Well Deserved: Finally, Bill Van Valkenburg will be honored 2012.04.04

Written by David Green.

Nearly three dozen Morenci graduates have been honored in the past decade through the Morenci Education Association’s Distinguish Alumni Award program. Many stellar careers and life stories have been told when honoring these graduates.

Many more successful grads will be honored in the future. Some of them have not yet been been nominated for the honor; others have moved away and lost contact with their home town.

In one specific case, a potential and deserving nominee refuses the honor. That will come to an end this year when Bill Van Valkenburg takes the stage—not as the emcee of the annual award ceremony—but as a distinguished graduate.

Without Bill, the Distinguished Alumni award would not exist. Without Bill, the Morenci Education Foundation would not exist. The scholarships totaling more than $100,000 would never have been awarded to graduating seniors. Tens of thousands of dollars in mini-grants would never have aided Morenci teachers.

This isn’t the first year that Bill Van Valkenburg was suggested as the recipient of a Distinguished Alumni Award, but finally, it is the first year that he allowed the nomination to go through.

Bill’s efforts at creating the foundation and helping it grow—not to mention his long-time role as a local pastor and the other roles he’s filled over the years—make him a well-deserved recipient of the foundation’s award.

Along with three other graduates, Bill will be honored at the annual dinner April 14. Buy a ticket and help thank Bill for his efforts.

  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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