Monday, October 22, 2012

Latvian artist exhibiting his work at Hopkins District Library

by Zinta Aistars for ADVANCE NEWS
October 22, 2012
Published in Penasee Globe

Natalie Bazan, library director, talking to artist Viestarts Aistars

It may be small, but the Hopkins District Library reaches far and pulls in close. The library often exhibits the work of local artists, and now on exhibit are five works by Latvian artist Viestarts Aistars, of Kalamazoo.

"I'm very pleased to show my work in Hopkins," said Aistars. "This is a beautiful area, and the countryside reminds me of parts of Latvia."

Aistars was born in 1927 in Dobele, Latvia, a small Eastern European country on the Baltic Sea. He immigrated to the United States in the aftermath of World War II, when Latvia was occupied by the Soviet army and the Aistars family was listed for deportation to concentration camps in Siberia, where many Latvians died.

Chicago was Aistars’ first home in the United States, and he enrolled in ...


To learn more about the artist, Viestarts Aistars, see his work on his blog and on his Facebook page.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Daughter's Wedding

On September 1, 2012, my daughter Lorena married Derek in Chicago ... a beautiful church ceremony that concluded on a cruise ship on Lake Michigan, the incredible skyline of Chicago in the distance. Truly a day to remember, leaving this mama's heart warm with memory.

A small sample of images from the day ...

My son walked my daughter down the aisle; here, a quiet moment just before...

Sister and brother walking down the aisle

Friday, October 12, 2012

Byron Center teacher brings art class into the digital world

by Zinta Aistars
Published in ADVANCE News,
October 12, 2012

Janine Campbell

Janine Campbell, a visual arts teacher at West Middle School in Byron Center, is plugged in.

She’s so plugged in, in fact, that teachers all across the state, even across the country, are taking notice.

Campbell teaches art to seventh- and eighth-grade students, and she does much of it online, through social media, blogs and videos.

“Kids are online anyway,” Campbell says, “and they understand it well. It’s an extension of what they are doing already.”

Campbell’s teaching art hand-in-hand with technology has caught the interest of other art educators hoping to learn from her success.

Campbell has been invited to...


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Chefs of Southwest Michigan: Three to Watch

by Zinta Aistars
Published in Southwest Michigan's Second Wave Media
October 11, 2012

Celebrity events, corporate dining rooms and the dining room at home are all places these three chefs of Southwest Michigan have showcased their culinary talents. Zinta Aistars talks with Matthew Pietsch, Andy Havey, and Denise Miller about their latest endeavors.

Chef Matt Pietsch at SALT OF THE EARTH

Chef Denise Miller at FUEL
From downtowns to the rural reaches of Southwest Michigan, no matter where you travel, local chefs have something delicious for your dinner plate. Three of those, who diners are going out of their way to seek out, can be found in their kitchens in Fennville, Texas Township, and Kalamazoo.

Chef Matthew Pietsch

When Matthew Pietsch walked down the main street of tiny town Fennville, resume in hand, he stopped at the door numbered 114. It was locked. He peered through the glass. The place, once a restaurant, was obviously closed--and not just for the night. It was closed, as in closed for business. He slipped his resume through the mail slot anyway, watched it float to the floor, and walked away.

A week later, Pietsch got a phone call ....


Photography by Erik Holladay.

Chef Andy Havey at BOLD

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Advance News: Freshly Polished Bylines

I'm enjoying being the new reporter in town, out and around Byron Center and Wyoming, Michigan. A few more of my freshly polished bylines:

by Zinta Aistars
October 5, 2012

Paul LeBlanc explaining the new zoning ordinance
An array of cookies enticed Byron Township residents to a zoning ordinance open house at the Byron Township Hall on Monday, Oct. 1, but it was Planning Commission Chairman Jeff Gritter’s hope that residents would find the changes in the township’s zoning ordinance most appetizing.

“This is an opportunity for the public to come and ask us questions,” Gritter said.

“The Planning Commission will hold formal public hearings later. People tend not to get interested in zoning until it affects their property.”

Several Byron Township board members circulated in the room to meet with the public and answer questions about posters on exhibit that illustrated the zoning ordinance changes.

The purpose of the zoning changes, according to one poster set up at the meeting, is to...


City of Wyoming Council Meeting

Wyoming approves Die-Tech Engineering tax abatement

The Wyoming City Council unanimously approved an application by William H. Berry III, president of Die-Tech Engineering Inc., for an Industrial Facilities Exemption Certificate for a new facility.

The exemption was approved at a council meeting on Oct. 1.

Berry told the council that Die-Tech began in Wyoming 28 years ago with six employees, and built up to today’s 45 employees, with sales of $8.5 million in the past year. Berry expects to add four new jobs with...


Wyoming police officers receive promotions

Wyoming City Council Member-at-Large Dan Burrill announced at a meeting on Monday that Lt. Kip Snyder of the Wyoming Police Department has been promoted to captain. Sergeant James Maguffee and Sergeant Kirt Zuiderveen were promoted to ...


Saturday, October 06, 2012

First news stories in Advance News on

by Zinta Aistars
Published in Advance Newspapers (online at
October 6, 2012

 New security measures keeping Byron Center students safe

Tom Trout, principal at Nickels Intermediate School
When parents send their children to school, they expect their children to get an education. They also expect their children to be safe.

“When fifth- and sixth-graders come to school, they are thinking about their friends, their classes, not about security,” said Tom Trout, principal at Nickels Intermediate School in Byron Center. “But they know it’s there.”

New security vestibules, installed in August at Byron Center High School, Countryside Elementary, West Middle, and Nickels Intermediate schools, are keeping those who belong in school inside, and those who don’t belong in school, outside. New procedures were also put in place at the beginning of the year.

“We’ve gotten positive feedback from parents,” Trout said. “People understand security in schools is a sign of the times, a necessary part of protecting our kids.”

Funded by a millage levy extension approved by voters in November 2011, $435,800 was slated for safety and security upgrades in schools. For most of the public schools in Byron Center, that meant....


Byron-Gaines Utility Authority crew leader wins national honor

Barry Korhorn
Few of us think about water. We turn on the faucet, and there it is. Barry Korhorn, however, thinks about water every day, and his job is to make sure that when residents of Byron and Gaines Townships turn on their faucets, there won’t be any surprises.

Korhorn has been employed with the Byron-Gaines Utility Authority at 1381 84th St. SE since 1999. He started as a meter reader but quickly climbed the ranks to operator-in-charge and crew leader. Recently, Korhorn was awarded the Meritorious Service Award by the American Water Works Association. (AWWA). The AWWA is an international nonprofit educational association, founded in 1881, dedicated to safe water.

“Barry has been a dedicated team player to this industry and an example for many of us to follow,” says Dan Van Dyke, Byron-Gaines Utility Authority manager, who nominated Korhorn for the national award. “This award is in recognition of...