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:  Allegan County-based company gets $6.3M Soo Locks contract


SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. (AP) — A company based in southwestern Michigan has secured a $6.3 million contract with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to overhaul the control systems for the second-largest of the Soo Locks.


Windemuller Inc., located in the Allegan County city of Wayland, has been selected to upgrade the entire instrumentation and control system for the MacArthur Lock. The 800-foot long, 80-foot wide structure is the southernmost of the four Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie.


The company’s two-year contract with the federal agency also calls for the replacement of the current electrical system and installation of a new “Homeland Security-grade” camera system.


Windemuller says the new system will increase operator safety and reduce the vulnerability to terrorism and natural disaster.


The project is expected to wrap up next year.


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.

4.17.15:  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.

4.16.15:  It will cost more to visit Oval Beach this summer


Visitors who want to spend the day at Oval Beach in Saugatuck will have to pay more this year.

A vehicle rate increase will bump prices from $6 to $8 for a daily pass.

Season passes will increase to $50.

Saugatuck taxpayers will still be able to get an annual pass for $20.

The city hopes to use some of the extra money to expand and improve the parking lot.

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  Airport Safety Study

The past 10 years have seen more than 250 breaches of airport perimeters at facilities that together handle three-quarters of U.S. commercial passenger traffic. An Associated Press investigation also finds that two airports among the 31 that AP surveyed didn’t have data for all years. Most of the incidents involved intruders who wanted to take a shortcut, were lost, disoriented, drunk or mentally unstable.