Grand Rapids

11.25.15:  Grand Rapids’ oldest black Baptist church marks anniversary


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — The oldest, continuing black Baptist congregation in Grand Rapids has been celebrating its 125th anniversary this fall.


Messiah Missionary Baptist Church marked the anniversary with a banquet last week and a worship service on Sunday.

Three churches have occupied the same site since the original church was built in the 1890s. The first pastor was the Rev. Robert Gillard. He was a former slave, who served the congregation for five years before retiring.

About 800 people are members of the church today.

urch started on Sept. 16, 1890. It


11.24.15:  Fire truck alert app for drivers piloted in Michigan



GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A new app being tested in Grand Rapids warns drivers to the presence of emergency vehicle traffic.

Cory Hohs’ app was inspired by a close call with a Chicago fire truck while he was riding a motorcycle.

The Grand Rapids Fire Department has allowed Hohs and his two partners to ride with firefighters during emergency calls as they gather research for the app.

Hohs says the technology has the potential to cut down on the thousands of crashes that occur annually in the U.S. when emergency vehicles respond to calls.

The app sends alerts via Bluetooth to a car or motorcycle helmet that an emergency vehicle is near.


If the testing goes well, the app eventually could be available elsewhere.


11.23.15:  Meijer Gardens makes additions to Railway Garden display


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park has some new additions to its Railway Garden display.

The Grand Rapids cultural attraction on Monday is unveiling five new models as part of the “Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World” exhibition.

The Railway Garden spans four different greenhouse spaces.

The additions are landmarks in Grand Rapids’ sister cities: Independence Square in Accra, Ghana; Palazzo dei Priori in Perugia, Italy; Chomeiji Temple in Omihachiman, Japan; Basilica of Our Lady of Zapopan in Mexico; and the Bielsko-Biala town hall in Poland.

The additions are being made as part of Meijer Gardens’ 20th anniversary year.


11.13.15:  17-year-old died following medical emergency



A 17-year-old Wyoming High School student died after having a medical emergency while aboard a school bus.

The student got on a bus after attending classes at the Kent Career Tech Center Thursday and had difficulty breathing.

The student was seen by a nurse at the school and then taken to the hospital where he later died.  The cause was not immediately known and they are waiting on autopsy results.


There is no school Friday at the High School due to professional development and parent/teacher conferences but students may visit the school to speak with counselors if they wish.

11.12.15:  Ex-armored truck worker avoids jail; to pay back stolen cash



GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A judge has ordered a former armored truck company worker in western Michigan to pay back $50,000 that was stolen instead of delivered to the firm’s customers. reported Wednesday that 24-year-old Dalton Crawford of Wyoming, near Grand Rapids, pleaded guilty August 27th to embezzlement.

Crawford was sentenced Tuesday in Kent County Circuit Court and agreed to make restitution instead of spending time in jail. The money has to be paid back in three years. Failure to make timely payments could result in jail time.

Federal Armored Truck Company owner Stanton Barr told a judge that the theft was during the summer and was not covered by insurance.

Some of the money was used to buy a car. The newspaper reports that $20,000 already has been paid back.


11.11.15:  Deer makes surprise visit to Michigan collision repair shop



GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A collision repair shop in western Michigan that fixes cars after crashes involving deer got a surprise visitor from one of the animals.

Star Collision CARSTAR general manager Terry VandenToorn tells The Grand Rapids Press that the buck was spotted running down the sidewalk in Grand Rapids before it went into the business Tuesday afternoon through a delivery door and got stuck inside.

The buck ran round inside the repair shop before employees corralled it at the bottom of a set of stairs. While they were watching it, they took photos and video of the deer. Authorities responded, safely tranquilized the deer and took it away to be released.

VandenToorn joked that with hunters waiting in the woods for deer “they should have just come here.”


11.5.15:  Teen who killed boy at playground could be free at 21



GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A 13-year-old boy who fatally stabbed another boy at a playground in western Michigan could be released from custody when he’s 21.

A Kent County judge sentenced the boy to a juvenile detention center Wednesday. If he avoids trouble and meets expectations, he could be released at 21, although prosecutors could request a prison term at that age, too.

There’s no dispute that the then-12-year-old boy killed Michael Connor Verkerke at a playground in Kentwood, near Grand Rapids, in 2014. The defense argued that years of abuse at home had wrecked his mental health and overwhelmed his decisions, but the jury convicted him of first-degree murder.

The teen read a statement, apologizing to the 9-year-old victim’s family.

The Associated Press isn’t naming the boy because of his age.


11.4.15:  More money for Grand Rapids schools



Grand Rapids residents passed a school bond proposal.

53% of the voters said “Yes” at the polls.

The money will go toward security, technology, classroom and building upgrades and renovations. It will cost the average Grand Rapids homeowner about $8.33 a month, or just under $100 a year.

GRPS leaders said in October that each of the district’s about 50 buildings will receive some money. The majority of the funds will go to the district’s high schools.



11.4.15:  Teen convicted in playground death of boy



GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A 13-year-old boy who fatally stabbed another boy at a playground in the Grand Rapids area is returning to court for his sentence.

There was no dispute that the boy, who was 12 at the time, killed Michael Connor Verkerke at a playground in Kentwood in 2014. But the defense argued that years of abuse at home had wrecked his mental health and overwhelmed his decisions.

A jury convicted the teen of first-degree murder. He’ll get his sentence on Wednesday.

The Associated Press isn’t naming the boy because of his age. He will be sentenced as a juvenile, then resentenced as an adult when he turns 21.


10.30.15:  Some GOP candidates will make their way to MI next month



The third Republican Presidential debate was held earlier this week in Colorado.

Meanwhile…candidate Jeb Bush will visit Grand Rapids next month.

He will take part in an invitation-only gathering organized by Peter Secchia on November 12th at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel.


On Monday, November 9th, Rick Santorum will speak at the Ottawa GOP Reagan Day Dinner at Sunnybrook Country Club and this event is open to the public.  More information at the Ottawa County Headquarters or by contacting: