2.24.17:  Deadly crash along US-131 near G.R. 




GRAND RAPIDS, MI (Mlive) — Police were called to the scene of a crash along northbound U.S. 131 that  involved a wrong-way driver.

Police started getting calls just before 10 Thursday night that there was a wrong way driver near Burton Street.

The crash happened near 28th Street when a vehicle was south in the northbound lanes.

Police reported that several cars spun out to avoid the wrong-way driver.

No names have been released yet.

2.23.17:  Family Christian Stores say they plan to close all their stores



GRAND RAPIDS, MI (Mlive) – Family Christian Stores, the nation’s largest chain of Christian book and merchandise stores, announced it will close its doors after 85 years in business.

The announcement on Thursday, Feb. 23, did not specify a timetable for the liquidation, which will affect more than 3,000 employees at more than 240 stores in 36 states.

In 2015, Family Christian shed about $127 million worth of debt to its suppliers, creditors and consignment vendors when it went through Chapter 11 bankruptcy and was sold for about $55 million.

“We had two very difficult years post-bankruptcy,” said company president Chuck Bengochea in a news release, that blamed changing consumer habits and declining sales for the decision.

“Despite improvements in product assortment and the store experience, sales continued to decline. In addition, we were not able to get the pricing and terms we needed from our vendors to successfully compete in the market.”

“We have prayerfully looked at all possible options, trusting God’s plan for our organization, and the difficult decision to liquidate is our only recourse.”


Family Christian’s roots go back to 1931, when brothers Pat and Bernie Zondervan began a publishing house in their family’s Grandville farmhouse. Zondervan Corp. grew to become the nation’s largest Christian publishing house.

Zondervan’s bookstores were spun off in 1990s into Family Christian Stores after Harper Collins purchased the publishing house, which has since been merged with Nashville-based Thomas Nelson.


2.17.17:  Circuit court starts pilot project to cut school absenteeism




GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A pilot project has been started to reduce student absenteeism in two western Michigan school districts.

Kent County’s 17th Circuit Court in Grand Rapids says Thursday that its Truancy Court will provide up to 20 lawyers to work with students in Wyoming and Godwin Heights schools.

The lawyers are providing their legal services free of charge.

Students and their families also will have access to community services through the court’s crisis intervention program. The goal is to get students services they need to overcome attendance barriers and get them back in school.


2.16.17:  “A Day Without Immigrants”




PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Immigrants across the country are expected to stay home from school and work today to show how critical they are to the U.S. economy.

They and supporters are planning protests in Philadelphia, Boston, New York and other major cities.

“A Day Without Immigrants” comes in response to the Trump administration’s pledge to increase the deportation of immigrants living in the country illegally.


The Grand Rapids Public School District says they believe all people have the right to voice their opinion and make a stand for their beliefs but they also say it’s important that our children are in school and ready to learn.


About 150 people gathered at the Grand Rapids Public Library Wednesday for a panel discussion on modern immigration and refugees and the local impact.  The event was sponsored by the Civic Theatre.  They are getting ready to present the show “Ragtime”, which is about immigration at the turn of the century.

The panel members offered several suggestions on how to welcome immigrants and refugees, like educate yourself and volunteer to help.


2.16.17:  New team reviewing sexual assault allegations at university




ALLENDALE, Mich. (AP) — A criminal case review team has formed to look at sexual assault allegations on or near Grand Valley State University’s Allendale campus.

MLive.com says the update comes after the news organization last year reported some sexual assaults being disclosed to university staff were slow to reach police and some weren’t forwarded to the Ottawa County prosecutor’s office.

The team met last month and will meet monthly. Its members include law enforcement from Grand Valley State and the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department, an assistant county prosecutor and the victim advocate from the school’s Women’s Center.

Jesse Bernal, vice president for the division of inclusion and equity at the school, says the partnership will help encourage progress on cases.

The school has said its policies encourage quick reporting of alleged assaults.


2.10.17:  US Rep. Amash’s town hall gets  intense 



GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Hundreds of people packed a Grand Rapids school auditorium for the chance to pose, and in many cases shout, questions to Republican U.S. Rep. Justin Amash of West Michigan.

The meeting Thursday evening lasted well past its scheduled one-hour duration as the fourth-term congressman fielded 20-plus queries from the crowd.

Perhaps the most contentions moments were questions about the future of the Affordable Care Act.


2.3.17:  Grand Rapids plans $30M biodigester project to tackle waste




GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Grand Rapids’ wastewater division is preparing to build a biodigester at its water resource recovery facility.

The city’s environmental services manager, Mike Lunn, tells MLive the division has known for a while that it would need to adjust its operations to treat a growing stream of highly concentrated food waste from Founders Brewing Company, Coca-Cola, Amway and SET Environmental.

The biodigester, including a new pipe and sludge treatment system, is expected to cost nearly $30 million.

Lunn said the city decided building a biodigester was the best option, rather than make a $90 million expansion to the plant or require businesses to pre-treat their waste.

In the first phase, the city wants to build three tanks that each have a capacity of 1.4 million gallons, with the hope of having the system running by 2018.


2.3.17:  Identity sought of woman at or near 1977 slaying scene




PORT SHELDON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Authorities investigating a 1977 slaying in western Michigan are asking the public’s help in identifying a woman who may have been at or near the scene at the time another woman was stabbed to death.

Ottawa County sheriff’s officials say technological advances have led to more insight into the stabbing death of 20-year-old Deborah Polinsky.

Polinsky’s body was found July 26, 1977, in her rented farmhouse in Port Sheldon Township by a co-worker after she failed to show up for work. Port Sheldon Township is near Holland.

A cold case team has interviewed more than 180 people. DNA samples also have been taken and more than 600 fingerprints analyzed.

Investigators hope someone comes forward with a description or information about the woman they are trying to identify.


2.1.17:  Refugee family reunited in U.S 2 years after fleeing Congo  




GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A family that fled to Rwanda because of the violence in the Congo has been reunited in Grand Rapids after two years of separation, despite President Donald Trump’s executive order on refugees.

Chantal Nyiranziza and her husband Modeste Irakiza were separated because Nyiranziza was able to apply for settlement in the U.S. before her husband. She and their 5-year-old son came to the U.S. in October 2014.

Bethany Christian Services helped Nyiranziza apply to bring her husband to America.

The U.S. refugee program has been suspended for 120 days under Trump’s order. However, that didn’t affect refugees already scheduled to arrive before Feb. 3.

Kristine Van Noord of Bethany Christian Services says there was some uncertainty after the order was signed. But the 27-year-old Irakiza was allowed in late Tuesday.


1/30/17:  2016 was a record year for Grand Rapids Area Convention and Tourism Business




Grand Rapids, MI – Experience Grand Rapids, the area’s official destination marketing organization, has announced that 2016 was another record-breaking year for area hotel room revenue.  From 2015 to 2016 hotel business increased 8.7% exceeding growth for both Michigan’s and the United States’ hotel room revenue gains of 4.8% and 6.8% respectively.


The Grand Rapids area has grown as a sports destination thanks to the efforts of a partnership with the West Michigan Sports Commission.


Grand Rapids continues to to grow as a leisure destination which is effected by the rise of the music scene and updates to popular attractions.


Further growth can be attributed to arts and culture exhibits.

Events such as ArtPrize, GRand Jazz Fest and LaughFest, culinary, craft beer, and outdoor activities also have drawn more people to the city.