5.2.16:  Statewide average gas prices rise 13 cents



DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — AAA Michigan says gas prices statewide have risen by about 13 cents a gallon in the past week.

The Dearborn-based auto club says Sunday the average price for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline was about $2.30 per gallon. That’s about 22 cents less than it was at the same point last year.

AAA says relatively inexpensive gas prices are boosting driving and 2016 could be a record year for gasoline consumption and annual miles traveled.

The lowest average price was about $2.23 per gallon in the Marquette area, while the highest average was about $2.37 per gallon in the Jackson and Lansing areas.

AAA Michigan surveys daily fuel prices at 2,800 gas stations across the state.



Monday morning, gas prices in the Grand Rapids area ranged from $2.11 to $2.38 a gallon.

4-26-16 Ottawa County Deputy Praised for Quick Thinking

HOLLAND TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A sheriff’s deputy in western Michigan is getting praise for helping to rescue a bunch of ducklings from storm sewer drain as their mother looked on.

The Holland Sentinel reports (http://bit.ly/1MVuEGz ) Ottawa County sheriff’s Deputy Tony Boersema collected the ducklings outside a fast food restaurant in Holland Township. The encounter drew attention after woman posted about it on Facebook.

Undersheriff Steve Kempker says the ducks were relocated to an area that’s less busy following the weekend rescue. He says responding to reports involving wildlife is part of the job in Ottawa County, where authorities might get calls about a horse or cow on the loose.

Kempker says “it makes us feel good that we have employees who will go that little extra on these types of calls.”


4-25-16 MI Natural Gas Rates Could Go Down

While Consumers Energy has been given permission to raise natural gas rates, your bill might go down.  Michigan regulators have authorized Consumers to raise natural gas rates by $40 million annually, but customers should see a drop in their bill, with the average residential customer’s bill going down by $1.69 a month, effective in May.

The Michigan Public Service Commission this week approved a settlement agreement that includes a rate hike that is 53 percent below what the utility requested. It’s a 1.6 percent residential increase over rates set in the last natural gas rate case.

4-25-16 MI Kids Living With Astronomical Rate of Parents Behind Bars

Michigan has one of the highest rates of kids with parents who are incarcerated.  The study by the Anne E. Casey Foundation found more than 200-thousand Michigan kids in 2011-12 had a parent who was in jail or prison.

Kids Count Michigan’s Alicia Guevara Warren says for kids, having a parent behind bars is a traumatic experience.  She says those children are more likely to be homeless and in families that are more likely to be struggling financially to provide necessities.

Warren feels reforms to reduce incarceration and provide essential services for kids would go a long way to reducing the strain put on families and help them break free of a cycle of impoverishment.

She says churches and other faith based organizations can also play a role in helping those children.

“Looking at how we can strengthen our communities through early education centers and schools, and child welfare and community-based health centers, to really help build connections and offer the programs and supports that we need for kids with incarcerated parents.”

Some 230-thousand children in Michigan have had a parent incarcerated.  Only Kentucky and Indiana had a higher rate.

4.22.16:  Special event for local adults with disabilities



There is a special spring event that is planned for Saturday that will involve a number of special volunteers.   The Best Prom Ever event will be held at Sparta High School.

Renee Wyman helps to organize the event that was created by adults with disabilities for adults with disabilities.

This year they are expecting 1,500 gusts.

It takes several volunteers to help at the free event.  The event includes everything from limo rides, to photo booths and dinner.

A number of students and adults with disabilities from around the West Michigan area plan to participate.


More information at:  thebestpromever.org.

4.22.16:  Cherry blossoms on view at new Japanese Garden in Michigan



GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Cherry blossoms are on view at a new $22 million Japanese garden at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids.

The Cherry Tree Promenade, which was designed to be a quiet and contemplative space, is open to visitors at the western Michigan attraction.

The Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden made its debut last June. It mixes contemporary sculpture with trees and plants. Features include waterfalls, boulders, authentic Japanese structures such as bridges and gazebos, bonsai gardens and a functioning tea house.

The garden was designed by Japanese landscape architect Hoichi Kurisu, who transformed what previously was a marsh and wooded valley.



4.21.16:  Michigan city with Dutch heritage to get new ‘welkom’ signs



HOLLAND, Mich. (AP) — New gateway signs for a Michigan city known for its Dutch heritage will keep a popular “welkom.”

The city of Holland was planning to remove signs with painted tulips and the phrase “Welkom to Holland,” using the Dutch spelling of “welcome.” Some residents didn’t like losing the Dutch “welkom.” The city asked Studio Graphique of Cleveland, which designed the new signs, to send back options to incorporate “welkom.”

The Holland Sentinel reports the City Council voted 8-0 Wednesday to amend the sign design. The new 13-foot-tall orange sign columns, which feature a metal structure, will read in a vertical layout “Welkom to Holland.”


4.20.16:  State of our Schools address



GRAND RAPIDS, MI (Mlive) –Grand Rapids Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal said choosing your neighborhood school is investing in your community, remarks that came Tuesday as she announced the launch of the district’s “Bring Back Our Kids” campaign during her State of our Schools address.


After losing hundreds of students and millions of dollars each year for decades, Neal told those gathered at Ottawa Hills High School for the April 19 event that the district’s enrollment has stabilized. She said a lot of effort has been put into retention and recruitment, especially as it relates to creating and expanding school choice.


“I won’t be happy until we can finally declare that GRPS is a growth district,” she said to the crowd of more than 200 about adding an admission specialist and student retention recruitment coordinator. “And declare that GRPS is a state and national model for student retention, recruitment and academic performance.”

4.20.16:  Woman accused in stealing credit card information sentenced



GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — An 18-year-old Miami woman accused of being involved in stealing credit card information at gas pumps in western Michigan has been sentenced to a year in jail.

The Grand Rapids Press reports Maria Sanchez-Figueredo was sentenced Tuesday after earlier pleading no contest to conducting a criminal enterprise. She was credited by a judge with 230 days already served in jail.

Sanchez-Figueredo was among 11 suspects in separate groups who were arrested last year. Others are awaiting sentencing for conspiracy to commit fraud in federal court in Grand Rapids.

Kent County Circuit Judge Donald Johnston said Sanchez-Figueredo appeared to be a follower. Steven Simkins, her attorney, said that of the defendants, she is the least culpable.


4.19.16:  Registration for ArtPrize is open



GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Artist registration is now open for ArtPrize 2016.

The event will take place in downtown Grand Rapids from September 21 – October 9.

Anyone over 18, working in any medium, from any place on earth can enter to compete for a combination of public vote and awards totaling $500,000 at the world’s largest art competition.


Over the last 7 years, nearly 11,000 artists from around the world have filled every corner of the ArtPrize district with their work.

Artists seeking to enter the 8th annual event must register by June 2 at 5:00 p.m.


Applications for 2016 ArtPrize Artist Seed Grants are also available.  For a third consecutive year, ArtPrize will offer 25 artists $2,000 grants each to realize their ambitious art projects at the event this fall.  Interested artists must demonstrate both financial need and artistic merit and submit their application by the close of Artist Registration on June 2 at 5:00 p.m.


More information at:  artprize.org.