Friday, November 12, 1999
Chronicle staff writer and columnist Paul Novoselick has been named "Outstanding Citizen of the Year" by the Michigan Rehabilitation Association.
The group called Novoselick "the conscience of the community" whose advocacy in his weekly newspaper column and activism as a private citizen have "had a significant impact" on the lives of people in Michigan.
Novoselick, 45, has written a column for The Chronicle since June 1989 about disabilities and the people who live with them. His columns are carried by several other newspapers in Michigan. He also is a Chronicle business writer.
Novoselick was nominated for the state award by Richard Carlson, president of Goodwill Industries of West Michigan.
"No one is more deserving than Paul Novoselick of this award," Carlson said. "He has been a tremendous resource for people. He's helped people to take their next step or turn ... who didn't know who to contact. He's made a real difference in people's lives."
Novoselick, who grew up in Muskegon and started his daily newspaper career in Bay City, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when he was 30. He's a 1977 graduate of Michigan State University.
In his weekly column, he tells the stories of people who are dealing with disabilities and what they have accomplished including some of his own experiences.
He is just as active outside the newsroom. Novoselick co-founded the Disability Awareness Council of West Michigan which is designed to unite persons with disabilities. He helped Muskegon Area Transit System develop accessible transportation for people with disabilities. He has served as a consultant to new construction, renovation and recreational projects.
He worked with the U.S. Department of Justice on a lawsuit against a local restaurant and bar which did not provide accessible restrooms. The suit, the first of its kind in Michigan, was filed under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Novoselick and his wife, Cyndy, are the parents of one daughter, Alissa. They live in North Muskegon.
Novoselick is only the second journalist to receive the award in its 15-year existence. The late Jim Neubacher, who also had multiple sclerosis and was a columnist for The Detroit Free Press, also earned the award.
"Some things are right for all the right reasons, and this is one of them," Carlson said. "He deserves it, and this community deserves it."
Novoselick received the award at the organization's 25th annual conference Nov. 1-3 in Traverse City. The conference was a partnership of the Michigan Rehabilitation Association and the MARO Employment and Training Association.