself. Had it not been for them, I might not be alive,” Lutrell said. “We don’t have the medical background to handle these medical situations. They helped save my life.”

Tony Wittkowski is a staff reporter at MLive Muskegon Chronicle. Email him at and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Sept. 19, 2014)