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On the shelf: ‘The Shipping News’ by E. Annie Proulx

By Amy Cochran, Grand Rapids Public Library, Seymour Branch

 

As the weather turns colder, I like to curl up with favorite reads of years past, especially books with settings that make me glad to be inside with a hot cup of tea. This year I turned yet again to The Shipping News and found myself as always completely immersed in the language and setting.

 

After losing his good-for-nothing wife to a car accident, Quoyle returns to his ancestral home in Newfoundland with his beloved daughters and an aunt finally ready to face her brutal upbringing.

 

This is the story of three generations of Quoyles working to climb out of past tragedy.  Proulx targets the bad choices people make in life as well as the choices that are forced upon them. Her prose style echoes the cold, tight-knit community that Quoyle settles into as she distills each sentence to its most essential message, as if relating a tale straight from the mouths of the village elders.

 

I enjoy watching Quoyle grow as a father and a man as he becomes a decent writer for the local paper, learns to love squidburgers and various types of bologna dinners and gradually surpasses his grief in order to look ahead to the future. I especially like the dark humor infused in every page, the horrifying stories melded with the amused resignation and jokes of the residents.

 

Quirky characters, a setting that sticks in the mind, and stark yet descriptive language make this a book I will continue to reread, probably during the winter, for years to come.

Kentwood resident helps bring the story of the Civil Rights Act to life in Civic Theatre production

The cast in Grand Rapids Civic Theatre’s “All the Way”

 

By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma

joanne@wktv.org

 

If you ask the average person what Lyndon B. Johnson accomplished during his presidency, few would be able to give you an answer. Ask those same people, about the Civil Rights Act and many would state it was a big accomplishment for the 35th President John F. Kennedy.

 

Truth is, it was a very big accomplishment for Johnson.

 

“I was born after the passage,” said Kentwood resident Marissa Baty. “My experience was through history. You heard about JFK and his death and then the vice president [Johnson] became president.

 

Kentwood resident Marissa Baty portrays Coretta Scott King in Civic Theatre’s production of “All the Way.”

Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. Johnson was sworn in as president and spent the next eight months working toward making the Civil Rights Act into law. The current Grand Rapids Civic Theatre production, “All The Way,” explores the trials and tribulations Johnson, commonly referred to as LBJ, experienced as he hurls himself into getting the act passed along with seeking re-election and the recognition he so desperately wants.

 

“LBJ really made a sacrifice,” said Baty who portrays Martin Luther King Jr.’s wife Coretta Scott King in the production. “The production explores what it took him emotionally and personally to get the Civil Rights Act passed.”

 

It wasn’t just Johnson who made compromises, but Martin Luther King Jr. who was forced to contend with conservative and militant leaders as Johnson used every trick in the book — cajolery, arm-twisting, and even blackmail — to get his way. The play, written by Robert Schenkkan, raises questions about the morality of power and politics and how far one can go for good intentions.

 

Baty, who has appeared in other Civic Theatre productions such as “Good People” and “Ragtime,” said she became more familiar with the story of Johnson’s work after seeing the television film “All the Way” — the title taken from Johnson’s 1964 re-election bid — starring Bryan Cranston, who reprised his Broadway role as Johnson and Anthony Mackie as King.

 

“I think now with everything that is going on, it is really important to understand how the political process works,” Baty said, adding that people need to understand how laws are created and the importance of putting people in office who are able and component to create those laws.

 

“LBJ and Martin Luther King were not perfect people,” she said. “They came together perfectly for America.”

 

The story of them coming together for a common good is one worth telling, Baty said, adding that she is thrilled to be part of telling that story and that Civic Theatre was willing to present it.

 

“All the Way” runs through Jan. 28 at the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, 30 N. Division Ave. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays; and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $16-$28. For more information, visit www.grct.org.

Employment Expertise: The 2018 ‘Hot Jobs! List’ is Here

By West Michigan Works!

 

Each year, West Michigan Works! looks at local job posting data and works with local employers to create the Hot Jobs! List. This list provides a snapshot of West Michigan’s hiring needs.

 

What is a hot job?

A hot job is in high demand. This means employers have open positions they need to fill now.

 

A hot job is fast-growing. This means the outlook for a career in this occupation is good; the number of openings is expected to grow at a faster rate than other jobs.

 

How will this list help me?

If you are looking for a new job or career, this list can help guide you to occupations for which employers in West Michigan have a current and growing need.

 

What industries have hot jobs?

The industries with the highest need for talent and the greatest expected growth in West Michigan are: construction/energy, health sciences, information technology, manufacturing and professional/administrative services.

 

Additionally, a large portion of the region’s jobs and labor income are in the agricultural industry. Many of the high-demand jobs in agriculture, including farming and food production, overlap with other industries.

 

What if I’m not qualified for a hot job?

With unemployment rates at historical lows, it is necessary to arm job seekers with skills that meet the needs of employers and can put them on the path to successful careers. The list identifies which occupations meet the criteria for Michigan Works! training scholarships.

 

The 2018 Hot Jobs List is available on the West Michigan Works! website at http://jobs.westmiworks.org/hot-jobs-2/ . The online list is sortable and features links to more career information for each job.

 

Employment Expertise is provided by West Michigan Works! Learn more about how they can help: visit westmiworks.org or your local Service Center.

 

Songs from ‘Wicked,’ ‘Lion King,’ ‘Phantom of the Opera’ at Grand Rapids Pops’ Blockbuster Broadway

Jessica Hendy ppeared on Broadway as Grizabella in “Cats” as well as in Grand Rapids on its national tour.

By Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk

Grand Rapids Symphony

 

Ask anyone to name their favorite Broadway musical, and you’ll almost certainly get a list of several, if not many. And there’s only one way to hear music from many of your favorite musicals in one night.

 

The Grand Rapids Pops presents Blockbuster Broadway, with music from some of Broadway’s biggest and best-loved shows such as The Phantom of the Opera, Les Misérables, Chicago, and many more.

 

Hear songs from Wicked, The Lion King, and Jersey Boys at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Jan. 26-27, and at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 28. Enjoy old favorites from The Sound of Music and Annie in DeVos Performance Hall, 303 Monroe Ave. NW.

 

Part of the Fox Motors Pops series, John Varineau will conduct the Grand Rapids Symphony as the orchestra performs an eclectic mix of songs in the show created, produced, and directed by the acclaimed cabaret artist Scott Coulter.

 

Guests include Jessica Hendy, who previously sang at Grand Rapids Symphony’s “Celebrate America” concert at Cannonsburg Ski Area for the D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops in July 2009. Hendy previously appeared on Broadway as Grizabella in Cats as well as in Grand Rapids on its national tour.

 

Scott Coulter, one of New York’s top award-winning vocalists returns to West Michigan to sing “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” with the Grand Rapids Symphony among other songs.

 

Not long ago, Scott starred in An Evening with Scott Coulter: Broadway and Beyond at Kalamazoo’s Farmer’s Alley Theatre, a theater founded by a friend from music school.

 

“I think of my [singing] style as musical storytelling,” Scott said to Farmer’s Alley Theatre. “I do pretty familiar material but people often tell me that they felt like they heard the song for the first time – or in a new light.”

 

It’s not only theater and concert goers who enjoy Scott’s musical interpretation. The Oscar and Grammy award-winning composer Stephen Schwartz, whose work includes Godspell, Wicked, and Enchanted, has described Coulter’s musical talents like this: “One of the best things that can happen to a composer is to have his music interpreted by Scott Coulter.”

 

Coulter has worked frequently with Schwartz, as have guest soloists Jessica Hendy, Kelli Rabke and John Boswell.

 

Called a “vocal powerhouse” with great range by critics, Jessica Hendy most recently worked with Schwartz on his cabaret-style show, The Wizard and I. Hendy, whose voice sometime seem to defy gravity, will sing some of the most electric songs of the program including “Circle of Life” from The Lion King, “Memory” from Cats, and, of course, “Defying Gravity” from Wicked.

 

Kelli Rabke

Kelli Rabke, best known for her role of Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Eponine in Les Misérables, also worked with Schwartz in The Wizard and I. As a frequent musical partner with Coulter, she will join him again in the upcoming show, Music of the Knights, which features songs composed by three British musical legends, all knighted by the Queen of England: Elton John, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Paul McCartney.

 

Along with other songs, Rabke will perform, “I Dreamed a Dream,” the song that serves as an emotional lynchpin in Les Misérables, one of the best-known musicals of all-time.

 

Music Director, pianist, and vocalist John Boswell co-arranged the music for Blockbuster Broadway with Scott Coulter. In addition to writing music for television, John has crafted numerous piano-driven albums, called “accessible, impressionistic tone-poems” by critics. For Blockbuster Broadway, he sings “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’” from Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.

 

With the warmth and energy of the Grand Rapids Symphony, Broadway returns to Grand Rapids. Performed with a live symphony, it’s a rare opportunity to hear some of Broadway’s best songs by stellar vocalists.

 

Tickets

 

Tickets start at $18 and are available at the GRS ticket office, weekdays 9 am-5 pm at 300 Ottawa Ave. NW, Suite 100, (located across from the Calder Plaza), or by calling 616.454.9451 x 4. (Phone orders will be charged a $2 per ticket service fee, with a $12 maximum.)

 

Tickets are available at the DeVos Place box office, weekdays 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. or on the day of the concert beginning two hours prior to the performance. Tickets also may be purchased online at GRSymphony.org.

 

Full-time students of any age are able to purchase tickets for only $5 on the night of the concert by enrolling in the GRS Student Ticketsprogram, sponsored by Comerica and Calvin College. This is a MySymphony360 eligible concert.

County’s mental health services being cut as state distances itself from funding shortfall problem

Network180, the provider of mental and behavioral health services to Kent County, has its office in Grand Rapids. (WKTV)

By K.D. Norris

ken@wktv.org

 

As local health officials statewide seek to work with state officials to deal with funding shortfalls linked to state reimbursement for low income patients, Kent County’s community mental health provider, Network180, has begun belt tightening.

 

Having already made internal staffing reductions in reaction to a funding shortfall, Network180 executive director Scott Gillian said official notification began this week to its local partners that will have their funding reduced or eliminated — but that may be only the beginning of the local belt-tightening, he said.

 

“Even with the cuts, and we are currently looking at about $778K, we still have a $7 million deficit,” Gilman said to WKTV, adding that despite the funding deficit Network180 will be doing what it can to secure cash to make payments to providers. “We have to be really careful … We are the public safety net.”

 

(For more information on the issue, see previous WKTV stories on the announcement of the problem and more details of the problem.)

 

Meanwhile, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) maintains its existing funding contract with the local Lakeshore Regional Entity, through which state funds flow to the local Network180, is sound and needs no adjustment.

 

“Rates paid in Kent County have been certified as actuarially sound for the state by an independent actuary, Milliman (USA Inc.),” Bob Wheaton, MDHHS public information officer, said to WKTV. “MDHHS pays Lakeshore Regional Entity a monthly payment for each Medicaid and Healthy Michigan Plan eligible individual in their geographic region; those payments vary according to the number of people eligible in a given month. … As stated above, rates have been certified as actuarially sound, so there are no current plans to adjust the rates.”

 

The Lakeshore Regional Entity manages a contract with MDHHS to provide services to Kent, Allegan, Lake, Mason, Muskegon, Oceana, and Ottawa counties.

 

Combined, Network180 and a spectrum of independent groups provide support to persons with developmental disabilities, mental and behavioral health problems including addiction and substance use, and the family members who access services for those needing mental health assistance.

 

Scott Gilman, CEO of Network180. (WKTV)

While the Lakeshore Regional Entity and other state mental health networks have been under financial strain for several reasons in recent years, the basic cause of the current funding shortfall, according to Gilman, is the difference in state funding between two Medicaid programs: the older, established Disabled, Aged and Blind (DAB) program and Michigan’s newer Healthy Michigan. Healthy Michigan provides $24 per person versus the $270 received from DAB, according to Gilman. That has lead to a $9.7 million shortfall for Network180.

 

“The issue is that thousands and thousands of people have transitioned, that makes the rate we are paid not longer valid,” Gilman said to WKTV.

 

Wheaton, with MDHHS, has slightly different numbers as to the funding differential — $271.13 and $39.05 — and also says the number of people who have transitioned between DAB and Healthy Michigan is not the source of the local provider problems.

 

“It is not correct that Healthy Michigan Plan beneficiaries are mostly people who used to receive DAB benefits,” Wheaton said. “Former DAB beneficiaries make up a small percentage of the 669,000 Healthy Michigan Plan enrollees.”

 

Wheaton was unable to give the specific number of people who transitioned from DAB. He did go into more detail on the state’s contract with the Lakeshore Regional Entity and other similar entities across the state.

 

“Lakeshore Regional Entity is responsible for providing all medically necessary specialty behavioral health services to Medicaid and Healthy Michigan Plan eligible individuals in their geographic region,” Wheaton said. “The contract between MDHHS is a shared risk contract between the Department and Lakeshore Regional Entity. An increase or decrease in the number of individuals eligible for Medicaid or Healthy Michigan is part of the risk component of the contract; additional numbers of eligible results in higher payments and reducing numbers of eligible results in reduced payments.

 

“The contract between MDHHS and Lakeshore Regional Entity is a shared risk contract. Lakeshore is solely responsible for the first five percent of costs above their revenue. The next five percent of costs above revenue are split equally with MDHHS and Lakeshore Regional Entity both responsible for 2.5%. Any costs exceeding 10 percent of revenue would be borne solely by MDHHS.”

 

But, Gilman points out, a big part of the current funding problem is that the Lakeshore Regional Entity has exhausted its reserves not only due to the DAB-Healthy Michigan issue but to a separate but recent state funding shortfall for autism-related services.

 

“The Department (MDHHS) and the legislature recognized the problem and fixed it for fiscal year 2018, but it resulted in a loss of savings last year fiscal (2017) of approximately $6 million,” Giliman said. “So the savings was depleted and then with the DAB issue on top of that the savings for the Lakeshore Regional Entity is depleted completely. The projection for the LRE is (that DAB-Healthy Michigan issue will cost) $10 million.”

 

The appropriateness of the current contract, and differences in opinions on the revenue shortfall, may well be the crux of the matter as discussions continue between local healthcare providers and state officials.

 

An independent study — funded by Lakeshore Regional Entity and eight of the state’s other nine Prepaid Inpatient Health Plans (PIHPs) — by the Grand Rapids based Rehmann Group estimated a $97 million state-wide revenue shortfall, and a $7.8 million loss for the Lakeshore Regional Entity.

 

International Space Station spacewalks to be featured on WKTV

Part of the NASA TV broadcasting this month, which is featured on WKTV 26 Government Channel, will include the airing of two spacewalks –the first for 2018 for International Space Station.

 

On Tuesday, Jan. 23, we will be showcasing the first of two scheduled spacewalks. Coverage of the ISS U.S Spacewalk 47 will begin at 5:30 a.m., with the spacewalk starting at approximately 7:10 a.m. The spacewalk is expected to last about six and half hours.

 

Expedition 54 Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei of NASA will lead both excursions, joined by Flight Engineer Scott Tingle for the Jan. 23 spacewalk. The objective of the Jan. 23 spacewalk will be to replace one of two redundant latching end effectors (LEE) on Canadarm2, the station’s robotic arm, which has experienced some degradation of its snaring cables. A spare LEE will replace the current LEE B.

 

Then on Monday, Jan. 29, we will be featuring the ISS U.S. Spacewalk 48. Coverage begins at 5:30 a.m., with the spacewalk starting at approximately 7:10 a.m. This spacewalk is also expected to last about six and half hours.

 

Vande Hei will be joined by Flight Engineer Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) for the Jan. 29 spacewalk. This spacewalk will be devoted to securing the degraded LEE B on the station’s Mobile Base System rail car as a spare. Similar work was conducted on the robotic arm’s LEE A during a series of spacewalks last October.

 

These excursions, U.S. spacewalks 47 and 48, will be the third and fourth in Vande Hei’s career and the first for both Tingle and Kanai. These spacewalks are the first for 2018. There have been 2015 spacewalks at the ISS since 1998. 2007 was the year with the most space walks, which was 20. Last year, 2017, there was a total of nine.

 

For more information on NASA TV or the International Space Station, log on to www.nasa.gov.

 

NASA TV can be seen on the WKTV 26 Government Channel on Comcast and on AT&T U-verse 99 Government Channel 99

Be neighborly: One Wyoming brings back Winterfest community-wide event to seven neighborhoods

Students participate at one of the 2017 Winterfest booths. (WKTV)

WKTV Staff

news@wktv.org

 

After a successful debut last year, the One Wyoming Community Collaborative will present the 2018 version of its Winterfest community-wide series of events on Saturday, Jan. 27, with events planned any seven different locations but with one goal: to get people out and talking to their neighbors.

 

One Wyoming is made up of a collaboration of schools, businesses, local government, churches, nonprofits and residents to improve the quality of life in the community. It is best known for its successful 1-on-1 mentoring program.

 

Wyoming’s Winterfest is similar to National Night Out, which takes place in August. This years’s event will have seven different locations in various neighborhoods throughout the city. Each location has activities that have been planned by churches, residents and businesses of that neighborhood. Each site will have its own slate of events, but all will feature food, family-friendly activities, health related information and activities, and giveaways from businesses and other local organizations.

 

Where things are happening

 

The list of morning locations, open from 9-11 a.m., include: The Dock, located near Kelloggsville High School at 4669 South Division Ave. (actually Grand Rapids);  Wyoming Junior High School, 2125 Wrenwood St. SW; West Elementary School (with Calvary Church), 1840 38th St. SW; and Grace Bible College, 1011 Aldon St. SW.

 

The list of afternoon locations, open from noon-2 p.m., include: North Godwin Elementary School, 161 34th St.; Godfrey-Lee Early Childhood Center, 961 Joosten St. SW.; and Vanguard Charter School, 1620 52nd St, SW.

 

For more information about the event or about One Wyoming, visit onewyoming.com.

 

WKTV Journal: Migrant Legal Aid, Gezon Park, LocalFirst, and a look at a special documentary

 

With the new year, comes a new WKTV Journal. To give you more of what is happening in your community, we have extended our newscast so we can provide expanded coverage about what is taking place in local business, sports, entertainment and more.

 

In this newscast, explore the issues facing migrant laborers talking with representatives from the Migrant Legal Aid. LocalFirst Marketing Manager Mieke Stoub to talk to us about LocalFirst, its impact and the organization’s upcoming 8th Annual Meeting.

 

We then take a look at the City of Wyoming’s efforts to develop a new master plan for Gezon Park.  And finally, local author and producer Rose Hammond stops by to discuss her work on the documentary “In Between the Woods: Idlewild and Woodland Park, Michigan.”

On Tap: Perrin hosts benefit winter fest, Bier Distillery goes all Tesla

Beer and cold weather do go together — really. (Supplied)

By K.D. Norris

ken@wktv.org 

 

Getting a good sweat going, for a good cause, followed by good beer and food? Sounds like a great idea for a cold January day.

 

Comstock Park’s Perrin Brewing will host its second annual “Perrin Ice Jam Winter Festival”, a benefit for the local Kids’ Food Basket of West Michigan, on Saturday, Jan. 27, from 3-8 p.m.

 

The event will feature live music from Jake Kershaw, Mustard Plug, and Hollywood Makeout, as well as specialty Perrin beers, and follows the running of the Frostbite 5K Run/Walk at 2 p.m.

 

Admission without running is either a cash donation or a donation of food items from Kids’ Food Basket wish list. The Kids’ Food Basket provides kids in need in the community with a nutritious evening meal. Perrin Brewing has already begun to collect food donations in the front foyer from the group’s wish list, which includes fruit/ applesauce cups, granola bars, toasted oat cereal, cheese crackers cracker packs, pretzels and snack-size zipper bags.

 

The run/walk is $25 for adults and $15 for age 12 and under. Packet pick-up will be on Friday, Jan. 26 at the Perrin Pub. The run check-in is from noon to 2 p.m., and online registration is available at Frostbite 5K Run .

 

Perrin Ice Jam Winter Festival pre-sale online tickets are available here .

 

Bier Distillery has Michigan first: electric car chargers

 

Also in Comstrock Park, Bier Distillery recently announced the availability of its Tesla car chargers, a first for a Michigan distillery, brewery, or winery, according to supplied material. Owned and operated by Bier Distillery, the Tesla chargers are available free of charge to electric vehicle drivers on a first come, first serve basis. There are four chargers that can be used simultaneously.

 

Got an electric car? Bier Distillery has a charge for you.

“Bier Distillery is proud to support the electric vehicle community,” Joel Bierling, president of Bier Distillery, said in supplied material. “The number of electric cars on the road will only be increasing in the near future. The cars need convenient places to recharge, and the drivers often need to recharge as well. … Why not do it in one location?”

 

Bier Distillery produces an expanding line of grain and fruit-to-glass spirits, beer and wine at the distillery. Its leading brands are Sole Cry Rye Whiskey, Devil’s Message Rum, Mum’s Ruin Gin, Heart Cut Vodka, Brillari Amaro Americano, Henry’s Absent Absinthe Verte, and JusttheShine Moonshine.

 

For more information visit bier distillery.com .

 

Adoptable pets of the week: Sunny, Abby and Lucy

Sweet Sunny

By Brittany Cekola, Humane Society of West Michigan

 

Each week, WKTV features an adoptable furry friend (or few) from various shelters in the Grand Rapids area. This week, we focus on Humane Society of West Michigan, located at 3077 Wilson Dr. NW in Grand Rapids.

 

Humane Society of West Michigan’s mission is to rescue hurt, abused and abandoned animals and find them new, forever homes. The 501(c)3 non-profit organization helps over 8,000 animals annually and is 100% donor-funded by caring individuals and businesses in the community. Additional programs help reduce pet overpopulation, provide assistance to low-income pet owners, behaviorally assess animals and reunite lost pets with their owners.

 

Sunny — Female Domestic Medium Hair

I am a 6-year-old cat looking for my forever home! I am shy and will need time to adjust to a new home. I need an environment where I can approach people on my own terms, and have a space to hide when I need to be alone. Once I get to know someone, I come out of my shell. I also do well with other cats. Please come meet me at Humane Society of West Michigan!

 

More about Sunny:

  • Animal ID: 37170090
  • Breed: Domestic Medium Hair/Mix
  • Age: 6 years
  • Gender: Female
  • Size: Small
  • Color: Orange
  • Spayed
  • Not declawed
Adorable Abby

Abby — Female American Staffordshire Terrier Mix

I am a sweet and gentle 8-year-old dog looking for my forever home! I love soft beds, squeaky toys, belly rubs, and car rides. I have a calm and affectionate personality and so much love to give. My adoption fee is waived as part of HSWM’s Silver Paws Society program. If I sound like a good fit for you, please come meet me at Humane Society of West Michigan!

 

More about Abby:

  • Animal ID: 37530720
  • Breed: Terrier/Mix
  • Age: 8 years
  • Gender: Female
  • Size: Medium
  • Color: Brown/White
  • Spayed

Lucy — Female Domestic Short Hair

I am a 7-year-old cat looking for my forever home! I would do best in a relaxed home that would give me time to slowly adjust to my new surroundings. I am affectionate, but on my own terms. I am currently an office foster at Humane Society of West Michigan and enjoy lounging on desks, having my ears scratched, and climbing up to high place to oversee the office! Please come meet me at Humane Society of West Michigan!

 

Heeere’s Lucy!

More about Lucy:

  • Animal ID: 36496973
  • Breed: Domestic Shorthair/Mix
  • Age: 7 years
  • Gender: Female
  • Size: Medium
  • Color: Black/White
  • Spayed
  • Not declawed

Humane Society of West Michigan is open Tuesday-Friday 12pm-7pm and Saturday-Sunday 11am-4pm.

 

The Humane Society of West Michigan automatically microchips all adoptable animals using 24PetWatch microchips, which include FREE registration into the 24PetWatch pet recovery service. For more information visit www.24petwatch.com or call 1-866-597-2424. This pet is also provided with 30 days of FREE ShelterCare Pet Health Insurance with a valid email address. For more information visit www.sheltercare.com or call 1-866-375-7387 (PETS).


Humane Society of West Michigan is open Tues-Fri 12-7, Sat & Sun 11-4.

First public meeting on Gezon Park master plan this Thursday

Gezon Park is one of four parks in line for improvements and renovations.

There are new possibilities on the horizon for Wyoming’s Gezon Park. The City of Wyoming’s Community Services Division is looking for ideas on the future design of the park at its first public meeting.

 

On Thursday, Jan. 18, the city plans to unveil the results of its initial electronic survey seeking input on recreation facility needs – more than 1,200 responses were received. The city is seeking further input at its first in-person meeting. The meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. at the Wyoming Library, 3350 Michael Ave SW.

 

“With the growth in the City’s southern region, from developments at Metro Health Village to expanded residential housing along Wilson Avenue, we need the facilities of Gezon Park to align, not only the community needs of today, but well into the future,” said Rebecca Rynbrandt, Director of Community Services. “We received great feedback through our electronic survey and continue to look to the public to guide the conversation at our first public meeting.”

 

A second public meeting will take place Thursday, Feb. 8. Gezon Park currently has entrances at 1940 52nd St. SW to the north and 5651 Gezon Ct. SW to the south, spans 94 acres and currently features multiple athletic fields and small playground. The vast majority of the park remains undeveloped.

School News Network: Getting Real with Straight Talk

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

By Erin Albanese

School News Network

 

To truly address diversity and culture, sometimes you have to get down to the nitty-gritty. That was shown by East Kentwood students who recently discussed issues including gender roles, bridging a disconnect between general education and English-language learner students, and building mutual respect among students and teachers.

 

Sophomore Jamirea Lacy shares thoughts on connecting with ELL students

As part of a recent Student Council-designed Culture Week, students gathered on two days for Straight Talk during lunch periods.

 

“It’s about celebrating the vast array of cultures that we have in school because we are the No. 1 diverse school in the state of Michigan,” said senior Edgar Gatsinski, head of the council’s Diversity Committee. “We have a lot of different cultures and (57) countries represented at the school and we, as student council, wanted to celebrate that.”

 

Among activities that included games to identify countries and flags, and wearing traditional clothes from students’ native lands, Straight Talk was Culture Week’s way of exploring diversity deeper than through symbols and dress.

 

“I’ve been asking that key question: How can we acknowledge diversity more at East Kentwood?” Edgar said. “We talk about it, but aren’t really doing it.”

 

Junior Medina Vila waits to share her opinion

He noted the need for better connection among different student groups. “It’s important to me, given the current cultural climate in the world. I feel like this is so necessary. We need to come together in order for progress to be made. By doing this, that is the main goal.”

 

Overcoming Barriers Starts with Conversation

 

Students explored the need to better embrace and involve newcomers and to break down stereotypes. They also talked about student-teacher relationships, gender roles and of the risks of trying to fit in at the expense of not being authentic.

 

“I feel like once some of us step out of our comfort zone, like maybe we see an ELL student in class and we go and talk to them, then maybe other people will approach them,” said sophomore Jamirea Lacy.

 

Senior Edgar Gatsinski facilitates Straight Talk

“We have to overcome those language barriers that we have,” Edgar said. “There are other ways to connect with them, like sharing common interests.”

 

Students also talked about what makes it hard to reach out to others: awkwardness, fear of rejection and fear of what other people think. It’s difficult to step out of one’s circle of friends, they said, but there are ways to do it. “If you do talk to someone who is from a different culture, food is a great topic,” said junior Medina Vila.

 

Students said they have different standards concerning gender roles based on how they grew up. For some, they don’t really exist in their families, for others, gender roles are tied to tradition and heritage.

 

“I don’t think ‘being a man’ has an exact definition,” said Junior Ana Tran. “A woman can be anything. A man can be anything too.”

“My mom always instilled in me that it’s OK that she worked and my dad chose to be the one who stayed at home, but I feel like it’s a stigma that it can’t be that way,” Jamirea said.

 

Edgar said he thinks gender roles “are going to subside and be put aside because we are so progressive, noting that he still hears the “be a man” message from the older generation.

 

Students also discussed how teachers can better understand students and their cultures, especially within a heated U.S. political environment.

 

“Regardless of whatever political affiliation they have, I feel like they should still be a little more sensitive and a little more keen to what’s happening around them,” Edgar said. “There is a lot of divisiveness currently in the United States, and it would be nice if the teachers paid attention to that and saw where their students are coming from.”

 

Check out School News Network for more stories about students, schools, and faculty in West Michigan.

A diverse group of students have straight-forward conversation

Ottawa County Park Foundation’s Grand River Greenway Campaign gaining momentum

Jessica VanGinhoven

Ottawa County Parks

 

Ottawa County Parks Foundation’s effort to complete its Grand River Greenway Campaign is gaining significant traction with two recent gifts from regional foundations.

 

The Grand River Greenway Campaign is the culmination of the 30-year vision to protect thousands of acres of high quality natural and recreational lands along the Grand River in Ottawa County and then connect these lands with a multi-use ADA accessible trail. The proposed trail also will complete a contiguous connection from Millennium Park in Kent County to Grand Haven beaches and other destinations such as Grand Valley State University, downtown Grand Rapids, and the Bass River State Recreation Area. In order to accomplish this vision, Ottawa County Parks plans to acquire 700 acres of additional land and construct 27 miles of new trail (with 13 miles of the trail along or near the river or other water features). This will require $21 million in funding, with the Parks Foundation seeking $7.2 million in philanthropic gifts to leverage anticipated public funding.

 

Recent grants from two West Michigan family foundations, Wege and Frey, totaling $860,000 help build momentum for the Greenway Campaign, which is still pursuing “lead” commitments from donors.

 

“The show of support from Kent County donors demonstrates that the Grand Rapids area philanthropic community understands the regional value and impact of our vision,” said Peter Secchia, who is co-chair of the Grand River Greenway Campaign Committee and a major donor.

 

Secchia has long been interested in revitalization of the Grand River as a leading contributor and supporter of Millennium Park as well as other initiatives such as the MSU Gran Fondo, a fund-raising bicycle race from Grand Rapids to the lakeshore near Grand Haven. “One of the things that I love about this project is not only that it will make the Grand River more accessible to thousands of families, but that it will also connect Grand Rapids and Grand Haven together with a river pathway route for the first time. People will be able to start from Millennium Park, travel from park to park, have ice cream or a burger in Jenison or Allendale, and end with a sunset on the Grand Haven Pier.”

 

It was this type of regional impact that drew the support of Wege and Frey Foundation trustees.

 

“The Grand River is an important ecological and recreational asset. Improving riverside lands in Ottawa County and connecting them to Kent County will add incredible value to the on-going work in Grand Rapids to restore the Grand River and the City’s namesake rapids” said Mark Van Putten, President & CEO of the Wege Foundation.

 

While the Campaign has been successful in engaging donors, Greenway Campaign committee members say broad community awareness of the value of the Greenway is not widely known. “This Greenway, with its tremendous green space and natural wildlife offerings, will enhance the physical, mental, and economic well-being of our community by increasing access to the river’s natural spaces,” said Monica Verplank, co-chair of the Greenway Campaign Committee.

 

Recent gifts represent great progress; still the Grand River Greenway Campaign is actively seeking additional partners. “We are very thankful for the support from our neighbors in Kent County and we hope to have more announcements to come in the near future, but our work is not done yet,” said Tom Werkman, President of the Ottawa County Parks Foundation and a member of the Greenway Campaign Committee.

GVSU Arts at Noon presents Perugino String Quartet on Jan. 24

The Perugino Quartet

By Matthew Makowski, Grand Valley State University

 

Named after Renaissance artist Pietro Perugino of Grand Rapids’ sister city Perugia, Italy, The Perugino String Quartet has performed across Michigan and at the world-renowned Julliard String Quartet Seminar at the Lincoln Center in New York City. The group is composed of violinists Eric Tanner and Christopher Martin, violinist Barbara Corbato and cellist Stacey Bosman Tanner. Together, the quartet performs classics of the string quartet repertoire, as well as a variety of new chamber works.

 

The Perugino String Quartet centers its appearances around Michigan, having performed at many arts-based series and events, such as the Chamber Music Festival of Saugatuck, Art Reach of Mid Michigan and Muskegon’s Feeding the Soul of the City concert series.

 

Arts at Noon brings nationally and internationally known musicians to Grand Valley State University for 14 performances each academic year. All Arts at Noon concerts will take place in the Cook-DeWitt Center, located on the Allendale Campus. They will begin at noon and last approximately one hour. Every concert is free and open to the public. For more information about Arts at Noon, visit gvsu.edu/artsatnoon or contact Henry Duitman, series coordinator, at duitmanh@gvsu.edu.

‘2017 was a busy year,’ Poll states as he announces his re-election bid

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By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma

joanne@wktv.org

 

With such accomplishments as resurfacing more than 40 miles of roads, the approval of four new hotels, the opening of 28 West Place and the passage to open the library millage for park improvements, Wyoming Mayor Jack Poll said “How can I walk away from that?”

 

So in his State of the City address last night, Poll, the longest-serving mayor in the City of Wyoming’s history, officially announced that he would seek his fourth term as mayor.

 

“So therefore, if the residents desire that I continue as their mayor, I will be placing my name on the ballot in this year’s election year, to serve four additional years,” Poll said during the Monday night meeting.

 

Poll has served as the Wyoming mayor since 2009. Before that, he served on the Wyoming City Council from 2001-2005 and 2007-2009.

 

After the Jan. 15 meeting when Poll presented his State of the City Address, he said that he is considering retirement from his full-time job. Poll is pharmacist for Family Fare.

Mayor Jack Poll

 

“So basically, during the next term, of the four years, I will be retired for about three of them, allowing me to be more of a full-time mayor attending more events for the city,” Poll said.

 

Also after the meeting, Mayor Pro-Tem and Council Member at Large Sam Bolt said he would be seeking his third term on the council.

 

“I still enjoy it,” Bolt said. Council Member at Large Kent Vanderwood, whose seat is also up for election this fall, was on vacation and did not attend the Jan. 15 meeting.

 

To a packed house of city officials and residents, which included Poll’s wife, Mary, and family members, Poll said he hoped to provide a “snapshot” of what has taken place in the city with his State of the City address, noting it has been “a very busy year.”

 

“This is a long list of accomplishments but it hardly scratches the surface when we consider all that city leaders and staff have done over the last year, primarily in collaboration with one another,” Poll said.

 

Highlights included:

 

• For infrastructure, the city completed two water main projects that total almost two miles of water main, resurfaced about 43 lane miles and added two miles of non motorized trails.

 

• For the water plant, which, according to Poll, continues to provide the highest quality water in the state, is looking to add a second Lake Michigan intake and a third transmission pipeline, expanding the plant’s capacity which will help the community to grow, Poll said.

 

• Parks and Recreation has focused on storm clean up and replacement of trees along with improvements at Palmer, Kelloggsvile, Lemery, and Pinery parks.

 

• The library milage allowed for new technology and LED lighting in the library and was opened by voter approval to allowed for park improvements for Ideal, Ferrand, Gezon and Jackson parks.

 

• The Planning Department has approved in 2017 four hotels, annexed 60 acres of industrial development, worked on the 28 West Place project and a number of other developments including The Havens. Inspections also approved permits for about $70 million new and renovated construction projects.

 

• The city also was able to implement a new medicare advantage prescription drug plan for retirees that will allow the city to reduce its longterm liability  by $42 million.

 

Public Safety continues to make community outreach its main focus. Police officers logged 6,000 visits to local schools, 8,500 business contacts and 7,000 physical business checks. The police department also has instituted a cadet program to recruit students. On the fire side, staffing at station 3 and 4 has allowed response times to be cut in half along with there being training on speciality skills for water, ice and trench rescues. Also a partnership with Metro Health – University of Michigan Health has allowed for a helipad to be placed at Station 3.

 

“We are blessed with employees who are so highly respected in West Michigan, across the state and even at the federal level,” Poll said. “I have watched the skillful handling of tragedies both natural and produced, deep thinking and solving of situations that seemed impossible. I can stand here today and say, we made it through them all. Our city is better today because these trials have become victories that make Wyoming a beacon of bright light shining in West Michigan.”

 

For the complete speech, click here.

 

For 2018, Poll said the city will continue to work on those areas with a number of opportunities and challenges on the horizon.

 

“Above all these things, financial sustainability remains our top priority and biggest challenge we face,” Poll said. “The city council and I will continue to look for ways to insure that we can provide services at the highest level to our residents and businesses.”

 

Poll said while many things have been discussed, such as a millage increase and an income tax, city leaders “don’t know yet what the best solution is. However through all the ideas we proposed, we ask that you, our friends and neighbors, and the partners that come along beside us, give thoughtful consideration and examine all sides of the issues…

 

“The only way we will continue to be a city of vision and progress is if we work through these challenging times together.”

On the shelf: ‘Unbroken’ by Laura Hillenbrand

By Jean Sanders, Grand Rapids Public Library

 

The author of the 2001 bestseller Seabiscuit returns with the remarkable story of Louie Zamperini. Laura Hillenbrand proves she is a gifted writer who once again strikes a perfect balance of solid research and wonderful storytelling. Unbroken examines the life of Louie from his wild days as a neighborhood prankster and petty thief to his transformation into an Olympic runner in the 1936 games.

 

In 1942, Louie became a crewman aboard a B-24 that eventually crashed into the Pacific Ocean. After surviving a record 47 days in a life raft, he was picked up by the Japanese and sent to a series of POW camps. Portions of this story are very difficult to read as Hillenbrand describes how thirst, starvation and fear of shark attacks plagued the men.

 

During the two years that Louie spent in the POW camps, he and the other prisoners were starved, brutalized and dehumanized by their Japanese captors. When Louie finally returns home he continues to face battles as he is tormented in his thoughts and dreams by memories from his war time experiences. With the help of his wife and a young Billy Graham, he eventually discovers the path which leads him from despair and eventually enables him to forgive.

 

As the subtitle suggests, Unbroken is a true tale of “survival, resilience and redemption” that will appeal to a wide range of readers.

State Sen. MacGregor, Migrant Legal Aid program featured on latest WKTV Journal: In Focus

WKTV Staff

news@wktv.org

 

Michigan State Sen. Peter MacGregor (R-28th District, which includes the City of Wyoming) has a business background, being a former small business owner and having graduated from Michigan State University with a business degree. So one thing he hates is late payment for work performed, a problem often faced by the state’s foster care providers.

 

During a visit to the set of WKTV Journal: In Focus early this month, MacGregor talked with host Ken Norris about his work for efficient funding for the state’s foster care system as well as subjects ranging from the state’s term limits law to his volunteer work for “Volley for Mitchell”, a charity volleyball tournament which has raised more than $100,000 for Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy.

 

Also on the latest episode of In Focus, the Grand Rapids based Migrant Legal Aid organization, specifically director/attorney Teresa Hendricks and attorney Ben O’Hearn, discuss their group’s work to protect migrant workers’ legal rights and to give voice to a sometimes silent portion of our community.

 

The episode will debut Tuesday, Jan. 16 , at 6:30 p.m., and will again air on Thursday, also at 6:30 p.m., and again next week on the same days and times on WKTV channels but all interviews included in episodes of WKTV Journal: In Focus are also available on YouTube at WKTVVideos.

 

 

The entire episode of “WKTV Journal: In Focus” airs on cable television in the Wyoming and Kentwood areas on Comcast WKTV Channel 26 and on AT&T Channel 99 Government channel.

OK Red boys basketball showdown on WKTV featured games schedule

WKTV’s Viebit service allows on-demand viewing of Wyoming and Kentwood government meetings, including the monthly Government Matters meeting. (WKTV)

Mike Moll, WKTV Volunteer Sports Director

sports@wktv.org

 

WKTV’s sports crew will be on the road early this week with an OK Red conference boys basketball showdown as West Ottawa visits East Kentwood on Tuesday, Jan. 16. West Ottawa will enter with a conference-leading 3-0 record (6-1 overall) while East Kentwood enters 1-1 (3-6 overall).

 

The remainder of the tentative January Featured Game broadcast schedule is:

Tuesday, Jan. 23 — Boys Basketball: NorthPointe Christian at Godwin Heights

Thursday, Jan. 25 — Boys Swimming: Grandville at East Kentwood

 

Currently, each Tuesday game will be broadcast that night on WKTV Comcast Channel 25 at 11 p.m. and repeat on Wednesday at 5 p.m. Each Friday game will be aired that night on WKTV 25 at 11 p.m. and repeat Saturday at 11 a.m. The games can also be seen on AT&T U-verse 99.

 

All games, as well as other high school sports and community events covered by WKTV, are available on-demand within a week of play at wktv.viebit.com.

For a complete schedule of all local high school sports action each week, any changes to the WKTV feature sports schedule, and features on local sports, visit wktvjournal.org/sports/

 

Local high school sports events this week are as follows:

 

Monday, Jan. 15

Boys/Girls Bowling

NorthPointe Christian @ Godwin Heights

Belding @ Kelloggsville

Wyoming Lee @ Hopkins

Wyoming @ East Grand Rapids

Girls Cheer

Kelloggsville @ Comstock Park

 

Tuesday, Jan. 16

Boys Basketball

Godwin Heights @ Belding

Kelloggsville @ NorthPointe Christian

Wyoming @ Wayland

West Ottawa @ East Kentwood

Fruitport Calvary @ Potter’s House

West Michigan Lutheran @ Algoma Christian

East Grand Rapids @ South Christian

Girls Basketball

Belding @ Godwin Heights

NorthPointe Christian @ Kelloggsville

Wayland @ Wyoming

East Kentwood @ West Ottawa

Fruitport Calvary @ Potter’s House

Wellsprings Prep @ West Michigan Lutheran

South Christian @ East Grand Rapids

Boys/Girls Bowling

East Kentwood @ Caledonia

Tri-Unity Christian @ Wellsprings Prep

 

Wednesday, Jan. 17

Boys/Girls Bowling

Godwin Heights @ Wyoming Lee

Hopkins @ Kelloggsville

Byron Center @ Wyoming

East Kentwood @ Grandville

Boys Wrestling

Godwin Heights @ NorhtPointe Christian

Kelloggsville @ Belding

Zeeland West @ Wyoming

Wyoming Lee @ Allendale

East Kentwood @ West Ottawa

Girls Cheer

Wyoming @ Wayland

East Kentwood @ Grandville

 

Thursday, Jan. 18

Boys Swimming

East Kentwood @ Hudsonville

Boys/Girls Bowling

NorthPointe Christian @ Tri-Unity Christian

 

Friday, Jan. 19

Boys Basketball

Wyoming Lee @ Godwin Heights

Hopkins @ Kelloggsville

Wyoming @ Christian

East Kentwood @ Hudsonville

West Michigan Aviation @ Wellsprings Prep

Zion Christian @ Holland Black River

Heritage Christian @ Tri-Unity Christian

South Christian @ Unity Christian

Girls Basketball

Hopkins @ Kelloggsville

Wyoming @ Christian

East Kentwood @ Hudsonville

West Michigan Aviation @ Wellsprings Prep

Zion Christian @ Holland Black River

South Christian @ Unity Christian

Boys Hockey

South Christian/BC/Wayland @ Rockford

 

Saturday, Jan. 20

Boys Wrestling

Godwin Heights @ Hopkins

Kelloggsville @ Christian

Wyoming @ Jenison

Wyoming Lee @ Manistee

East Kentwood @ Holt

Girls Cheer

Kelloggsville @ Sparta

Wyoming Lee @ Sparta

East Kentwood @ Grand Ledge

Girls Dance

East Kentwood @ Wayland

Boys Hockey

East Kentwood @ Grandville

South Christian/BC/Wayland @ Petoskey

 

Monday, Jan. 22

Boys/Girls Bowling

Calvin Christian @ Godwin Heights

Kelloggsville @ Wellsprings Prep

Wyoming @ Wayland

Wyoming Lee @ NorthPointe Christian

Rockford @ East Kentwood

 

‘Concerts Under the Stars’ begin this month at the GRPM’s Chaffee Planetarium

The Grand Rapids Public Museum begins 2018 Concerts Under the Stars on Jan. 18 hosting local band hi-ker for a fully immersive audio and visual experience in the Chaffee Planetarium.

 

hi-ker will feature experimental synth and post new wave bizarro pop. Visitors can sit back and experience the wonder of the cosmos and the wonder of music. Live concerts will be held through April with five concerts total featuring pop, jazz, folk and rock sounds.

 

hi-ker is composed of Spencer Gordon, Chris Ryan and Kohl Sprader, and their newest album titled “Lippe” was self-released on Dec. 1. In the new album, the band explores a more sample and synth-based sound compared to their previous works. With influences ranging from Talking Heads and Animal Collective to Aphex Twin, hi-ker is trying out new sounds that will be sure to keep your attention.

 

The January concert will also feature visuals by Nate Eizenga. Nate is a Grand Rapids native who moonlights as video artist, focusing on accompaniment for live musical performances. By using controllers intended for digital music production to create, mix and manipulate video in real time he crafts a visual experience that toes the line between artistic spontaneity and musical synchronicity. Since his first public show in 2015 Nate has performed for numerous events, including Concerts Under the Stars 2017.

 

Concerts will begin at 7:30 p.m., with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. Refreshments, beer and other beverages will be available for purchase.

 

Tickets are $10 for GRPM members, $12 for non-members if purchased in advance, and $15 for non-members on the day of the concert. Tickets are currently on sale at grpm.org, by calling 616.929.1700 or at the Museum’s front desk.

 

The 2018 Concerts Under the Stars Series will continue on Feb. 8 with jazz from Edye Evans Hyde, March 1, with one-woman-band Jes Kramer, March 22, with alternative folk by Dan Rickabus, and will close on April 12 with the alternative rock sounds of Major Murphy.

Electric bikes, skateboards return for 2018 Grand Rapids Camper, Travel & RV Show

Electric Bike Place (powered by MACkite Board Sports Center) makes a return for the 2018 Grand Rapids Camper, Travel & RV Show displaying electric bikes and electric skateboards. The show is set for Jan. 18 – 21.

 

This year, Electric Bike Place is simplifying its design by focusing on two out of the eight bike brands: Raleigh and Haibike. Raleigh focuses on creating functional bikes with fun designs and moderate price points. Haibike focuses on creating bikes that let riders perform and their peak, featuring full suspension, fat tire, and hardtail bikes. Electric Bike Place will have one bike for display and the other for guests to ride stationary.

 

Evolve Bamboo One Electric Skateboard

Electric skateboards will also be available. This year, Electric Bike Place will be showing the Evolve GTX Street and All-Terrain electric skateboards. These are the latest design from Evolve, traveling upwards of 22 to 25 miles per hour and having a range of 18 miles. Electric Bike Place is the only Evolve Skateboard dealer in Michigan.

 

The 2018 Grand Rapids Camper, Travel & RV Show hours are 3 – 9:30 p.m. Thursday, noon – 9:30 p.m.Friday, 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. 5 p.m. Sunday. The event is being held at the DeVos Place. For more on the show, visit www.showspan.com.

 

Electric Bike Place is an ebike company based in Grand Haven and is an authorized dealer for Pedego, Focus, Kalkhoff, Faraday, Haibike, Stromer, ProdecoTech, and iZip electric bikes. Electric Bike Place focuses on ebike education, sales, service, and rentals. Electric Bike Place is powered by MACkite, a kiteboarding, snowboard, ski, stand up paddleboard (SUP), and ebike retail store that has been in business for more 30 years. For more one Electric Bike Place, visit www.electricbikeplace.com.

Age not a limitation on career opportunities

 

By West Michigan Works!

 

Meet Karla and Bob. They both came to a West Michigan Works! service center after losing their jobs. They both started their job search with fear they wouldn’t get rehired because they’re older workers. After help from their career coaches, they both found jobs similar to their previous ones and with similar wages.

 

Karla: Future came into focus

Karla was a successful optical office manager for 23 years before her employer retired and closed his practice. She came to Michigan Works! unsure of finding employment because of her age. Karla attended workshops to brush up on computer skills and improve her resume. She met with a career coach who gave her the tools needed to confidently apply for jobs. Less than two months later, she was offered a job at another optical office in a similar role and wage.

 

Bob: A lateral move

Bob was laid off from his commodity buyer job because his employer was downsizing. He feared his age would limit the positions available to him. A career coach helped Bob update his resume and improve his interviewing skills. After six months of applications and interviews, Bob was offered a similar position with an identical salary as his old job.

 

He said, “West Michigan Works! never gave up on me. They continued to check in on a regular basis, offered services and often gave recommendations for open positions.”

 

Do either of their stories sound similar to yours? Visit one of our service centers to start your journey to a new career. Learn about training options, update your resume, practice interviewing and gain confidence.

 

Employment Expertise is provided by West Michigan Works! Learn more about how they can help: visit westmiworks.org or your local Service Center.

Kentwood community celebrates MLK day with food drive, special program

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By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma

joanne@wktv.org

 

Celebrating the words and actions of Martin Luther King Jr, Kentwood residents and city leaders recently came together to mark the day with a special program at the KDL Kentwood branch.

 

Activities included a proclamation from Mayor Stephen Kepley who was assisted by honor students from East Kentwood High School with the reading. The guest speaker was Kyle Ray, pastor of Kentwood Community Church, with music by Craig Tyson.

 

“I always want the City of Kentwood, being so diverse, to use this day to remember the things that Martin Luther King Jr. taught us,” said Mayor Stephen Kepley after yesterday’s program. Kepley said it is not just about King’s words but also his service. “This is a day of service. We wanted to actually but our words into action because, I think, words without works is dead. So we wanted to have the works –the service — and we have used this day and other previous Martin Luther King Jr. days to provide food for those in need. We wanted not only to sponsor our little free food pantry but also the food pantries of West Michigan.”

 

Last year, the city officially launched its little free food pantry, where you take an item or items when needed and leave an item or items when you can. As part of this year’s activities, the city hosted a food drive for the little free pantry at Celebration! Cinema South and the Family Fare located on Kalamazoo Avenue. According to city staff, the little free pantry has been very well received.

 

“I have heard stories of people who were in need a year ago and things got better, and now, instead of taking food that they need, actually are supporting the food pantry,” Kepley said. “They have done a 360. There was a need for them and now things are better off. They got a better job, some income coming in, and are bringing food to the little food pantry.”

 

Because the Kentwood Activities Center is being remodeled, the little free food pantry has currently been moved to the KDL Kentwood Branch, 4950 Breton Ave. SE. Staff has noted that the temporary location has been as busy as the Kentwood Activities Center one.

 

“It has been so successful we are actually looking to have a second location here at the library,” Kepley said, adding that the city then would have two little food pantries, one at the Kentwood Activities Center and one at the KDL Kentwood branch.

 

Food donations are accepted year around for the pantry. Donations are accepted at the Kentwood City Hall, 4900 Breton Ave. SE, during normal business hours, currently at the KDL Kentwood Branch, and once the Kentwood Activities Center reopens in March, donations will be accepted there as well.

WKTV features two special events from NASA TV

Stennis Space Center
WKTV Government 26 will be featuring two special programming events from NASA TV.
On Saturday, Jan. 13, WKTV will be showcasing the departure of the SpaceX/Dragon CRS-13 Cargo Craft from the International Space Station. Coverage will begin at approximately 4:30 a.m., with the release scheduled at 5 a.m.
Dragon will return to Earth with about 3,600 pounds of cargo after an approximately one-month stay at the orbiting laboratory. About five hours after Dragon leaves the space station, it will conduct its de-orbit burn, which lasts up to 10 minutes. It takes about 30 minutes for Dragon to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere and splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California.
Tuesday, Jan. 16, WKTV will be featuring the RS-25 Engine Fire Test from the Stennis Space Center, a NASA rocket test facility. The test will begin at 4 p.m.
For more information on NASA TV or the International Space Station, log on to www.nasa.gov.
NASA TV can be seen on the WKTV 26 Government Channel on Comcast and on AT&T U-verse 99 Government Channel 99.

On the shelf — ‘A Mind Apart: Travels in a Neurodiverse World’ by Susanne Antonetta

By Lisa Boss, Grand Rapids Public Library, Main Branch

 

How would you experience the world if you were N’Lili, with multiple personalities — all of whom are young girls, though N’Lili herself is a physically large, tattooed male? What kind of teenager would plan very carefully to kill a young boy in a bizarre way, while making almost no attempt to disguise his guilt? How does someone go from being a suicidal heroin addict, labeled a hopeless schizophrenic at one point, to being a good wife, a gentle mom and a successful university professor?

 

These are the types of questions Antonetta raises in A Mind Apart, an extremely readable book which draws on a number of disciplines and sources to delve into the conundrum of human consciousness, especially the minds that seem alien to us. A great book for anyone who loves poetry and philosophy with their neuroscience.

 

 

School News Network: Limbs lost, she gives back with her heart

From left, Jason Gray-Moore, Cole Culp, Gabe LaComte and Joshua Cancler used a 3-D printing to make a prosthetic hand.

By Erin Albanese

School News Network

 

With her kind voice and seemingly ever-present smile, it’s easy to see how Kentwood Public School’s Challenger Elementary social worker Pam Buschle has impacted the lives of children over the past 26 years, offering support and a helping hand to many.

 

Now, with the help of East Kentwood High School engineering students, she’s made it possible to literally give a hand –- a 3-D-printed prosthetic one — to a child in need.

 

Students recently printed and assembled a hand prototype and will soon create a final version for a child, thanks to an online community of designers and a challenge from Buschle. They will be able to choose the child who will receive the hand, and they are especially interested in supporting someone from a war-torn country.

 

Social worker Pam Buschle uses an iPad with her prosthetic hand.

This gift was made possible by the No Limbits (pronounced “no limits”) Foundation, created by Buschle and her husband, Marty, a year ago. Its mission is to provide children with prosthetic limbs and to help people who have faced physical challenges have the highest quality of life possible in other ways. Challenger Student Council members raised about $500 for the foundation.

 

Buschle had both legs and both arms amputated while batting septic shock following routine surgery in early 2014. She now wears prosthetics to replace all four limbs, and is still able to work, walk, use her iPad, open doors and much more.

 

“I feel incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to give back,” Buschle said. “When I lost my limbs, the Kentwood community, students and teachers all gave back to me. This project is allowing me to give back to someone who might not have hope. I was the recipient of so much love and assistance, and now we are going to be able to offer that to someone.”

 

Because of cost, prosthetics are out of reach for many people. Buschle’s electric prosthetics cost $125,000 each, mostly paid for through insurance and Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital. Fittings alone cost thousands of dollars. While the 3-D-printed hand is much more basic than Buschle’s, a professionally made, muscle-actuated hand can cost around $6,000 to $10,000, so cost is a huge barrier around the world.

 

 

A 3D-printed prosthetic will give new opportunities to a child who is missing a hand

Making Prosthetics Accessible

 

E-NABLE, a community of individuals from all over the world, offers free, downloadable designs for people to use their 3-D printers to create prosthetic hands and arms. Design kits are open source and available through the site.

 

At Buschle’s request, East Kentwood engineering teacher Randy Smith challenged seniors Gabe LaComte and Jason Gray-Moore, and juniors Joshua Cancler and Cole Culp, to 3-D-print the hand using files from e-NABLE. They spent about 20 hours using two printers in Smith’s classroom to finish a prototype by following a step-by-step process. They will next upload a video of the hand to e-NABLE, which will verify it and send specific measurements from a child for the final hand.

 

Money raised by Challenger students was used to purchase materials, including filament for the 3-D hand.

 

“I enjoyed doing 3-D printing of the hand,” Jason said. “You can help somebody who is not as fortunate as us and we can give them a hand because we have the resources to do it.”

 

Added Cole, “It’s a good opportunity to make a change for someone who doesn’t have something as basic as a hand. Some people go their whole lives without being able to pick up something. It’s nice to know you helped them with something like that.”

 

Social worker Pam Buschle lost her arms and legs while battling septic shock

No Limbits has also brought a child to Grand Rapids for a prosthetic hand, Zoey Krause from the Dominican Republic, whose father, Tim Krause, is an East Kentwood High School graduate. They sponsored a 5K run called Medaling Monkeys for special education students; provided scholarships for teenagers who need adaptive equipment to participate in a sport; sent care packages to people around the country who have lost their limbs; and they plan to build more 3-D hands.

 

Buschle said her career has given her perspective on life. For many years she worked with students on the autism spectrum.

 

“Seeing the resilience and hard work students would put into living their happiest, fullest life gave me a lot of inspiration when I went through this experience,” she said. “I was able to look at the students and families I had known for years, and think about how they put one foot in front of the other when things seemed very impossible and difficult, and draw a lot of strength from that.”

 

Buschle returned to work seven months after losing her arms and legs.

 

“It was really beautiful, being back in school, how much the students encouraged me and accepted me, and have shown me how to be compassionate and accepting and loving. Children are naturals at that. There are a lot of lessons we can learn from our students.”

 

Check out School News Network for more stories about students, schools, and faculty in West Michigan.

These students helped raise money for school social worker Pam Buschle’s foundation: from left, Challenger students Whitney Dixon, Aaron Cobb, Emma Belden, Leena Karaein and Cheyanne Meyers

Snow Sports & Activities in Northern West Michigan

Skiing at Crystal Mountain Resort

By Jeremy Witt

West Michigan Tourist Association

 

Learn the essentials of skiing and snowboarding with the professional snowsports instructors at Crystal Mountain in Thompsonville, all while saving during National Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays in January, take advantage of special offers on lift tickets, rentals, and lessons.

 

All Seasons Hotel and Resort is conveniently located on your way to everything in northwest Michigan. Situated in the village of Kalkaska on US-131 at the junction of M-72, guests can ride their snowmobiles from the large parking lot directly to the trailheads for hundreds of miles of trail access. This great location is 30 miles north of Cadillac, 30 miles south of Boyne City, and 23 miles west of 1-75, making All Seasons the ideal location for snow skiing.

 

You’re invited to experience Black Star Farms Suttons Bay in its winter splendor. Explore their easy to moderate trails, then warm up with a glass of mulled wine and a hearty bowl of chili on their terrace patio. Round out your excursion with a tasting featuring award-winning wines, ciders, and spirits. This is your chance to take in the woods, orchards, and vineyards on their iconic estate while it’s beautifully blanketed in snow.

 

Evergreen Resort in Cadillac is the perfect locale for your ultimate Northern Michigan winter adventure. Located along a Lake Michigan snow belt, Evergreen Resort has everything you need for a fun-filled winter escape. You’ll have access to more than 200 miles of snowmobile trails, 100 miles of cross country ski trails, and trails for snowshoeing and downhill skiing.

 

Coyote Cup Youth Race at Coyote Crossing Resort

The 7th Annual Coyote Cup Youth Race at Coyote Crossing Resort in Cadillac is Saturday, Jan. 13. The event is open to racers 12 & under. These young snowmobile racers will enjoy an oval style track, as they race in five age groups across three categories.

 

Do you like to snowshoe in serene natural areas but enjoy a bit of friendly competition? Strap on your snowshoes and run through the beautiful snow-covered Grass River Natural Area in Bellaire on Saturday, Jan.13, as part of a fundraiser for their programs. This snowshoe race in northern Michigan is only a short distance from Traverse City. A prize is awarded to overall male and female 5K and 10K winners.

 

Conveniently located in Bellaire, just 31 miles northeast of Traverse City, the 4,500-acre Shanty Creek Resorts offers a variety of winter experiences for the entire family. The three distinct villages within the resort, Summit, Schuss, and Cedar River, offer everything from downhill to cross country skiing, multiple terrain parks, a multi-lane alpine tubing park, dog sledding, and more. With more than 180 inches of snowfall annually, snow-lovers can’t get enough of Shanty Creek. This winter, Shanty Creek Resorts’ Schuss Mountain will celebrate its golden anniversary. Opened on December 22nd, 1967, Schuss Mountain will celebrate its 50th anniversary with specials and events throughout the snowy season.

 

The barrel bar at Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery

This year, enjoy winter fun with the Old Mission Snowshoe Wine & Brew, Michigan’s only organized wine and snowshoe outing. Spend Sunday afternoons from Jan. 7 to March 11 with family and friends, taking in the sights and sounds of Old Mission Peninsula coated with shimmering snow. Board a tour bus, and visit Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery. This family-owned boutique winery, situated on 91 acres with breathtaking views of East Grand Traverse Bay, produces small batch wines including some of the most sought after red wines on the peninsula. Tickets are $28 per person, and include parking and shuttle service along with five samples at each stop, and various discounts for additional purchases.

 

Located in downtown Charlevoix, Pointes North Inn is a condo-hotel that is the perfect home base for your next up north excursion. Nearby, you can take a cross country ski trip, go on a dog sled adventure, take ski and snowboard lessons, and ride on a horse drawn sleigh. There are many more winter activities that await you, so carve your own path and plan your trip up north!

 

The Charlevoix area is a winter paradise. With lots of fresh snow falling weekly, there are lots of great outdoor recreation opportunities for everyone. Spend a day snowshoeing or cross-country skiing at one of the many nature preserves, then head over to Boyne Mountain, in Boyne Falls, for a variety of family friendly activities and challenging ski slopes. Winter is a great time to get outside and explore Michigan’s natural beauty.

 

Snow sports are a specialty in Sault Ste. Marie. Ice skate in one of the four rinks, or go downhill skiing, snowboarding, tubing, and sledding. There are miles of snowmobile and non-motorized trails around Sault Ste. Marie and the surrounding areas. You can even take your snowmobile downtown by following a designated trail. If you’re into cross-country skiing, there are trails throughout the area.

 

More Snow Sports & Activities in Northern West Michigan

GVSU presents ‘Anton, Himself: First and Last’ on Jan. 19, 20 & 21

Roger Ellis

By Matthew Makowski, Grand Valley State University

 

This single actor tour de force reveals the deeply personal and artistic sides of Russia’s most famous playwright, Anton Chekhov. The play begins with the dramatist immediately following the failure of his early masterpiece “The Seagull” (1895) and concludes with the success of “The Cherry Orchard” (1903).

 

Written by Karen Sunde, this semi-documentary drama skillfully captures the soul and the spirit of this giant of the modern stage struggling with his literary identity, with the opinions of an often-hostile public, and with the challenges of pursuing romance and serving as head of a family.

 

The one-man show will be performed by Roger Ellis, professor of theater at Grand Valley State University.

  • What: ‘Anton, Himself: First and Last’
  • When: Jan. 19 and 20, at 7:30 pm, Jan. 21, at 2 pm
  • Where: Linn Maxwell Keller Black Box Theatre, Thomas J. and Marcia J. Haas Center for Performing Arts, Allendale Campus
  • Tickets: $12 for adults; $10 seniors and GVSU faculty, staff, alumni; $6 for students, groups — purchase tickets through the Louis Armstrong Theatre box office in-person Monday-Friday from 10 am-5 pm, by calling 616.331.2300, or online at startickets.com

Godfrey-Lee Schools seek enhanced security, technology with millage request

Godfrey-Lee Schools will place a new sinking fund millage request before district voters in May. (WKTV)

 

By K.D. Norris

ken@wktv.org

 

Taking advantage of changes in state rules on how schools can spend sinking fund millage requests, and after unanimous approval by the Godfrey-Lee School Board this week, the district will put before voters on the May 8 ballot a 3-mill sinking fund request to address safety, security and technology issues.

 

An 2016 amendment to the state’s School Code allows expenditure of up-to-10-year, 3-mill maximum, sinking fund millage increases for additional school infrastructure uses such as technology and security upgrades in addition to building repairs and renovations.

 

Godfrey-Lee Public Schools Superintendent Kevin Polston, center, speaks to the State Board of Education recently. (Supplied)

Approval of a new sinking fund would “ease the general fund to allow as many dollars as possible to stay in the classroom,” Superintendent Kevin Polston said to WKTV. “A new eligible area of the sinking fund is technology. We currently use general fund dollars to pay for technology devices.  As we know, general fund dollars fluctuate and there is no guarantee as to what we will get from year to year. Much less keeping up with inflation.  The sinking fund will provide a sustainable means to provide current technology devices for our students across our K-12 system.”

 

The 3 mills would be collected for 10 years — 2019 to 2028 — and generate approximately $315,000 the first year. Polston said 2 mills would go toward maintenance, energy and safety and security, with 1 mill for technology.

 

Polston said a series of community meetings will be scheduled to discuss the tax request with residents.

 

“In regards to maintenance, as stewards of our taxpayers dollars, we need to maintain our buildings to provide the best learning environments we can for our students. If we do not follow a regular maintenance schedule, it will result in higher costs and less dollars going to the classroom,” Polston said.

 

“In addition, there are new technologies that have lower operating costs, but have an initial up front cost.  An example is through the sinking fund we will install LED lighting in all of our buildings. LED lighting provides an enhanced learning environment at a significantly reduced operating costs and longer lifespan.”

 

The district’s previous sinking fund levy, 1.9976-mill, approved by Godfrey-Lee voters in 2009 is expiring.

 

According to the district, the average home value for a residence in the district is $67,169 and a homeowner with a homestead exemption is currently paying $67 per year and with the extra mill requested would see an increase of $34 for a total of $101.

 

Snow Sports and Activities in Southern West Michigan

Timber Ridge Ski Resort

By Jeremy Witt

West Michigan Tourist Association

 

Timber Ridge Ski Area in Gobles has been giving families an opportunity to have some fun and make wonderful memories together since 1961. With over 40 acres of skiable terrain, Timber Ridge offers the easy runs for beginners and more difficult ones for experts. They offer lessons for any skill level, from ages 5 to 95! If you’re not into skiing or snowboarding, hit the tubing hill or relax in their lodge. Come on out and experience the family fun to be had at Timber Ridge!

 

Candlelit trails at Piece Cedar Creek.

Stop by the Pierce Cedar Creek Institute in Hastings on Saturday, Jan. 27, and enjoy an evening on candlelit trails while taking in the enchantment of a rare blue moon, a term for the second full moon of the month. Stargazing and storytelling also may be available if the weather is clear. After hiking the trails, warm up in the visitor center with a crackling fire, coffee, and hot chocolate.

 

The Wings West in Kalamazoo is hosting wintery-fun events. Open skate and hockey is available daily, with times scheduled throughout the week. If you’d rather watch hockey than play it, they’re hosting the Pucks & Pints: Hockey Game & Tap Takeover on Saturday, Jan. 13. Enjoy a 24-tap takeover, and watch as teams from two Michigan breweries duke it out on the ice. Be part of the action, or watch it from the stands at Wings Event Center!

 

The Marshall area is perfect for cross country skiing. There are two nature areas that are excellent for hiking, bird watching, cross country skiing, dog walking, and biking. Both are located in lovely wooded areas where wetland wildlife is just waiting to be explored. Acres of prairie and ancient trees will be a highlight to your experience.

 

With more than 100 lakes, including two chains of lakes, Coldwater Country offers countless opportunities for anglers. The frozen-over lakes offer an opportunity to get outside and breathe in the cold, clean air. Spend an afternoon outdoors with friends and family in the quest to catch fish, or join in the festivities and contests at the Quincy Tip-Up Festival. Need an incentive to drop a line this winter? Try it as part of the Free Fishing Weekend on February 17th and 18th. This annual weekend provides two days where no fishing license is required for residents or non-residents, although all fishing regulations still apply.

 

River Country is home to a family-oriented ski resort with a snow sports learning center, kids learn-to-ski program, and cafe for grab-and-go meals. Ski and snowboard lessons are available with trained instructors anytime the resort is open. They can teach skiing and snowboarding, or help advance a person’s skills with one-on-one lessons.

More Snow Sports & Activities in Southern West Michigan

Dash through the snow – maybe – as Kentwood hosts Valentine’s-themed run

By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma

joanne@wktv.org

 

It’s love on the run — literally — as Kentwood hosts its first-ever Valentine’s Dash Feb. 10.

 

“We decided to add an additional race to our list of events due to the cancellation of our Ugly Sweater Run in November because of inclement weather,” said Spencer McKellar, a recreation program coordinator for the Kentwood Parks and Recreation Department, who is overseeing the Valentine’s Dash event.

 

“As a department we also realize there are limited outdoor recreation opportunities in the winter. By offering this new race during February, we hope to encourage members of our community to get out and enjoy our beautiful trails and parks throughout the entire year.”

 

The 3.1-mile course, which McKellar note is great for any skill level, will have participants start and end at the KDL Kentwood (Richard L. Root) Branch, traveling along an east/west trail and into the Old Farm Park and adjoining neighborhood. Along the way, there will be Valentine’s candy stations.

 

McKellar said the library provides a warm place for both registration and the after party/awards program. Each participant will receive a knit cap and a goodie bag. There also will be a race raffle with a number of items raffled off including a night stay for two at the DoubleTree hotel, golf packages and other items.

 

Awards will be given for fastest time as well as best dressed with other runners helping to judge those in Valentine-themed costumes. Also at the after party will be music, Valentine-themed snacks, and a photo booth.

 

“We want to make this a fun Valentine-themed race with candy, prizes and lots of fun,” McKellar said.

 

Cost to participate is $30 per person with couples getting $5 off each registration. To register, visit https://runsignup.com/Race/MI/Kentwood/ValentinesDash.

 

Snow Sports & Activities in Central West Michigan

The Luge Track at The Muskegon Winter Sports Complex

By Jeremy Witt

West Michigan Tourist Association

 

The Muskegon Winter Sports Complex is a beautiful facility inside of Muskegon State Park, and is the center of Muskegon’s winter activities. This huge complex offers exciting events and outdoor sports facilities to the public, including one of only four publicly accessible luge tracks in the United States. Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, and sledding are available on five miles of groomed track, day or night. Skis, snowshoes, ice skates, and sleds are available for rent.

 

Bill & Paul’s Sporthaus in Grand Rapids is hosting a female-focused event for intermediate and advanced level skiers on Friday, Feb. 23. The goal of the event is to improve your skiing, have a lot of fun, and make some new friends along the way.

 

Celebrate January in the crisp country air of Double JJ Resort in Rothbury. Have the time of your life as you race down the resort’s 660-foot tubing hill, or climb aboard one of the resort’s horse-drawn sleighs for a magical glide through the snowy woods. They have overnight stay packages through the winter, so that you will have a place nearby to warm up by the fire or in your jacuzzi. Double JJ Resort is an all-seasons destination.

 

Snow sports and activities are endless in Mecosta County. Soon, the City of Big Rapids will be opening a new ice rink for all to enjoy. A local farm offers sleigh rides, where you’ll enjoy a frosty ride through the woods before reaching a roaring bonfire. If you enjoy snowmobiling, the White Pine Trail is great for you, with many miles of trails for your convenience. Cran-Hill Ranch also offers a variety of winter activities, including ice climbing, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, tubing hills, broomball, and ice skating.

 

Lantern-lit Skiing and Snowshoeing in Ludington Skate Park

The Ludington area is hosting two series of events to help you enjoy some of the season’s favorite activities. Go on the Lantern-lit Skiing and Snowshoeing in Ludington Skate Park on Jan. 20 and Feb. 3 and 17. Bring cross-country skis or snowshoes and trek the one-mile groomed trail lit by oil lanterns. Park staff can help novice trekkers get started. The state park will also host Guided Snowshoe Hikes on Jan. 20 and 27 and Feb. 3, 10, and 17. Join an hour-and-a-half-long guided snowshoe hike highlighting the park’s nature and history through the park’s snow-covered sand dunes. The park has 40 pairs of snowshoes to loan for free on a first-come, first-served basis for visitors aged 10-years-old to adult.

 

The Mt. Pleasant area has everything you need for a winter experiencing the great outdoors. Their indoor ice arena provides public skating, hockey, figure skating, and more, with a pro shop for any and all gear you may need. On the northwest side of Mt. Pleasant, there is a 60-acre park, featuring a giant sledding hill! Grab your sled and have a blast.

More Snow Sports & Activities in Central West Michigan

School News Network: Grant Project aims to boost third-grade reading

Kent ISD early literacy coach Katie Momber works with a Godfrey-Lee student (Photo courtesy of Kyle Mayer)

By Erin Albanese

School News Network

 

In an effort to improve third-grade reading proficiency, the Godfrey Lee Public Schools district will receive $20,000 to implement instructional practices recommended by Reading Now Network over the next two-and-half years.

 

An instructional team of about a dozen literacy experts from all over the state recently visited classrooms to observe reading and writing instruction at Godfrey Elementary School, which houses third through fifth grades, and Godfrey-Lee Early Childhood Education Center, which houses preschool through second grade.

 

The district was invited to receive help from RNN because of its demographics and low third-grade reading proficiency levels. The district has the second-highest English-language learner population in the state, at about 50 percent. About 90 percent of students qualify for free or reduced lunch and third-grade reading proficiency is about 27 percent.

 

“We are one of the lower-achieving schools,” said Godfrey Elementary Principal Andrew Steketee. “We don’t want our socioeconomic status to be an excuse for that. Knowing our students and staff, there is no reason we can’t be higher achieving. They are going to help us identify how to be more successful.”

 

Reading Now Network, a collaborative effort involving 100 districts, launched in 2014 to increase the proportion of third-graders reading proficiently to 80 percent.

 

It was started by examining best instructional practices at elementary schools with high reading success rates in order to implement them region-wide. High-achieving schools studied ranged from urban to rural, with varying levels of poverty.

 

Literacy expert Patti Konarska helps a student with letters (Photo courtesy of Kyle Mayer)

Help from the Experts

 

As a participant, the Godfrey-Lee district receives a day of instructional rounds from literacy experts. Steketee will work with a facilitator, a highly skilled literacy expert, to put into practice priorities identified in the classroom visits.

 

Western Michigan University, in partnership with RNN, received a $12.5 million federal grant known as the High Impact Leadership Project. This project will support 152 of the highest-poverty, lowest-achieving schools in 20 West and Southwest Michigan counties, including Kent and Ottawa.

 

In its first group of schools, which includes Godfrey-Lee, RNN will conduct Harvard Instructional Rounds in participating schools by March 1, said Kyle Mayer, Ottawa Area ISD assistant superintendent. Schools will receive $20,000 from the High Impact Leadership Project, and assistance to implement the resulting recommendations and to support early literacy practices of the General Education Leadership Network.

 

If work done over the next two-and-half years in those schools proves effective in boosting student literacy achievement, another cohort of schools will receive similar supports.

 

“We are optimistic that if we work together to support research-based practice in every classroom every day, student achievement gains will follow,” Mayer said. If data shows improvement, the grant will be extended.

 

Project Provides Focus

 

Godfrey-Lee Early Childhood Center Principal Pete Geerling said he looks forward to recommendations from RNN.

 

“Right now, there are so many good things out there, and we as a district try to make sure we are up to speed with best practice,” Geerling said. “But this is going to provide some focus — a couple things we can wrap our heads around and really try to attack.”

 

RNN has also worked in identified lab schools, helping them improve scores through effective instructional practices. Those schools included Parkview Elementary in Wyoming Public Schools; Moon Elementary in Muskegon Public Schools; Woodbridge Elementary in Zeeland Public Schools; and Big Jackson, a two-room schoolhouse in Newaygo County.

 

As a result, Moon Elementary boosted third-grade proficiency rates on the M-STEP from about 8 to 17 percent. The school has an almost 100 percent free and reduced lunch rate.

 

“They hosted this process of instructional rounds two years ago, identified some priorities and were supported by the Muskegon ISD in following through on those,” Mayer said. “They are kind of the shining star as a school that is really deeply committed to recommendations that were produced out of an instructional rounds day. They have results that show things are moving in the right direction.”

Food drive part of this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. activities in Kentwood

By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma

joanne@wktv.org

 

The Little Free Pantry, usually located at the Kentwood Activities Center, has been well received since first being introduced last year.

 

In fact, according to Kentwood Parks and Recreation Coordinator Laura Barbrick, it has been so popular that at times it has been a little tough keeping it stocked.

 

So as part of this year’s Kentwood Martin Luther King Jr. event, the city will be hosting a food drive to help stock the Little Free Pantry. The food drive is set to run from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday, Jan. 15, at Family Fare, 6127 Kalamazoo Ave. SE and from 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. at Celebration Cinema South, 1506 Eastport Dr. SE.

 

The Little Food Pantry is located in the Kentwood Activities Center, 355 48th St. SE.

Started in Arkansas with the motto “Neighbors serving neighbors,” the Little Free Pantry is similar to the little free library movement. The pantries are designed to be small and fill an immediate and local need. Basically, take an item or items when needed and leave an item or items when you can.

 

Kentwood introduced the Little Free Pantry at the 2017 Martin Luther King Jr. event. It’s official home is at the Kentwood Activities Center, however; while the center is being remodeled, the pantry has been moved to the KDL Kentwood (Richard L. Root) branch, 4950 Breton Ave. SE.

 

“We have a number of families that utilize the pantry on a regular basis,” Barbrick said. “We are definitely getting more donations now that it is at the library, but we anticipate the need will continue once it moves back to the Activities Center.”

 

Donations are accepted at the Kentwood City Hall, 4900 Breton Ave. SE, during normal business hours, and once the center reopens in March, donations will be accepted there as well.

 

The city will end Jan. 15  with a program honoring Dr. King. That program will be at 4:30 p.m. at the library. There will be a proclamation from Kentwood Mayor Stephen Kepley, a presentation by Kyle Ray, pastor of Kentwood Community Church, music by Craig Tyson, and refreshments provided by The Candied Yam.

 

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Civil Rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King’s birthday, January 15. Campaigns for the day honoring King, who was assassinated in 1968, began soon after his death. Former President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, and it was first observed three years later. At first, some states resisted observing the holiday as such, giving it alternative names or combining it with other holidays. It was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000.

Wyoming’s VerHulst announces he will not run for re-election

William VerHulst

Joanne Bailey-Boorsma

joanne@wktv.org

 

At the January Wyoming City Council work session this week, 1st Ward Councilmember William VerHulst announced he would not be seeking re-election this fall.

 

VerHulst said due to health issues, which caused him to miss the Jan. 2 meeting, he has made the decision to not run for his current seat. VerHulst has served as the city’s 1st Ward Councilmember since 1993.

 

Wyoming’s First Ward encompasses Precincts 1 – 9. That area covers most of the eastern edge of the city which is Clyde Park Avenue to Eastern Avenue north of 36th Street and from Burlingame Avenue to Eastern Avenue south of 36th Street.

 

Mayor Jack Poll

Besides the 1st Ward Councilmember seat, seats also up for election will be the mayor’s, currently held by Jack Poll, and two council-member at large seats currently held by Kent Vanderwood and Sam Bolt. Bolt also is currently serving as mayor pro tem.  Vanderwood and Bolt have not made any announcements on whether they will seek re-election. Mayor Jack Poll is expected to make an announcement on if he seeks to run for re-election at his State of the City Address set at the  next council meeting Monday, Jan. 15, at 7 p.m. at Wyoming City Hall, 1155 28th St. SW.

 

Those interested in running for any of the council or mayor seats need to file with the Wyoming City’s clerk office by 4 p.m. April 24. The clerk’s office is located in the Wyoming City Hall, 1155 28th St. SW. Candidate packets are available at the front desk.

 

The primary election is set for Aug. 7 and the general election is set for Nov. 6.

Wyoming Mayor Jack Poll to deliver State of the City address

Mayor Jack Poll

The community is invited to attend Wyoming Mayor Jack Poll’s annual State of the City Address on Monday, Jan. 15, at 7 p.m. The Address will be delivered at the beginning of the regularly scheduled City Council meeting in the Council Chambers of Wyoming City Hall, 1155 28th St. SW. Individuals who are unable to attend in person are invited to watch the Address on WKTV or stream it live at wktv.org.

 

Mayor Poll will give an overview of the City’s activities from 2017 and a preview of its initiatives for 2018. He is also expected to announce his future political plans, as his current term expires in November of this year. Prior to being elected mayor, Poll served on the Wyoming City Council from 2001-2005 and 2007-2009.

 

For more information, visit www.wyomingmi.gov or follow the City on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CityofWyoming. You can watch the the Wyoming City Council meeting live on WKTV Channel 26 and it is rebroadcast again at 7 p.m. on Fridays.