10.21.14:  Grand Rapids Community College plans buyouts


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Grand Rapids Community College plans to offer buyouts to some faculty and staff as part of an effort that could save $5 million over the next decade.


The offers seek to trim expenses because of declining enrollment.


School President Steven Ender says any money that the school can save “without having to take a hard look at programs, the better we like that scenario.”


The college’s Board of Trustees approved the buyout offers on Monday night. The college estimates the buyouts would generate $1.3 million in savings over three years if 15 faculty and 10 staff members take them.


The plans come as the college is projecting a budget deficit of between $2 million and $5 million for the 2015-16 school year.


10.20.14:  Art expert unexpectedly dies


One of the art experts that was invited to take part in the judging of ArtPrize this year has suddenly died.


Susan Sollins led the ArtPrize Juried Grand Prize panel of jurors this year.


She died just days after the prize was awarded in Grand Rapids.


No specific cause of death was given.

10.20.14:  Man dies in house fire in western Michigan


HOLLAND, Mich. (AP) — A 29-year-old man has died in the first fatal fire at a Holland house since 1996.


The cause still is being investigated, although the fire appears to have started in the back of the two-story home along West 13th Street early Saturday in western Michigan.


The victim was identified as Jeremiah Donald Smith. Fire Lieutenant Andy Stokes says three other people inside the house survived, including a toddler.

10.17.14:  Public input for future of Grand Rapids


The city of Grand Rapids wants to know your ideas for future planning and will hold an Open House today from 4-8 p.m. at 50 Louis Street.


The public will be asked to provide input on how they would like to see Grand Rapids develop in the future.


Mayor George Heartwell said this planning process allows city leaders to think about the future and examine such areas as economic development, education , housing, transportation and the Grand River.


10.17.14:  Muskegon County opens juvenile transition center


MUSKEGON, Mich. (AP) — Muskegon County has opened a $6 million juvenile transition center for housing and treating young offenders.


Judges, law enforcement officials and youth workers attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony and tour of the building Thursday. The 32-bed facility was constructed along with the nearby adult jail, which is not yet finished.


Juvenile residents are scheduled to move into the building Tuesday. It has four classrooms, two exercise areas, a computer lab and a medical and dental wing.


The center’s youth services director Vernon Oard says the building represents “hope for the future” and isn’t “a place of punishment.”

10.16.14:  Michigan ArtPrize youth contest draws 89 entries


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A high school senior has won the online youth competition for the annual ArtPrize contest in Grand Rapids.


A black-and-white photograph by West Ottawa High School student Michele Weber was selected out of 89 entries for the ArtStart contest grand prize.


ArtPrize education director Angela De Luca Placencia says the competition for youth under age 18 received submissions from 3-year-olds to 12th graders. She says the entries were “really strong” in all grade levels.


The contest started last year to allow youth to participate in the 19-day international art competition that ended Oct. 12. Weber’s prizes include a mentoring opportunity with a professional photographer, an ArtPrize book and various gift cards.


10.15.14:  Michigan officials plan Laker Line bus system


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Michigan transit leaders have unveiled plans for a $45.5 million Laker Line rapid transit bus system in the Grand Rapids area.


Officials announced the 13-mile line between Grand Valley State University in Allendale and downtown Grand Rapids on Tuesday. The new line could open in 2018, about four years after the launch of the similar Silver Line system this past summer.


The Laker Line would have 14 stations and a maximum of 13 vehicles stopping at six-minute intervals at peak times. Planners say they expect 13,000 riders each day. That’s a 13 percent increase over existing users.


Officials plan to conduct an environmental assessment to identify station locations before applying for federal funding in 2015.


10.15.14:  Cedar Springs considers disbanding police


CEDAR SPRINGS, Mich. (AP) — The Cedar Springs Police Department plans to disband next month and transfer policing authority to the Kent County Sheriff’s Department.


A county committee on Tuesday recommended the change. It says the county should accept a five-year contract to take over police services in Cedar Springs. Officials estimate the deal would save taxpayers $100,000 to $120,000 annually.


The move comes after Cedar Springs Police Chief Roger Parent retired in August. City officials have considered the change since 2007.


Sheriff Larry Stelma says service should be enhanced if it changes at all. The city of more than 3,100 residents currently has six full-time officers. Stelma says he expects four will apply to jobs with the county.


The full county commission could vote next month for the contract to go into immediate effect.

10.14.14:  GRPS to introduce marketing campaign


The Grand Rapids Public School district is ramping up their marketing efforts with a campaign to recruit more students form the city.  The “We Are GR – We Are Proud Parents” campaign was discussed during a school board work session on Monday.


The campaign is expected to be unveiled in late Oct. or early Nov.


The district says they plan to spend about $260,000 to use print, online, broadcast media, and billboards to try and attract more students to their public schools.


If the campaign is successful and if they get even 15 new students, the money coming in from the state should be enough to pay for the advertising efforts.