6.30.15:  Gilda’s Club presents Camp Sparkle



Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids will continue the tradition of Camp Sparkle this summer, for the 11th year.

Camp Sparkle is an annual day camp for children entering kindergarten through those entering 6th grade and have been impacted by cancer or grief.

The camp is free to attend and open to students from all surrounding communities.  It provides children with a chance to connect and interact with other children who have struggled through situations similar of their own.


The camp will be held every Tuesday, beginning June 30 through August 4 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.  Campers may join and attend any camp date.


Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids Clubhouse is located at 1806 Bridge Street NW.


6.30.15:  3 men picked up for vehicle break-ins



(Mlive)–Three men are facing criminal charges stemming from an investigation into a series of vehicle larcenies in Lowell.

One suspect, from Georgia, was nabbed by police at the Greyhound Bus depot in Grand Rapids as he tried to leave the state.

The larcenies were reported in June. Police said the cars were left unlocked in driveways or parking lots when the suspects broke in and stole items including money, tobacco and electronics.

In one case, a vehicle was taken and later brought back by the suspects, police said.

Casey HeyKoop, 18, of Lowell, and Timothy Petraroi, 25, of Georgia, are charged with larceny from a motor vehicle and breaking and entering a vehicle to steal property.

A third person, an 18-year-old male from Lowell, awaits charges. Police continue to investigate.




6.30.15:   1.4M expected to travel this Fourth of July



DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — AAA Michigan says about 1.4 million state residents are expected to travel this Fourth of July, the most since 2007.

The Dearborn-based auto club says its projections are for Michigan residents traveling 50 miles or more from home between Wednesday and Sunday. The number of travelers would be a 0.7 percent increase over last year’s total.

According to AAA Michigan, about 88 percent of Michigan travelers are expected drive to their destinations. About 63,000 people are projected to travel by air.

AAA Michigan says rising incomes and a strong employment market is driving more people to travel.

6.30.15:  Michigan gets $1.1M to study education, employment links



LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Workforce Development Agency is getting a federal grant worth roughly $1.1 million to help study links between education and employment.

The U.S. Department of Labor said Monday that Michigan is among nine states splitting $9.7 million in grant money.

The department says the funding is to help the states build or expand databases linking workforce and education data. The databases must be used for research in determining effectiveness of education and workforce programs.

According to the Department of Labor, Michigan is getting additional funding to do more work on its database. Other states to receive grant money are Alaska, Arkansas, Kansas, Maine, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas and Washington.



6.30.15:  Michigan lawmakers near OK of ‘early warning,’ loan bills



LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan is close to finalizing legislation requiring school districts with fund balances below 5 percent to tell the state the assumptions used when adopting their budgets.

The “early warning” bills are an effort by Gov. Rick Snyder and the Legislature to catch financial problems before schools end up under state emergency management. Under legislation up for a final vote Tuesday, the state could declare that a potential for “fiscal stress” exists and require districts to submit deficit-elimination plans in certain circumstances.

The Senate also plans to vote on related legislation that would lift caps on emergency loans.

A $50 million loan fund for cash-strapped districts is nearly empty. The fund would increase to $70 million under the legislation. A $35 million loan fund for municipalities would rise to $48 million.


6.30.15:  Michigan Senate to consider 15-cent gas tax hike for roads



LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Senate is considering whether to raise the state gasoline tax by 15 cents a gallon to help improve roads.

Majority Republicans meet privately Tuesday to potentially finalize legislation to spend at least $1 billion a year more on transportation infrastructure. The proposal would raise the 19-cent gas tax by a nickel each year over three years.

GOP leaders also are expected to call for redirecting general funds toward roads and possibly cutting Michigan’s income tax if future revenues are healthy.

A Senate committee could approve the bills later Tuesday.

The House has passed legislation that includes earmarking general funds for roads and eliminating a tax credit for lower-wage earners.

Voters last month rejected sales and fuel tax increases to boost spending on roads, education and municipal services.



6.30.15:  Swim to Mackinac Island while hauling barge postponed



ST. IGNACE, Mich. (AP) — A long-distance swimmer from Michigan has postponed a planned Fourth of July swim to Mackinac Island while towing a barge carrying a vehicle.

Jim Dreyer says in statement he injured himself while clearing trees near a Lake Michigan beach.

The event has been rescheduled for Aug. 15. The swim from St. Ignace at the north end of the Mackinac Bridge was organized to help draw attention to the 2015 Mighty Mac Swim, a planned crossing of the Straits of Mackinac that’s scheduled for Labor Day.

The Mighty Mac Swim will take place alongside the annual Bridge Walk, which draws thousands each year to make a 5-mile crossing on the Mackinac Bridge between Michigan’s Upper and Lower peninsulas.

Both events are fundraisers for Habitat for Humanity of Michigan.


6.30.15:  Cross brought in on boat amid lawsuits over earlier display



GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (AP) — A large cross aboard a pontoon boat made an appearance in Grand Haven, which faces two lawsuits filed by residents who opposed converting a 48-foot-tall cross into an anchor.

The cross was brought out during Sunday’s first-of-the-season Worship on the Waterfront event, but it wasn’t immediately known who was responsible. A cross had been displayed atop Dewey Hill for decades.

The recent lawsuits say a resolution approved Jan. 5 by the Grand Haven City Council violates religious freedom protections.

City Council members voted to restrict displays on public areas of Dewey Hill after a group promoting the separation of church and state threatened to file a lawsuit.

The cross was on city-owned property overlooking to Grand River. It now looks like an anchor.



6.30.15:  Michigan Supreme Court overturns murder conviction



BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Supreme Court has overturned a murder conviction in the death of a 3-year-old girl in southwestern Michigan.

In a unanimous decision Monday, the court says Leo Ackley was poorly served by a trial lawyer who failed to call any expert witnesses in Calhoun County court. Justice Bridget McCormack says expert testimony was “critical” in determining whether Baylee Stenman’s death in 2011 was intentional or accidental.

Ackley was watching Baylee, the daughter of his girlfriend, at the time. He said she must have fallen.

McCormack says defense lawyer Ken Marks failed to “prepare or show up for the battle” between experts. The prosecutor had five.

Marks declined to comment on the decision. He says he’s being sued by the 28-year-old Ackley, who will get a new trial.


6.30.15:   After resisting for years, JetBlue adds checked bag fee



NEW YORK (AP) — And then there was one. For years, Jet Blue boasted of its holdout status in the new era of paying for checked bags, but no longer.

The airline now says it will charge up to $25 for checked luggage.

The move leaves Southwest Airlines as the only major U.S. carrier not to charge a bag fee.