Holland

Politics & Government
2:09 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

Frugal Holland takes on biggest one-time debt for natural gas plant

The new natural gas plant will replace Holland's aging coal fired power plant (pictured).
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

The city of Holland will issue $160 million in bonds to build a new power plant. It’s the biggest bond offering the city, the public school district or the city’s publicly owned utility has ever issued.

Holland is home to a huge population of conservatives whose families emigrated from the Netherlands. That's why the city is known for its Tulip Time festival, historic windmill, wooden shoes, and as Holland Mayor Kurt Dykstra puts it, being frugal.

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Energy
6:00 am
Mon November 25, 2013

Holland needs air permit for new natural gas plant

The new natural gas plant will replace the DeYoung coal plant in Holland.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

The City of Holland wants to get an air permit so it can build a new natural gas-fired power plant.

People have until Wednesday to tell the state’s Department of Environmental Quality what they think of the plans.

The roughly $200 million dollar power plant would help replace the city’s 70 year old DeYoung coal plant.

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Politics & Government
8:36 am
Wed November 6, 2013

Lessenberry discusses election highlights

The Secretary of State says 95.5% of eligible voters are registered
Lars Plougmann Creative Commons

This Week in Michigan Politics Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss some of the highlights from Tuesday's election, including the Detroit mayoral race, elections on LGBT issues, and proposals to decriminalize marijuana.

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Business
11:50 am
Sat September 7, 2013

Michigan battery factory closes for 6 weeks

HOLLAND, Mich. (AP) - A Michigan factory that makes lithium-ion batteries for General Motors is halting production for up to six weeks because of a controversy over a chemical.

LG Chem spokesman Jeremy Hagemeyer says a chemical used to make batteries may not be registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He declined to name it.

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Education
2:50 pm
Mon August 26, 2013

From the school spirit files: Staff and students at alternative school say stigma is undeserved

Alternative high schools often carry a bit of a stigma.

Wavecrest Career Academy in Holland is no different.

Shelby Danielson is a senior at the school. "People think it's a bad school and it's really not," she says.

"There are so many great kids and they have so much potential, they just need that extra push from teachers and they might not get that at other schools."

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Arts & Culture
11:31 am
Thu May 9, 2013

The tulips are back! Photos from 2013 Tulip Time Festival

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, Gov. Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette show off wooden clogs.
Bill Schuette

Stem Fest, no more — this year's Tulip Time festival in Holland is in full bloom.

Last year, the annual flower festival, which brings in hundreds of thousands of tulips and tulip fans alike, notoriously delivered more stems than petals. But Holland's flora is back in action, and Instagram users shared their photos from the  fest.

Economy
9:59 am
Wed March 6, 2013

What’s up with the future of advanced batteries?

Workers at Johnson Controls' Meadowbrook plant assemble lithium ion battery packs.
Johnson Controls

Boeing hopes to have a permanent fix for its new Dreamliner jet by the end of the month. All Dreamliners have been grounded since January after reports of the batteries smoking or catching fire.

The news is another bump in the road for lithium ion battery manufacturers, who’ve already had some problems marketing the next generation of batteries.

Lithium ion dominating the market

Lithium ion based batteries are everywhere; your cell phone, laptop or tablet, cordless power tools. But there are several kinds of lithium ion batteries. The ones in the Dreamliner aren’t the same as the ones in consumer electronics.

“We’re in the middle of a horse race and right now lithium ion is far in the lead of that horse race,” Sam Jaffe said. He’s an energy storage analyst with Pike Research.

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Politics & Government
5:18 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

Records show LG Chem owes more than $250,000 to subcontractors

LG Chem's advanced battery manufacturing plant in Holland.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Officials from Allegan County confirm three companies have put tax liens on LG Chem’s Holland plant. Andy J. Egan Company’s lien is worth $142,199.73,Circuit Electric’s is worth $107,712.15 and Johnson Controls’ $14,600. They say two other liens from 2011 were paid off.

The plant cost roughly $300 million dollars to build. Federal stimulus money paid for half that cost. Last week the Department of Energy’s Inspector General released a report that concluded the company wasted some of that money. The company paid back more than eight-hundred-thousand dollars.

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The Environment Report
10:35 am
Tue February 19, 2013

Despite some bad news, Holland leaders optimistic about battery manufacturing

LG Chem's plant in Holland hasn't produced any batteries yet.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Community leaders in Holland, Michigan are trying to stay upbeat about the future of the battery industry they’ve worked so hard to attract.

But the past week has been rough for advanced battery maker LG Chem. A U.S. Department of Energy audit reported the company likely wasted more than a million dollars in grant money.

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Arts & Culture
10:09 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Not Dutch? New Spanish language magazine launches in Holland

Joe Silva and Nicole Burns hold up the first edition of Nuestra Comunidad.
Terrence Vaughn The Holland Sentinel

Most people know Holland, Michigan for its Dutch roots and maybe it’s big tulip festival.

But in the 2010 U.S. Census, more than 1 in 5 people who live in Holland identified as Latino. So maybe it’s no surprise why The Holland Sentinel newspaper decided to put out a new Spanish language monthly magazine.

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Law
2:08 pm
Thu September 27, 2012

Despite trespassing conviction, Holland minister won’t rule out more civil disobedience

Rev. Bill Freeman reads from his copy of the U.S. Constitution during a packed public hearing on the proposed changes to the Holland city ordinance in 2011.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

A Holland minister who’s been pushing for equal protection for gay, bisexual and transgender people says he’ll consider staging another protest. That’s in spite of a jury this week convicting him of trespassing for his first protest.

Reverend Bill Freeman is upset Holland City Council voted not to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the city’s anti-discrimination laws. One night last October Freeman decided to occupy city hall to try to get city council to change its mind and join more than a dozen other Michigan cities with similar laws. He was arrested for trespassing when the building was closed that evening.

“It’s time for the City of Holland to join the 21st century,” Freeman said, referencing changes to the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy and President Obama’s recent support of gay marriage. “The City of Holland knows what the right thing is and that is not to allow discrimination of anybody,” Freeman added.

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Environment & Science
1:02 pm
Tue September 4, 2012

Sounding off on Holland, Michigan's long-term energy plans

One consultant says Holland should convert its coal plant to natural gas.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

People and interest groups are expected to weigh in on the City of Holland’s long term energy plan at two public hearings tonight and Wednesday.

Angela Badran, with Holland’s Board of Public Works, says the city is trying to figure out the best way to supply residents and industry with baseload energy for the next few decades.

"It’s very complex sort of situation that we’re looking at in, how can we best fit the needs of Holland for the next 25 years," says Badran.

The biggest decision facing the city-owned utility is what to do with its aging coal plant.

An independent consultant says the city would get the best return on investment if it converts the coal plant to burn natural gas instead.

Holland is taking input on several proposed plans at this week's public hearings.

energy
9:00 pm
Wed July 18, 2012

City of Holland takes a long-term look at energy issues

Martin Kushler, Senior Fellow with the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, speaks of the need to invest on conserving energy first.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Holland City Council adopted guidelines on Wednesday night to handle the city’s long-term energy needs.

The comprehensive plan covers a wide variety of energy issues facing the city over the next 40 years.

Arguably the biggest energy issue long-term is whether the city needs to expand capacity at its coal plant, or maybe modify it to burn natural gas.

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energy
5:46 pm
Wed July 11, 2012

City of Holland decides winds not strong enough for wind farm

warrenski Creative Commons

The City of Holland is backing out of plans for a potential wind farm. The city-owned utility bought the option to lease hundreds of acres in Allegan County after the state identified the area as one of the best in Michigan for wind energy potential.

But after more than a year of serious study, the city doesn’t think there’s enough potential to build the wind farm.

“When we went into this, everything looked like it was going to be a good project to pursue,” said Dan Nally, who directs business services for Holland’s Board of Public Works.

"We shouldn’t take the fact that this project doesn’t go forward that we are not supporting renewable, because we absolutely, positively are. But we will also, at the same time, get the best value that we can,” Nally said.

The wind was good, but not as strong as they had hoped. The plan was to have a 20 mega-watt wind farm-- relatively small compared to large scale commercial projects.

Nally says the utility has spent roughly $678,000 to collect wind data and study the impact on birds, bats and wetlands.

"We don’t feel that any of this money has been wasted. It’s been an investment in understanding what we could and could not do,” Nally said.

Nally says Holland is working on agreements to purchase renewable power from other wind farms, but he declined to give details until any agreement is negotiated.

Holland and all other utilities in Michigan must have 10 percent of their energy come from renewable sources like wind by 2015. Nally says Holland is still on track to meet that requirement.

Law
3:50 pm
Sat June 23, 2012

How do anti-discrimination laws affect your business, job, and community?

Young people march "until love is equal" in Holland last August. The march was in protest the city council's vote in June 2011 not to add gender identity and sexual orientation to the city's anti-discrimination laws.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Michigan’s Department of Civil Rights is studying how current laws and policies regarding gay and transgender people affect people’s lives, jobs, communities and businesses. Though state laws ban discrimination in housing and employment based on some factors – people who are gay or transgender are not included.

The department will hold a public hearing in Holland Tuesday.

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Offbeat
9:09 am
Fri May 4, 2012

"Stemfest 2012" t-shirts hot selling item for Holland's Tulip Time

There are some tulip blooms left at Window on the Waterfront Park in Holland.
Andrea Smith

Organizers of Holland’s Tulip Time festival are having a little fun with the fact the usual draw - million of blooming tulips - will be missing this year.

In Holland, you hear some worries about it almost every year. But this year it was especially bad.

“The weather’s been so warm. When tulips were blooming on St. Patrick’s Day we all looked at each other and said 'we’ll have nothing by the festival.”

Luckily there are some tulip blooms left; about 30-percent Auwerda estimates.

 “The locals have always called it a stemfest when there’s not a lot of tulips. And so we thought, let’s just do a little tongue in check and have a little fun with it.”

They made official “Stemfest 2012” t-shirts and buttons. Demand was so high for the original 300 stemfest t-shirts, they had to stop taking online orders shortly after they hit the shelves Thursday. 

Auwerda says they’ve reordered the shirts. They're expected to restock Tuesday, but she can't promise they'll have enough to sell online. (I read other businesses are selling unofficial versions.) 

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tourism
1:34 pm
Mon April 2, 2012

Blossoms ahead of schedule for Holland’s Tulip Time Festival

It wasn't hard to spot tulips blooming in Grand Rapids. Holland has slightly cooler tempuratures, but not by much.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Many of the more than six million tulips planted in Holland are beginning to bloom already…five weeks before the city’s Tulip Time Festival.

“There’s some that are in full bloom right now, especially if it’s close to concrete or a building where they get a lot of sun,” Tulip Time Festival’s executive director Gwen Auwerda said. “But many of the parks have not seen blossoms; they’re budded but no blossoms.” (You can keep tabs on progress of the tulips blooming here.)

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health care
4:48 pm
Thu February 23, 2012

Holland wins $1.6 million in Blue Cross Blue Shield lawsuit

An Ottawa County Circuit Court judge is ordering Blue Cross Blue Shield to pay the City of Holland $1.6 million. Holland is one of dozens of communities that sued Blue Cross over variable fees charged on insurance claims filed by employees.  The city claims the insurer didn’t tell them about the fees for 17 years.

Blue Cross Blue Shield spokesperson Helen Stojic says the fees were not hidden.“As the lawsuit proceeds to the appellate courts we’re confident that the legal process will result in a finding that our access fee were known to our customers,” Stojic said.

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Politics
3:21 pm
Tue January 24, 2012

Obama's State of the Union guests, two from Michigan

Two people from Michigan will be the guests of First Lady Michelle Obama at tonight's State of the Union address.

Holland resident Bryan Ritterby and Detroiter Alicia Boler-Davis.

Alicia Boler-Davis

Boler-Davis is the plant manager at GM's Orion Assembly and Pontiac Stamping. She oversees the production of the newly released Chevy Sonic - "the first new small car program from GM to be manufactured in the U.S.," according to the White House.

When President Obama and President Lee of South Korea visited GM's facility, Boler-Davis led them on the tour.

Boler-Davis was the first African American woman to be plant manager at a GM vehicle manufacturing plant, according to DiversityCareers.com.

Bryan Ritterby

Ritterby describes himself as an "Average Joe."

Someone who is not all that political, and who normally wouldn't watch a State of the Union address.

Tonight, he'll be watching with Boler-Davis from the balcony in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Garrett Ellison of the Grand Rapids Press writes about Ritterby's invitation from the White House:

Bryan Ritterby’s crazy week started on Saturday with a ring from Energetx Composities, where he works as a lab technician, telling him the White House might be calling.

Thus began a whirlwind adventure that culminates tonight when Ritterby, 58, of Holland, will be Michelle Obama’s guest in the First Lady’s box for the president’s annual State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress.

“For some crazy reason, they liked my story,” said Ritterby, who has spent all day fielding calls from reporters in his hotel room at the luxurious St. Regis Hotel in downtown Washington D.C., a block and a half from the White House.

“I’m so nervous, I’m leaning against the wall so my knees don’t knock.”

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Seeking Change
6:51 am
Mon January 23, 2012

Seeking to add gay rights to a Holland city ordinance

Rev. Bill Freeman reads from his copy of the U.S. Constitution during a packed public hearing on the proposed changes to the Holland city ordinance last year.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

In May of 2010, Pastor Bill Freeman asked the Holland City Council to pass a Gay Rights Ordinance. The city's Human Relations Commission considered the question for nearly a year, and recommended unanimously that the City Council add the words, "sexual orientation and gender identity," to the city's anti-discrimination ordinances.

The City Council voted 5-4 in June of last year against doing so. Pastor Freeman is trying to keep the issue alive. He’s attended every regular City Council meeting since June to ask that the "no" voters change their minds. He also tried to "occupy" city hall on October 19th last year.  He was arrested for trespassing.

As part of our new "Seeking Change" series, we speak to Pastor Freeman about his efforts in Holland.

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