Category Archives: 3-bottom

Metro Health – University of Michigan Health expands stroke program

Metro Health – University of Michigan Health announces significant new clinical capability to provide comprehensive care for patients suffering from stroke with the hiring of three experienced, highly-trained specialty physicians.


Chief Medical Officer Peter Hahn, M.D., MBA, said expansion of the stroke physician team is evidence that “Metro is strengthening its comprehensive stroke care for the community and serving as a specialty referral center for the region.”


The new Stroke Center physicians include:


Augusto Elias, MD, the director of Neurointerventional Radiology, is fellowship trained in neuroradiology and neurointerventional radiology at the University of Michigan Medical Center, and is board certified in radiology and neuroradiology. He completed his residency in diagnostic radiology at the University of Michigan Medical Center.


Jeffrey Fletcher, MD, the director of Neurocritical Care, is fellowship trained in Critical Care Medicine at the University of Virginia. Board certified in neurology and vascular neurology, he completed his residency in neurology at the University of Texas Health Science Center.


Ravi Shastri, MD, is fellowship trained in neuroradiology and neurointerventional radiology at the University of Michigan Medical Center, and is board certified in radiology and neuroradiology. He completed his residency in radiology at the University of Arizona Medical Center.


These physicians join an established neurology team consisting of Kipp Chillag, DO, and Jordan Taylor, DO.


Any patient who presents with stroke symptoms is met by a team comprised of emergency physicians and staff, neurocritical care, neurologists, neurointerventional radiology, and neurosurgeons to assess and meet all needs.


Recently, Metro Health treated a patient who was found on the floor of their bathroom on a Saturday morning, unable to move, and showing signs of a stroke. Dr. Augusto Elias performed a minimally invasive catheterization and mechanical thrombectomy to remove a blood clot from the brain. Two days later, the patient was able to walk out of the hospital. Following outpatient occupational and speech therapy at Metro Health, the patient was cleared to drive and return to work within two months.


“A stroke is a ‘brain attack’. Two million brain neurons die every minute during a stroke,” said Dr. Augusto Elias. “As part of our comprehensive care, we collaborate with primary care physicians to educate the West Michigan area about having a sensible diet, controlling blood pressure and having a low glucose intake, so we can prevent these devastating diseases from happening.”


According to the National Stroke Association, more than 800,000 people suffer a stroke each year in America, and 80 percent of strokes are preventable. The American Heart Association recently announced new guidelines that a blood pressure of 130/80 is characterized as “stage one hypertension.”


Physicians in Metro Health’s neurology team support primary care physicians by meeting with patients showing neurological symptoms and conducting neural imaging to diagnose, and then working closely with the patient and doctor on a treatment plan.


Michael Faas, President and CEO, Metro Health – University of Michigan Health, said the expansion in neurology builds upon an already strong program which received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines®


Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award with Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite Award.


Get With The Guidelines® sets specific quality measures to ensure hospital teams follow the most up-to-date, evidence-based  guidelines with the goal of speeding recovery and reducing death and disability for stroke patients. To receive these awards, Metro Health – University of Michigan Health had to provide patient care at or above certain achievement indicators for 24 consecutive months.


Faas added, “The growth in our comprehensive stoke program, which includes new technology and specialty physicians to supplement our staff of neurologists, neurosurgeons and rehabilitation specialists, is just another example of the benefits of our affiliation with University of Michigan Health. Our physicians are committed to providing comprehensive stroke care covering all areas including prevention, acute care and rehab.”

Frontier Airlines officially returns to Grand Rapids

Frontier Airlines has landed in Grand Rapids (GRR), as the first flight from sunny Orlando (MCO) came in to the snowy Gerald R. Ford International Airport with a celebratory welcome and press conference.


Frontier, headquartered in Denver, is serving the Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GFIA) with four weekly nonstop flights to Orlando International Airport (MCO) on an Airbus A320 family aircraft. The airline is also making three weekly nonstop trips to Fort Myers, Florida (RSW) which began on Sunday, and four weekly nonstop flights to Denver (DEN) beginning April 8, 2018.


“We are thrilled to welcome Frontier in the Grand Rapids market,” said GFIA President & CEO Jim Gill. “Having another low cost carrier option to stimulate competition and offer even more nonstop service is a welcome addition for our air service portfolio and our growing community.”


Orlando is the number one market for nonstop service out of Grand Rapids with an average of almost 200 passengers per day each way. Denver is a top-five market for GFIA.


“Today we celebrate a more affordable way to travel from Grand Rapids to both Orlando and Fort Myers this winter. With fares as low as $39 it’s the perfect time to escape the winter chill,” said Richard Oliver, Spokesman for Frontier Airlines. “We’re offering not only amazing low fares but a reliable and friendly service that allows customers to customize their travel experience to their needs and their budget. This empowers more people than ever before to fly. This is what our Low Fares Done Right Philosophy is all about.”


Booking is available on Frontier’s website,


“Our community has been receptive and supportive of each airline and new route we have added to our map, and we have no doubt that they will do the same with Frontier entering our market,” said GFIA Board Chairman Roger Morgan. “We are excited to offer even more competitive choices for our passengers, and continued growth in our airport.”


Frontier previously served Grand Rapids from 2010 through 2013.

City of Wyoming lifts precautionary boil water advisory for affected areas



UPDATE: The precautionary boil water advisory for affected areas near Burlingame & 44th has been lifted. Residents are free to use their water as normal.


By City of Wyoming


Due to a drop in pressure in the City of Wyoming water supply, bacterial contamination may have occurred in the water system. Bacteria are generally not harmful and are common throughout our environment. Corrective measures are currently being undertaken to correct the situation.

What should I do?

DO NOT DRINK THE WATER WITHOUT BOILING IT FIRST. Bring all water to a boil, let it boil for one minute, and let it cool before using, or use bottled water. Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and preparing food. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Continue using boiled or bottled water until further notice.

What happened? What is being done?

These precautionary actions are being taken due to the loss of water pressure in the water distribution system caused by a water main break on December 12, 2017. Whenever a water system loses pressure for any significant length of time, precautionary measures are recommended. When a pressure loss occurs, water from inside a building may backflow into the water supply system.

Working in the trenches to restore water pressure

The City is working to get pressure restored, and water staff will be taking other remedial actions such as flushing and collecting bacteriological samples from around the system. The samples will be collected to determine that the water quality meets the state drinking water standards. We will inform you when tests show no bacteria and you no longer need to boil your water. If all goes well, water pressure should be restored by the end of the day today. Bacteriological test results should be available by the end of the day tomorrow. When water is restored, please remove your aerators and flush your water outlets for a minimum of 5 minutes.

This boil water notice shall remain in effect until results from the sampling verify the water is safe to drink. Customers will be advised when the boil water advisory has been lifted.

For more information, please contact Jaime Fleming, Laboratory Manager with the City of Wyoming at 616.261.3572. Please communicate as necessary with other people who may drink this water

Adoptable cat of the week: Nessarose


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).

On October 27th, 2016, we got a call at the clinic from a Meals On Wheels worker who was out and about and came across this hungry, flea-ridden little lady who was hungry for human contact even more than she was craving food. A kindhearted volunteer scooped her up and took her home, offered her some tasty treats and then tried to figure out what exactly to do with her. The cat appeared to have an injured rear leg and her paws looked odd, so the volunteer thought it best to seek help from Dr. Jen.

Although we really didn’t have any extra room at our facility, turning away a cat in need of medical care just isn’t anything Dr. Jen is comfortable with, so she said to bring the kitty on in. Thankfully, the injury sustained to kitty’s left rear leg was minor, and the pododermatitis (or ‘pillow foot’ as it is commonly called) affecting all four foot/toe pads is easily treatable if actively inflamed or painful. Since her tootsies weren’t bothering her, the condition was noted and would be monitored.

Dr. Jen set about treating the kitty for fleas and a mild case of flea allergy dermatitis, spayed the 2-1/2 year old (born in the spring of 2015) and got her program-ready.

Once at Crash’s, Nessarose immediately took to the volunteers. In the words of our cat care director: “What a doll! Nessarose just can’t get close enough to people. Whenever you pick her up, she snuggles up and burrows to the point of almost crawling inside of your clothing — and never wants to be put down. She loves everything about shelter life, especially the never-ending supply of volunteers to cuddle with her. She also makes feline friends eagerly. She really doesn’t need to go into a home with other cats though — as long as there are plenty of people to give her attention — but since she thrives on physical contact, another kitty to claim as her BFF would be fabulous”.

You really couldn’t find yourself a nicer cat than Nessarose, so seriously consider doing something wickedly wonderful by welcoming this darling, delightful girl into your heart and home!

More about Nessarose

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.

School News Network: Profiting from Basic Math

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By Erin Albanese

School News Network


Though some may think it’s crummy, 10th-graders Madalyn Austin and Rebekah Hoyle said The Snacky Sleeper is the perfect lazy-evening, popcorn-munching luxury: a “comfortable, supportive memory foam pillow” with a pouch for snacks.


“The Snacky Sleeper keeps your snacks in great, undamaged condition,” said Madalyn as the duo delivered a slideshow presentation including different views of the product they developed.


“Our pillow is easy to use, it saves time. It’s not only good for kids and teenagers, but it’s also helpful and comfortable, and it’s safe for sleeping,” Rebekah said.


But did their product really have teeth? That would be up to the Sharks to decide. The


Sharks, a panel of Godwin Heights High School educators who took on the persona of business-savvy millionaires, evaluated the pillow, circling in closely on math the students used to estimate potential profit.


They did the same for products like Toasty Toes, a battery operated toe warmer; The Boomer, a Bluetooth-enhanced cell-phone case; PakTele, a backpack-phone combination that works to contact 911 in an emergency; and the Diskinizer, a video-game organizer that uses a robotic arm.


adalyn Austin, left, and Rebekah Hoyle ponder the offers made for their Snacky Sleeper business

Let’s Talk Numbers

Students used math to develop their pitches to the Sharks, seated in front of them in the style of TV show “Shark Tank.”


Algebra 2 teacher James Rex started the game last year to provide students a lesson in business, while learning the math involved in bringing a product to market. Students developed the products, brainstormed materials, researched all costs and came up with estimates.


“Sometimes they come up with things that are super-creative, and sometimes they come up with things that are super-unrealistic,” Rex said. “You want to encourage that creative element of it and give them the freedom to explore their ideas and think through it, but also to ground them in the math and the feasibility of some of those things.”


During presentations, Rex based his offers on the math. “I feel like I trick them into talking about their numbers,” he said. “That’s where I get the bang for my buck in terms of their learning. They are up there talking about math in a high-pressure situation. I try to keep it light, relaxed and fun for them.”


Snacky Sleeper: Sink or Swim?

Showing their work through algebraic equations and graphs, Madalyn and Rebecca calculated each Snacky Sleeper would cost $15 to produce; monthly rent for manufacturing space would cost $30,000; and monthly wages for employees at $10 per hour for a 40-hour week would cost $16,000. By selling each pillow at $25 they would profit $10 per pillow.


“When we break even it will be at 5,500 pillows sold (per month),” Rebekah said.


Their request for the Sharks: $60,000 in investment for 40 percent of the company.


While Principal Chad Conklin said he has an aversion to food in his bed and would not invest for that reason, Rex took a bite at the offer, though he questioned if the company could sell enough pillows to make a profit.


“I see potential. I see this as being something millennials would use,” he said. “My offer is $80,000 for 50 percent of the company.”


Math coach Molly Mosketti also made an offer: $60,000 for 45 percent of the company. “I’m thinking this might be a covert way for parents to enjoy a snack,” she said.


Students said the project allowed them to learn how to do calculations in a fun way and have a real-life experience in pitching a product.


“I liked debating with the sharks,” said Jalisa Lopez-Longoria, who helped pitch PakTele. “I like how we got to pick our product and find our own numbers to figure out the prices we want to use.”


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

From left, math teacher Patti Reeder, science teacher Grace Boersma, science teacher Derek Stoneman and math coach Molly Mosketti mull over students’ investment proposals

WKTV Journal: Kelloggsville and KDL form a partnership, Mark Wood visits Kentwood Public Schools


In the recent WKTV Journal newscast, we talk to officials from Kelloggsville Public School and the Kent District Library about the new collaborative project to make the Kelloggsville High School library open to everyone in the community. We also visit the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park for a look at its 23rd annual Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the Word exhibition. Lastly, renowned musician and original member of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra Mark Woods visits Kentwood Public Schools for a concert that was electrifying and had everyone dancing, especially the musicians.

Kent District Library kicks off library card challenge with Godwin Heights

Kent District Library announced the launch of the Library Card Challenge, giving 2,000 students at Godwin Heights Public Schools their very own library card.


The first program of its kind in Kent County, the Library Card Challenge will incorporate the library’s resources into every student’s learning experience. Library card-holding students will receive access to Kent District Library’s online research databases, materials from all 18 branches as well as computer and Internet access.


Teachers will be able to participate in the library’s education-based programming to enhance learning in the classroom, such as Leap into Reading, Lit Lunch and Storytime. Additionally, when school isn’t in session, students can still participate in KDL’s many summer offerings, including its popular summer reading program.


“Godwin Heights has been a wonderful partner as we launch the Library Card Challenge program,” said Lance Werner, Kent District Library executive director. “Our mutual goal of advancing literacy and lifelong learning has inspired us to join this national movement with a local collaboration.


“Our goal is to make sure that every public school student, from kindergarteners to high school seniors, in our county has a library card – and with it, the keys to unlock learning.”


The Library Card Challenge is part of a national effort to ensure every child enrolled in school has access to the valuable learning resources available at public libraries. Launched in 2015, the Library Card Challenge includes more than 100 communities nationwide dedicated to improving education outcomes, close achievement gaps and create a framework for an integrated approach to education.


“Providing our school community access to a full range of KDL educational databases and resources enhances our ability to meet 21st century learning goals,” said William Fetterhoff, Godwin Heights Public Schools superintendent. “The Godwin Heights teaching community will have access to high-quality resources to plan and deliver engaging lessons which will enable our students to extend and deepen their knowledge of content through exposure to non-fiction/informational material.


“The end goal culminates in allowing today’s student to be a successful, self-directed problem solver, better prepared for career and college readiness.”


Encouraging early childhood literacy has long been an objective of Kent District Library. In Kent County, third grade literacy rates remain low with, only 48.6 percent of students reading at the proficient level, according to KConnect, a network of organizations focused on ensuring all children in Kent County have a clear path to economic prosperity.


“Our community takes responsibility for ensuring our students have the skills they need to succeed in life,” said City of Wyoming Mayor Jack Poll. “The Library Card Challenge is an excellent way to provide open access of information to all students in our community.


“We are appreciative of our partnership with KDL and its commitment to the Wyoming community. As a municipality, we are continuously looking for ways to collaborate with our partners to enhance services and opportunities for our residents.”


Kent District Library is committed to increasing library card holders and granting access to valuable learning resources to every child. This first-of-its-kind partnership in Kent County highlights the local network of committed leaders and educators working to make library resources accessible for all.


KDL hopes to roll out the Library Card Challenge to the more than 120,000 students in Kent County over the upcoming years.


“This is a big undertaking, but we are ready for the challenge,” Werner said. “Literacy starts at the library, and we’re proud to be with students and families as children take the first exciting steps into a lifelong love of reading and learning.


“We have a wonderful community in Kent County and want to ensure that each student has the tools he or she needs to excel.”

Snowflake Break returns to the Grand Rapids Public Museum

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The Grand Rapids Public Museum is once again hosting family-friendly fun over this year’s holiday break! From Dec. 23 through Jan. 7, the GRPM will celebrate Snowflake Break with additional hands on activities, all included with admission.


Offerings will include a variety of family friendly programs and activities themed around history, science and culture, and the exhibits “Dragon, Unicorns & Mermaids and Brain: The World Inside Your Head.” Visitors can make their own take home crafts including: unique paper snowflakes, punched tin crafts and ornaments. Snowflake Break crafts will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays.


New for 2017, a feature during the holidays at the GRPM is LEGOs! See historic Grand Rapids like never before, all built from LEGOs. The 1925-era display, complete with operating trams showcases what Grand Rapids looked like during the early 20th century, including a section of the Grand River, the Morton Hotel, and the Grand Rapids Community Foundation building – the former ice house for Anheuser Busch.


Visitors to the Museum will be able to view this special holiday LEGO recreation now through January 26, 2018. It is on display in the Streets of Old Grand Rapids and included with general admission. “Built by the West Michigan Lego Train Club.”


In addition to the free with admission activities, the GRPM is hosting a holiday themed planetarium show “Let it Snow,” with additional shows daily during Snowflake Break. Visitors are also invited to go on a Santa & Elf Hunt, to find 15 historic Santas from around the World in the “Streets of Old Grand Rapids” exhibit, and 12 elves hidden throughout the 3 floors of the Museum. The Santa & Elf Hunt is included with general admission.


Join the Museum for late nights to see “Dragons, Unicorns & Mermaids” until 8 p.m. on Dec. 26, 28, 29, and Jan. 2. The GRPM will be closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.


Santa finds a new ride at the Grand Rapids Public Museum

Dragons, Unicorns & Mermaids


Explore the various mythical creatures of the world. Dragons, Unicorns & Mermaids features models and replicas of preserved specimens as well as cast fossils of prehistoric animals to investigate how they could have, through misidentification, speculation, fear, or imagination, inspired the development of some legendary creatures.


“Dragons, Unicorns & Mermaids” offers many interactive stations throughout the exhibition, including building your dragon in a virtual environment. Touch casts of a narwhal tusk to discover how they lent credence to the centuries-old belief in the unicorn. Hands-on stations include the lower jaw of Gigantopithecus (extinct group of apes) and a life-size reproduction of the talon of a Haast’s eagle.  


The exhibition includes imaginative models, paintings, and textiles, along with other cultural objects from around the world. The exhibit will bring to light surprising similarities and differences in the ways people around the world have been inspired by nature to envision and depict these strange and wonderful creatures.


Admission to “Dragons, Unicorns & Mermaids” is $12 for adults, $7 for children, $9 for Kent County resident adults, $4 for Kent County resident children, and $2 for all Museum members! Tickets include general admission to the Museum, and can be purchased online at


“Dragons, Unicorns & Mermaids” is organized by the American Museum of Natural History, New York (, in collaboration with the Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney; Canadian Museum of History, Gatineau-Quebec; Fernbank Museum of Natural History, Atlanta; and The Field Museum, Chicago.


The Grand Rapids Public Museum’s Streets of Old Grand Rapids are decked out for the holidays.

Brain: The World Inside Your Head


“Brain” literally takes you inside the head to probe the geography of a giant brain and stand in the midst of the brain’s constant electrical brainstorm as thoughts and sensations are generated.


Upon entry into the exhibit, walk through a shimmering tunnel of flashing fiber-optics that illuminates networks of neurons firing and communicating. From this dynamic beginning, “Brain” invites guests deeper into the brain to discover its basic workings. Trace this brain’s development from infancy through old age, learn the evolution of scientists’ understanding of the brain’s physiology and study the re-created skull of Phineas Gage — a man who survived after his brain was pierced by a metal rod.


Admission to “Brain: The World Inside Your Head” will be free with general admission. “Brain”is open now through Jan. 7, 2018.

Holiday gifts On Tap: 5 years in Rockford, 20 Founders pours, and all-lll that swag

Holiday lights and a mug of beer. Who could ask for anything more? (Stock Photo)

By K.D. Norris 


’ Tis the season, for brewery swag gifts for that special boy (or girl), and beer.


Rockford Brewing Company today begins five days of holiday fun — translate that as being beer and music — to celebrate five years of business, during which visitors can partake in limited release brews, free live music from local artists, and discounts on brewpub swag.


“We’ve had many triumphs and also learned many lessons the last five years,” Seth Rivard, co-owner of Rockford Brewing Company, said in supplied material. “We wanted to extend our anniversary celebration from one day to one week this year so we can thank everyone who has supported us.”


Today, Tuesday, Dec. 12, the party begins with 50 percent off pints all day and free live music from An Dro at 7 p.m. On Wednesday, Dec. 13, there will be 55.5 percent off howler and growler fills, and free live music from Patrick Nolan at 7 p.m.; Thursday, Dec. 14, there will be 23 percent off total bill and free live music from Eric Engblade at 7:30 p.m.; on Friday, Dec.15, there will be 50 percent off gift cards with any purchase and free live music from Roosevelt Diggs 8:30 p.m.; and finally on Saturday, Dec. 15, there will be 50 percent off merchandise and free live music from Hazy Past at 8:30 p.m.


Rockford Brewing Company will also be releasing two specialty brews: Shanty Warmer, a Russian Imperial Stout, and Complete Nutter Madness, a coffee, peanut butter and vanilla Imperial Porter.


Rockford Brewing Company has many reasons to celebrate this year, according to supplied information. Along with opening a kitchen last fall, bottling and distributing 6-packs for the first time, it won local awards from Revue Magazine and Best Wings in Grand Rapids by Mlive. On a national level, they were awarded Best Small Brewpub and Best Small Brewpub Brewer, along with a silver medal for their Sheehan’s Irish Stout and a bronze medal for their Rogue River Brown.


For more information visit .


Gravity helps Founders celebrate 20 years with 20 pours


On Wednesday, Dec. 13, Gravity Taphouse and Grill will take part in Founders Brewing Company’s 20th anniversary celebration by offering 20 Founders beers either on tap or in bottle — and offering a free anniversary growler with most of the brewery’s pours.


There will be special brews available all day, including Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS), both 2016 and 2017, and its Canadian Breakfast Stout (CBS) will be tapped at 6 p.m. Alas, those three are not available in growler; but then most of us could not handle a growler of the magical stuff.


For more information visit or founders .



School News Network: Latino Club members celebrate culture, share concerns about future

By Erin Albanese

School News Network


Club members march in the Kelloggsville Community Pride parade. (Photos by School News Network)

For Hispanic students at Kelloggsville High School in the new Latino Student Union, there are many ways to relate to each other. They enjoy shared traditions and values: “tamales, Dia De Los Muertos, big families, music, dancing,” lists sophomore Joshua Casas. “Our parents are very hard working,” said junior Andrea Paniagua. And they teach manners, she said. “Manners are huge.”


The students also talk gravely about serious issues affecting their community, like friends who are Dreamers under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, rescinded by the Trump administration in September, and who now face an uncertain future. They also talk about fear in their community concerning threats of deportation.


Junior Karina Villagomez paints a sugar skull on junior Jackie Garnica’s face for Dia de los Muertos

About 35 percent of students at Kelloggsville High School are Hispanic, and many are first- and second-generation U.S. residents, coming from Mexico and other Central American countries. Andrea Paniagua, last year, wanted to restart the Latino Student Union, which hadn’t existed for several years, as a way to celebrate culture and share it with all students. The club is open to everyone.


“I wanted to have fun and I wasn’t involved in anything else,” said Andrea, who immigrated to the U.S with her family from Mexico. “A lot of us weren’t involved in anything, so we all agreed to put this together. We also wanted to show others about our culture.”


It was last fall and she noticed anti-immigrant sentiment heating up before the U.S. presidential election. She decided, “We are still going to start a club.”


From left, senior Alex Aguilar, junior Cindy Esparza and junior Andrea Paniagua dance the Caballo Dorado

Embracing Their Culture


Now about 20 students meet weekly to plan events and activities like selling Mexican candy, painting sugar skulls for Dia De Los Muertos, and hosting a fiesta with ethnic food. They are planning to take part in the annual Cesar Chavez Parade in March in Grand Rapids, and plan to host a dance.


The Latino Student Union started a trend. Since it began, students have started other clubs including the Asian American Club, fitness clubs and a gay-straight alliance.


“I like letting everyone know that it’s OK to embrace your culture and be proud of who you are,” Joshua Casas said.


Andrea approached Spanish teacher Diana Berlanga, who is also Mexican, about being the club’s adviser.


“I thought about the reason I became a teacher,” Berlanga said. “I love teaching Spanish but I also want to help out the Hispanic community, so I said this could be a great way to connect with students to motivate them to go to college and complete high school. For a lot of these students, what I’ve noticed is their parents didn’t graduate high school or even attend middle school, so education (for their children) is very important.”


A Godwin High School graduate, she told club members, “If I made it, then you guys can make it too.”


Parents’ Expectations High


Students said coming together regularly is motivating, and has helped them build friendships. In terms of academics, Joshua said the club gives him confidence and a group of people in similar situations to turn to.


They also hope to breakdown stereotypes. Andrea, who still visits Michauna, Mexico, almost every year, said she and her Hispanic peers are all different, but share common life experiences. They describe their parents as strict and insistent that they do well in school and go to college. “They expect us to go to school. That is not something they play around with,” Andrea said.


Their parents are also focused on being successful in the U.S., she added.
“I’ve never in my life seen a Mexican asking for money. That’s our last option. My dad came here with nothing and we have a house and a car. He gives us everything.”


In preparation for the dance they are planning, club members discussed the music and dances. They lined up to show off the Caballo Dorado, a lively cowboy dance — just one example of their celebration of culture.


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

Latino Student Union members discuss plans for a dance they are hosting

Citizen group opposed to voting district gerrymandering on latest WKTV Journal: In Focus



WKTV Staff


In Michigan politics two almost conflicting aspects of our election system are coming into conflict as the current politically directed voting redistricting system — often called gerrymandering — is being opposed by a group seeking to place a ballot initiative before the voters in 2018 which would change the system.


On the latest episode of WKTV Journal: In Focus, a public affairs talk program hosted by Ken Norris, he speaks to the leader of the ballot initiative group Voters Not Politicians.


Katie Fahey, president and treasurer of Voters Not Politicians, a non-partisan ballot committee seeking to put before voters in 2018 a proposal to end gerrymandering in Michigan, talks about the state’s current system of drawing election district maps, and how and why the plan Voters Not Politicians is advocating for would change the redistricting system.


Network 180’s director of network services Ross Buitendorp talks with program host Ken Norris. (WKTV)

Also on the latest WKTV Journal: In Focus, a new county Mental Health Court program — involving law enforcement, courts and the county’s pubic mental health and substance use disorder services provider,  Network 180 — aims to change the system for the betterment of all. So also on the latest WKTV Journal: In Focus, Network 180’s director of network services Ross Buitendorp talks about the effort.


The episode will continue airing Tuesday, Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m., and will again air on Thursday at the same time on WKTV channels but all interviews included in episodes of WKTV Journal: In Focus are also available on YouTube at WKTVVideos.


For the video of Network 180’s Ross Buitendorp at WKTV visit here.


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


City, state leaders clash (politely) at Chamber’s December WKTV Government Matters discussion

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

By K.D. Norris


One of the unique aspects of the Wyoming-Kentwood Chamber of Commerce’s monthly Government Matters meetings is that you sometimes get differing views on the same issue — for instance, local city and state leaders in a debate on the current difficulties for local governments dealing with inequities in state revenue sharing.


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, Dec. 11, meeting at Kentwood City Hall, City of Kentwood Mayor Stephen Kepley and City of Wyoming City Manager Curtis Holt offered their assessment of state government actions when it comes to an abundance of regulations and a lack of consistency and clarity when it came to historic and current state revenue-sharing.


“There was a promise made on state revenue-sharing … (now) we can’t count on that,” Holt said at one point. “We used to have a partner in the state” government.


Among the other multi-level government discussions topics at the meeting — and available on the WKTV video — were the status of federal tax reform, the impeding Kent County action to hire a new top administrator, and economic development Wyoming’s 28th Street areas, including the old Klingman’s building.


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 Jan. 8, 2018 at Wyoming 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.


Caring for the Caregiver During the Holidays


By Regina Salmi, Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan


Given that almost 20% of the population in the United States is aged 60+ and that more than 5 million people in the United States live with some form of dementia, it is likely that we have at least one person in our family who is a caregiver. We may not recognize them as being a caregiver — we might look at it as mom taking care of dad, or the sister who drives mom and dad places since she lives nearby.


As the holiday season comes into full swing, the caregiving role can take on added stress. Reaching out to caregivers and helping them plan for holiday festivities can go a long way toward helping the caregiver and their loved ones enjoy the holidays alongside family and friends.


We can begin by helping to choose holiday activities. As invitations arrive, it can be challenging for a caregiver to decide what to accept and what to decline. An evening out with old friends might be something the caregiver would like to do, but might be difficult for their loved one to attend. A family gathering might require a long trip and an overnight stay. Having family in for the weekend might be overwhelming for caregiver and loved one, alike. Some people might decide the amount of planning required is too much and decide to just stay home.


Social isolation is an unfortunate reality for many caregivers and their loved ones. It doesn’t have to be this way though. Julie Alicki, Certified Advanced Dementia Practitioner, agrees.


“Particularly in people with dementia, the tendency is to want to isolate, but being included in gatherings is beautiful,” Alicki said. “It allows them the opportunity to be social and this is important.”


Planning is key in helping caregivers approach the holiday season. Sitting down with a caregiver and mapping out the holidays can help us plan in advance for how we’re going to manage the holidays. Sarah Sobel, LMSW, AAAWM Caregiver Services & Contract Administrator has a suggestion.


“Decide what invitations the caregiver would like to accept and, of those, which events the loved one would like to attend and start from there,” she said.


Knowing in advance what events will be attended helps with the next phase, which is to make plans for each event — a Plan A, Plan B and even a C just in case. This will help determine what resources and assistance will need to be put in place ahead of time, so the person in the caregiving role does not feel that they’ve been left in a lurch.


For example, if there is a large family gathering, a person with dementia may require a quiet place to go when things become loud or chaotic. Arranging this in advance will help the caregiver be able to relax and enjoy, knowing there is a plan in place.


Alicki said, “When getting together as a family, if there are big, important things planned to take place, like gift opening, move those to the beginning of the gathering so both the caregiver and loved one can participate, and they can leave when necessary without missing out.”


Caregivers often put their needs second, third or last to other people in their life. Offering the caregiver some relief would make a tremendous gift for the holidays.


“Caregiving is stressful and the holidays can add to that stress. It is important for caregivers to do self-care,” Sobel said.


How can friends and family help with this? Having a friend or family member stay with a loved one for a weekend would offer the caregiver the freedom to get away for some rest and time for themselves or stepping in for a day so the caregiver can take in a concert or do some shopping. Arranging for professional in-home care can also provide some relief for a caregiver.


“This also clues the rest of the family in on what the caregiver is going through — it keeps them in the loop,” said Alicki.


Try to make the holidays guilt-free for caregivers.


“Caregiving for someone every day can be so unpredictable. It’s important that plans are flexible,” Sobel said.


If a caregiver needs to leave a gathering early, let them know how happy you are that you got to spend time with them rather than how disappointed you are that they have to leave. If traveling is too much, consider changing the location of a gathering to accommodate them. If a plan needs to be cancelled, be understanding.


During the holidays, like everyone else, caregivers and the loved ones they care for want to be involved in holiday festivities: attending parties, gatherings, concerts and events. The holidays are time to connect with friends, relatives who live states away, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, etc. Those who care for caregivers can help the holiday season be an enjoyable one by offering support, participating in planning, and sharing in the responsibilities of caregiving.


If you need help making in-home care or respite arrangements, contact Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan at 888.456.5664 or




Kent County invites public involvement in new county administrator selection

By K.D. Norris


Kent County leadership is nearing the end of its process to name a new county administrator/controller — in essence the chief administrative and financial officer, as well as the person who oversees day-to-day operation of county government.


And the public will have opportunity in early January 2018 to engage and offer feedback on the process and the two final candidates for the job.


The final candidates for the position are Wayman P. Britt, from Grand Rapids, and Marc S. Ryan, from Land O’Lakes, Fla.


The importance of that job is evidenced in the fact that the county’s just approved 2018 budget of $417 million will be second highest in the area, behind only the City of Grand Rapids’ $528 million budget, and that the county will spend just over $350 million to fund the sheriff’s office and courts, social services, the county’s elections, veterans services and other programs.


The position answers directly to the Board of Commissioners. The position’s salary ranges from $110,300 to $171,078, according to the county, but the specific contract for the new administrator/controller is as-yet undetermined.


“The (recruitment) committee is proud to hold the community forum and ask for public feedback in the recruitment process for this important role,” Sandi Steensma, commissioner and Administrator/Controller Recruitment Subcommittee Chair, said in supplied material. “The community’s input in the process is critical to making the right decision for such an important leadership role. We hope residents will make their voices heard as we complete this process.”


Britt is currently the interim county administrator and previously served as assistant administrator. He also played basketball for University of Michigan, and played in the NBA for two seasons before continuing his education. Ryan is currently Chief Strategy and Compliance Officer at MedHOK, Inc., and previously served in the State of Connecticut Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management/State Budget Director.


One of the two will replace former Kent County Administrator Daryl Delabbio, who retired in June of this year after 22 years of service to the county.


On Jan. 10, from 5-7:30 p.m., the county will host an open Candidates Community Forum in the Multi-Purpose Room at the Human Services Complex, 121 Franklin SE, Grand Rapids. This will provide an opportunity for the public to provide feedback regarding the candidates, according to supplied material.


On Jan. 11, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the finalist candidate interviews with the full Board of Commissioners, will take place and will be open to the public.


Finally, also on Jan. 11, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., recruiting subcommittee will review member commissioner feedback and identify the top candidate to be recommended to the full Board of Commissioners for consideration.


For more information visit .


WKTV Government Channel features a number of NASA events

The Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft is seen on the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch pad, Thursday, July 27, 2017. Expedition 52 flight engineer Sergei Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos, flight engineer Randy Bresnik of NASA, and flight engineer Paolo Nespoli of ESA (European Space Agency) are scheduled to launch to the International Space Station aboard the Soyuz spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on July 28. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

There is lots of activity taking place next week as NASA launches a cargo craft  along with the changing of command on the International Space Station.

On Tuesday, Dec. 12, we will be featuring the launch  of the SpaceX/Dragon CRS-13 Mission. Coverage will begin at approximately 11:15am, with the launch scheduled at 11:46 a.m. A Post-Launch News Conference will be held at 1:15 p.m.
Wednesday, Dec. 13, we will be featuring the Change of Command Ceremony of the ISS Expedition 53/54 on the International Space Station. Coverage begins at 7:30 a.m. with the Ceremony scheduled for 7:40am.
Later in the day, we will cover the undocking of the ISS Expedition 53/Soyuz MS-05. Coverage starts at 11:30 p.m.,  with the undocking scheduled for 12:16 a.m.
Coverage continues on Thursday, Dec. 14, with the Deorbit Burn and Landing of the ISS Expedition 53/Soyuz MS-05. The deorbit burn is scheduled for 2:44am and the landing near Dzhezkazgan,  Kazakhstan is scheduled for 3:38am.
On Friday, Dec. 15, we will be featuring coverage of the Rendezvous and Capture of the SpaceX/Dragon CRS-13 Cargo Craft at the International Space Station. Coverage starts at 4:30am with the capture of the Cargo Craft scheduled for approximately 6:00am. Stay tuned for the installation of the Cargo Craft scheduled for 7:30am
For more information on NASA TV or the International Space Station, log on to
NASA TV can be seen on the WKTV 26 Government Channel on Comcast and on AT&T U-verse 99 Government Channel 99

School News Network: Class pushes students out of comfort zone, into community

Seniors Zayveon Hymon and Erin Graham play a game in class

By Erin Albanese

School News Network


Students trickle in after school, one or two at a time, into a Wyoming High School classroom. They grab a slice of pizza and sit down to discuss issues that affect their lives and community: school, jobs and ways to give back.


Fresh off a service-learning project they chose to take on to promote the November school bond proposal, they discuss what they learned about school millages and voting, and what their school needs most: bigger classrooms, more space, more buses. And while it’s not something a bond would cover, someone mentions food.


The students in the Teen Outreach Program, discuss how most teenagers who stay after school are hungry, having eaten lunch well before noon.


Mikayla Reynold, a Grace Bible freshman majoring in psychology, and John Napper, a business owner, share how Teen Outreach impacted their lives.

“You know, 80 percent of kids here qualify for free or reduced lunch,” said Julian Goodson, who leads the group of ninth- through 12th-graders.


“That doesn’t mean the other 20 percent can always afford it,” a girl responds.


The seed of an idea is planted. “For our next service learning project, let’s come up with a plan to feed people who are here from 2:30 to 5 p.m. for the rest of the year,” Goodson suggests. The students agree.


Combining Leadership with Jobs, Giving Back

The 10-15 students who attend Teen Outreach every Tuesday are learning important connections between what they do now and where they are headed.


Julian Goodson has taught Teen Outreach since 2013

Goodson, a youth development specialist with Grand Rapids Center for Community Transformation, started the class in 2013, initially as a way to engage students at risk of truancy. Since then, it has been opened to all students who could use a boost toward school and work success, or who just want to step up as leaders.


The program has three components: leadership or life-skills development; job placement; and community service. It also extends into a Summer Youth Employment Program.


Each student has an individual goal plan with action steps, and Goodson holds them accountable to their plans by checking in with them each week.


Part of the picture, Goodson has found, is helping meet basic needs, which helps them get to school in the first place. That’s why he comes to each meeting with boxes of pizza in hand.


“It’s extremely rewarding. A good majority of them just really need a caring adult,” Goodson said. “That’s true for a lot of youth in general. They just want to know someone cares about them. I just happen to be that person. … I get to know them as individuals and really meet them where they are at.”


The class teaches networking, resume-building and public speaking skills. Students are placed in summer jobs at local businesses and organizations, including the Wyoming Branch of Kent District Library, Goodwill Industries, Family Fare, Applebee’s, Bethany Christian Services and Wyoming Public Schools.


Completion of the Teen Outreach Program, 10 hours of involvement in a service learning project, and a summer job make for a great head start. “That’s a pretty robust resume for a teenager,” Goodson said.


A Unique Ability to Relate


Goodson relates to his students. As detailed in his book, “Thoughts of a Foster Dad,” his own childhood was thrown into turmoil after his mother died and his father was arrested multiple times. With his wife, Stacey Goodson, he has fostered many children, including 2017 Wyoming High School graduate Donnie Alford.


Four years ago, feeling as if he missed his calling to be a teacher, Goodson left the corporate world of sales to work with at-risk youth and foster children. It led him to GRCCT, and to Wyoming Public Schools to teach Teen Outreach. He also teaches at Covenant House Academies, and at Innovation Central High School in Grand Rapids Public Schools.


He faced an immediate challenge at the outset, he said: “How do you get a truant kid to come to an after-school program?” The answer was to build up their self-esteem. Instead of making it sound like a punitive way of getting them to school, students were invited based on their untapped leadership potential.


It was potential senior Zayveon Hymon can now see in himself. He said the class has made a major difference in his life. He worked a summer job at Lighthouse Property Management.


“I wasn’t a great leader,” Zayveon said. “I wasn’t coming to school every day and I wasn’t doing good on my grades. Julian approached me and said ‘I think you can be a leader, you just haven’t shown it yet. If you want to you can join my class.’


“I’ve met lifelong friends and learned how to be a leader,” he added. “My leadership skills improved a lot and, on top of that I learned handiwork (through the summer job). I improved my grades and actually wanted to come to school.”


Envisioning Success


After the bond discussion, students interviewed Wyoming High School graduates and Teen Outreach Program alumni Mikayla Reynolds, a Grace Bible School freshman majoring in psychology, and John Napper, a business owner. Both credit Goodson and the class for helping them turn their lives around.


“I eat, I sleep, I breathe college. I make good grades,” said Reynolds, describing how the class helped her realize success was an option after rocky years in high school. “This class impacted me because it really fine-tuned my leadership skills. I was always an introvert, always quiet and never wanted to step up to the plate. This class pushed me out of my comfort zone.


“It takes a good leader to push you out of your comfort zone,” she added. “It takes a great leader to push you to a place you never thought you would go.”

The class discusses leadership skills

Employment Expertise: Why December is a great month to find a job


By West Michigan Works!


Don’t let long shopping lists and holiday parties distract you from your job search this month. Many people pause their search until the New Year, but December is the good month to find a job. Here’s why:


Fewer people look

Between traveling, parties and shopping, many job seekers are busy making plans and they put their job search on hold. Use this time to get ahead of the competition by applying to jobs and connecting with recruiters. Overwhelmed with your to-do list this month? Balance your job search and holiday activities by blocking out time every day for job search activities.


Plenty of parties

The holidays are an excuse to reconnect with people you’ve met through networking. Ask them to coffee or lunch to catch up. These meetings will strengthen your relationship and keep you top of mind as they move into the New Year.


Consider holiday parties as another networking opportunity. Meet someone new and let them know you’re job searching (even if it’s your grandma’s neighbor!).


Extra time with recruiters

Recruiters are more likely to respond to your email because they aren’t as busy this month. Apply to relevant job postings and follow up with an email to the recruiter. Give them a chance to get to know you now, so they’ll remember you once 2018 hiring begins.


Did you get an ‘Out of Office’ reply? Great! If they don’t respond to your email upon return, welcome them back to work and then ask your questions.


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


Do you know someone in a service industry job who goes above and beyond their expected role? Do they take pride in their vital, yet under-appreciated job? Nominate them for an Essential Service Award.


Adoptable pets from Humane Society of West Michigan: Buddy and Jasmine

Handsome Buddy

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.


Buddy — Shepherd / Labrador Retriever Mix

I am a 7-year-old dog looking for my forever home! I would do best in a quiet/routine home with older/respectful children. I am a happy guy who loves to play! Due to generous grant funding, my adoption fee is waived because I am 7 years or older. If I sound like a good fit for you, please come meet me at Humane Society of West Michigan!


More about Buddy:

  • Animal ID: 12071234
  • Breed: Shepherd/Retriever, Labrador
  • Age: 7 years
  • Gender: Male
  • Size: Large
  • Color: Tan/Black
  • Neutered
Sweet Jasmine

Jasmine — Female Domestic Short Hair

I am a 3-year-old sweet, sassy, and playful cat! I love napping, playing, receiving pets, and occasionally causing a bit of mischief. I would do best in a home that could give me plenty of attention, but also space when I need it. I would do best with older/respectful children. Please come meet me at Humane Society of West Michigan!


More about Jasmine:

  • Animal ID: 35769251
  • Breed: Domestic Shorthair/Mix
  • Age: 3 years
  • Gender: Female
  • Size: Small
  • Color: Grey
  • 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.

Kentwood Activities Center’s renovations start today

The Kentwood Activities Center is currently under renovations.

The Kentwood Activities Center at 355 48th St. SE will be closed for renovations from Dec. 7 to March 2, 2018.


During this time, scheduled programs will move to alternate locations, and staff will be relocated to Kentwood City Hall, 4900 Breton Ave. SE.


The renovation will include a new heating-cooling system, updated and expanded restrooms, updated sound system for the gymnasium and a certified commercial teaching kitchen. The teaching kitchen will provide expanded educational opportunities for the community. When not being used for instruction, it will be made available to caterers and other food business entrepreneurs. The renovation is the largest in more than 30 years for the building, which is one of the City’s oldest facilities.


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

The project is estimated at $838,000, and made possible through  the federal grant program Community Development Block Grant. The grant receives funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and is distributed through Kent County.


The Design/Build project is being constructed and designed by CD Barnes Construction and Hooker DeJong.


A grand reopening of the Kentwood Activities Center is planned for March 2018. For questions regarding the construction or relocation of recreation programs, please contact the Parks and Recreation Department at 616-656-5270 or stop by the front desk at Kentwood City Hall.

GVSU economist: Local economy will be strong in 2018

Brian Long, photo from

By Dottie Barnes

Grand Valley State University


The West Michigan economy looks strong for the new year, according to a Grand Valley State University expert.


“We are heading into 2018 with a full head of steam,” said Brian G. Long, director of Supply Management Research in the Seidman College of Business. “I don’t see anything on the horizon that will trip us up.”


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


The survey’s index of business improvement (new orders) rose to +20 from +11. The production index backtracked slightly to +17 from +20. The index of purchases eased to +18 from +22, and the employment stayed positive at +13, down slightly from +14.


Long said the November performance for most groups was mixed.


“Despite the modest softening in auto sales, the local auto parts producers remain surprisingly strong, even though they continue to voice concern about possible slower auto sales as we head into 2018,” he said. “It is currently the slow season for office furniture sales, and the industry still appears to be topping out at the present level.”


Long said some of the smaller office furniture firms are still expanding, and for most industrial distributors, November was one of their better months. “A plateau seems to be forming for the capital equipment industry, but recent proposed changes in the tax law could result in improved conditions in 2018,” he said.


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.”


For over 28 years, Dr. Brian Long has edited a survey of local purchasing managers for both the Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids areas, which has proved to be a major indicator of current and future business conditions.  This survey appears in many local newspapers and national business publications, including the Grand Rapids Press, MiBiz, and the Grand Rapids Business Journal.  The survey is also a component of the Federal Reserve’s bimonthly survey of business conditions. 

‘Wyoming Gives Back’ program kicks off the season in the City of Wyoming

Major Jack Poll looks over the donations from last year’s Wyoming Gives Back.

Grab a toy and head to the Rogers Plaza Mall Thursday for the City of Wyoming’s 7th Annual Wyoming Gives Back.


Each year the City of Wyoming partners with local businesses to celebrate the holiday season and collect toys for the Salvation Army Angel Tree. Last year, more than 400 toys were collected for donation and with the generous support of the participating busi­nesses, the City raffled off nearly $5,000 in prizes.


Event attendees who bring a new, unwrapped toy as a donation to the Salvation Army Angel Tree will receive a raffle ticket in exchange for a chance to win prize packs that contain hundreds of dollars of gifts donated by Wyoming businesses.


“We use to have just an annual Christmas lighting program by city hall and then we decided to find a place to get it move inside and we would get a bigger crowd,” said Mayor Jack Poll. “Then we combined with some of the organizations that collect toys over the last few years and it is a great event for the city.”


The annual event will take place from 6- 8 p.m. and will benefit the Salvation Army Angel Tree.


“I love it,” said Wyoming Councilmember Kent Vanderwood. “It’s just great to celebrate the beginning of the Christmas season with all the great residents of the city.”


“That is what Christmas should be all about,” said Salvation Army Lt. William Brutto. “It should be about family. It should be about giving. It should be about helping others. So for the whole City of Wyoming to come together and help others is a fantastic time for the holiday season.”


Wyoming Public Safety officers and firefighters will be at this year’s event.

More than 20 businesses are hosting tables this year. The Salvation Army will be providing cookies and hot chocolate to event attendees. Residents are encouraged to bring their children to meet and visit with the Wyoming Police Department, the Wyoming Fire Department and, of course, Santa Claus!


A lineup of local choirs and bands is scheduled to share the sounds of the season. The lineup includes the Salvation Army Band, Tri-Unity Christian School Cherub Choir, Godwin Heights High School Chorale, Godwin Heights School Treble Choir, San Juan Diego Choir and the Wyoming Public Schools Jazz Band.


For more information on the event, visit or call  616-530-7272.

School News Network: Districts scramble to find bus drivers

Dean Transportation is looking for 50 drivers to serve Kent County schools

Diane Kallemeyn prefers to work as a substitute bus driver for Wyoming Public Schools, but is now covering a permanent route. She arrives at 6:30 a.m. to transport hundreds of students across the district and to Kent Career Tech Center, racking up about 80 miles each day she drives. With a few breaks in between, she finishes driving after school in the afternoon.


“Right now, we are short drivers so I am on a run every day,” she said.


So are many other subs. Area schools are experiencing the nationwide shortage of bus drivers, putting transportation departments in a pinch to get students on the bus in the morning and back home after the final bell at a reasonable time. In Kent County, subs like Kallemeyn are covering routes, dispatchers are driving, and retirees are filling in to transport thousands of children every day. They’ve also consolidated runs and are constantly seeking applications for new hires.


“We’ve tried to be creative,” said Don Hebeler, Wyoming director of operations and support services, who advertises job openings with yard and marquee signs and district-wide emails. He recently had three new drivers going through the training process for four open routes.


Consolidating routes and relying on retirees are some ways districts are covering shortages

Countywide, Dean Transportation is looking to hire 50 drivers to serve Grand Rapids, Sparta, Cedar Springs and Kent City public schools as well as Kent ISD programs. The Lansing-based firm contracts with those school districts and others statewide. Statewide, Dean needs to hire 100 drivers total.


“We’ve seen this for a few years now,” said Ashleigh Wright, Dean hiring specialist. “We are working toward closing the gap by increasing advertising and increasing flexibility with training. We will train non-credentialed drivers and pay for training.”


Wyoming Public Schools bus driver Diane Kallemeyn is a substitute currently covering a regular route because of the bus driver shortage

Why a Shortage?


School officials named several factors at play. More positions in the job market are now available than a few years ago, plus there are strict requirements and fewer perks for drivers than in the past.


With the national unemployment rate at 4.1 percent, people are more easily finding full-time work without frequent split shifts.


‘We are still in need of five drivers. We could use more subs too.’ — Laura Tanis, Kentwood Public Schools transportation supervisor


New hires don’t receive traditional pensions as they did years ago, Hebeler said: “When a lot of my drivers started they got full benefits and a pension.”


In Godfrey-Lee Public Schools, one of Kent County’s smallest districts, they don’t have enough drivers cover field trips and athletic events, said Scott Bergman, supervisor of operations, transportation and custodial services. The district, which parks its fleet at the Wyoming Public Schools bus garage, often uses drivers from Wyoming, Kelloggsville and Dean Transportation to cover needs.


“There needs to be increase in compensation for both custodians and bus drivers,” Bergman said. District driver pay starts at about $14 per hour.


The biggest challenge, Wright said, is finding candidates that meet all requirements: a good driving record including no history of driving under the influence or careless driving; at least seven years experience driving commercially; a valid Michigan license; a passed background check and fingerprint clearance. Candidates must pass a federal Department of Transportation physical and drug and alcohol screening.


“The number of folks who apply and get through the process is one or two out of 10,” Wright said.


Kentwood Public Schools began the school year with 10 open bus driver positions, of 36 total positions in the district. Since then, five were filled. “We are still in need of five drivers. We could use more subs too,” said Transportation Supervisor Laura Tanis.


Don Hebeler, Wyoming Public Schools director of operations and support services, stands near the bus fleet. He and directors statewide need more drivers

Enticements for Recruits


Starting driver pay from district to district ranges from about $14 to $18 per hour. A minimum of hours is often required to qualify for insurance. Dean Transportation wages start at $16 an hour and guarantees a minimum of four hours per school day. Dean also offers full benefits, including health, dental, vision, a 401(k) plan and paid time-off to all drivers.


Caledonia Public Schools, a district covering more than 100-square-miles, has recruited drivers with the offer of a $250 referral bonus and $500 sign-on bonus. The effort led to hiring five part-time substitute drivers who cover field trips, vacation and sick days and after-school athletic events. Two more substitute drivers are still needed, said Transportation Director Brenda Witteveen.


Godfrey-Lee’s Bergman pointed out another issue may be contributing to the shortage. “It’s an awesome responsibility to be a bus driver,” he said. “You are responsible for the safety of those children from the the time you pick them up to when you take them home.”


In today’s fast-paced society, people are commuting in a rush. “We’ve had two dozen people go through our red lights (on buses) since school started and they came within feet of our kids,” Bergman said. “Everyone is in such a hurry these days.”

Innovative new Kent County mental health court on latest WKTV Journal: In Focus


WKTV Staff


There is no doubt that a large portion of the caseload of Kent County courts involves persons arrested with clear mental health issues, and that the system in which those persons are handled is burdensome for the courts, not constructive for the arrested, and — ultimately — often do not make the community safer.


Network 180’s director of network services Ross Buitendorp talks with program host Ken Norris. (WKTV)

But a new county Mental Health Court program — involving law enforcement, courts and the county’s pubic mental health and substance use disorder services provider,  Network 180, aims to change the system for the betterment of all.


On the latest WKTV Journal: In Focus, Network 180’s director of network services Ross Buitendorp talks with program host Ken Norris about a program that substitutes a problem-solving model for traditional criminal court processing.


Also on this episode, Katie Fahey, president and treasurer of Voters Not Politicians, a non-partisan ballot committee seeking to put before voters in 2018 a proposal to end gerrymandering in Michigan, talks about the state’s current system of drawing election district maps and how and why the plan Voters Not Politicians are advocating for would change the redistricting system.


The episode will debut Tuesday, Dec. 5, at 6:30 p.m., and will again air on Thursday, and again next week on the same days and times on WKTV channels but all interviews included in episodes of WKTV Journal: In Focus are also available on YouTube at WKTVVideos.


For the video of Ms. Fahey at WKTV visit here.


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


Boys basketball debuts on high school sports schedule; WKTV coverage close behind

An early 2017 game televised by WKTV with East Kentwood High School’s boys basketball team at Wyoming. (WKTV)

By Mike Moll


With Christmas and Christmas break this month, the December schedules are a bit thinner than a normal winter month, but boys basketball tips off the first week of the month and there are several holiday tournaments going on between Christmas and New Year’s, so get out to watch in person your local high school teams.


If you can’t make it in person, or even if you do, then join us on WKTV as we have an assortment of contests coming to the airwaves.  The tentative December schedule is:


Tuesday, Dec. 12 – Girls Basketball Potter’s House at Kelloggsville

Friday, Dec. 15 – Girls and Boys Basketball Caledonia at South Christian

Tuesday, Dec. 19 – Boys Basketball East Grand Rapids at East Kentwood

Friday, Dec. 22 – Girls and Boys Basketball Wyoming Lee at West Michigan Aviation


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


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:


Monday, Dec. 4

Girls Basketball 

Orchard View @ Godwin Heights

Boys/Girls Bowling 

East Grand Rapids @ Wyoming


Tuesday, Dec. 5

Boys Basketball 

West Ottawa @ Godwin Heights

Allendale @ South Christian

Kelloggsville @ Delton-Kellogg

East Kentwood @ FH Northern

Zion Christian @ Galesburg-Augusta

WMAES @ Grand River Prep

Girls Basketball 

South Christian @ East Kentwood

Union @ Kelloggsville

Zion Christian @ Galesburg-Augusta

West Michigan Lutheran @ Potter’s House

Muskegon Catholic Central @ Grand River Prep

Montague @ Tri-Unity Christian


Wednesday, Dec. 6

Boys Wrestling 

Godwin Heights @ Unity Christian

Wyoming Lee @ Unity Christian

Wyoming @ Unity Christian

Kelloggsville @ Holland

East Kentwood @ Hudsonville

Boys/Girls Bowling 

Wyoming @ Byron Center


Thursday, Dec. 7

Boys/Girls Bowling 

Caledonia @ Godwin Heights

Boys Basketball 

Wyoming Lee @ Zion Christian

Grand River Prep @ Saranac

Boys Swimming 

FH Central @ East Kentwood

Girls Basketball 

Wyoming Lee @ Zion Christian

West Michigan Aviation @ West Michigan Lutheran


Friday, Dec. 8

Girls Basketball

Godwin Heights @ Union

Wyoming @ Jenison

Holland Christian @ South Christian

Kelloggsville @ West Michigan Aviation

East Kentwood @ FH Central

Barry County Christian @ Potter’s House

Boys Basketball 

Hudsonville @ Godwin Heights

Jenison @ Wyoming

Holland Christian @ South Christian

Kelloggsville @ West Catholic

East Kentwood @ FH Central

Potter’s House @ Pewamo-Westphalia

Big Rapids Crossroads @ West Michigan Aviation

Algoma Christian @ Tri-Unity Christian

Boys Hockey 

South Christian @ Lowell

Muskegon Reeths-Puffer @ East Kentwood


Saturday, Dec. 9

Boys Wrestling 

Godwin Heights @ Kent City

Wyoming Lee @ Greenville

Wyoming @ Calvin Christian

Buchanan @ Kelloggsville – Dave Flemming Tournament

East Kentwood @ Big Rapids

Girls Cheer 

Wyoming @ Comstock Park

East Kentwood @ Caledonia

Boys Hockey 

South Christian @ Manistee

Girls Basketball 

Grand River Prep @ Tri-Unity Christian

Boys Basketball 

Grand River Prep @ Tri-Unity Christian


Monday, Dec. 11

Boys/Girls Bowling 

Ottawa Hills @ Godwin Heights

Wayland @ Wyoming

Girls Basketball 

Holland Calvary @ West Michigan Lutheran


City of Kentwood now offers DWLS Resolution via Matterhorn

The Kentwood Justice Center which houses the 62-B District Court

First-time offenders of Driving While License Suspended (DWLS) will now have the opportunity to use a free online program to restore their license and connect virtually with the city attorney to negotiate details of their case. Please refer to DWLS the charge is Driving While License Suspended set by statute


Thanks to a free online program, provided by Matterhorn by Court Innovations Inc., the 62-B District Court is able to provide virtual services to restore licenses and interact with the prosecuting official without multiple court appearances.


“This program streamlines the process of communicating with the court and the city attorney as much as possible by taking it online, and providing ample educational material and guidance on what needs to be done,” said Judge William G. Kelly. “We are committed to providing stellar customer service to those in our community, and this is another way to do that.”


For decades, suspending driving privileges has been used as a punitive measure against those with poor driving behaviors, such as drunk driving or multiple moving violations. However, according to a 2013 report from the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, Best Practices Guide for Reducing Suspended Drivers, almost half of the suspensions are for offenses that have nothing to do with unsafe driving.


Forty percent of suspensions are for minor offenses like failing to pay a minor traffic or parking ticket. Many, particularly those in socio-economically challenged circumstances, risk driving on a suspended license and may not know their license was suspended. When caught driving with a suspended license, they’re charged with a misdemeanor.


Those are the cases the program aims to help, Kelly said.


“As permitted by Michigan law, prosecuting attorneys may offer a plea deal to first offenders where unsafe driving behavior is not involved. Getting the license unsuspended is usually a condition of the deal,” he explained.


Those eligible will be informed about the program at their arraignment. They will have a certain amount of time to get their suspension lifted and their license restored. Throughout the process, individuals receive emails and text messages to provide reminders and updates on the status of their case. After that, the prosecutor will review their case and record online, and will consider offering a plea deal.


The individual can accept the deal online without ever appearing in court. By resolving these matters online, prosecutors and citizens are able to reduce or eliminate in-person pre-trial conferences, and saving citizens multiple trips to court.


Motorists charged with driving with a suspended license in Kentwood can visit resolve the matter online.

Employment Expertise: The Side Hustle: How to make more money and keep your day job


By West Michigan Works!


Are you living paycheck to paycheck, feeling the stress of trying to make ends meet? Whether you’re unable to find full-time work, straddled with student debt or working a low-wage job, you’re not alone. Many Americans are looking for ways to earn extra cash, aka a side hustle, to boost their income.


The side hustle provides a new form of job security by giving you another income stream. It also allows you to flex your entrepreneurial muscle or do something you love without giving up your day job and the pay that comes with it.


Here are some tips on how to create a successful side hustle:


Identify your special skill set: What are you good at and what do you love? Focus your side hustle on something you want to spend your time doing. Are you an avid runner? Coach beginning runners who want to run their first race. Are you good with tools and small house projects? Offer up your handyman skills in your neighborhood.


Find out what people need. What service do people in your network need that you can provide? Are your neighbors too busy to walk the dog? Start a dog-walking service. Are your friends’ kids preparing for college entrance exams? Provide SAT and ACT tutoring. Find an unmet need that you have the expertise to provide.


Network. Once you’ve identified a need that your skill set can meet, connect with your personal network to let them know you can help. Start with your close connections and ask for referrals once you’ve built a positive reputation.


Make time for your side hustle and manage it well. Create a schedule and stick to it. To succeed, you have to meet the expectations of your new clients while maintaining your performance at your day job. Don’t risk your steady paycheck by doing side hustle tasks while on the clock at your regular gig.


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


Do you know someone in a service industry job who goes above and beyond their expected role? Do they take pride in their vital, yet under-appreciated job? Nominate them for an Essential Service Award.



Metro Health’s Child Life Services hosts toy drive

Playskool play favorites busy Poppin Pals

Child Life Services at Metro Health: University of Michigan Health will be hosting a toy drive through Dec. 14.


Items on the Child Life’s Wish List are as follows:


Twistable Colored Pencils

Small items: twistable colored pencils, teen coloring books, light spinners, stress balls, Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars, board books, Crayola crayons, coloring books and washable Crayola markers.


Toys: Playskool play favorites busy Poppin Pals, VTech Baby’s learning laptop, VTech Tiny touch phone, lighthead musical piano, Fisher Price Laugh & Learn puppy remote, Baby Einstein Take along tunes musical toy, and VTech Shake & Sing Elephant Rattle.


Electronics: iPods (wifi only version), Bluetooth speakers, iPad chargers, and iTunes gift cards.


All items must be new and all multi-patient use toys must be wipeable.


There are several collection sites:


Metro Health Hospital, 2122 Health Dr., Suite 280

Brann’s Steakhouse, 4157 S. Division Ave.

CareLinc, 89 54th St. SW and 3125 28th St.

Custer, 217 Grandville Ave. SW

Eastern Floral, 2836 Broadmoor Ave. SE

Georgetown Public Library, 1525 Baldwin St., Jenison

Laser’s Resource, 4775 40th St.

Metron, 13030 Commercial St., Coopersville


For more information about the programs at Child Life Services at Metro Health: University of Michigan Health, click here.


After retirement of Kent County elections director, county clerk names replacement 

Kent County Clerk Lisa Posthumus Lyons talked about the new election equipment when she visited WKTV Journal: In Focus set in early fall. (WKTV)

By K.D. Norris


Kent County has a new elections director, and he comes to the post from a company which this year was hired to provide election services to the county.


Gerrid Uzarski, who served as a regional representative for ElectionSource, a company based in Grand Rapids, will take over for the recently retired Susan deSteiguer. DeSteiguer served the county for 16 years and — coincidentally — came to the position after working for an elections equipment vendor.


“Through three county clerks and 16 years, Sue deSteiguer has led the county, and local clerks, through many elections and numerous transitions,” Lisa Posthumus Lyons, Kent County Clerk and Register of Deeds, said in supplied material. “She leaves very big shoes to fill.”


Posthumus announced Wednesday, Nov. 28 that Uzarski will “fill” those shoes.


Technically, ElectionSource is not a contractor for the county, but is a co-contractor for the company which is providing the county with new election hardware and software — equipment and systems which made its county debut on Nov. 7.


“ElectionSource is Dominion Voting Systems contracted local service provider for their equipment,” Robert J. Macomber, chief deputy county clerk, said to WKTV. “That is a contract executed between those two companies, and not with, or by, the county.”


Selection came after standard hiring process


Macomber said Uzarski was hired through the standard countywide hiring process.


“In September the position was posted via accessKent and publicized throughout Michigan and national, resulting in 40 applicants,” he said. “There was/is no concern with Gerrid joining the county’s team having worked for a vendor. In fact, there is precedent for the hire as prior to becoming Kent’s elections director, Sue deSteiguer worked for an elections equipment vendor.”


And Lyons had even more praise for the hiring.


“After an extensive search and interviews with several very well-qualified individuals, Gerrid’s expert knowledge of our new voting equipment, reputation for top-notch customer service to county and local clerks, and professional approach was of great value to me in making this decision.” Lyons said in supplied material. “My focus is on ensuring and improving upon elections that are secure, efficient, and transparent, and Gerrid brings the right combination of knowledge, experience, and can-do attitude to accomplish this job.”


Gerrid Uzarski, new Kent County elections director

A native of Kent County, Uzarski graduated from Lowell High School and Western Michigan University, according to supplied material. In his role at ElectionSource, Uzarski was charged with implementing stringent accuracy and reliability testing of the company’s serviced voting systems; developing and implementing election day training programs for poll workers; and maintaining communication between vendors and local election administrators.


“I couldn’t be more excited to continue my work in elections with Kent County, and I look forward to serving the voters by maintaining elections to a standard of integrity set by the professionals before me,” Uzarski said in supplied material. “I will work to further the goals of clerk Lyons by ensuring timeliness, transparency, and accuracy in our elections.”


Macomber said he and Lyons are already seeing positive reaction from local election officials to the hiring of Uzarski.


“Since yesterday’s announcement several local clerks have reached out to clerk Lyons to express support for the decision, excited that Gerrid’s expert knowledge of our new equipment will continue to be of great benefit for the local clerks and the county,” he said.


10-years county contract with state grant paying initially


Uzarski will also be a key player in the continuing relationship between the county and  Dominion Voting Systems/ElectionSource.


According to Macomber, in this initial phase of implementation, most of the county’s interactions are with the Dominion team directly, whereas the interaction with ElectionSource will be on election days and over the life of the equipment, when scheduled maintenance and updates need to occur.


The county’s financial contract with Dominion Voting Systems/ElectionSource runs ten years, Macomber explained to WKTV, with years 1–5 (the purchase and initial implementation of the equipment) paid for by state grant through a contact between the State of Michigan and Dominion. The county is then responsible for maintenance of the equipment in years 6–10, in the amount of about $30,000 per year to Dominion.


In order to implement the new equipment, there was also an upfront cost to the county of approximately $130,000, Macomber said. Of that, roughly $110,000 will be paid to Dominion for the computer hardware housed at the county that programs the ballots and receives the results from the precincts on election night.  About $20,000 will be paid to ElectionSource for development of the online results reporting feature.



School News Network: Pounding, Assembling, Constructing a Possible Future

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By Erin Albanese

School News Network


When it comes to starting early in career exploration, Kentwood elementary students are hitting the nail on the head – literally.


Meadowlawn fifth-grader Madyson Butler, left, and Endeavor fifth-grader Addison Morgan practice pipe-fitting

During a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) event with a newly-added skilled trades component, fifth-graders recently hammered nails into lumber in the schoolyard, and learned how to assemble pipes and construct walls inside the Endeavor Elementary School gymnasium. Plumbing, electrical, carpentry and home-building are now job fields in the district’s STEM program, with the goal of giving students a glimpse of career paths in those industries.


Fifth-grade students from the district’s 10 elementary schools annually attend events introducing them to the world of STEM, with hands-on activities led by community partners. They also explore careers in fields including health care, engineering, technology and agriculture.


Skilled trades are among the STEM jobs that are high-demand.


Endeavor Elementary School fifth-grader Amari McClanahan matches up lumber with its names

“We know that there’s such a gap in the skilled trades area,” said STEM consultant Nancy McKenzie, who collaborated with community partners to add the new industries. “This just give kids another example of what (career path) they can take: a four-year path, two-year path, community college, technical school or apprenticeship.”


Jobs are waiting, said company representatives.


“There’s a lot of demand. There’s not enough people who want to do this work because they haven’t been exposed to it,” said Haley VanderLugt, who works in human resources at Standard Supply and Lumber, based in Grand Rapids, as she helped lead the hammering station.


High-Demand, High-Wage Jobs

According to the latest edition of the West Michigan Talent Assessment and Outlook, published in August, average compensation in energy and construction is $59,000, and growth is expected in many occupations within those industries, ranging from 6.5 to 34 percent.


Many students have the aptitude for skilled trades, McKenzie said. “Some kids want to work with their hands. … There are so many way they can be successful taking this path if it works for them.”


Leading workshops were representatives of the Home Builders Institute, Home Builders Association, Standard Supply and Lumber, and Scott Christopher Homes.


Patrick Shanafelt, vocational instructor for Home Builders Institute, introduced students to plumbing and electrical, with displays that show how pipes connect and lights turn on. He said many of the country’s electricians are baby boomers who will soon retire.


“We have this huge need for skilled trades, not just electricians, but plumbers, pipe-fitters, welders,” Shanafelt said.


But schools and companies have not caught up with the need to train the next generation, he said, and students are missing out.


“At the end of five years (of training), a journeyman electrician has zero debt and is making $60,000 a year plus almost an additional $30,000 a year in benefits, and you can go anywhere in the country with that job,” he said.


Jodie Rykse-Slamoran, foundation and community relations director for the Home Builders Association, said students aren’t always aware of jobs that require the skills needed in the trades.


“A lot of people who work in these jobs are super, super smart and great at technical skills, but they are also amazingly great with their hands,” Rykse-Slamoran said. “They can problem-solve with their hands and their brains at the same time.


“There are great career opportunities. There are thousands of job right here in our community,” she said, adding that students can start working in the field as teenagers and receive additional training and education.


Endeavor Elementary fifth-grader Zykaria Colbert explained how pipes fit together to allow water to flow through a faucet. She said seeing how things fit and work together is cool.


“I find it interesting about the plumbing,” Zykaria said. “There are a lot of different parts I didn’t know about.”

Endeavor Elementary School fifth-grader Zykaria Colbert explains plumbing

Adoptable cat of the week: Basil Wrathbone

Sir Basil awaits a purrmanent home

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).

Dr. Jen was told that this little fella (who was born in the fall of 2014) was living under a community pool deck at an apartment complex in Byron Center, and the residents loved him as he kept the rodents away. However, no one opted to bring him indoors, and at some point this poor creature ended up with his left front paw in a wild animal trap that was hidden away in his hiding place.

Although the residents quickly noticed his perilous predicament, they couldn’t catch him as he darted out of arm’s reach; he was in terrible pain and frightened out of his mind. They were able to loosen the trap from the deck, but sadly not his foot, and off he ran with it still attached; no one saw him again for about a month.

When he hobbled on back and they caught sight of him again, he was obviously on three legs—and the bones of his foot were sticking out of the paw that had lost all of its toes. One of the concerned apartment dwellers took him in and contacted Dr. Jen through the vet clinic, and she had her bring him right down so she could assess the damage. Needless to say, there wasn’t much left that could be salvaged, but Dr. Jen was able to take him to surgery, remove the desiccated and devitalized metacarpal fragments, treat the infection present and bandage him up so that he could heal (with narcotics on board).

Suffice it to say that Basil was more than ecstatic to finally be indoors, safe and sound, cozy and warm, and get this—free from pain and the metal mess that massacred his precious little paw. He simply couldn’t get enough attention from Dr. Jen and the staff while he recuperated, but Dr. Jen didn’t think it would be wise to send him down to Crash’s with an open wound site (she couldn’t safely close it for risk of deep-seated infection developing).

Handsome kitty!

Dr. Jen took him on home for the next four weeks, until he had received his second set of vaccines and was fully up and running. He was a bit out of his element at first, but he took a quick liking to Dr. Jen’s nine cats and found her Basset hound to be very interesting, although he preferred to keep a safe distance away from the dog.

Over time Basil’s confidence rose, but his mobility was never in question as he was tackling the stairs, furniture and even counter tops from the get-go; nothing stands in this beautiful boy’s way when kitty croutons are being offered! It was an absolute delight watching him grow stronger and become more assertive, claiming the windows as his favorite bird-watching perches and tackling the motorized cat toys with dexterity and determination. He wasn’t a lap cat by nature but when picked up and held close, he would melt into our arms and purr the sweetest of melodies.

Dr. Jen knew transferring Basil to Crash’s would be a bit challenging, but she needn’t have worried. Here is what our cat care director had to say about the marvelous Mr. Wrathbone and his new life as a free-roaming shelter kitty:

“Basil has absolutely no problem getting around the shelter. He’s a bit of a work in process—he spends most of his time sleeping up on the cat walks, but when it’s quiet he does come down and ask for attention. He has great potential to make an awesome cat though, so I am sure he will come out of his shell soon. He LOVES other cats! He is almost always snuggling with someone, so I feel that he should go into a home that has a cat that will snuggle up with him. He’s a little quiet and easily started, so probably no children or active dogs.”

Whattya think? Given all that Basil has been through, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to give him the kind of home he has probably always dreamed of?

More about Basil Wrathbone

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.

School News Network: State Champion Marching Band Plays On

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By Erin Albanese

School News Network


The music is rising to a crescendo at Godwin Heights High School, where Band Director Jake Castillo is building off the excitement of the Marching Band’s first-place state championship by launching new opportunities for his musicians.


Masked conductor Eyvin Miranda leads from the bleachers

Castillo is extending opportunities past the marching band season by starting an after-school jazz band, which Godwin hasn’t had in several years, along with wind and percussion ensembles. He also recently led an All-Wyoming Honors Band concert with students from Godwin Heights, Godfrey-Lee, Wyoming and Kelloggsville high schools.


“I’m passionate about it and I want the students to have the opportunity to play jazz outside of school,” said Castillo, who manages one of the most rigorous marching band schedules in the area, including a two-week band camp onsite at the school.


Godwin Heights’ 80-member Marching Band earned a score of 91.35 to take first place in Flight IV at the State Finals at Detroit’s Ford Field on Nov. 4. The show, Sideshow, incorporates elements for a circus, with students performing stunts, while playing Big Top-themed songs. Other first place finishes this year took place in competitions at Grant, Belding, Jenison and Reeths-Puffer schools.


Mauricio Bresso plays way low on the tuba

The state championship is Godwin’s first under Castillo, who is in his third year as director. The band has won seven state titles since 2004.


In Godwin Heights, nearly 90 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-priced lunch. The district pays for all students’ instruments, and allocated $80,000 to the band program from the bond issue voters approved in May.


Senior Eyvin Miranda, conductor, said it’s the culture of the program that creates success. “It’s the family aspect. It brings us together and inspires us to keep going.”


Senior marimba player Adriel Vera-Soto echoed that sentiment. “One thing that makes us really successful is we are committed and united as a family. Blood, sweat and tears has made this season so worth it.”


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

Chris Aguilar displays fine form on the flute
Yamaris Martinez lifts her trumpet high
Ariana Lopez adds marimba flavor to the band

Update: Kent County leaders approve $417 million budget for 2018

By K.D. Norris


Just in case you think Kent County’s budget planning process is not big news, consider that its approved 2018 budget of $417 million will be second highest in the area, behind only the City of Grand Rapids’ $528 million budget, and that the county funds the sheriff’s office and courts, social services, the county’s elections, and veterans services.


The Kent County Board of Commissioners voted this week to approve a plan for how the county government will spend more than $356 million in 2018 — with public safety programs gaining the lion’s share at nearly $87 million, followed closely by social services programs at just over $81 million.


The county total budget includes $61 million in “transfers out” funding, which is designated funds for programs such as the Friend of the Court program. And the county’s main discretionary fund for operating and capital expenditures, its general fund, will be about $172 million.


In comparison to the 2018 plan, the county’s actual 2016 total expenditures were about $339 million and its adopted (but not yet completed and actual) expenditures for 2017 were $371 million.


The 2018 General Appropriation Act is on the agenda for approval by the Board of Commissioners at its meeting scheduled for the Nov. 30 — and after a lengthy budgeting process and public hearings, it is expected to be approved.


Commissioner Harold Voorhees

“It was in some ways a bit easier than many of the budgets (from) previous years in that, especially from 2007, we went through years of declining revenue — property values (and the county’s tax base) were on the decline, thus our property tax revenues declined,” Commissioner Harold Voorhees said to WKTV. “This year that is not so. (But) did that make budget discussions easier? No.”


Voorhees represents county District 8, which is all within the City of Wyoming. This was his 14th year serving on the county’s Finance and Physical Resources Committee.


The other commissioners representing Wyoming and Kentwood include Harold Mast (District 12/Wyoming and Kentwood), Betsy Melton (District 13/Kentwood), Matt Kallman (District 9, mostly the Byron Township but also a small portion of the City of Wyoming) and Stan Ponstein (District 7, the City of Grandville but also a small portion of the City of Wyoming).


Tax millage rate down slightly this year; more coming?


While not successful in this year’s budgeting process, Voorhees also said he plans to continue his outspoken efforts to institute a reduction in next year’s county income from property taxes.


“I was out front in my support of the dedicated millage for the John Ball Zoo and the Grand Rapids Public Museum,” he said. “This new revenue, and along with other savings and increases in revenues, caused me to seek a property tax reduction on Kent County families and all property owners. (But) I had to realize I had started my request for lowering taxes too late in the process for this budget year.”


The county tax millage rate, as proposed for the 2018 budget, is 6.0518 mills, which, according to the county, “is 0.0078 mills less than the millage rate levied for the 2017 budget due to the Headlee roll-back. As a result, Kent County’s total millage rate would be the 14th lowest in Michigan and the third lowest of the 13 counties in the West Michigan Region.”


Sheriff Department leads in increased expenditures


To break down the county’s general fund expenditures of about $172 million, which represents a 3.3 percent increase from the 2017 budget year, according to the county’s budget report. The budget includes operating expenditures of $134.0 million, including capital expenditures of $2.2 million, and $38.3 million to support the operations of other funded programs.


The Sheriff Department’s general fund budget will increase 5.2 percent, from $59.9 million in 2017 to $63.0 million in 2018. The personnel cost in the Sheriff’s budget is up $2.4 million, or 5.3 percent over the current year. This is attributed to general personnel increases and the addition of five correction positions, according to the county.


Some of the other highlights of the 2018 budget, according to the county, are: a Health Department appropriation of $29.2 million which represents a 3.6 percent increase over the 2017 budget; a total Child Care programs budget of $27.7 million that represents a 9.5 percent decrease; and a Circuit Court budget of $17.8 million that represents a 2.2 percent increase.


Wyoming residents have plenty of options when it comes to disposing of leaves, yard waste


Carlos Ochoa is aware of just how much a problem it is when leaves and yard waste are pushed into the street. A City of Wyoming Public Works employee, it is his job to clean the streets in the fall with the extra leaves creating extra trips to Wyoming’s yard waste drop off site.


“We pick up a lot of leaves especially this time of the year,” Ochoa said. “Starting right now, I go about one mile and then I have to unload and that is a five-yard truck that I have there.


“It is a safety issue, because during winter hours if we don’t get all the leaves picked up, the water will create puddles and then [that] will create ice, then [that] creates accidents. It’s a big problem.”


Public Works Assistant Director Aaron Vis said the leaves and grass clippings in the street have been a problem with city officials visiting about 60 properties every year. Because of safety concerns such as flooding caused when the leaves block the basins along with aesthetic issues — “no one wants to drive down a street with grass or leaves on it” according to Vis — last spring the Wyoming City Council put enforcement strength into its existing leaf policy to discourage leaves being placed in the streets.


“If we notice that you have placed grass or leaves in the street, we provide you with a notice and you have three business days to get it taken care of,” Vis said. “If it is not taken care of, the city has a contractor that we work with who will stop by, take care of it by removing it from the street and then you, the property owner, will be charge cost plus 100 percent. If the property owner fails to pay it, then that charge gets placed against the property on the tax rolls.”


The City of Wyoming has a yard waste disposal site for its residents.

The City of Wyoming offers a number of options for yard waste and leaf disposal. The first being the city’s Yard Waste Drop-Off Site. Located right next to the Public Works Faclity, 2660 Burlingame Ave. SW, the drop off site is open year round (except holidays) with hours being 7:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. December – March. To use the site, you need only bring ID or proof of residency.


“Over the last three years, we have averaged about 65,000 people who have used this site,” Vis said. “In an average year, we dispose of about 14,000 yards of wood chips, tree branches, and about 4,000-5,000 tons of leaves and grass clippings are collected.”


Another option to residents are the leaf containers.

Another disposal option is the leaf containers which are available as rentals to residents for $10 a weeknight and $20 for the weekend.


“The third option is on the first Saturday in December, the city has a contractor that comes through and picks up leaves from [residents’ properties] provided they are properly placed in a paper bag,” Vis said. This year’s curbside pickup is set for Dec. 2. All brush  must be tied in bundles no longer than four feet and all yard waste must be placed on the curb by 6 a.m.


For more information about leaf disposal in the City of Wyoming, visit the city’s website and then go to the Public Works portion of that website. On the left side, there is a section called “All About Leaves.”


Wyoming-Kentwood chamber happenings on latest WKTV Journal: In Focus


WKTV Staff


The Wyoming-Kentwood Area Chamber of Commerce is busy this time of year, including advocating for business development in the area — Do you know what is happening at Wyoming’s 28 West Place? —  as well as planning for its annual Santa Parade and its monthly Government Matters co-production with WKTV.


So it is only fit that chamber president Bob O’Callaghan, a regular guest to WKTV Journal: In Focus, sat down with host Ken Norris recently to discuss recent and upcoming chamber activities.


Also on the episode, Habitat for Humanity of Kent County executive director Bri McKee talks about her program’s religious foundations, its worldwide scope, but also its local neighborhood results.


The episode will continue Tuesday, Nov. 28, at 6:30 p.m., and will again air on Thursday on WKTV channels but all interviews included in episodes of WKTV Journal: In Focus are also available on YouTube at WKTVVideos.


For the video of Ms. McKee’s WKTV visit here.


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


GVSU math professor recognized for contributions to science by national organization

Ed Aboufadel

By Matthew Makowski

Grand Valley State University


Edward Aboufadel has been named a Fellow by the American Association of the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for his contributions to the advancement of science or its applications. Aboufadel is the first Grand Valley State University faculty member to be named an AAAS Fellow.


“My initial reaction to receiving this award was one of pleasant surprise, because I was not aware that I was a nominee,” said Aboufadel, assistant vice president for Academic Affairs and professor of mathematics.


Aboufadel has been a member of AAAS since 1987, serving in a variety of roles, including secretary, an officer in the Mathematics Section of the organization, and task force chair.


Beyond his work with the AAAS, Aboufadel said he takes pride in his on-going program of scholarship in applied mathematics during his more than 20 years at Grand Valley. Much of his work has consisted of conducting research with undergraduate students. Some of his projects have included mathematically-based 3D printing designs, hiding messages in images, and the analysis of pollution in river systems using subway-like maps.


Aboufadel said he is most proud of a project through which he and two of his students helped develop an app called Street Bump. The app uses a wavelet-based algorithm to detect potholes within the city of Boston. Aboufadel and his students received a prize from the city for their work.