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Gov. Rick Snyder makes appointments, reappointment to Cherry Committee

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Rick Snyder today announced the appointments of Benjamin LaCross, of Lake Leelenau, and Mark Schilling, of Benton Harbor, and the reappointment of Brian Altonen, of Kewadin, to the Michigan Cherry Committee.

The nine-member committee was established in 1965 and works to develop and implement marketing efforts for Michigan's cherry industry.

"The cherry market and agricultural industry are important parts of Michigan's economy and heritage. I appreciate these appointees’ willingness to serve in these roles,” Snyder said.

LaCross is owner of North Shore Orchards, where he is a second generation farmer. LaCross is vice president of the Leelanau Horticulture Society, a member of the Michigan Association of Cherry Producers, and serves on the board of directors of the Michigan Farm Bureau. LaCross earned a bachelor’s in business administration from Central Michigan University. He represents District 1 tart cherry growers and replaces James Nugent.

Schilling is a fifth-generation farmer and owner of Hawkeye Farms LLC. Schilling grows cherries, apples, peaches, and tomatoes. Schilling attended Western Michigan University. He represents District 3 tart cherry growers and replaces Kurt Dowd.

Altonen is the co-owner of Altonen Orchards. He is a third generation fruit grower and has expanded the family farming operation during his time as manager. Altonen earned a bachelor’s degree in food systems economics and management from Michigan State University. He continues to represent District 1 tart cherry growers.

Schilling will serve a three-year term expiring Feb. 1, 2017. LaCross and Altonen will serve three-year terms expiring Feb. 1, 2018. Their appointments are subject to the advice and consent of the Senate.