Grand Rapids

8.28.15:  Area moms organize community march for Saturday



A group of mothers from Grand Rapids are planning to hold a “Stop the Violence” community march, Saturday, August 29th.

They will gather at 3 p.m. at Martin Luther King Park.


The group  says they are fed up with the violence in the city and that guns and violence are not a solution to problems.  There have been a number of shootings over the last few weeks.

They are holding the march in an effort to spread a message of peace and unity.

8.28.15:  Area colleges dedicate new facility while GRCC breaks ground for another



Grand Valley State University is celebrating its new science building.

They will host a dedication event Friday afternoon on the Allendale campus for the 55 million dollar facility.

The 4 story building is located next to the university’s field house and will provide additional class and lab space to help meet the current demand for science programs and accommodate anticipated growth.


Meanwhile, Grand Rapids Community College broke ground Thursday on a new building for its pre-school program.

It will be used as an actual daycare facility that is managed by professionals and serve as a learning environment for students in the early childhood education program.

8.27.15:  Ford Airport records busiest month in airport history 



Grand Rapids, Mich. –  July 2015 was the single busiest month in Gerald R. Ford International Airport history.


July passenger numbers were up 9.4% year-over-year; resulting in the busiest July ever, and breaking an all-time monthly record from March 2015.  It goes down as the busiest July on record, surpassing July 2011 by nearly 6%.


“Month after month our numbers are increasing, and we could not be more thrilled by the support from our area passengers,” said GFIA Executive Director Brian Ryks.


“As a result of this growth, our airline partners are taking interest by investing in more seats through the introduction of larger aircraft and additional nonstop routes to and from Grand Rapids, which is good for our entire region.”


GFIA is on pace to break its annual passenger total, already 9.6% ahead of passenger totals from 2015.

8.27.15:  2 vehicle crash involving teens in northern Kent County



Early Wednesday evening, the Kent County Sheriff’s Office responded to a two car injury accident on Myers Lake Road and 13 Mile Road in Courtland Township, Kent County.
A 2002 Chevrolet Trailblazer driven by 17-year-old Matthew
Gorkowski of Sparta, was traveling westbound on Myers Lake Avenue and did not stop for the stop sign at 13 Mile Rd.
Gorkowski’s vehicle was struck in the passenger side by a south bound 2003 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck driven by 18-year-old Andrew Rotunno of Cedar Springs.
Neither driver was injured, however a 15-year-old female passenger in Gorkowski’s vehicle sustained life threatening injuries.
She was transported by Rockford Ambulance to Spectrum Downtown and then to Helen Devos Children’s hospital where she remains in critical condition.
All occupants were wearing their seatbelts and alcohol was not a factor. The accident remains under investigation.

8.26.15:  Woman seriously hurt when scarf gets caught in go-cart tire



PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Authorities say a woman riding in a go-cart was critically hurt after her scarf became entangled in a tire in western Michigan.

Kent County sheriff’s officials say 40-year-old Rachel Gibbs was taken from AJ’s Family Fun Center in Plainfield Township to a hospital with life-threatening injuries Tuesday afternoon. reports Gibbs, who hurt her neck and was unable to breathe on the track, remains in critical condition.

The sheriff’s office says Gibbs lives in the United Kingdom and was visiting family in western Michigan.


8.20.15:  Voter-approved tax brings park upgrades in Grand Rapids



GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A city tax in Grand Rapids is bringing a host of park improvements, including a new skate park.

Mayor George Heartwell and other leaders on Thursday are showing off the results of a $384,000 renovation of Westown Commons.


Grand Rapids voters in 2013 authorized a 7-year property tax that’s generating about $4 million annually for parks. The renovation of Westown Commons includes the skate park, a picnic shelter, new landscaping, new sidewalk, benches, bike racks and a drinking fountain.


Tax-funded upgrades also are in the works at Fuller, Garfield, Highland, Lincoln, Roosevelt and Wilcox parks. A new splash pad opened last month at Cherry Park.


Next year, the tax will help pay for renovations at Camelot, Campau, Douglas, Dickinson, Mary Waters and Mulick parks.




8.8.15:  GRPS lays off 7 teachers



GRAND RAPIDS, MI (Mlive)– The Grand Rapids Board of Education voted unanimously Monday, Aug. 17, to issue seven layoff notices to teachers because of “uncertainties in budget and programmatic needs” for the next school year, according to the resolution.

After resolving an $8 million deficit, the board in June approved a $197.5 million general fund budget for 2015-16. The current budget gets the districts to a 5 percent or $7.9 million fund balance or savings.

Larry Oberst, chief financial officer for GRPS, said the 17,000-student district has no flexibility anymore, having gone through its fund balance.


“If we miss enrollment numbers or if there is some other blip in expected revenues, we need to build in some flexibility to handle this,” said Oberst, who added the budget is built on a set of assumptions regarding revenue and spending.

“Hence, we may need the flexibility with staffing, which is the reason for the resolution.”

The layoffs will save the district about $500,000 on an annualized basis, he said.

John Helmholdt, communications director for GRPS, said he can’t recall the district ever laying off teachers in the single digits. It is further evidence the Transformation Plan, or district restructuring, is working.

Stabilizing enrollment also is a factor. Unlike past years, the district is not planning on 400 students or more to depart, which causes a loss of millions in state aid. This year, the budget projection is to lose only 14 students at a cost of $103,474 or $7,391 per student.

The budget deficit was eliminated primarily by cutting 46 positions in general and special education and the central office. Six of the positions were actual layoffs (not teachers) and the remainder stemmed from unfilled vacancies and restructuring.

In July, the board approved issuing layoff notices to 18 paraprofessionals and five family support specialists or support non-exempt workers, citing the same budgetary concerns. This spring, there also was some central office restructuring that eliminated two school reform officer positions.

8.17.15:  Part of western Michigan highway dedicated to fallen sailor


KENTWOOD, Mich. (AP) — A stretch of western Michigan highway has been dedicated to a Navy SEAL killed four years ago in Afghanistan.

The Grand Rapids Press reports about 200 people gathered Saturday as a five-mile stretch of M-6 was renamed the David Warsen Memorial Highway. The signs were presented during a ceremony at East Kentwood High School.

Warsen graduated from the Kentwood school in 2004 and enlisted in the Navy in 2009. The 27-year-old was among seven Americans and four Afghans killed in 2012 in a Blackhawk helicopter crash northeast of Kandahar.

His fiancee, Karlyn Deveau, said his loved ones “want Dave to be remembered,” and “seeing his sign on the highway will be a reminder to everyone.”


8.14.15:  Guilty plea by teen in threats against Rockford school



ROCKFORD, Mich. (AP) — A teenage loner has pleaded guilty to making a false threat of terrorism against his Grand Rapids-area school.

The threats were made to Rockford schools and a local family by others whom the 16-year-old met over the Internet. Superintendent Mike Shibler told a judge Thursday that the “numerous threats” created an atmosphere of “anxiety and fear.”

The threats cost police and the Rockford school district as much as $100,000. The teen was charged as a juvenile and will likely undergo therapy.

Defense attorney David Dodge says the boy deeply regrets his actions. He says the boy lacked friends and went online to meet others.




8.13.15:  Back-to-School celebration at John Ball Park



Grand Rapids Public Schools will be holding their Back-to-School celebration today, Thursday.

School doesn’t officially begin until September 8th.

Today’s event is meant to help create excitement about heading back to school and provide students and families with information they might need for a new school year.


The festival-like atmosphere will take place from 4 – 8 p.m. at John Ball Park.

Families can enjoy free food, giveaways, entertainment, music, and children’s activities.


Families also are reminded that they will need to purchase school uniforms.  The district has been gradually phasing in uniforms district-wide and the high schools and alternative programs will make the transition this fall.


The district has nearly 17,000 students.