Grand Rapids

4.21.15:  Amtrak makes changes to Grand Rapids to Chicago line



Amtrak says they are making some changes to the Pere Marquette train that runs between Grand Rapids and Chicago.


Starting May 4, the train will leave the Vernon Ehlers Station in Grand Rapids at 6 a.m. and arrive in Chicago just after 9 a.m.

The return train will leave Chicago at 6:30 p.m. and then get back to Grand Rapids around 11:30 p.m.


The new schedule will give passengers more time to enjoy Chicago.

4.21.15:  Artist registration opens for ArtPrize


Artist registration is now open for the 7th iteration of ArtPrize, to take place in Grand Rapids from September 23 – October 11, 2015.


Anyone over 18, working in any medium, is invited to enter their artwork into the world’s largest art competition, and to seek a combination of public vote and juried awards totaling $500,000.


There are 183 venues that artists will seek to connect with in the coming weeks.


Artist registration will remain open through June 4th.  Additionally, all registered artists and venues must form at least one connection during the Connections period, April 28-June 18, to participate in ArtPrize Seven this fall.

4.21.15:  Aquinas College getting $2.2 million gift from estate


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Aquinas College is getting a $2.2 million gift from the estate of Helen Palmatier.

The Grand Rapids school says Palmatier, who died in 2014, was preceded in death by her husband Jackman Palmatier, who died in 1981. The family previously supported the school’s sustainable business program, annual fund and various fundraising events.

Jackman Palmatier worked at Antrim Iron from 1923 to 1942 and later at Grand Rapids Gravel.

The gift announced Monday will fund an endowed professorship at the Catholic liberal arts college and a number of interdisciplinary degree options. Plans will be announced in the coming months.

4.20.15:  Meijer Gardens dedicating ‘Iron Tree’ sculpture by Ai Weiwei


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A large iron sculpture by Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei that’s designed to prompt thoughts about how different people and cultures come together is being dedicated at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in western Michigan.

An event is Monday to dedicate “Iron Tree” as part of events marking Meijer Gardens’ 20th anniversary.

Made of 99 iron pieces, the sculpture looks like a tree without leaves, but oversize stainless steel bolts that hold it together give it a mechanical appearance.

The artist’s work is well-known internationally, but he isn’t allowed to travel outside China. He spent nearly three months in prison in China in 2011 and last year directed the transformation of the former island prison of Alcatraz into a tribute to the world’s political prisoners.

4.17.15:  Event to prevent identity theft


Shredding printed material is an effective way to help fight identity theft.

Friday, Calvary Church on the East Beltline is providing the public with a free Spring Shredding event.

You will be able to destroy private information in a safe and secure way from 1-3 p.m.


There is a 5 box limit.


4.17.15:  We could pay more for parking in Grand Rapids


Parking rates could be going up dramatically for some ramps in downtown Grand Rapids.

A consultant’s report suggests that the city raise rates in more popular ramps and then cut fees for lots with unused parking spaces.

Commissioners will take up the issue at their next scheduled meeting.

4.15.15:  Busy day for procrastinators


(AP) – Today is a busy day for procrastinators who haven’t filed their income tax returns yet.  The deadline is midnight.

So far, more than 90% of tax returns have been filed online.


Tax season generates $300 billion in tax refunds each year which gives a slight boost to the U.S. economy.


Locally, a number of IRS certified tax preparers and accounting students from Aquinas College, Cornerstone University and Davenport University will be joined by other volunteers to provide free tax preparation services for people with incomes under $57,000 until 8 p.m. tonight.

They will be at the Community Action Tax Center at 121 Franklin St. SE.  Those that need assistance need to make sure they bring the necessary paperwork,  which would include:  ID, social security cards, wage and earning statements, interest and dividend statements from banks and “important tax document” papers.


A number of area businesses and restaurants are offering deals and freebies including: Burger King, McDonald’s, Outback, Boston Market, Pizza Hut, and Olive Garden.  Check their websites for additional information.

4.14.15:  Lynne Cheney to speak at event commemorating Betty Ford


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Lynne Cheney is scheduled to speak at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation’s commemoration of the 97th anniversary of Betty Ford’s birth.

Organizers of Tuesday’s event in Grand Rapids say Cheney’s husband, former Vice President Dick Cheney, also plans to attend. The luncheon program is called “America’s First Ladies: An Enduring Legacy” and Susan Ford Bales, daughter of President Gerald Ford and Betty Ford, is taking part.

Dick Cheney was Gerald Ford’s chief of staff.

Betty Ford was born April 8, 1918 and died in 2011. Gerald Ford died in 2006. They lived in Rancho Mirage, California, for decades and their hometown was Grand Rapids.

4.13.15:  Vacant factory destroyed in overnight fire in Grand Rapids


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Authorities are investigating after an overnight fire destroyed a vacant factory on the northeast side of Grand Rapids.

The fire broke out around 10 p.m. Sunday at the former site of the Oliver Racing Parts. The roof and other parts of the building collapsed as firefighters worked to contain the blaze.

Deputy Fire Chief Kevin Sehlmeyer says no one was inside the building at the time, and all firefighters had been accounted for.

He says some neighboring homes and businesses could be affected by downed power lines.

The building has been deemed a total loss.

It’s still unclear what caused the fire.

4-10-15  30 New Venues Added For ArtPrize 2015


ArtPrize organizers tell us 30 new venues will be added to this year’s list of art hosts in the downtown area. Frederick Meijer Garden has also been added and SITE Lab will move.

Many of the new sites are restaurants but also added include churches and financial or insurance businesses.

SITE Lab will also relocate to Rumsey Street between Grandville Avenue and Century Drive.

177 venues have registered and several others are currently under review but could be approved.  A final tally is expected in June.

ArtPrize runs from September 23 to October 11.