VanAire Names Steven Soderman as CEO and Quality Manager

April 3, 2017

Gladstone, MIApril 3, 2017 – VanAire, Incorporated of Gladstone is pleased to announce that Steven Soderman has joined the company’s leadership team as CEO and Quality Manager.

Prior to coming to VanAire, Soderman spent 13 years with EMP, Incorporated of Escanaba most recently holding the position of Corporate Director of Quality.  A 1998 graduate of Michigan Technological University, Soderman has held key quality related positions throughout his career.

“Since becoming ISO 9001 registered in 2012, VanAire has chosen to integrate the roles of CEO and Quality Manager to ensure that our quality system delivers the best possible results,” said VanAire President Bill VanDeVusse.  “Steve’s experience in quality and proven leadership skills are perfectly suited to this position and the company’s long term needs.”

VanAire also plans to utilize Soderman’s role to enhance its community involvement.  The company has committed a significant portion of Steve’s time to serving on committees, boards and other volunteer activities.

Soderman states, “I am excited for the opportunity to join VanAire and work with such an accomplished team.”  He continues, “VanAire places a high value on its products, employees, Quality Management System and community support that I am looking forward to being a part of.”

VanDeVusse will continue in his role as President having previously filled the positions of President and CEO.  “Having Steve leading the quality aspects of the company is going to bring immediate results to our customers and to the company as a whole,” VanDeVusse added.

VanAire is the leading manufacturer of engineered valve automation hardware and wastewater pretreatment systems.  The Delta County company celebrated its 20th year in business in 2015 and employs 78 full-time employees.

NMU Diversity Common Reader April Events

April 3, 2017

Marquette, MIApril 3, 2017 – Northern Michigan University’s 2017 Diversity Common Reader selection is Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine. The following related events are scheduled for April. All are free and open to the public.

Wednesday, April 4: Carlyn McManis is hosting a reading group for Citizen: An American Lyric at 7 p.m. in the Shiras Room of the Peter White Public Library.

Thursday, April 5:  Abigail Wyche is hosting a reading group titled “The Role of Micro and Macro Aggressions in Oppressions” at 4:30 p.m. in Art and Design room 90.

Tuesday, April 18: A screening of the film Fences is being shown at 12:30 and 6 p.m. at the Peter White Public Library. In this film, an African American father struggles with race relations in the United States while trying to raise his family in the 1950s and coming to terms with the events of his life.

Thursday, April 13: David Pilgrim, founder and director of the Jim Crow Museum, will give a keynote address titled “Them: Images of Separation” at 6:30 p.m. in Jamrich 1100. Although the Jim Crow Museum focuses on segregation memorabilia and anti-black caricatured items, the facility has a growing collection of objects that were created in this coutry to defame others, most prominently, women, poor people, Mexicans, Asians, Jews, Muslims and Indigenous peoples. Pilgrim will use historical and contemporary images of everyday objects to discuss the prevalence and consequences of group separation.

Avoid Distracted Driving

April 3, 2017

Marquette, MIApril 3, 2017 – When most of us think about distracted driving, texting and cell phone use are the first things that come to mind.

Michigan law prohibits all drivers from reading, manually typing or sending a text message while driving. And under Kelsey’s Law, if you have a Level 1 or Level 2 license, you are prohibited from initiating a call, answering a call, or listening to or engaging in verbal communication through a mobile phone.

A cell phone, however, is not the only thing that can distract a driver. Distracted driving also includes eating, shuffling/streaming music, talking to or interacting with passengers and other activities. Distractions such as these are especially dangerous for inexperienced drivers.

Anything that takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel or your mind off your driving is a problem. Studies show that your brain cannot give full attention to more than one activity at a time. Even seemingly simple tasks such as adjusting the radio can be risky, especially in bad weather or heavy traffic.

If you are driving at a speed of 65 mph, in the estimated quarter of a second it takes the brain to shift attention between two tasks (e.g. changing music on your iPhone and driving), you just drove 24 feet as if your eyes were closed.

There are things you can do to avoid driving distracted even before you get behind the wheel, such as:

  • Designate a front-seat passenger to serve as a “copilot” to help with maps or navigation systems. If you are driving alone, map out destinations in advance or use a navigation app that gives verbal directions.
  • Be familiar with equipment in the vehicle. Practice performing basic functions such as adjusting the temperature or radio settings without taking your eyes off the road.
  • Pre-program your favorite radio stations for easy access and connect any music streaming devices you use before you begin driving.
  • Ensure all children are comfortable and properly buckled up. Teach them the importance of good behavior and remaining buckled up while in a vehicle. Do not underestimate how distracting it can be to tend to them in the car.
  • Complete any personal grooming before you start driving or after you reach your destination.

For more information on distracted driving, please visit the SOS Distraction-Free Detroit Resources page.

Consider Donating Some of Your Refund to Charity

April 3, 2017

Lansing, MIApril 3, 2017 – Michigan taxpayers have the opportunity to donate some of their state income tax refund to several charities when filing a state income tax return, according to the Michigan Department of Treasury (Treasury).

When a taxpayer files their 2016 state income tax return, they can choose to donate $5, $10 or a customized amount among 10 nonprofit organizations. The amount donated will be deducted from the taxpayer’s refund.

“State law provides taxpayers the opportunity to donate dollars directly from their refund to any of these 10 organizations,” said Deputy Treasurer Glenn White, head of Treasury’s Tax Administration Group. “Whether the donation is a set amount or a customized amount, all of the money donated helps our fellow Michiganders.”

For the 2016 tax year, contributions can be made to the following:

  • ALS of Michigan (“Lou Gehrig’s Disease”) Fund
  • Alzheimer’s Association of Michigan
  • American Red Cross of Michigan Fund
  • Animal Welfare Fund
  • Children of Veterans Tuition Grant Program
  • Children’s Trust Fund – Supporting and Strengthening Families in Michigan
  • Michigan Junior Achievement Fund
  • Military Family Relief Fund
  • Special Olympics Michigan
  • United Way Fund

Through e-filing or paper filing, taxpayers must complete a Voluntary Contribution Schedule Form 4642 to participate. Michigan income tax return forms are available on Treasury’s website.

To learn more about Michigan’s individual income tax, go to

NMU Receives $6.5 Million for Broadband Expansion

April 3, 2017

Marquette, MIApril 3, 2017 – Northern Michigan University will receive a $6.5 million Investment Fund Award from the Michigan Strategic Fund to accelerate its effort to extend high-speed educational broadband throughout the Upper Peninsula. The funds will be used to build out and equip 64 cities and townships over a two-year period.

NMU will contribute $3.2 million in matching funds to the project. As it recovers its expansion costs through subscriptions to its Educational Access Network (EAN), the university will return a percentage of net proceeds back to the Michigan Strategic Fund to gradually repay the investment.

“This award enables Northern to build the network much more quickly because the funds are available up front to purchase the equipment needed for the large number of sites,” said Gavin Leach, NMU vice president for finance and administration. “Our partnerships with cities and townships across the U.P. have allowed us to place equipment on their water towers and other high structures. It’s a great example of universities and communities working collaboratively for the benefit of creating an educated citizenry through access to broadband. But in areas where high structures don’t already exist, we’ll have to build them, which adds to the cost. The right equipment in the right place is a critical aspect to building a strong, reliable network.”

Northern has established a tradition of bridging the digital divide, from the establishment of its university-wide notebook computer program in 2000 to the announcement of its Educational Access Network last fall. In the Upper Peninsula and beyond, many rural households continue to either lack broadband entirely or the minimal speeds required for educational use. Northern’s EAN merges the broadband coverage and speed of the university’s revolutionary LTE system with a growing array of courses for professional and personal development. Leach said the goal is to have more than 50 course offerings in two years. NMU is also working with the region’s K-12 school districts and colleges to deliver broadband to students and their families.

EAN access is included in tuition for students in NMU’s associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. Community members who take personal and professional development courses pay $34.95 per month for full access to the campus network, with no data caps or reduced speeds. K-12, college and university partners get full access to NMU LTE at school and home for $19.95 per month, with an optional speed upgrade for an additional $5 per month. Access for all requires a one-time purchase of an NMU LTE mobile hot spot, an indoor stationary receiver or a mountable indoor/outdoor receiver.

Municipalities in Marquette County, along with Houghton, currently have access. Escanaba is scheduled to be operational within a week. Leach said NMU has also reached or is finalizing agreements with Watersmeet, Crystal Falls, Forest Park, Chatham and Eben.

In a presentation to the Michigan Strategic Fund in Lansing on Tuesday, Leach shared the story of a woman who expressed enthusiastic gratitude to Northern, saying its Educational Access Network “changed her life.” She routinely had to drive her daughter to a fast-food restaurant in town with wi-fi and linger there for hours in order to complete homework. With EAN access, she and her daughter now enjoy the convenience of high-speed Internet in their home.

“Northern’s Educational Access Network and building the NMU LTE across the Upper Peninsula over the next two years can be the national model for providing one of the most critical learning tools of the 21st Century to students—Internet access—to rural America. Michigan and the U.P. can lead the way,” said NMU President Fritz Erickson. “This financial support moves us closer to two goals: putting high-speed educational broadband at the fingertips of every student in the Upper Peninsula, from pre-school to lifelong learner; and helping the region develop the most highly educated rural workforce in America.

“Thank you to Governor Snyder, MEDC Director Steve Arwood, David Behen and Eric Swanson of Michigan’s Department of Technology, Management and Budget, and many state legislators and policymakers, especially our U.P. legislators, for having the vision to see what is possible as a result of Northern’s EAN project and a U.P. broadband super highway for learning.”

The Michigan Strategic Fund is administered by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. For more information on NMU’s Educational Access Initiative, visit

Economic Club Welcomes Tom Rogan – 4/5/17

April 3, 2017

Escanaba, MIApril 3, 2017 – The Bay Area Economic Club will welcome Tom Rogan as a speaker for the Spring program.  Mr. Rogan is a columnist for the National Review, former panelist for the McLaughlin Group, and commentator for numerous TV and media contributions including CNN, Fox News and The Washington Post to name a few.  He holds the Tony Blankley Chair at the Steamboat Institute.  Based in Washington, D.C.  Tom grew up and was educated in London, England but holds American citizenship.  It will be the first 100 days in office for the new administration.  Tom will lead a political and economic dialog about what is happening in Washington.  The topics to be discussed include:


  • The challenges facing millennials
  • Filtering “fake news”
  • The first 100 days and what it tells us we can expect (if anything)


There will be a question and answer session following Tom’s presentation.

The event begins at noon on April 5 at the Bay College Joseph Heirman University Center Room 952, with an introduction then lunch. The speaker will begin at 12:30pm. Tickets for the event are $25. For additional information, or to make a reservation, contact Vicki Schwab at 786-2192 or

Calendar – Art – Reception for “UP Focus” – Apr. 6

April 3, 2017

Marquette – A reception for UP Focus will be held on Thursday, April 6 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the DeVos Art Museum on the campus of Northern Michigan University.

UP Focus is an ongoing exhibition series that highlights artists who are from, living in, or heavily influenced by the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Featured artists are Mike Friend, a painter based in Marquette, and Scott Leipski, a sculptor working with ceramics based in Gladstone.

The event is free and open to the public.

Calendar – Education – WWI Symposium at NMU – Apr. 6

April 3, 2017

Marquette – To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the United States entering WWI, the Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center will host a symposium with lectures on various historical aspects of the conflict on Thursday, April 6 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Marquette Room of the University Center at Northern Michigan University.

These presentations will look at the war both on a local and national level, and will include research by professors and instructors from NMU and other parts of the Upper Peninsula. This program is part of the Marquette county-wide WWI Remembered commemoration. The event is free and open to the public.

For a complete list of topics and lecture times, go to

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