All posts by admin

City, county clerks report issues, but quick solutions after voting equipment change

Voters went to the polls in Kent County Nov. 7 with new voting equipment and systems in place. (Supplied)


By K.D. Norris


It is not that the Kent County Clerk’s office, or city clerks in both the cities of Wyoming and Kentwood, were expecting issues with the county’s new election equipment in the system’s debut Nov. 7 — an election dominated by local millage requests and city elections of little controversy.


But the election day did produce the as-expected small voter turnout while also revealing a few issues with the new equipment now easily remedied before elections of more state and national interest, and higher voter volume, come in 2018.


“Any time there is a transition as large as this — the first change in equipment and learned practices and procedures in over a decade — there are going to be challenges and areas to improve upon,” Robert Macomber, Chief Deputy County Clerk, said to WKTV Friday, slightly more than a week after the recent voting day, and after that day’s meeting between the county clerk’s office and local city clerks. “This ‘off-year’ election offered the county a tremendous opportunity to implement the changes when turnout was smaller, but still having elections in a large number of precincts and varying size of municipalities.”


Vote turnout was small, with only 11.2 percent of Wyoming’s 49,658 registered voters doing so, and 12.8 percent of Kentwood’s 35,178 registered voters doing so.


The voting system issues exposed on Nov. 7 were also small, according to Macomber, City of Wyoming City Clerk Kelli VandenBerg, and City of Kentwood City Clerk Dan Kasunic — most notably delays in reporting results from the precinct level to the county level, and inability of some voters to use new “adaptive” ballot marking devices.


Voting machines in the cities of Wyoming and Kentwood looked similar to ones voters were used to. (Supplied)

After more than a year review and selection process, Kent County Clerk and Register of Deeds Lisa Posthumus Lyons early this year selected Dominion Voting Systems, Inc. as the vendor for Kent County’s new election equipment and local firm ElectionSource for associated software. The plan for the new voting machines was to have them used by all voting bodies in Kent County starting with the November election.


Some clerks across the state planned to use their new machines at the August 2017 election, and all municipalities are required to have the new machines in place by the August 2018 election.


Some experiences familiar, some were new


It appears the new machines — which still feature individual manual voting cards and stand-alone tabulators not connected to the internet — worked as expected and it was pretty much the same voter experience as with the old equipment. But a new system by which precinct totals are uploaded to a new county-controlled interactive precinct map experienced some delays, and, at least in Wyoming, special needs voters experienced some issues.


“Anytime you have change, there will be some reconciliation between what you expect to happen and what actually happens,” VandenBerg said to WKTV. “The equipment is new, but the concept or function of the new equipment is essentially the same.  I think our poll workers responded very well and I did not receive any complaints from voters.


Kent County’s new voting machines operated much like the ones the public is familiar with — and they are never connected to the internet. (Supplied)

“For the average voter who marks and casts a ballot in the tabulator, I doubt their experience differed from previous elections. For voters using the adaptive equipment  — ballot marking device, the difference would have been more notable. I am aware of a couple of instances where the selections made by voters or poll workers did not enable the audio on the adaptive devices. Based on required testing before each election, I know the audio works and so I know this is a topic that we will spend more time on in future trainings.


VandenBerg said she has “shared some recommendations (with the county on the issue) … but also have some training strategies in mind if those recommendations cannot be incorporated.”


In Kentwood, Kasunic also saw and dealt with a few small issues.


“As with any new equipment, it is expected to have some challenges, all of which were dealt with quickly and without any interruption of the election process,” he said to WKTV. “All of these have been addressed with the state, county and vendor.”


Kasunic added that he thought “all of the reporting went better than we thought, with a couple slowdowns because we have new equipment and procedures.”


Those “slowdowns” in reporting are probably getting the most attention by the clerks.


“One area that I thought might be problematic was the transmission of results at the end of election night,” VandenBerg said. “This equipment allows each precinct to modem results directly to Kent County and only 2 of Wyoming’s 26 tabulators were unable to modem results. Neither was the result of equipment failure, but rather an oversight by the poll workers adapting to a new process. In these cases, each (local) clerk has been provided equipment to allow for the transmission of results and I did so within a few minutes of receiving the necessary information from the precinct.”


New county system for rapid reporting of results


The changes to reporting are part of a new county system of quickly getting results out the public as well as to county, state and — eventually — federal officials.


“Election night reporting is the area where we’ve made the most noticeable change to the public,” Macomber said. “In previous elections, Kent County voters would often not have access to complete results in some instances until midnight, and that data was in non-interactive form. With our new equipment, the precincts modem the results to the county and on election night we had our first results within minutes of the polls closing.”


The new reporting system allows for public access through an interactive, map-based reporting feature developed by ElectionSource and accessible via the county’s website:


“For this past election we unveiled an initial version, with the fully-functional version being ready for 2018’s elections,” Macomber said. “The public response to the faster, user friendly reporting feature has been very positive.”


But, VandenBerg added, it is not just night-of reporting which should be looked at: “I do think there is room for improvement on the reporting side, especially as it relates to canvassing and archival purposes. …  I have shared some recommendations on that as well.”


And, Kasunic also advocated for a reporting tweak: “The county is working with the vendor to add features to the reporting to provide percentage of turnout of voters on election night.”


The lessons learned from the Nov. 7 election, and the results of the meeting with local clerks, will likely lead to some changes at the county level.


“This election provided the county and local clerks the ability to implement and identify the ways our internal procedures and controls conform to — or are challenged by — the new system,” Macomber said. “Where there were challenges, we’ll be working with our vendors, the state elections bureau, and our local clerks to implement changes that ensure consistency, security, and transparency.”


Wyoming, Kentwood residents attend beatification mass for Father Solanus Casey

Father Solanus Casey (Photo from the Solanus Casey Center)

By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma


It will have about the same number of attendees as the Super Bowl. It has its own Snapchat filer, and is perhaps rarer than the Olympics being hosted in the United States. It is tomorrow’s beatification mass for the Venerable Father Solanus Casey.


More than 400 area residents will be part of the 70,000 expected to attend the Catholic Church’s beatification mass at 4 p.m. at Detroit’s Ford Field. The event, which is free, sold out in minutes, but area residents can still see the entire mass live on Eternal World Television (EWTN) Network (click here for a channel finder) or may go to or the Father Solanus Casey Facebook page,


Bishop David J. Walkowiak

“With great joy, we join the Capuchins, the people and clergy of the Archdiocese of Detroit, and Catholics around the world in celebrating this historic moment,” said Bishop David J. Walkowiak of the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids in a released statement. Bishop Walkowiak will be participating in tomorrow’s beatification mass. “Father Solanus lived the Gospel message through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. He spent time counseling the doubtful, comforting the sorrowful, feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, and caring for the poor. His life’s work embodies the mission we are all called to as disciples – a life of service to others.”


Father Casey was born in 1870 to an Irish immigrant family in Oak Grove, Wis.. He spent 20 years in Detroit as a member of the Capuchin Franciscan Order of St. Joseph. The Capuchin priest was known as the “friar at the door of the monastery, who welcomes your spiritual need but also answers to your physical needs or material difficulties,” according to Father Carlo Calloni in a Catholic News Agency article. Because of his humility and good counsel, people began to seek out Father Casey for spiritual guidance.


An emoji of Father Solanus Casey that is available through the Solanus Casey Center. Click here.

“There are a lot of people in our community who have some sort of connection to Father Casey,” said Annalise Laumeyer, Director of Communication for the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids. “Whether it was grandparents who visited him in Detroit or grandparents who have prayed to Father Casey and passed that down through generations.”


Parishioners from Kentwood’s St. Mary Magdalen and Wyoming’s St. John Vianney and Holy Name of Jesus will be among officials from the Vatican to Father Casey’s family members from Ireland who will make the trip for the beatification. In fact, the expected attendance to the beatification mass is just shy of the number who attended the 2017 Super Bowl.


The reason being is that a beatification is not common.


Before a person can be beatified, the Catholic Church has to investigate and make sure that all of the person’s writings show “purity of doctrine” and that all of the person’s actions were motivated by virtue. If the person passes through those stages, he or she is called “venerable.” To be beatified, the Church also has to prove that either you were martyred or that you caused a miracle after your death. In the case of Father Casey, it was determined a woman who prayed at his gravesite was cured of a genetic skin disease. Father Casey died in 1957 of the skin disease erysipelas.


Another emoji of Father Casey available through the Solunas Casey Center. Click here.

Beatification is a step toward sainthood in the Catholic Church. To become a saint, a miracle must be attributed to him after being beatified. While the Catholic Church has made 11 people saints for their work in what is now the United States, only one other American-born male has been beatified, the Blessed Father Stanley Rother, who was martyred in Guatemala. Rother’s beatification mass took place earlier this year.


There is also the potential for another beatification as the Diocese of Marquette has been working toward this for the Venerable Bishop Frederic Baraga. Baraga actually has a connection to Grand Rapids. According to Laumeyer and the Diocese of Marquette’s website, Bishop Baraga was in the Grand Rapids area from 1833 – 1835 before moving his mission to the Marquette area.


“As we commemorate this step along Father Solanus’ journey to sainthood, let us reflect on his life and how we can live the Gospel of mercy in our own lives,” said Bishop Walkowiak. “We pray for the intercession of Father Solanus and the blessing of his grace and wisdom.”


The EWTN will be airing a documentary on Father Casey tonight. For more on the beatification, visit the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids’ website.

Review: McBride and his youthful cohorts satisfy, surprise in St. Cecilia return

By K.D. Norris 

Christian McBride Trio, Nov. 16, at St. Cecilia Music Center, Grand Rapids, Mi.


60-second Review


Christian McBride (Supplied)

If you came to St. Cecilia’s Royce Auditorium Thursday night expecting a typical jazz trio, with bassist extraordinaire Christian McBride leading the standard group through the standard repertoire and his taking the lion’s share of lead in the standard solos, you were both beautifully satisfied and, yet, a little blissfully surprised.


McBride — a multiple Grammy-winning jazz man at heart but willing and able to play where the spirit moves him — is famous for his ability to slide into any musical genre where a bass of any form is at home, as he is for not only sharing the stage with young, talented musicians but showcasing them.


So it was McBride being McBride in his return gig at St. Cecilia when, along with young pianist Emmet Cohen and equally young guitarist Dan Wilson, he invited the audience to explore with him in a nine-song, roughly 90-minute musical conversation that ranged from the classics (“I’m Afraid the Masquerade is Over” and Duke’s “Sophisticated Lady”) to 1980s pop (Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed”).


My favorite conversations of the night — jazz songs really are a conversation among players who speak the improvisational “language of jazz” — were two tunes written by Cohen: “Three of Us” and “You Already Know”. I think that’s their titles; they are new and announced from the stage!


(The “language of jazz”, as an aside, is a term taught to me by no-less an authority than Ellis Marsalis Jr. — father of the Marsalis jazz family — when I interviewed him a decade ago and asked a dumb question about playing a new tune with musicians for the first time and he gently gave a reporter a brief jazz masterclass.)


Whether it was McBride fighting off a blister on a finger, as it appeared, or just his feeling like showcasing the very talented Cohen, the bassist gave the pianist not only got his fair share of  solos but the majority of the spotlight. The addition of Cohen’s second composition, in fact, was an admittedly unrehearsed decision which was musical proof of trio’s ability to speak the “language of jazz”.


McBride — blister, or whatever, and all — and Cohen were uniformly good in their fluid solos and able accompanying efforts, but Wilson’s guitar may have been the most unique part of the show — while his solos were tight and, often, experimental, his work as an accompanist gave the trio a rarely heard sonic landscape.


May I have more, please?


These days, an electric (or at least amplified) guitar is completely at home in the jazz genre — has been from the time of the classic Wes Montgomery (and anybody else you care to name), to the more modern George Benson and Russel Malone (and anybody else …), to the youthful Gilad Hekselman (and …)


But it wasn’t always so.


Jazz historians, an often argumentative lot they are, will often point to Charlie Christian as the groundbreaker for bringing the electric guitar to the jazz stage. In his short life — 1916-1942, a life cut short by tuberculosis in the years before any cure or even real treatment were known — Christian was a key figure in the popularity of swing jazz, the early development of bebop and, some argue, even the infancy of cool jazz.


His teaming of the guitar with amplification pushed the instrument out of the rhythm section of big bands and front stage as a solo jazz instrument. His day-job swing-jazz work with the Benny Goodman Sextet and his late night bebop sets in Harlem in the years before his death made him a legend among guitarists of all ilk — so much so that in 1990 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as an “early influence”.


Whatever. The man could, like McBride, speak the language of jazz.


McBride’s visit was the beginning of St. Cecilia’s annual jazz series, which will include the Brad Mehldau Trio on Nov. 30, and singers Gregory Porter on Feb. 22, 2018, and Kurt Elling on March 22, 2018. For  information on tickets and more information visit


Employment Expertise: Five Tips to Stay Mentally Healthy While Unemployed


By West Michigan Works!


Losing a job is one of the most stressful things that can happen to someone. In fact, it is ranked among the top 10 most stressful life events.


Job loss brings many emotions including sadness, fear, anxiety, anger and embarrassment. Many times you will cycle through these emotions. For example, if you just lost your income and you get a bill in the mail, you may feel anxious; this then becomes fear, then embarrassment, which turns to anger and leaves you sad. 


These feelings are normal. There is no right way to feel when faced with a job loss and no timeline for feeling better. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help boost your mood when you’re feeling stuck in a low spot.


Take a break. But not for too long! A short break will leave you feeling rested and ready to start your job search.


Get up and move. Physical activity is a great way to reduce stress and avoid depression. Use your new found freedom to take a walk, go for a hike or try a yoga class. Have a dog? Take them with you! Pets can reduce stress and depression, too.


Make a schedule. After your short break, try to settle into a routine. Set your alarm as if you were going to work. Schedule time for physical activity, relaxation and of course, working to find a new job.


Connect with your network. Did you put off spending time with a friend or family member because life was too busy while you were working? Make time to sit down with them now. You will feel better after spending time with people you love. You can also let them know you are looking for a new job and ask if they have any ideas.


Volunteer. This is a great way to stay active and positive. People who regularly volunteer are less likely to become depressed. Who knows? Your volunteer work might turn into a paying job!


If you or a loved one are having trouble coping with the stress and emotions of losing a job, you are not alone. Unemployed Americans are more than twice as likely to be depressed. Depression is a common condition that can be treated and there is help. Network 180 provides mental health and substance abuse services to residents of Kent County. Learn more on their website:


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

How do you mark 10 years in the community? By serving cake, of course

By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma


When Dana Friis-Hansen interviewed for the position of director and chief executive officer at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, he already knew how special the white and glass facility at 101 Monroe Center NW was.


The building, constructed in the early 2000s, was the world’s first LEED Gold certified art museum, setting a standard that only a few have achieved such as the Boston Children’s Museum, San Diego Natural History Museum, and East Lansing’s Eli and Edith Broad Art Museum. Friis-Hansen also knew of the work of London-based Munkenbeck+Marshalls Architects which designed the building and of architect Kulapat Yantrasast of wHY Architecture who completed the project.


Grand Rapids Art Museum Director and CEO Dana Friis-Hansen talks to a visiting student.

“It was the first purposed building for the art museum,” Friis-Hansen said during a recent phone interview. At the time, the Grand Rapids Art Museum was housed in what is now the Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University’s Fed Galleries on Pearl Street. The GRAM building was designed to serve many functions with the 125,000-square-foot building having three floors of gallery and exhibition space, an auditorium, education area, store, and lobby.


“In the lobby area, we could have a classical works program and it can also host a wedding,” Friis-Hansen said as an example of the facility’s multiple uses. “The auditorium provides space for various programs, community events, and activities.”


Simply put: the GRAM building when opened in 2008 had many taking notice of what Grand Rapids had to offer and its commitment to the arts.


It has been 10 years since the facility was open and this Saturday, Nov. 18, the art museum is hosting a party, “10 at 101: Celebrating GRAM’s Tenth Anniversary at 101 Monroe Center.” The free event will include a variety of activities:


10 a.m – 4 pm.: party hat making in the GRAM’s lobby

10 a.m. – noon: birthday cake in GRAM’s Auditorium

11 a.m. – 4 p.m.: screen printing in GRAM Studio


There also will be two Drop-in-Tours to explore the GRAMs newest exhibition with a museum docent at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. The exhibit is “Andy Warhol’s American Icons,” which runs through Feb. 11 and also celebrates the museum 10th anniversary since a Warhol exhibit was the first exhibition in the building when it opened.


The 2007 official ribbon cutting at the Grand Rapids Art Museum.

“When the idea was first brought up to have a Warhol exhibit, the response was people have already seen that,” Friis-Hansen said. “As we discussed it further, we felt as if there was a whole generation who had not seen the show and perhaps had never seen a real Warhol.”


The “American Icons” was organized by GRAM and is designed to be a celebration of America by bringing together a selection of Warhol paintings, prints, and photographs. Among those items is Warhol’s famous “Campbell’s Soup” silk-screen and two screen prints from a 1967 series of Marilyn Monroe.


Also at the GRAM is “Christian Marclay: Video Quartet” through Jan. 14. Marclay is an international artist who has spent the last 30 years exploring the fusion of fine art and audio cultures. In this exhibit, he has taken more than 700 individual film clips in which characters play instruments, sing, or make noise in one form or another.


One of the goals of the GRAM with its current facility has been to provide the community with a broad spectrum of art such as the visual art of Marclay, the pop art of Warhol, the fashion work of Iris van Herpen, the prints of Grand Rapids artist Reynold Weidenaar, the pottery of Newcomb, and the popular exhibition “Diana – A Celebration” featuring the Princess of Wales’ wedding dress.


Looking at the next 10 years, do not expect the GRAM to slow down. On the horizon is the contemporary painter Alexis Rockman exhibit “The Great Lakes Cycle” which takes a look at the past, present and future of North America’s Great Lakes and next fall, “Who Shot Sports: A Photographic History, 1843 to the Present,” which will feature more than 200 images from the past 175 years of sports photography. Friis-Hansen said the GRAM also will have an exhibit called “What Happen Here?,” which will explore how the land the museum currently sits on has changed from a place where American Natives gathered to become the site of the world’s first green museum.


Note: While GRAM does not offer parking, there are many public parking lots located directly adjacent to the museum. Various city lots do offer the first hour of parking free, and the closet is the Monroe Center Parking Ramp, located on the corner of Louis Street and Ionia Avenue.

Local resident takes the Civic Theatre stage in upcoming production of ‘Annie’

Kira Alsum portrays Grace Farrell in Grand Rapids Civic Theatre’s upcoming production of “Annie.”

By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma


Kira Alsum is very familiar with the show “Annie” as it is one of her favorites. In fact, she loves it so much, that when the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre opens its production of the world’s most famous red-headed orphan this weekend, it will be Alsum’s third time in an “Annie” show.


“It is such a different show for its time, and now,” Alsum said of the musical based on Harold Gray’s comic strip “Little Orphan Annie.” “She is such an optimist in a very dark time, the Depression, and I think everyone needs a little ‘the sun will come out’ at some point, especially right now.”


From the Kentwood area, Alsum portrays Grace Farrell, a part she first performed at her high school alma mater Grand Rapids Christian.


“Not only do I love the music of ‘Annie,’ I love Grace Farrell,” Alsum said, adding she really became familiar with the character during her Grand Rapids Christian performance. “She is a strong woman and is one of the few in musical theater.”


It is Grace Farrell who comes to the orphanage run by Miss Hannigan for the purpose of selecting an orphan who will be the guest of billionaire businessman Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks for the holidays. It is Grace Farrell who stands up against Miss Hannigan to take Annie and against Warbucks who was expecting a boy orphan. And finally, it is Grace Farrell who helps Warbucks open his heart to Annie and Annie to find a place to call home.


“The Civic production of ‘Annie’ has all of the songs and moments that you love and remember from childhood, but updated technology in our building – including projections and LED lights – have given this production a fresh new energy,” said Director Allyson Paris.” It is a charming show – the thing Holiday memories are made of.”


The musical is peppered with familiar songs such as a “Hard Knock Life,” “Little Girls,” “Easy Street,” “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile,” and of course “Tomorrow.”


“While working on this production, I’ve heard so many people –neighbors, friends, family members – say that they grew up watching and listening to ‘Annie,’” Parsons said.  “They always say this with a wistful smile, and I’m sure that’s because the message of optimism and hope resonates with people of all ages and from all walks of life.”


Alsum encourages everyone to come just to see the orphans.


“I am amazed at how talented the orphans are,” she said, adding that the adult cast is incredible too but you expect adults to have a certain level of professionalism. That level can be seen in even the youngest cast members of the show she said, adding, “They are amazing singers and actors.”


Alsum, who graduated from Hope College with a degree in theater and vocal music, said she credits the encouragement of young talent to the strong support of theater at local high schools such as Grand Rapids Christian and East Kentwood and programs like the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre’s School of Theatre Arts, where she got her start.


Alsum’s interested in theater began in third grade and by high school “it had deep roots as I knew it was something I did not want to stop doing.” She has volunteered with Civic Theater over the years and was in the past production of “Holes.” She also has volunteered with other companies such as Circle Theater and was part of Circle’s “Annie” crew. She most recently completed a marketing internship at a professional theater company in Rhode Island and has performed with Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company. Her next great production after “Annie” will be getting married.


But first comes the 27 performances for the show, which being that it is Grand Rapids Civic Theatre’s holiday offering, tickets are selling quickly.


“So ask me after the 27 performances if I still love the show,” Alsum said with a laugh. Leapin’ lizards, we’re betting just as the sun will come out tomorrow, she sure will.


“Annie” runs Nov. 17 – Dec. 17 at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, 30 N. Division Ave. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m .Wednesdays – Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. (There is no matinee performance on Nov. 18.) Tickets are $18-$37. There is a give thanks special not eh Wednesday, Nov. 22, before Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving, Nov. 23, performances with tickets being $15/students and $27/adults. For more information, call 616-222-6650 or visit

Local pianist Talaga, with symphony strings, offers premier work at GRAM

Pianist Steve Talaga, at right (shown with a jazz trip), will team with Grand Rapids Symphony strings to present two works written by Talaga in a Nov. 26 concert at the GRAM. (Supplied)

WKTV Staff


The Grand Rapids Art Museum’s Sunday Classical Concert Series, a series of 16 performances during the fall and winter each year, will present a special program featuring local pianist Steve Talaga on Thanksgiving weekend.


“String Fling: The Music of Steve Talaga”, will be presented Sunday, Nov. 26, at 2 p.m. at the museum.


“An ensemble of virtuoso string players from the Grand Rapids Symphony will perform my string quartet and a new quintet for piano and strings, “From Darkness into Light”, Talaga said to WKTV. “This will be the world premier (of the second work) and I’ll be joining them at the piano.”


Talaga wrote the string quartet when was written in 1990 when he was a graduate student at Western Michigan University.


The setting of the concerts is one of the GRAM’s beautiful, natural light filled spaces which showcase the buildings architecture and galleries as well as the music. The concert is open to the public with general admission, and free for all GRAM members. Seating is first come, first served.


The GRAM is located in downtown Grand Rapids. For more information visit .


On Tap: brewery smells, cocktail tours, and the “Dark Side of the Moon’

The Grand Rapids Public Museum offers “Dark Side of the Moon: the Light Show:, featuring the music of Pink Floyd. (Supplied)

By K.D. Norris


Unless you are a shop-a-holic, Black Friday is usually a time to stay away from public places, but on Friday, Nov. 24, the Grand Rapids Public Museum just might tempt you out with the offer of “Dark Beer, Dark Side”, an opportunity to get all spaced out with a beer in your hands.


The Public Museum, in partnership with Brewery Vivant, starting at 6:30 p.m. will present will host a brief presentation by Ryan Engemann, the Wandering Monk from Brewery Vivant, on the differences between various dark beers including Brewery Vivant’s Tart Side of the Moon. Then, after some time to tour the museum, at 7:45 p.m., visitors have the chance to grab a beer to enter the Chaffee Planetarium for the Museum’s original production “Dark Side: The Light Show”, set to the music of Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon”.


In the planetarium, visitors will experience the sounds of the iconic album “The Dark Side of the Moon” while getting blown away by stunning 4K visuals, brilliant LED sequences and Dolby 5.1 surround sound.


Tickets are $12 for mMuseum members, $22 for non-members, and your must be age 21+.  Tickets include 3 beer samples, general admission to the museum and admission to the planetarium show. ​For more information visit .


Tours and tastes at local breweries, distilleries


Ever smelled the smell of beer in the making? It is either as a fruity summer ale or as pungent as a strong stout, depending on what’s in the making. And spirits being distilled? Don’t event try to explain it.


Several Grand Rapids area breweries and distilleries are open to “behind the scenes” tours, according to supplied information, including Founders Brewing Company, Long Road Distillery, and Grey Skies Distillery.


Grand Rapids’ Founders Brewing Company offers limited tours of their production facility on Saturdays at 11 a.m. and 11:45 a.m., and Sundays at 12:30 p.m. and Fridays at 5:30 p.m. Tours are $10 each and include a Founders logo pint glass. They also offer a combined tour and beer tasting — just don’t ask what will be on tap as it changes. For more information visit .


Grand Rapids’ Long Road Distillery takes visitors through the distilling process and the principles behind it. As they like to say: “You’ll get the chance to know what’s in your glass and where it came from.” Each tour is conducted by a distilling expert who is friendly, knowledgeable, and eager to answer any question — and the, of course, you get to taste a little somethin’ somethin’. Tours are $10 per person and limited to 15 people. For more information visit .


Grand Rapids’ Gray Skies Distillery, which began whiskey production in 2015, has an on-site tasting room and cocktail bar. In September, the distillery began offering weekend tours to guests looking to learn more about craft whiskey, and peek behind the scenes at the distillery. There are two tours available, both are led by a knowledgeable distiller who will walk the guests through the entire whiskey making process, including fermentation, distillation, and aging — all done on-site. The Craft Distilling Tours are free, but the “Sneak Peek Tours” are $10, and include a craft cocktail to enjoy while on your tour. For more information visit .


And for all you light lager drinkers …


Comstock Park’s Perrin Brewing recently announced a new brew has been added to its “core beer line-up”, a American light lager appropriately called Perrin Light Lager. It is described in supplied material as “a refreshingly clean, crisp beer with a perfect balance of malt and hops.”


Perrin Light Lager is now available in 15-packs — available in stores, but why not use that as an excuse to stop by the Perrin Pub? — as well as on draft at your favorite tap across Michigan.


For more information visit .


Community helps Kentwood insurance company raise $10,000 for ‘Coats for Kids’

The Del J. and Jean B. Doyle Family Foundation was awarded a $10,000 donation from Doyle & Ogden Insurance through the 2017 Safeco Insurance® Make More Happen Award program. (L to R) – Celine Sommerdyke, Safeco Insurance Territory Manager; Mike Doyle, Doyle & Ogden Insurance President; Marie Smith, Doyle & Ogden Insurance Accounting Manager; and Sara Rouse, Doyle & Ogden Insurance Commercial Lines CSA.

Del J. & Jean B. Doyle Family Foundation will receive a $10,000 donation from Doyle & Ogden Insurance in celebration of the agency earning a 2017 Safeco Insurance® Make More Happen Award for demonstrating extraordinary volunteerism to make positive change happen in their community. The donation will assist with the non-profit’s mission to unite in transforming our world.


Doyle & Ogden Insurance originally received $5,000 for Del J. & Jean B. Doyle Family Foundation through a submission process, and this year, Safeco offered agents an additional opportunity to help the causes they care about most. Sara Rouse, an independent agent for Doyle & Ogden Insurance, and Del J. & Jean B. Doyle Family Foundation had a story about positive community change featured on Together, they were able to raise an additional $5,000 by their story being shared on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn at least 50 times.


“We appreciate the community support to raise the additional funds and we are honored to be able to provide Del J. & Jean B. Doyle Family Foundation with an even larger donation,” said Richard Smith, Safeco Insurance Midwest Region territory manager. “Safeco’s Make More Happen Awards recognize agents who are committed to making a difference in their local communities, and we want to encourage them and citizens in their area to directly support local charities.”


Read their full story and more about the awards program at


Safeco’s Make More Happen Awards focus on non-profits in the areas of health and safety, education and civil service. Doyle & Ogden Insurance was originally selected for a Make More Happen Award based on a photo and application demonstrating its commitment to Del J. & Jean B. Doyle Family Foundation, which serves all of Michigan with a specific focus on Grand Rapids.


The $10,000 donation awarded to the Del J. & Jean B. Doyle Family Foundation will enable them to purchase over 600 coats this winter. This allows the organization to broaden its scope and donate to additional elementary schools in the greater Grand Rapids area.


“It brings our team pure joy to see the excitement in the kids’ eyes when the coats are delivered,” said Rouse. “Coats for Kids is able to give back to a community that we all live and work in.”


Throughout 2017, Safeco will select a total of 23 independent agents for the awards and donate up to $230,000 to the charitable organizations they support. The Make More Happen Awards are a part of Safeco Insurance’s Agent Giving Program.


A family-owned and run business started in 1958 by Del J. Doyle and Bob Ogden selling insurance to individuals based in Grand Rapids.  With locations in Grand Rapids and Rockford, Doyle & Ogden has more than 30 licensed professionals serving their customer base to help people make better informed insurance decisions, making the company a single source solution for any insurance need. The company is currently run by Michael K. Doyle, the eleventh of twelve children in Del and Jean’s family, and is preceded in his time as president by his brother John W. Doyle.

GR Symphony presents Verdi’s monumental Requiem Nov. 17 and 18

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

By Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk

Grand Rapids Symphony


One of the best operas Giuseppe Verdi ever wrote calls for no costumes or sets. And one of his best-known sacred works is seldom performed in church. What’s more, both are one in the same.


Verdi’s Requiem has no operatic adventures involving heroes and villains, but it still features some of the most dramatic music ever written by the composer of Rigoletto, La Traviata, Otello and Aida.


Grand Rapids Symphony Music Director Marcelo Lehninger says the work that’s popular with audiences is a particular favorite of his as well.


“It’s one of the pieces I enjoy conducting the most,” he said.


Lehninger, who is in his second season with the Grand Rapids Symphony, will lead the third concert of the 2017-18 Richard and Helen DeVos Classical series at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, November 17-18, in DeVos Performance Hall, 303 Monroe Ave. NW.


Guest soprano Julianna Di Giacomo, mezzo soprano Suzanne Hendrix, tenor Anthony Dean Griffey and bass Raymond Aceto Guest artist sponsor is the Edith I. Blodgett Guest Artist Fund.


The 140-voice Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus will be joined by the 40-voice Calvin College Capella, both directed by Pearl Shangkuan, a professor of music at Calvin College.


All told, there will be upwards of 270 musicians on stage for the performances.


Concerts on Friday and Saturday will be dedicated to the memory of Helen DeVos, the Grand Rapids Symphony’s dear friend and greatest champion, who died in October. A member of the Symphony’s Board of Directors for nearly 20 years and an honorary board member afterwards, Helen DeVos had been awarded the Grand Rapids Symphony’s highest honor, its BRAVO! Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.


Grand Rapids Symphony musicians and staff will wear yellow ribbons in Mrs. DeVos’s memory. Music Director Marcelo Lehninger and the symphony’s principal first and second violins and principal viola and cello, which together comprise the Grand Rapids Symphony’s DeVos String Quartet, all will wear yellow rose boutonnieres or corsages at both performances.


Verdi, who was spiritual, but not a regular churchgoer, poured his most mature vocal and dramatic gifts into his Requiem. The traditional Mass for the Dead in the Roman Catholic liturgy takes its title from the opening phrase, “Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine,” which translates as, “Grant them eternal rest, O Lord.”


Verdi began the work to honor his operatic colleague, Gioachino Rossini, though he never completed it. Years later, Verdi finished the piece to commemorate the first anniversary of the death of Italian poet and novelist Alessandro Manzoni.


In Verdi’s mind, a big man needed a big sendoff, so he composed a work for double chorus, no fewer than 16 brass instruments, and a pounding bass drum that never goes away.


Portions of the 85 minute-work are well-known in popular culture. The dramatic “Die Irae” or “Day of Wrath” sequence is among the loudest musical moments in the orchestra repertoire. It’s frequently heard in movies, on TV and in commercials including the films “Mad Max: Fury Road” in 2015 and “Django Unchained” in 2012 and in the TV series “X Factor.”


Grand Rapids Symphony last performed Verdi’s Requiem in May 2010 to end its 2009-10 season.


Prior to that, the Grand Rapids Symphony sang Verdi’s Requiem in November 2001, just weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which gave added poignancy to the “Libre Me” section, with its first line that translates as “Deliver me, O Lord, from death eternal on that fateful day.”


  • Inside the Music, a free, pre-concert, multi-media presentation sponsored by BDO USA, will be held before each performance at 7 p.m. in the DeVos Place Recital Hall.
  • The complete Verdi’s Requiem program will be rebroadcast on Sunday, March 25, 2018, at 1 p.m. on Blue Lake Public Radio 88.9 FM or 90.3 FM.



Tickets start at $18 and are available at the GRS box 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 ticket 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


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.

New Godfrey-Lee district board member brings Latinx perspective to educational leadership

New Godfrey-Lee Public Schools Board of Education members Jackie Hernandez, shown with Superintendent Kevin Polston, was appointed early this month. (Supplied)

By K.D. Norris 


Following appointment by the Godfrey-Lee Public Schools Board of Education on Nov. 13, Jackie Hernandez is ready to move from work on the district’s Parent Teacher Organization to work as a trustee on the board of education.


Hernandez replaces Katie Brumley on the board for a 6-year term seat which will now come up for a special election in November 2018 for the remaining four years of the term.


With her appointment, Hernandez hopes to bring a more ethnically diverse presence to the board. The Godfrey-Lee district has a majority Hispanic/Latino in population but, until Hernandez’s appointment, did not have a Hispanic/Latino member.


“There are great benefits in having a diverse board and I wanted the school board to reflect the community it serves,” Hernandez said in an interview with WKTV Journal. “Our district is about 75 percent Latino and our board should reflect that. As a Latina, community advocate and a parent I will bring a different perspective to the table.”


Making the board more diverse was also an factor in her appointment, along with her work as president of the PTO, her being a parent of children in the district, and her community involvement and professional background.


Hernandez works as community liaison for LINC UP, a “community development organization that provides services to Kent County, and are involved in a host of projects and services that reach families, houses, businesses and neighborhoods at large,” according to its website.


The board interviewed three candidates to fill the position, and board president Eric Mockerman said in supplied material that Hernandez was selected because of her “commitment to the students and families of Godfrey-Lee Public Schools.”


“My work on the PTO was a great starter to working on the board,” Hernandez said. “It gave me a better understanding of what the schools are doing and why they are doing the work they do and how much work is still to be done yet. It also helped to establish and grow relationships with the parents and teachers at each school.


“I have learned that we all — parents, teachers and school administrators —want to help our children succeed in life and we all have different ways to contribute to that success. Many want to feel a part of the process and know that their voices are being heard and that their contributions matter, no matter how small.”


Hernandez said she not only plans to run for re-election to the remainder of the term next year, but she has some issues she is particularly interested in.


“One of the issues I want to focus on will be the resources that we have in place for our students and staff at East Lee (campus),” she said. “I also want our parents and students to know that we (the school board) are accessible to them and that we want to hear from them. Many Latino parents struggle with this because up until now there was not a board member who spoke Spanish or who looked like them. I hope to be able to erase that barrier and have parents know that they can speak to someone who will understand them.


“I believe that my view point or perspective of things will enhance the great work already being done by our school administrators and staff because at the end of the day its about what is best for our students.”


The Board of Education meets monthly at the Godfrey-Lee Administration Office,1324 Burton Street, SW. Its next meeting will be Dec. 11. For more information visit .


Cat of the week: Zillah

Meet gorgeous, gray Zillah!

By Sharon Wylie, Crash’s Landing

Each week WKTV features an adoptable pet — or few — from an area shelter. This week’s beauty is from Crash’s Landing. Crash’s Landing and Big Sid’s Sanctuary rescue organizations were founded by Jennifer Denyes, DVM (Dr. Jen), who is on staff at Clyde Park Veterinary Clinic (4245 Clyde Park Ave SW).

In early Jan. 2017, one of our volunteers came across a stunning but profoundly, shy gray girl at a feral feeding station in downtown Grand Rapids. Born in early 2013, this poor soul ended up a shadow dweller, hiding out in the darkness until night fell, then scrambling out for a quick bite before scurrying off to safety.


After observing the volunteer diligently at work day after day, supplying all the cats with canned food, the stray finally gained enough courage to crash on through the dishes one day, knocking everything over in order to get to the yummy wet food — and amazingly allowed herself to be petted while she gobbled down with gusto and delight. It took a bit longer until Zillah — whose name means ’shadow’ — could be convinced to come to our clinic. Once she arrived, she was spayed, treated for intestinal parasites, tested (negative–YAY!) and vaccinated. Zillah spent a month at the volunteer’s home getting acclimated to indoor living, then came down to Crash’s to spend a month with us before heading off to another foster home that offered a bit more peace and quiet.


Zillah’s foster mom, Sara wrote up a synopsis of her emerging personality, as the longer she is with Sara, the bolder she becomes and the brighter she shines. Here are the sweet things Sara had to say about her timid little lady:


“Zillah spent most of her time in the corner of her open cage in Intake while at Crash’s, not wanting a thing to do with anyone — cat or human. In her foster room (with companion Moriarity) she has gone from hiding all of the time to sitting in a cat bed looking out the window. She loves being petted all over, even her sleek belly and, of course, is absolutely wild about wet food, tolerating tummy rubs while chowing down to her heart’s content.


Here, Zillah sports a pensive look

“Her favorite toy is a bird on a stick and she will jump extremely high to catch that little bugger! It has been an absolute delight teaching her all about treats, as so many strays are unfamiliar with them and don’t understand quite how to take them from a person’s fingers; she licks away at the hard kibble until she finally takes it in through the side of her mouth and looks up beseechingly for more! She does NOT like being picked up at all and is not, at least at the writing of this bio in April, a lap cat. She will sit close and allow you to stroke her sleek coat, which is one of our favorite pastimes.”


We are all so very proud of how far Zillah has come in such a short time! We are looking forward to watching her blossom as spring turns into summer and she finds comfort and security where she is planted.

More about Zillah

Interested in volunteering at one of the cat shelters? Email

Can’t adopt, but still want to help? Find out how you can sponsor a cat!

Crash’s Landing and Big Sid’s Sanctuary have a common mission: To take at-risk stray cats off the streets of the Greater Grand Rapids area, provide them with veterinary care and house them in free-roaming, no-kill facilities until dedicated, loving, permanent homes can be found.

Welcome to the neighborhood: Delta Hotels, Health Bridge

The Wyoming Kentwood Area Chamber of Commerce marked two ribbon cutting ceremonies in November, celebrating the addition of a hotel and a rehabilitation facility.


On Friday, Nov. 8, was the ribbon cutting for Delta Hotels by Marriott Grand Rapids Airport. The new hotel, located at 3333 28th St. SE, is a full-service hotel designed with the essential needs of frequent travels in mind. The new hotel is located erwin Woodland and CenterPointe malls and is four miles from the Gerald R. Ford International Airport and 15 minutes from downtown Grand Rapids. It is also only walking distance from many Kentwood dining and entertainment options and is connected to Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom.

Earlier was the ribbon cutting for HealthBridge Post-Acute Rehabilitation, located in the Metro Health Village at 2060 Health Dr. SW. The new center provides short-term care for patients requiring physical, occupational, and speech therapy, along with skilled nursing care, after a hospital stay.

Meijer Gardens worldwide, hometown holiday season celebration set to begin


Meijer Gardens is never more beautiful than during the early winter holiday season. (Supplied)


WKTV Staff


Unlike a lot of shopping malls and radio stations, the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park’s Christmas celebration will precede Thanksgiving by a couple of days as the 23rd annual Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World exhibition opens Tuesday, Nov. 21.


The exhibit, which runs through Jan. 7, 2018, will allow guests to experience 42 Christmas and holiday trees, and displays representing countries and cultures from around the world, according to supplied material.


And, for those really into traditions and the art of garden arrangement, the Railway Garden and holiday wonderland will once again wind its way through three indoor garden spaces, including the recently renovated Grace Jarecki Seasonal Display Greenhouse.


“This year we pause to reflect on the many unique and beautiful ways that holiday traditions are observed all over the world,” Steve LaWarre, director of horticulture, said in supplied material.


The annual Holiday Gala is a night to dress up and remember. (Supplied)

From the highly polished metal of the Hanukkah Menorahs, to the beautiful Eid ul-Fitr display — which celebrates the end of Ramadan — to the golden glass ornaments adorning many of the traditional Christmas trees, guests will come across a variety of reflective surfaces designed to reinforce the theme of reflection. The holiday season is also a time when many cultures share the custom of turning attention inwards, reflecting upon the past and making preparations for the New Year.


Meijer Gardens transforms into a botanic wonderland with poinsettias, orchids and amaryllis. The smell of evergreens as visitors enter the building and the sounds of carolers make it a perfect family place to enjoy the holiday season. Indoors and out, trees sparkle with over 300,000 white lights.


Hydrangea petals make up the iconic glass tower of the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. (Supplied)

The unique horticultural artistry of the Railway Garden complements the model trolleys, trains and handcrafted buildings replicating 30 Grand Rapids landmarks, including the unique use of hydrangea petals that make up the iconic glass tower of the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.


Meijer Gardens will also offer a series of family-friendly activities throughout the exhibition.


Exhibition Activities:

Extended Holiday Hours: Open until 9 p.m. Dec. 18-23, 26-30 (Meijer Gardens is closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day).

The Original Dickens Carolers: Tuesdays: Nov. 21 and 28, Dec. 5, 12, 19; 6-8 p.m.

And, of course, there will be visits by Santa for those holiday photos. (Supplied)

Santa Visits: Tuesdays: Nov. 21 and 28, Dec. 5, 12, 19; 5-8 p.m.

Rooftop Reindeer: Saturdays: Nov. 25, Dec. 2, 9, 16, 23; 1-4 p.m.

Christmas Cabaret Gala: Thursday, Dec.7, 6 p.m. (RSVP required)

Winter-Time Walks: Nov. 21-Jan. 6, 2018; Tuesdays 10:15 and 11:15 a.m., Saturdays 11:15  a.m. (Included with admission). Winter in the Lena Meijer Children’s Garden can be chilly, but fun! Bundle up and join us on an outdoor interactive discovery walk to investigate the Children’s Garden in new ways. We’ll explore different winter themes and gather by the hearth in the log cabin to learn about winter with stories, kid-friendly conversation and finger plays.

Christmas and Holiday Themed Classes: Enjoy festive learning opportunities for adults and families. Fees apply.


For  more information visit .


‘Christian conservative’ state Rep. Steven Johnson on latest episode of WKTV Journal: In Focus

State Rep. Steven Johnson, left, talks with WKTV Journal: In Focus host Ken Norris during a recent interview. (WKTV)

K.D. Norris


First-term State Representative Steven Johnson, whose district includes the City of  Kentwood, wears the title of being a Christian conservative with pride — both because he was elected to a conservative state house district because of his views and because, when you talk with him, that is who he is.


Rep. Johnson (R-District 72) recently visited WKTV Journal: In Focus, WKTV’s public affairs show and talked with its host about his first month’s in Lansing, his views on what he calls “corporate welfare” — state and local government incentives to attract businesses — as well as his effort to introduce a bill which would strip funding from the state’s abortion clinics.


And on the issue of his right-to-life politics, Johnson says even if his efforts fail he will have done what he and a majority of his constituents believe is right.


“Obviously we want to see it pass, that is number one,” he said. “For me, I believe abortion is a terrible evil. And I believe, at the very least, what I don’t want to be doing, when I get done here and go home, I don’t want to say ‘I did not do anything.’ I want to be able to say, ‘Look, I tried’. You lose the fight, but at least you fought. The battles that will be won or lost, that is in God’s hands.”

Rep. Johnson district includes much of Allegan County and portions of Kent County.




Also on this episode, Kent County director of Veterans Services, Carrie Anderson, about the problems faced by our region’s veterans and the county, state and federal efforts to provide possible solutions.

As part of the discussion with Anderson, a veteran herself, she discusses the alarming statistic that each day 20 veterans commit suicide in this country, available services — including help for homeless vets — and why her job is more than just a job.



The entire episode of “WKTV Journal: In Focus” airs Tuesdays and Thursdays, at 6:30 p.m., on cable television in the Wyoming and Kentwood areas on Comcast WKTV Channel 26 and on AT&T Channel 99 Government channel. This episode will have a special airing on Wednesday, Nov, 15, at noon on Comcast Channel 25.


Winter high school sports schedule action begins on ice, on WKTV

Ice hockey is on WKTV’s coverage schedule this week. (WKTV)

By Mike Moll


The winter seasons start up this week with boys hockey dropping the puck for the first time and WKTV will be there as East Kentwood entertains East Grand Rapids on Nov. 17.


Girls basketball tips off their season the last week of the month.


There is still three fall sports yet to crown champions: Girls volleyball state semi-finals and finals are at the Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek on Thursday, Nov. 16, and Saturday, Nov. 18, for all four classes. Girls swimming and diving will conclude with state finals on Nov. 1718 at Oakland University, Holland Aquatic Center, and Eastern Michigan University. The last championships will be handed out on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 24-25, with football finals being played at Ford Field in Detroit.


Currently, WKTV sports events will be broadcast the night of the game on Comcast Channel 25, usually at 11 p.m., and repeated on Saturday at 11 a.m. on  WKTV Comcast Channel 25 and AT&T U-verse Channel 99 in Wyoming & Kentwood.


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


Local high school sports events this week are as follows:


Thursday, Nov.  16

Girls Volleyball 

MHSAA Class A State Semi Finals @ Kellogg Arena

MHSAA Class B State Semi Finals @ Kellogg Arena

MHSAA Class C State Semi Finals @ Kellogg Arena

MHSAA Class D State Semi Finals @ Kellogg Arena


Friday, Nov. 17

Girls Swimming 

Division 1 MHSAA State Finals @ Oakland University

Division 2 MHSAA State Finals @ Holland Aquatic Center

Division 3 MHSAA State Finals @ Eastern Michigan University

Boys Hockey 

East Grand Rapids @ East Kentwood – WKTV Featured Game

South Christian @ Grand Haven


Saturday, Nov. 18

Stubby Overmire Card Show @ Wyoming Lee – Denny McLain, Mickey Stanley, Tom Matchick

Girl Volleyball 

Class A MHSAA State Finals @ Kellogg Arena 2 PM

Class B MHSAA State Finals @ Kellogg Arena 4 PM

Class C MHSAA State Finals @ Kellogg Arena 12 PM

Class D MHSAA State Finals @ Kellogg Arena 10 AM

Boys Hockey 

East Grand Rapids @ South Christian

Girls Swimming 

Division 1 MHSAA State Finals @ Oakland University

Division 2 MHSAA State Finals @ Holland Aquatic Center

Division 3 MHSAA State Finals @ Eastern Michigan University


Sunday, Nov. 19

Stubby Overmire Card Show @ Wyoming Lee High School


St. Cecilia jazz series opens with Grammy favorite bassist Christian McBride


By K.D. Norris


Saying bassist Christian McBride is the new millennium’s baseline of jazz music might be laying it on a little thick, but he certainly is a favorite of the Grammy awards and of St. Cecilia Music Center, where his unique trio will be on stage next week.


McBride — with five Grammy wins since 2004, and a pairing of piano and guitar with him — will make an encore visit to St. Cecilia’s Royce Auditorium stage on Thursday, Nov. 16, for a 7:30 p.m. concert. Tickets are still available.


“We are lucky to have him here,” Cathy Holbrook, executive director of St. Cecilia, said in supplied material, pointing out McBride’s current trio tour includes just five cities: New York City, Newark, Chicago, Denton (part of the Dallas-Ft. Worth metropolitan area) … and Grand Rapids.


McBride’s “McBride’s Tip City” tour will have him accompanied by pianist Emmet Cohen and guitarist Dan Wilson.


McBride’s visit is the beginning of St. Cecilia’s annual jazz series, which will include the Brad Mehldau Trio on Nov. 30, and singers Gregory Porter on Feb. 22, 2018, and Kurt Elling on March 22, 2018.


“This is going to be a jazz series for the record books,” Holbrook said about St. Cecilia’s “encore” series. “We are bringing back some of our favorites from the first ten years of the series. (And) the excitement begins with Christian McBride, one of today’s most enjoyable entertainers and outstanding jazz performers of our time.”


That “outstanding” part?


McBride has eight Grammy nominations, and five wins four since 2009 including the 2015 Best Improvised Jazz Solo for “Cherokee”.


Now in his third decade of playing and recording, the one-time “young lion” and Philadelphia native is one of the most respected, and sought after, players in music — and not just in traditional jazz. And the reason is clear by hearing one of his stories.


“When you pull the people in, you can go anywhere as long as they feel like they’re a part of the ride,” McBride said in supplied information. “ That’s why Cannonball Adderley was always my hero — he always exemplified high artistry, but no matter how esoteric or abstract it could get, he still related to people.”


McBride not only leads his own bands but he has shared the stage with jazz legends such as Sonny Rollins, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and Pat Metheny; he has accompanied pop music heavyweights such as James Brown, Sting and The Roots; he has collaborated with classical masters such as Kathleen Battle, Edgar Meyer and the Shanghai Quartet.


In addition to his live and recording musical efforts, McBride currently hosts and produces “The Lowdown: Conversations With Christian McBride” on SiriusXM satellite radio and National Public Radio’s “Jazz Night in America” — can you say “Stories to tell?”


McBride will come to Grand Rapids, according to supplied information, following a performance with Dianne Reeves and a celebration of the 100th birthdays of Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie with Gregory Porter and Regina Carter — can you say “More stories to tell?”


You know, maybe that “baseline of modern jazz” is not too far off.


For tickets and more information visit There will also be a pre-concert reception available for an additional price, and a free post-concert party available to ticket holders when the artists routinely visit for talk and CD signing.



County budget planning part of Chamber’s November WKTV Government Matters discussion

Government representatives from all levels attended this month’s Wyoming-Kentwood Area Chamber of Commerce’s Government Matters meeting. (WKTV)

By K.D. Norris


Two members of the Kent County Board of Commissioners were present at the October’s Wyoming-Kentwood Chamber of Commerce’s monthly Government Matters meetings Monday — and if you think the county’s budget planning process is not big news consider that its proposed 2018 budget will total nearly half of a billion dollars.


The monthly meeting brings together government leaders of all levels to discuss issues of importance and presents those discussions through WKTV’s live, delayed and on-demand broadcasts.


At the Monday, Nov. 14, meeting at Kentwood City Hall, commissioners Harold Voorhees (District 8/City of Wyoming) and Harold Mast (District 12/Wyoming and Kentwood) both discussed aspects of the county’s $417.6 million budget, set to be approved at a board meeting Thursday, Nov. 30. at 8:30 a.m. The Kent County Board of Commissioners govern a huge range of programs and expenditures ranging the sheriff’s office, to the county’s elections, to veterans services.


Among the other multi-level government discussions topics at the meeting were the the status of federal tax reform — including two local businessmen voicing support for the lowering of business tax rates, as well as continued upgrades at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport and state efforts to combat opioid addiction and abuse.


The Chamber’s Government Matters meetings include representatives of the cities of Kentwood and Wyoming, Kent County, local Michigan House of Representatives and Senate, and, often, representatives of other regional, State of Michigan and Federal elected officials. The next meeting will be Dec. 11 at Kentwood City Hall.


The meetings are on the second Monday of each month, starting at 8 a.m. WKTV Journal will produce a highlight story after the meeting. But WKTV also offers replays of the Monday meetings on the following Wednesday at 7 p.m. on Comcast Cable Government Channel 26. Replays are also available online at WKTV’s government meetings on-demand page ( and on the chamber’s Facebook page.


Grand Rapids Public Museum continues Mighty Wurlitzer Organ concert series

Justin Stahl

Join the Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM) for the third installment of the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ concert of the series with performances by Justin Stahl on Nov. 17 and 18 to hear classics from the 20th century.


Justin will perform a variety of well-known melodies beginning in the early 1900s up through the 1990s. Justin has performed for various audiences at the GRPM on the 1928 Mighty Wurlitzer Theater Organ over the years.


Aa native of Beech Grove, Indiana, Justin began playing at age five with the encouragement of his great-grandfather. He was mostly self-taught in piano and organ.  His passion for music has reached many venues that have included accompanying for several choral departments, contributing as his church’s music director, playing for community theatre, and serving for nearly fifteen years in the Indiana Army National Guard’s 38th Infantry Division Band.


Stahl has most recently entertained thousands of patrons of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra in the last five productions of their annual Yuletide Celebration, playing the 3/24 Wurlitzer installed at the Hilbert Circle Theatre. Theatre organ has always been a passion of Justin’s and has taken him to performance venues across the country. He was a featured artist at the 59th ATOS Convention held in Indianapolis.


A graduate of Marian University with a Bachelor’s degree in piano performance, Justin presently serves as the director of music for the Horizon Science Academy High School in Columbus, Ohio, while writing choral/instrumental arrangements for several choir departments.  His approach and philosophy includes the continued promotion of the theatre organ by using a wide base of musical genres.


Shows will be held at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 17 and at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 18 in the Meijer Theater at the GRPM.


Tickets for individual concerts are $8 for Museum member adults, $4 for Museum member children, $10 for non-member adults and $5 for non-member children. Tickets are available by visiting or by calling 616-929-1700.


The final concert of the series will be Holiday Classics on Friday, Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 16 at 2 p.m. by John Lauter. This holiday classic is a sellout show, great for the entire family. Tickets are recommended to be purchased early.

Ford International Airport preps for Thanksgiving with ‘Operation Handshake’

A welcome home for West Michigan troops and other festivities are on tap for the Thanksgiving holiday, and one of the busiest days of the year at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GFIA).


On Wednesday, Nov. 22, airport volunteers including therapy dog teams, and the Patriot Guard Riders will participate in “Operation Handshake,” an event to welcome home returning military members and veterans, and to thank them for their service.


Volunteers will staff both airport concourses from 9 a.m. – 7 p.m., and airport staff will be passing out treats and trinkets to thank passengers for utilizing the airport during the busy time of year.



“We appreciate our military year-round, but around the holidays we are extra thankful for their service knowing that many of them don’t get to make it home for a warm turkey dinner or spend time with their families,” said GFIA President & CEO Jim Gill.


“We appreciate the partnership with the Patriot Guard Riders of West Michigan, and their loyalty to serving our community through events like Operation Handshake. We hope we can give returning military a special welcome home to West Michigan.”


The media is also encouraged to put a call out to the community, asking family members to notify the Patriot Guard Riders of returning military members’ arrival times and flight information. Information can be sent to or Tony VanGessel at 616-862-1984.


“This is what Thanksgiving is really all about,” said VanGessel, Captain of the Patriot Guard Riders of West Michigan. “What we see each year is an inspiration. We get a thank you from the military members, but it’s also heartwarming for the general traveling public around us to see what transpires.”


Because the Thanksgiving holiday is one of the busier times of the year, GFIA encourages passengers to arrive at least 90-120 minutes before their flight. TSA also encourages passengers to stay up-to-date on the latest travel notices and information about what you can or cannot bring on your flight by visiting:

School News Network: New Middle College Program to Provide Associate Degrees

East Kentwood High School students Lejla Suljevic, Ikhlas Hakeem work on an AP art project in teacher Le Tran’s class

By Erin Albanese

School News Network


A goal at the high school is for every student to receive college credit from at least one class before they graduate, said Evan Hordyk, the district’s executive director for secondary education. Well-established Advanced Placement (AP) opportunities, plus a middle college launching next fall, will make that possible.


East Kentwood students are already tallying up college credits by choosing from a slate of 21 AP classes. Soon they will be able to earn a free associate degree from Grand Rapids Community College by completing a fifth year of high school while dually enrolled as a college student.


It’s a way to give students a head start, in a setting where they feel comfortable. “We offer a very supportive family environment here, so taking a college class where they have those supports can help them be more successful,” Hordyk said.


From left, East Kentwood High School students Nisa Brooks and Adilene Garcia are earning credit in AP art

Adding a Fifth Year = Associate’s Degree


The district will begin the Middle College with its first cohort of 10th graders next fall. Students will take college courses at East Kentwood along with high school courses, and then finish a fifth year on the GRCC campus. Successfully completing the program will earn them a general associate degree with credits transferable to most four-year colleges and universities. Other Middle College programs established through GRCC partnerships include Wyoming High School, Cedar Springs High School and Ottawa Hills High School. Kenowa Hills High School has a partnership with Davenport University.


“The most obvious and biggest benefit for students and parents is that the tuition is covered,” Hordyk said. Considering a student entering a four-year university right after senior year pays an average of more than $20,000 including room and board, the savings is potentially huge and places students a year ahead of schedule.


“We have an opportunity for students, whether they have an economic need or not to walk out of here with an associate’s degree,” said Principal Omar Bakri.


For several years, East Kentwood students have pursued dual-enrollment opportunities with GRCC, Kendall and Davenport, with more than 100 students participating last school year.


Dan Clark, dean of academic outreach for Grand Rapids Community College, said this partnership is their sixth middle college partnership. Programs are filling a need, especially for economically disadvantaged students and those who are the first in their families to attend college.


“It definitely allows and provides greater opportunity for access and success for particular students who, it was probably a foregone conclusion, weren’t going to go to college,” he said.


Programs have also led to increased collaboration between high schools and GRCC. “If institutions can partner in a way to benefit students, families and the community, it’s a win-win-win all around,” Clark said.


A Reputable AP Program


East Kentwood has also built one of the most comprehensive AP programs possible, with 21 classes including AP courses in science, English, math, economics government and art. The high school last year earned a silver medal from U.S. News and World Report for achievements including having 35 percent of students take AP tests and, of those, 73 percent pass them.


These courses give students college-level opportunities they otherwise might not have. They aren’t just for the highest achieving students, Hordyk said.


“One of the things we are quite proud of is that in 2017, 1,000 AP exams were taken. If you go back five years, just under 600 were taken, so we’ve almost doubled that number.” The success rate of a passing score, a 3, 4 or 5 on the AP exam, has remained high. “We’ve added a lot of kids and they are still very successful.”


East Kentwood is the most diverse school in the state (as ranked by Niche, a data organization) with students from more than 60 countries represented. Much of the increase in AP enrollment is from students of various ethnicities, “groups that haven’t traditionally been part of AP,” Hordyk said.


Graduate Justin Lai, a University of Michigan freshman pursuing a degree in computer science engineering, recently stopped in to visit his AP physics teacher Laura Sloma. He took nine AP classes before graduating last spring and said he was glad to have the head start. “As far as preparation goes, it was nice to have a harder workload to prepare me for college.”

GVSU students tackle importance of political awareness during performances of ‘Cabaret’

The GVSU cast of “Cabaret.” Photo by Valerie Wojo

By Matthew Makowski

Grand Valley State University


In Berlin, Germany, in 1930, three years before Adolf Hitler came to power, Cliff, an American novelist, is searching for inspiration when he finds lodging at Frau Schneider’s boarding house above the notorious and racy Kit Kat Club. Led by a saucy Emcee and Sally Bowles, a sassy showgirl and British singer, the free-wheeling performers at the club turn Cliff’s world upside down while the power of the Nazi party lurks just beyond the club’s doors.


This is the plot of “Cabaret,” which Grand Valley students will perform Nov. 16-18, 29 and 30, and Dec. 1-2 at 7:30 p.m., and Nov. 19 and Dec. 3 at 2 p.m. All performances will take place in the Linn Maxwell Keller Black Box Theatre, located in the Thomas J. and Marcia J. Haas Center for Performing Arts.


“These characters are focused on having a good time and living in an environment that is free and liberated, but what they fail to realize, or refuse to realize, is that a change in German politics is allowing the Nazi party to come to power,” said Dennis Henry, director and visiting professor of theater. “’Cabaret’ is a warning about the need for everyone to know what is going on in politics in order to prevent the rise of evil.”


Lindsey Normington, a senior majoring in communication studies who plays Sally Bowles, said that portraying her character’s denial has been her biggest hurdle during rehearsals.


“I’m the type of person who is generally very concerned when I feel like I see someone being treated unfairly,” she said. “Sally gives off a happy-go-lucky vibe, but she is more interested deep down in protecting herself over others.”


“Cabaret” marks the first theater performance to take place in the new Keller Theatre, and Henry said the production will take full advantage of the black box theater’s ability to provide flexible staging and audience seating formations.


“For this first production, we are arranging the seats in an ‘arena’ configuration, with the audience on all four sides of the playing space,” he said. “Since much of the play takes place in the Kit Kat Club, this arrangement will give the audience the feeling of being in the club with the performers, and there will even be some limited table seating on the edges of the stage itself.”


While the themes of “Cabaret” are serious in nature, Henry said the play itself is light-hearted.


“The songs are classics that will stick in your head and the characters of Sally and the emcee are some of the most popular and memorable characters of the American theater cannon,” he explained.


Ticket prices are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and Grand Valley alumni, faculty and staff, and $6 for students and groups. To purchase tickets, contact the Louis Armstrong Theatre Box Office at 616-331-2300 or visit

Local insurance company awarded $5,000 for foundation to help those in Greater Grand Rapids area

(L to R)- Melony DeYoung, an employee of Doyle & Ogden Insurance, helps Leysha Ortiz, secretary at Cesar E. Chavez Elementary School, and Samariz Hernandez, community school coordinator, hand out coats collected during their Coats for Kids drive. In 2016, the agency donated 450 coats to four schools in the Grand Rapids area.

Doyle & Ogden Insurance has earned a 2017 Safeco Insurance Make More Happen Award for demonstrating extraordinary volunteerism to make positive change happen in their community. The award includes $5,000 to use towards its community work with Del J. & Jean B. Doyle Family Foundation, a multi-generational family foundation whose mission is to unite in transforming our world.


This year, Safeco is offering agents an additional opportunity to help the causes they care about most. Sara Rouse, an independent agent for Doyle & Ogden Insurance, and Del J. & Jean B. Doyle Family Foundation will have their stories featured on, with a chance to raise an additional $5,000. (As of Nov. 13, they has 189 Facebook shares.) If the story is shared from at least 50 times on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, the total donation will increase to $10,000. Help them reach their goal by sharing their story at


“We are excited to offer agents the ability to raise even more funds through social media sharing, and we hope their stories inspire others to volunteer in their communities,” said Richard Smith, Safeco Insurance Midwest Region territory manager. “Safeco’s Make More Happen program recognizes agents who are committed to making a difference in their local communities, and we want to encourage them to directly support the local charities where they see the most need.”


Safeco’s Make More Happen Awards focus on nonprofits in the areas of health and safety, education and civil service. Doyle & Ogden Insurance was selected for a Make More Happen Award based on a photo and application demonstrating its commitment to the Del J. & Jean B. Doyle Family Foundation, which serves all of Michigan with a specific focus on Grand Rapids.


In 2009, the staff at Kentwood’s Doyle & Ogden Insurance realized that many students in the Grand Rapids area lacked proper winter wear. That year, the team partnered with the Del J. & Jean B. Doyle Family Foundation to launch the “Coats for Kids” program and rallied to donate 50 coats to local elementary schools. Through continued fundraising and volunteer efforts, the group has been able to increase its impact—in 2016 alone, they were able to donate 450 coats through the program. Everyone at the insurance agency volunteers with the program, from coordinating with schools on the sizes needed for students to shopping for the coats.


“The most rewarding part of the Coats for Kids program is seeing the smiles on the children’s faces who receive a brand-new winter coat,” said Rouse. “Knowing that we have helped local families during difficult times is an absolutely amazing feeling.”


Throughout 2017, Safeco will select a total of 23 independent agents for the awards and donate up to $230,000 to the nonprofits they support. The Make More Happen Awards are a part of Safeco Insurance’s Agent Giving Program.


A family-owned and run business started in 1958 by Del J. Doyle and Bob Ogden selling insurance to individuals based in Grand Rapids.  With locations in Grand Rapids and Rockford, Doyle & Ogden has more than 30 licensed professionals serving their customer base to help people make better informed insurance decisions, making the company a single source solution for any insurance need.  The company is currently run by Michael K. Doyle, the eleventh of twelve children in Del and Jean’s family, and is preceded in his time as president by his brother John W. Doyle.

On the shelf: ‘Toxic Charity’ by Robert D. Lupton

By Karen Thoms, Grand Rapids Public Library, West Side Branch


Using the kindheartedness of most Americans as a backdrop, Robert Lupton’s Toxic Charity shows how the choices we make to express our compassion can have negative consequences on the very people we hope to help. It is a hard read because most of us who give have done some of the things he identifies as damaging. Yet he does not leave us to wallow in guilt or shame but quickly charts a course correction for givers that can make a restorative difference in the lives of hurting people.


Throughout the book Lupton walks us through actual situations where people or churches are giving time or money. Outcomes of these efforts are gleaned and measured. The stark findings command our attention: much of our giving is a Band-Aid and sometimes the results are disastrous! Lupton is able to turn our good intentions upside down to reveal pages of negative repercussions. We are brought up short story after story and then faced with the hard truth. There are no quick fixes when we are hoping to help people toward wholeness here or abroad. Being willing to consider Lupton’s assessments is a first step toward moving from hurtful aid to wholeness and development. 


Helping agencies and compassionate people will be challenged by the evidence in this book. Armed with this new knowledge Lupton turns the reader’s attention to the cure as he proposes an Oath for Compassionate Service, describes in detail what service with dignity looks like, and finally suggests steps to reaching the better outcomes we had hoped for in the first place. After reading Toxic Charity you will likely be changed in how you evaluate the use of your resources.

GVSU economist: Positive growth continues

Brian Long is a local business forecaster. Credit: GVSU

By Dottie Barnes

Grand Valley State University


The West Michigan economy continues to show positive growth, and the national industrial economy remains very strong, according to a Grand Valley State University expert.


“This is probably as good as it’s going to get,” said Brian G. Long, director of Supply Management Research in the Seidman College of Business. “If we continue this way to 2019, it will be the longest post-war recovery in history without sliding into another recession.”


Long surveyed local business leaders and his findings below are based on data collected during the last two weeks of October.


The survey’s index of business improvement (new orders) remained positive at +11, but declined from +21 in September. The production index posted a modest gain, rising from +17 to +20. The index of purchases rose to +21 from +14, and the employment index remained positive at +14, down from +17.


Long said most of the auto parts suppliers are still maintaining their present status, with a similar mood noted among the office furniture firms. He said October was generally a good month for industrial distributors.


The local index of employment remained double-digit positive, while the official unemployment rate nationally has fallen to 4.1 percent. “That’s only a breath away from the 20-year low of 3.8 percent,” said Long.


The national industrial economy also remains very strong, according to Long.


“U.S. manufacturing stepped up a gear at the start of the fourth quarter, boding well for higher factory production to support robust economic growth in the closing months of 2017,” he said. “Production volumes jumped higher and growth in factory jobs picked up to one of the strongest levels since the global financial crisis, underscoring the improvement in optimism about future trading among manufacturers.”


The Institute for Supply Management survey is a monthly survey of business conditions that includes 45 purchasing managers in the greater Grand Rapids area and 25 in Kalamazoo. The respondents are from the region’s major industrial manufacturers, distributors and industrial service organizations. It is patterned after a nationwide survey conducted by the Institute for Supply Management. Each month, the respondents are asked to rate eight factors as “same,” “up” or “down.”

Employment Expertise: Today’s Apprenticeship Opportunities


By West Michigan Works!


What do you think of when you hear the word apprentice? A medieval blacksmith or a modern-day electrician? Today’s apprenticeships offer career opportunities in a variety of high-demand fields like information technology and health care in addition to more traditional industries like construction and manufacturing.


In honor of National Apprenticeship Week, November 13-19, check out these FAQs to see if an apprenticeship is right for you!


Q: What is an apprenticeship?

A: An apprenticeship is a paid work experience that includes on-the-job and classroom learning. Apprenticeships give workers the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in a high-demand job and the opportunity to pursue a career in a high-demand industry.


Q: What is a “high-demand” job or industry?

A: A high-demand industry is one that is experiencing a demand for its products or services. A high-demand job where employers need qualified workers to meet that demand. Currently in West Michigan, construction, health care, information technology and manufacturing are experiencing a need for skilled workers.


Q: How long does an apprenticeship program last?

A: The length of an apprenticeship program varies depending on the employer, the occupation and the type of program. Registered apprenticeship programs typically range from one year to six years.


Q: How much money can an apprentice earn?

A: The average wage for a worker who completes an apprenticeship varies by industry, however apprentices who complete their program earn approximately $300,000 more over their career than non-apprenticeship workers.


Q: Sounds great! When can I start?

A: Apprenticeship opportunities are driven by employer need. When employers have a critical need for skilled workers and an apprenticeship program or opening is created, West Michigan Works! will promote the opportunity on its website, in its service centers and in the weekly Job Blast email.


Staff at your local Michigan Works! service center can help you determine if an apprenticeship is a good fit for you and how to pursue one. You can learn more about the benefits of a Registered Apprenticeship on the US Department of Labor’s website:


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

School News Network: ‘I Show Them Another Way, and Another Way, and Another Way’

Heather Richards helps Stephane Garcia-Palacios with a math problem

By Erin Albanese

School News Network


A bank was robbed. Fifteen suspects – all middle-school staff members – had their mugshots taken, each holding a dollar bill up to their forehead. Algebra students were notified.


The CSI team was waiting on video surveillance to confirm the perpetrator’s height, and once known, they would be able to quickly and easily identify the culprit using data collected by students.


“The CSI team is calling on you, the mathematics experts, to use your knowledge of scale factor to find the actual heights of each of the subjects,” assigned math teacher Heather Richards.


Antonio Valenzuela and Brianna Morris work to win points during math Jeopardy!

Over two class periods, eighth-graders used math to figure out the height of each suspect by calculating the true dimensions of a dollar bill, translating it to the photo-sized dollar and relating it to the height of the suspect in each photo. They eventually learned – Richards announced the conclusion made from video surveillance – the robber was 5 feet 10 inches.


From there, they used a slate of clues to pinpoint… dun-dun-dun… English teacher Jacob Deubner as the thief.


The CSI investigation was the brainchild of Richards, who has taught at Kelloggsville Middle School for nine years. She said she wanted to teach scale factor in an interesting way, and crime-scene sleuthing is one of many approaches she uses to engage her students.


Known to jolt young teens’ attention with scavenger hunts, her old-school rap savviness or trivia knowledge of obscura such as how frequently the average human being flatulates in one day (14 times), Richards brings liveliness to teaching, funneling positive energy into every coefficient, quotient and sum. She describes her school day as “hours of endless mathematical fun,” a statement that contains no sarcasm.


With dry erase pen on whiteboard, she demonstrates an alternate way to solve an algebraic equation, her face lighting up with delight. “Isn’t that cool?” she asks, her giddiness growing exponentially.


Jenna Bajric holds up an answer during math Jeopardy!

Richards earned her bachelor’s degree from Grand Valley State University and her master’s from Marygrove College in Detroit. She taught in Belleville Public Schools for three years before being hired in Kelloggsville.


She said she likes to spice up the subject she loves and pass it on to her students. “I like teaching in general. I like being able to influence kids and kind of run the show in here and be a positive role model on top of teaching. I love teaching math. I’ve always been good at math. I have a math brain.”


She also makes sure her students always have access to instruction, through video lessons on her website and YouTube.


Kelloggsville Middle School teacher Heather Richards smiles as she shows how to solve an algebra problem using a chart

Teaching Deep in Simple Ways


Master mathematicians-investigators Pablo Vicario and Matt Zaiger were the first students to name the robber in the CSI activity. They said the activity shed light on the “When are we going to use this question?” often posed in algebra class.


“It was a really fun activity,” Matt said. “We were able to use our clues and math skills to figure out who the robber was.”


The woman behind the activity was not lost to them. “I would say math is my favorite subject… I like Mrs. Richards,” Matt said. “She teaches us ways to make math a lot easier than other ways that make it confusing.”


Added Pablo: “Before, math was an OK subject for me. I did it, I was good at it, but then with Mrs. Richards, it was really fun. She explains it way better. She’s the best teacher.”


Where did that ability come from?


In 10th grade, Richards, a Wyoming native who graduated from Wyoming Rogers High School in 2001, had a math teacher who presented different ways to solve equations through various activities. She showed that traditional algorithms didn’t have to be the automatic go-to. That gave Richards a sense of what kind of math teacher she could be.


“I always try to come up with alternative methods of learning stuff,” she said. “The idea has always been to give students the deeper conceptual-type understanding. Then I show them another way, and another way, and another way.”


Principal Jim Alston said Richards’ love for learning is contagious.


“Her personality is very energetic, very much like that of a middle-school student. They respond well to her and the enthusiasm she brings to her classroom. Her interest is so high for the subject that it rubs off on the students,” he said. “They see her excited about what they are doing for the day and all of a sudden they are excited, and sometimes they don’t even realize it. Her love for math and teaching math is what the students see and appreciate every day.”


From left to right: Ayanna Thompson, Alexis Shoemaker, Lacy Sleet and Loida Benavidas work to rack up the points

To the Final Jeopardy! Round


Pop into Richards’ class and there’s likely to be motion, discussion and students engaged in math. To prepare for a test, Richards recently hosted a Jeopardy!-style game show, with students in groups of four who answered questions that ranged in difficulty to amass points.


“Scientific notation, c’mon!” Richards shouted, as they worked to come up with the right expressions.


“You can’t just sit with a textbook and grasp it,” she said. “They have to be able to experience math.”


Her annual scavenger hunt is another example: The hunt is based on using clues with coordinates on them to find the location of math problems.


“She interacts with us. It makes it easier to comprehend,” said eighth-grader Antonio Valenzuela.


“She’s fun. She teaches well and she makes us understand it and goes over it and over it until we get it,” said Stephane Garcia-Palacios.


Richards is also likely to be stopped in the hallway by a student with a math question, and she’s ready to walk them through it.


Principal Alston said students have a comfort level with Richards that helps them learn.


“On top of her love for math, she builds such good relationships with her students,” he said. “She does this by letting students know who she is as a person. She has a great sense of humor and she uses that to her advantage to reach her students on a more personal level. Her students love being in her classroom because they never know what to expect in there. They know that she will hold them responsible for their work, but that she will help them along in any way she can.”


Meanwhile, the Jeopardy! game proceeded, and students jotted down expressions and calculations as fast as possible, throwing up their answers on mini-whiteboards. Somehow, a question about rapper Jay-Z was thrown in. Points racked up and students showed they were ready for the next day’s big test. They knew they could do math.


And it’s a safe bet that if host Alex Trebek ever states: “This teacher was known as the best middle-school math teacher,” Kelloggsville students will answer “Who is Heather Richards?”


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

Gerald R. Ford International Airport opens Military Welcome Center

The Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GFIA) welcomes thousands of military members and veterans each year, and now there is a special place at the airport for them to call their own. GFIA and SpartanNash officials opened the Military Welcome Center today with a ribbon-cutting celebration and open house. The private space is located pre-security near the Concourse A exit, and is open for active military, veterans, and their families.


“We are proud to offer a quiet space dedicated for our military where they can relax, refresh, and find some comfort before traveling to wherever their next mission or duty station calls,” said GFIA President & CEO Jim Gill. “We are thankful to have a partner like SpartanNash that not only accommodates our military in numerous supporting roles, but a company that understands the need for this welcome center in West Michigan.”


As the leading distributor of grocery products to U.S. military commissaries, SpartanNash was a natural fit to present the space and continue its legacy of supporting current and veteran members of the Armed Forces. SpartanNash is a grocery retailer and food distributor headquartered in West Michigan, serving customers in Michigan and throughout the Midwest for more than 100 years.


SpartanNash is also a veteran-friendly employer, with nearly 800 veterans working for the company – in addition to many associates with military affiliation.


“At SpartanNash, we are deeply committed to serving our military heroes and their families, both at home and abroad,” said Dave Staples, SpartanNash President and Chief Executive Officer. “We are honored to present the Military Welcome Center, because it allows us to be a part of the journey of those who served and continue to serve.”


The Military Welcome Center is open to military members, veterans, and their families 24 hours a day. The center offers refreshments, charging stations, an airport arrival/departure monitor, and lounging spaces, as well as veteran profiles and programming offered by WGVU and PBS. There are also interactive maps and murals where military personnel and veterans can pinpoint where they have been stationed or deployed. The new space is part of the airport’s overall Gateway Transformation Project.

Wyoming Public Safety Department seeks assistance in identifying robbery suspect

Wyoming Department of Public Safety is asking for help to identify this suspect who allegedly robbed the Clyde Park Foods.

On Tuesday, Nov. 7, at approximately 9:25 p.m. the Wyoming Department of Public Safety responded to the report of a robbery at Clyde Park Foods, 4227 Clyde Park Ave. SW.  The employees reported that a male subject jumped the service counter and demanded money.  The suspect is described as a black male, late 20’s, 5’9” – 5’11” with a medium build. The suspect was wearing a black mask which only revealed his eyes, black winter style hat, white gloves, a dark colored Pea Coat type jacket, and dark colored pants. The handgun that was seen is described as a black full-frame semi-automatic. An undisclosed amount of money was taken in the robbery.


It was reported that the suspect left west bound from the building. A K-9 track was attempted with negative results. The photos that are attached are from store security cameras.  It should be noted that one photo (on the right) is from an outside surveillance camera and it washes out the color of the items described above.  What it does show is the exact style of coat that the suspect was wearing.  We are hoping that someone may recognize this coat.


Wyoming Public Safety personnel continue with their investigation and ask the public’s assistance for information that may lead to the identification of the suspect.  Anyone with information is asked to contact the Wyoming Department of Public Safety at 616-530-7300 or Silent Observer at 616-774-2345.

School News Network: Free admission for military families at the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum

Free visits for active-duty and veteran military families will be offered by the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum during its upcoming Military Weekend.


SpartanNash has partnered with the museum for this event in honor of Veterans Day. A military or veteran’s ID will be required for free admission. It is a privilege “to serve those who served,” said Meredith Gremel, SpartanNash spokesperson.

In one of the weekend activities, all children will be able to make cards to be delivered to the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.

Maggie Lancaster, GRCM executive director, said the museum is glad to be able to give back to the community, “especially to those who have dedicated themselves selflessly by serving in the military.”

The museum at 11 Sheldon Ave. NE  is open 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

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

Local partners hope career event connects former West Michiganders with career opportunities in region

On Nov. 22, The Right Place, Inc. and Hello West Michigan will partner to attract talent back to West Michigan. The two organizations, regional partners, and several local businesses will host the sixth annual ReThink West Michigan event, an evening gathering to attract former West Michiganders back to the region. The Thanksgiving Eve tradition has expanded for 2017 to a multilocation event.


With support from Pure Michigan Talent Connect and in collaboration with the West Michigan Economic Development Collaborative, the event is from 5:30 – 8  p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 22, at five West Michigan venues:


  • Eve at The B.O.B., 20 Monroe Ave. NW
  • Walldorff Brewpub & Bistro, 105 E. State St., Hastings
  • The Stearns Hotel, 212 E. Ludington Ave., Ludington
  • The Block, above Unruly Brewing, 360 Western Ave., Muskegon
  • Brew Merchant, 442 Washington Ave., Holland.


On a day when many former West Michigan students and professionals are back in the area for the Thanksgiving holiday, 31 area companies and several nonprofit organizations are coming together to convince them that it is time to “rethink” West Michigan.


Designed not as a traditional career fair, ReThink West Michigan provides a casual, professional environment to network and discover many of the great career possibilities and growing companies in the region.


“This event is truly unique because it is solely for former West Michigan residents that have moved away. We’re highlighting the things people want to know about when they think about relocating: career opportunities and lifestyle in West Michigan,” said Cindy Brown, Executive Director of Hello West Michigan.


“Through collaboration, we’re able to bring the ReThink event to Barry County,” said Travis Alden, President of the Barry County Chamber of Commerce & Economic Development Alliance, a member of the group collaborating to make the expansion of ReThink West Michigan possible. “We’re able to showcase regional employers that have openings all over West Michigan like Spectrum Health, as well as local employers headquartered in Barry County like Hastings City Bank and FlexFab.”


The event is free to attend, only requiring interested attendees to register online at: The last four annual events attracted over 550 professionals in total, resulting in over 53 hires.


“West Michigan companies are growing at an unprecedented rate,” said Tim Mroz, vice president, Marketing and Communications of The Right Place, Inc. “But their growth is limited by access to talent. We have hundreds of positions available, with a specific need in the areas of engineering and technology, and we would love to see former Michiganders come home to these jobs.”

Wyoming, Kentwood (barely) vote in favor of approved millage extension for The Rapid

Passengers board and exit one of The Rapid hybrid buses. (Supplied)

By K.D. Norris


Thanks to a large part to overwhelming support in the cities of Grand Rapids and East Grand Rapids, The Rapid transit system will continue to collect a property tax millage for 12 more years after the current one expires in 2018. Wyoming and Kentwood city voters also approved the millage request, but both by much closer margins.


Voters in Grandville also approved the millage request, but City of Walker voters turned it down.


The final numbers had the six-city total, according to the Kent County Clerk’s office, were 22,146 yes and 13,937 no. The City of Wyoming was 2,838 yes and 1,695 no. The City of Kentwood was 1,559 yes and 1,258 no. In contrast, Grand Rapids was 13,150 yes and 6,598 no; East Grand Rapids was 1,667 yes and 520 no; and Walker was 1,811 no and 1,581 yes.


“We are very pleased that voters have once again supported a vibrant public transit system in our region,” Michael Bulthuis, marketing & communications manager for The Rapid, said to WKTV Wednesday. “This renewal will allow us to maintain the outstanding service we provide to residents, businesses and visitors in the greater Grand Rapids area and continue to innovate to meet the needs of our community. It’s also a vote of confidence from taxpayers who clearly value a well-run, financially-responsible public transit system.”


The Rapid, which is directed by the Interurban Transit Partnership Board, will continue to collect a 1.47-mill tax until 2029. That millage is expected to total about $15 million in 2018. The millage will be used for operating service costs including labor (wages), fuel, tires, utilities, etc., essentially variable or day-to-day costs.


The tax revenue accounts for about one-third of The Rapid’s operational budget. Its other income includes Michigan Department of Transportation funds (about 33 percent), passenger fares (about 16 percent), contracts for service (about 14.5 percent) and other revenue (about 2 percent)


The millage will neither raise nor lower the current approved millage. The current millage of 1.47 mils is set to expire July 2018. The approved millage of 1.47 will run 2018-29. According to The Rapid, the cost to property tax payers will be $73.50 per year for a $100,000 home with a taxable value of $50,000.


For a more detailed story on the The Rapid, its millage renewal request, and its services, see a WKTV Journal story here.


Wyoming Public Schools now ready for future after gaining millage extension

Wyoming Public Schools, shown here in a photo supplied by the district. (Supplied)

By K.D. Norris


There as likely a sigh of relief, and finally an eye for the future, as Wyoming Public Schools district voters Tuesday approved what is essentially a $79.5 million school improvement plan by allowing the district to continue to collect the same level of millage into the future.


With 23 of 23 precincts reporting in the Nov. 7 general election, the vote was 2,377 yes and 1,075 no. The approved millage request comes after the district’s voters rejected millage increases in the spring and fall of 2013, each of which would have raised about $50 million. The last significant bond passage was in 1997, for about $41 million.


On Wednesday, district Superintendent Dr. Thomas Reeder told WKTV why this millage request was different from previous ones, and what the district’s move to modernize itself will mean to students.


“This request was significant in two ways,” Reeder said. “First, it involved no increase in the current tax levy, but extends it.


“What this will mean for students in elementary school is they will be able to see the final renovations of the high school as they complete their schooling, or before,” he added. But “current students in elementary will not see any changes at (their) elementary (schools) as this will be a 7-8 year work in progress to significantly redo all our buildings and grounds.”


The millage would pay for bonds which would be used to upgrade every district buildings, and improve safety, security and transportation systems. But the majority of the funds, about $40 million, will be spent on the high school’s two-phase makeover, including a 30-classroom addition to allow the movement of freshmen students back to the high school, as well as other building and athletic facility upgrades.


For more details on what the Wyoming Public Schools district plans to do with the approved millage, see a previous WKTV story here.


Kepley wins bid for re-election, Bridson takes 1st Ward City Commission seat

Mayor Stephen Kepley talks to supporters at Paris Cafe & Desserts, his headquarters for election night.


By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma


“I am a man who likes to cross the t’s and dot the i’s,” said Kentwood Mayor Stephen Kepley as he watched the poll numbers roll in from the 2017 election results at his evening campaign headquaters at Kentwood’s Paris Cafe & Desserts.


By 8:30 p.m., Kepley had a secure lead of 3 to 1 to his challenger Scott Urbanowski. It was a lead that Kepley never relinquished with him winning his bid for a second term with 2,116 votes to Urbanowski’s 696.


“I am really excited about the next four years,”Kepley said. “I truly love serving the citizens. I love the city, the residents and the neighbors.”


Kepley said he believes it is a team effort of the city managers and department heads who have made the positive decisions to push the city forward and he is excited about seeing the “positive changes we can make in Kentwood” over the next four years.


“Ultimately, I did not convince enough people that Kentwood needed change in the Mayor’s Office and that I was in the best position to make that change,” Urbanowski said in a released statement. “Nevertheless, I’m grateful to everyone who voted, volunteered, or donated in support of this young person with no elected experience or establishment support.


“I am glad that I was able to spark conversations about issues that matter; to help boost interest in local government; and to get to know Kentwood and its people even better.”


1st Ward City Commission Candidate Emily Bridson takes photos with supporters.

Challenger Emily Bridson had to wait a little longer before celebrating her victory last night. Bridson held a 2-to-1 lead over incumbent Gerald DeMaagd for most of the night with her winning the 1st Ward City Commission seat with 890 votes to DeMaagd’s 451.


“I am really excited about this opportunity,” Bridson said from her campaign celebration at Peppino’s South. “I have met so many people and made a lot of new friends. I have a greater understanding of a lot of priorities from what they love about our city and what they would like to see changed. I am going to work on a strategic plan to address those changes.”


Bridson said she is very honored to have gone through this process. “I want to thank Jerry for his service,” Bridson said. “I am excited and looking forward to to working with Mayor Kepley and the commission.”


In statement released this  morning, incumbent DeMaagd said:


“Emily Bridson has won the Kentwood 1st Ward City Commission seat by substantial margins. She conducted a textbook campaign, and executed well. She is smart, capable, and deserves the win based on her efforts.


“I think there is a further story here though, given the level of outside influence on both the mayoral and commission races which are officially non-partisan. The pre-election campaign reports filed with Kent County show that 53 of Bridson’s contributors were from other cities outside Kentwood, and only 5 from Kentwood (plus herself).  Post-election campaign reports aren’t due until Dec. 7. Allegedly she was endorsed by the UAW (United Auto Workers), although she did not advertise it. On the other hand, the mayoral candidate, Scott Urbanowski’s campaign literature does state that he was ‘ENDORSED by the Kent County Democratic Party’.


“Although these actions are  perfectly legal, it does show the amount of outside interest in what is essentially a local race.


“As a candidate, I received several calls from voters about my position relative to national issues. They say all politics is local… but I think that for Kentwood it’s actually the reverse: All local politics is now national!

Adoptable pets of the week: Herrin, Chessy, Esmeralda & Diamond

Meet handsome Herrin!

By Brooke Hotchkiss, 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.


Herrin — Male Boxer/Bulldog Mix

I am a friendly and playful 1-year-old dog! I would do best in a home with no other pets or small children. I would do well with a family that has the time to play with me, take me for walks, and work on basic training. I’m a happy guy with a lot of love to give, if I sound like the right fit for you please come meet me at Humane Society of West Michigan!


More about Herrin:

  • Animal ID: 36092394
  • Breed: Boxer/Bulldog
  • Age: 1 year
  • Gender: Male
  • Size: Medium
  • Color: White
  • Neutered
Regal Chessy likes things on her own terms

Chessy — Female Domestic Short Hair Mix

I am a 5-year-old cat looking for my forever home! I need to be placed in a home with no dogs and no small children. I am social and playful, however, I am not very tolerant of being picked up or petted. I need an environment where I can approach people on my own terms and in my own time and have a space to hide when I need to be alone. I do enjoy playing with people, especially with wand toys once I have warmed up. Please come meet me at Humane Society of West Michigan!


More about Chessy:

  • Animal ID: 31798714
  • Breed: Domestic Shorthair/Mix
  • Age: 5 years
  • Gender: Female
  • Size: Small
  • Color: Grey
  • Spayed
  • Not declawed
A gorgeous girl sitting pretty — that’s Esmeralda!

Esmeralda — Female Pit Bull mix

I am a loving and laid-back, 2-year-old dog! I’m very sweet and social, and I love people. I would do best with respectful older children. I love going for walks and walk well on a leash. I’m a happy girl with a lot of love to give. If I sound like the right fit for you, please come meet me at Humane Society of West Michigan!


More about Esmeralda:

  • Animal ID: 36916972
  • Breed: Terrier, American Pit Bull/Mix
  • Age: 2 years
  • Gender: Female
  • Size: Large
  • Color: Grey/White
  • Spayed


Sweet, shy Diamond needs a home where she can shine!

Diamond — Female Domestic Short Hair

I am a 4-year-old cat looking for my forever home! I can be shy at first, but I’m also very sweet and enjoy the company of people. 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. Please come meet me at Humane Society of West Michigan!


More about Diamond:

  • Animal ID: 36365449
  • Breed: Domestic Shorthair/Mix
  • Age: 4 years
  • Gender: Female
  • Size: Small
  • Color: White/Brown
  • Spayed
  • Not declawed

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 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 or call 1-866-375-7387 (PETS).

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