9.28.16:  Teacher Kevin Witte dies from injuries




-Holland Christian School Superintendent Dan Meester posted that teacher and coach Kevin Witte, died as a result of injuries suffered in an accident Monday morning.


Witte was on his way to school when a utility pole that was being transported, crashed into his vehicle, hitting him and knocking him unconscious.  The truck driver was on 120th Avenue, turning onto Garden Avenue, when the pole swung into Witte’s lane.   The police department continues to investigate the accident and see whether transporting the pole was in violation of traffic laws.

A facebook post is calling for friends of the school district to make a human prayer c

hain around the high school starting at 8:30 Wednesday morning.


9.27.16:  2016 Jurors’ Shortlist Top 25



(Mlive) – Five Michigan-based artists were among the 20 finalists chosen by the expert jurors who will decide who gets the $200,000 Juried Grand Prize in this year’s ArtPrize Eight.

A group of venues was also on the shortlist released Monday, Sept. 26.

Twelve of the finalists were located in four venues. The jurors nominated three entries each from the SiTE:LAB / Rumsey Street project, the Grand Rapids Art Museum, the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (UICA) and City Flux, located at 50 Monroe Ave. NW.

The juried awards are judged in four categories. The award is separate from the public vote, which is based on voting by ArtPrize visitors who register to vote online or with their smartphones. The Public Vote Top 100 list will be announced Tuesday, Sept. 27.

“Each year the Category Jurors’ Shortlist creates a dialogue, offering a counterpoint to the public vote and highlighting the various ways that individuals approach, assess and engage with contemporary art,” said Christian Gaines, ArtPrize executive director.

“Whether their choices surprise, excite, baffle, or infuriate, conversations are sparked amongst ArtPrizers and the community around contemporary art.”

Michigan artists in the jurors Top 20 include:

les bêtes at the City Water Building by the Richard App Gallery, by Isaac Aoki of Grand Rapids. The entry consists of a series of nude photographs shot in the winter at on the beach near Saugatuck.

Transformation (Metamorphosis) at Homewood Suites by Hilton Grand Rapids Downtown & Jam’n Bean Coffee Company at the Waters Center, by Chakila Hoskins of Grand Rapids. Hoskins has entered her paintings in ArtPrize for several years.

Hybrid Structures at SiTE:LAB / Rumsey Street Project, by Alois Kronschlaeger from Brooklyn, NY and Paul Amenta and Ted Lott of Grand Rapids.

Untitled at UICA Exit Space at Grand Rapids Ballet Co., by Louise Chen, based in Detroit.

This Space is Not Abandoned at 912 Grandville Avenue, by 912 CollABORATIVE of Grand Rapids.

Other nominees by category include:


Charted Memories at Calvin College – (106) Gallery by, Keren Kroul from Minneapolis, MN.

Coherency at Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, by Faig Ahmed from Baku, Azerbaijan.

Survival Does Not Lie In The Heavens at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, by Dario Robleto from Houston, TX.


Excavations at SiTE:LAB / Rumsey St. Project, by William Lamson from New York.

Grand River at CITY FLUX: Art, Architecture & Grand Rapids, by Francisco Pinheiro from Lisbon, Portugal.

Pose System at Grand Rapids Art Museum, by Saya Woolfalk from New York, NY.

SetOutputWorld (called with a world of the wrong size) at Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, by Kayla Anderson from Chicago, IL.

Support Surfaces (I,II,III) at CITY FLUX: Art, Architecture & Grand Rapids, by Bailey Romaine from Chicago, IL.


Christmas Eve, 1933 at SiTE:LAB / Rumsey St. Project, by Mark Dion from New York, NY.

Wars and Rumors of Wars at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, by Eric Dickson from New York, NY.


Bang Bang! at the City Water Building by the Richard App Gallery, by Constance Edwards Scopelitis from Indianapolis, IN.

The Bureau of Personal Belonging at 50 Monroe, by Stacey Kirby from Durham, NC.

The Magnetosphere at the The Fed Galleries @ KCAD, Kendall College of Art and Design, by Matthew Steinke from Austin, TX.

Search Engine Vision “ISIS” at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, by Eric Souther from Mishawaka, IN

Sweeper’s Clock at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, by Maarten Baas from Den Bosch, Holland (The Netherlands).

Outstanding Venue

Almost Home: Grand Rapids in Focus, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park


Re*, The Fed Galleries @ KCAD, Kendall College of Art and Design

(RE)Compose, 130 Ottawa

This Space is Not Abandoned, 912 Grandville Avenue

The jurors and their categories are Tina Rivers Ryan, art historian, critic, and educator specializing in modern and contemporary art (2-D); Omar Lopez-Chahoud, Artistic Director and Curator of UNTITLED Art Fair, Miami Beach and San Francisco (3-D); Yesomi Umolu, Exhibitions Curator at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago (Time-Based); Deana Haggag, Director of The Contemporary in Baltimore, Maryland (Installation); and Steve Dietz, Founder, President, and Artistic Director of Northern Lights.mn in Minneapolis (Outstanding Venue).

9.26.16:  Family and friends remember father of 4



(Mlive)- The funeral for 37-year-old Jason Alexander takes place Monday morning at Calvary Baptist Church, 1200 28th St SE, in Grand Rapids.

Alexander died last week in a head-on accident along Byron Road.

The at-fault driver said he many have fallen asleep as his pickup crossed the center line and struck Alexander.

Alexander worked as a branch manager for Chemical Bank and is survived by his wife and 4 children.


The funeral service for Jason will be officiated by Josh Bishop and Jeffrey Halsted at 11 AM on Monday, September 26, 2016, at Calvary Baptist Church.  Those wishing to offer expressions of sympathy may make a memorial contribution to the Jason M. Alexander Memorial Fund to help Jason’s family during this difficult time. Donations can be made to their Go Fund Me page at https://www.gofundme.com/Jasonmalexander.

9.26.16:  Similarities in 3 sex assaults near college campus


ALLENDALE, Mich. (AP) — A third sexual assault has been reported near a western Michigan university since the start of classes this academic year.

The  Ottawa County sheriff’ investigators say the attacks near Grand Valley State University in Allendale may be related.

A student told police she was confronted Thursday night by two men and assaulted by one of them as she walked between buildings at an apartment complex.

Ottawa County sheriff’s Capt. Captain Mark Bennett tells the television station that there are similarities in Thursday’s reported attack and two others reported in late August.

Bennett says the physical descriptions of the suspect, time of the day of the assaults and the locations are all similar.



9.23.16:  Community sets deadline for dealing with biodigester odors



LOWELL, Mich. (AP) — The operator of a biodigester in western Michigan has until Nov. 1 to curb odors in the area or it could be shut down.

The Grand Rapids Press reports Lowell city and utility leaders met Thursday and decided to let Lowell Energy AD proceed with another odor-elimination plan. The plant’s operator first plans to install a filter and cover an outside wastewater treatment vat.

Bruce Koetter, vice president Webster Environmental Associates, says it’s a “temporary fix.” The company was hired by Lowell Energy to deal with the problem.

Lowell Energy last year opened the biodigester, which converts a mix of beer waste, salad dressing and manure into methane gas that powers a turbine and generates electricity. The biodigester has a 20-year deal to sell electricity to the city’s utility.


9.21.16:  Annual ArtPrize competition taking place in western Michigan



GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — The annual ArtPrize competition is taking place in western Michigan, with works by hundreds of artists on display.

The event starts Wednesday following a preview week. On Oct. 7, the winners of $500,000 in cash prizes will be revealed.

During the event, the public will vote on its favorite entries using mobile devices and the ArtPrize website. Awards of $200,000 are decided by public vote and an expert jury, and an additional $100,000 in prizes is awarded to the top entries in each category.

Displays are at venues throughout Grand Rapids and the event is a big tourism draw for the region, attracting visitors from around the world. This year’s event includes more than 1,400 entries by artists representing 44 countries and 40 U.S. states and territories.


More information:    www.artprize.org



9.16.16:  Worker electrocuted during driveway installation project



CALEDONIA, Mich. (AP) — A construction company worker has been electrocuted at a job site southeast of Grand Rapids in western Michigan.

The Kent County sheriff’s office says 37-year-old Michael Dieleman was part of a crew installing a driveway about 10 a.m. Thursday in Caledonia when a pole he was holding touched a power line and a metal ground stake.

Dieleman, of Byron Township, later died at a hospital. He was working for a company owned by his father.

The sheriff’s office is working with Consumer’s Energy and the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration on the investigation.


9.16.16:  2 Kent County residents test positive for West Nile virus



GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Two people in western Michigan’s Kent County have tested positive for the West Nile virus.

County health officials report Thursday that the cases involve unrelated adults. It’s not known where they contracted the disease.

The health department says the virus is spread to humans primarily through the bites of an infected Culex species mosquito. Symptoms can include body aches, joint pain and diarrhea.

Mosquitoes pick up the virus from infected birds and then pass it to people. The elderly and people with weak immune systems can be at greatest risk for death.

Weekly surveillance of the mosquitoes was conducted over three months in Kent County and testing was performed on up to 50 mosquitoes at a time. West Nile virus was found in 20 of those samples.


9.15.16:  GRPS gets money to help Museum School



GRAND RAPIDS, MI(Mlive) – The planned Grand Rapids Public Museum High School is among 10 schools nationwide that has won $10 million – part of a $100 million contest sponsored by XQ: The Super School Project to rethink high school, officials announced Wednesday, Sept. 14.

The project was launched last fall, backed by Steve Jobs’ widow, Laurene Powell Jobs. The pricey prize inspired teams of educators, students, parents and community and business leaders to come together and respond creatively to today’s global society demands for new thinking skills and higher levels of educational achievement.

“This speaks volumes about this school district being on the right track with its Transformation Plan because people just don’t give you $10 million,” said Grand Rapids Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal, who attended the big reveal Wednesday at the Union Market in Washington, D.C., with a local delegation.

And it turns out the district’s Museum School is the type of program Super School organizers were looking for.

“We are offering a really unique, one-of-a-kind learning experience inside the museum that has placed-based education and design thinking as key components of the curriculum.”

Neal said there is a focus on innovation, creativity, critical thinking and problem solving with real-world challenges, communication and collaboration that is essential to preparing students for success in a global society.

In April, GRPS emerged as one of 50 finalists from 700 entries. The district will receive $2 million over each of the next five years for the Museum School’s high school, slated to open in fall 2018 in the city’s historic museum building, located 54 Jefferson St.


The plan is for $8.5 million of the contest funds to be funneled into building renovations and $1.5 million into technology. Prior to the contest, the initial budget was greater than $10 million, but the district received a $1 million pledge from the Wege Foundation and will need to raise around $1 million to completely finish off the high school, according John Helmholdt, communication’s director for GRPS.

9.15.16:  Board votes 6-2 to approve school guidelines



-The State Board of Education of Michigan voted 6-2 Wednesday to approve guidance to schools that impact LGBT students.

The guidelines are voluntary but have spurred criticism, particularly over restroom policies.  The Democratic-controlled State Board of Education passed the guidance  after receiving public testimony from people in support and against.


The Diocese of Grand Rapids say the new guidelines do not apply to their Catholic schools.  Here is the complete statement from Bishop David J. Walkowiak.

“The guidelines passed by the State Board of Education in Michigan today are not congruent with Catholic teaching. I would like to assure parents of children in our Catholic schools that these guidelines do not apply to our Catholic schools and we will stand firm in our belief that all humans are created in the image and likeness of God, male and female. We believe that a person’s sexual identity is determined at conception.

Our schools will accept and support all students with respect and work to create cultures that protect young people from bullying or harassment of any kind. In situations where students may be questioning their identity; parents and educators will work together closely to determine the proper support necessary to meet the needs of these and all students.”