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Grand Rapids

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A team of eight community partners, including Grand Rapids Public Schools, health providers, and artistic groups are working together on a big project in Grand Rapids’ Roosevelt Park neighborhood.

The group of organizations, along with help from the Roosevelt Park Neighborhood Association, are taking five acres of blighted properties and transforming them into new mixed-income homes and apartments, a public high school, and a community center.

Man allegedly yells 'Trump' during attack on cab driver

Nov 17, 2016
Grand Rapids
Steven Depolo / Flickr

A cab driver of East African descent has been beaten in western Michigan by a man who allegedly yelled "Trump" during the attack.
 

Grand Rapids police say Thursday that the man was arrested after the Saturday morning attack and later made discriminatory comments about the cab driver's race.

It was not clear if the man has been charged.

Reports of violence and threats toward ethnic minorities have increased since Republican Donald Trump was elected president last week.

Wealthy Street used to be a predominantly African American business district, but Robinson told us there are only two black-owned businesses there today.
flickr user Steven Depolo / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

One proven way to give local businesses a boost is by grouping them together and building a brand. Think Detroit’s Greektown or Corktown, or Little Italy and Chinatown in other cities.

Jamiel Robinson is working to make that happen for black-owned businesses in Grand Rapids.

Robinson is founder and curator of the group Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A loud, dissatisfied crowd streamed through the streets in Grand Rapids Thursday night, peacefully protesting the election of Donald Trump as president. At least a thousand people participated.

After the march, people chanted at a square downtown – declaring "Trump is not my president" and "Love trumps hate."

15 year old Brian Dominguez marched with his mom Laura and little sister Daphne.

Dominquez and his family are from Michigan, but he says they’re proud of their Mexican heritage.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Grand Rapids officials say the city's drinking water is still well within federal standards for the presence of lead. Such testing is getting increased attention amid Flint's crisis with lead-tainted water.

The city posted the results on its website Friday after they were certified by state regulators; information that typically waits until the Consumer Confidence Report is mailed out.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump claims there will be “large-scale voter fraud” this election. But election officials say they’re confident that will not be the case in Michigan. 

“We want to assure everyone, regardless of their political ideology or their partisan affiliation that their voice will be heard on election day and their voice will be counted,” said Fred Woodhams, a spokesman for Michigan’s Secretary of State.

Woodhams says this isn’t the first election he’s fielded these concerns, and guesses it won’t be the last.

people at sculpture exhibit
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A collection of carved wooden dogs received the most votes in this year’s ArtPrize. James Mellick, a craftsman from Ohio, takes home $200,000 for Wounded Warrior Dogs.

According to the artists’ statement, Mellick hopes the installation at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel raises awareness of wounded veterans.

Courtesy of Ran Ortner Studio

As the Grand Rapids Artprize competition continues to grow and evolve, Stateside’s Lester Graham sat down with the very first winner of the competition, painter Ran Ortner.

A Grand Rapids therapist is using virtual reality technology to help his patients confront traumatic environments.
Flickr user UTKnightCenter / Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

 

"Minding Michigan" is Stateside's ongoing series that examines mental health issues in our state. 

Virtual reality doesn’t immediately pop into mind when you think about psychotherapy, but one therapist is using this burgeoning technology to treat his patients.

Tom Overly is using multi-sensory virtual reality technology to help patients confront their fears and anxieties. He’s the owner of VR Therapy and Counseling Center in Grand Rapids.

Peeling lead paint.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Some Grand Rapids homes are about to get a lot safer.

The city is among 23 state and local agencies across the country to receive Lead Based Paint Hazard Control grants from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Lead paint has been banned from use in housing since 1978, but it's still on the walls and woodwork in many older Michigan homes.

"It was marketed as 'the good paint', so if you cared about your home, then you used it," said Doug Stek, who directs hazard control projects for the City of Grand Rapids.

The Kent County Prosecutor has warned Zach Sweers to stop his video vigiliantism for fear of the dangers involved
Wikimedia user Colin / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

How far should a citizen go in trying to bust online predators?

Zach Sweers is a 23-year-old West Michigan man who goes online posing as an underage girl. He meets men online, records everything as he sets up encounters, and then posts it all on YouTube.

So far, Sweers' efforts have led to the arrests of seven men.

Courtesy of Cascade Engineering

For people who get out of prison, the chances of getting a job are often slim to none.

There are programs to help ex-offenders find work and transition back into society, but funding a company willing to hire former inmates proves a challenge.

Recently, though, some companies have been not just hiring, but recruiting ex-offenders.

police officer directing traffic
Flickr user lincolnblues / Flickr

The Grand Rapids City Commission tomorrow will vote on whether to hire an outside consultant to study if its police force is racially biased when pulling over drivers.

A similar study conducted in 2004 found no systemic bias in Grand Rapids. But after the riots in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, people who spoke at community meetings still felt racial targeting was a problem in Grand Rapids. 

That's why city leaders are recommending a second study based on more current data. 

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The Gerald R. Ford presidential museum reopens this week. The museum has been closed since October to undergo $15 million in renovations.

“We basically took the museum down to the cement floors and the outside walls,” said Joe Calvaruso, executive director Ford’s Presidential Foundation.

He says technology has changed a lot since the museum first opened in 1981. 

A silver line bus in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
John Rothwell / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

When the biggest public transit provider in Grand Rapids raised fares from $1.50 to $1.75 last October, it predicted ridership would fall as a result.  Buses in Grand Rapids are indeed emptier, but not to the degree many expected, and in some cases, no more than they are at other Michigan agencies that left fares untouched. This was the first fare increase in Grand Rapids since 2008.

The Rapid experienced a 4.9% decrease in bus ridership when comparing March 2016 with March 2015, the most recent data available.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The Grand Rapids Symphony has made one of the most important decisions an orchestra makes: selecting a new music director. The search for a new director has taken the better part of four years.

Brazil native Marcelo Lehninger says he felt a “great chemistry” with Grand Rapids' musicians when he guest-conducted in 2015 and earlier this year.

“Every single concert that orchestra plays, you know we need to convey that passion, because that, it’s really what gets to people’s hearts,” Lehninger said.

Tiger
flickr user Rez / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0, cropped

It will be up to Kent County voters to decide a proposed tax increase to fund the John Ball Zoo and Grand Rapids Public Museum.

Last Thursday, county commissioners voted to include the millage proposal on the ballot in November.

The zoo and museum are asking for a 10-year, .44 mill tax levy that would go toward funding facility and exhibit updates.

Peter D’Arienzo, CEO of the John Ball Zoo, says the proposal is necessary and would create a reliable source of revenue.

Colin McCarthy

There's a more-than-60-year-old underwater pipeline that crosses the Straits of Mackinac. It's called Line 5, and is operated by Enbridge, the company responsible for the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history. The 2010 spill resulted in the release of about a million gallons of crude oil into the Kalamazoo river. 

A new film follows a pair of Grand Rapids natives on their "fossil fuel-free" journey along the pipeline's 500-mile route. It's called Great Lakes, Bad Lines. 

Filmmaker Paul Hendricks joins us to talk about the film. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A high-end apartment community near Grand Rapids plans to use DNA technology as a way to sniff out dog owners who fail to pick up their pets' feces.

The Ridges of Cascade complex in Cascade Township is building a DNA database that will allow it to identify residents who ignore the clean-up policy. The complex has contracted with the company PooPrints to collect DNA samples of each dog in the development.

A worker holds a lead service line removed from a home in Flint.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The state is now recommending that cities avoid replacing only part of a water service line if it's made of lead. Partial replacements aren’t uncommon.

Typically the municipality only owns part of the line, the part from the water main to the property line. This is the publicly owned portion of the service line. In this case, the part of the line that runs from the public right of way into a home is the privately owned portion of the line.

A scene from the 2010 production of "LINES"
screenshot / Stephanie Sandberg / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM


A Grand Rapids theater company is on a mission: to produce plays that are written by local playwrights and designed to shine a bright light on social issues.

ADAPT. Theatre Company does just that with their new production, LINES: the lived experience of race 2016.

Six actors play 64 members of the Grand Rapids community. They speak of racial issues that affect people in West Michigan, from gentrification to white privilege, education, religion and justice.

Grand Rapids was the fastest growing metro area in Michigan according to new Census data.
Steven Depolo / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

New Census figures show the Grand Rapids area is the fastest growing metro area in Michigan.

The numbers released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau say the Grand Rapids area, which includes Barry, Kent, Montcalm and Ottawa counties, grew by 0.9% from July 2014 to July 2015. 

Wayne County, conversely, had the nation’s second largest population decrease last year.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The new mayor of Grand Rapids wants to make housing more affordable in Michigan's second-largest city. Mayor Rosalynn Bliss' first state of the city speech was Tuesday night.

Bliss talked about the hardships she faced growing up in a family of ten.

“Whether you’re a family of four or a family of ten, a senior, a blue-collar worker, a young professional; I want you to be able to live in our city and proudly call it your home,” Bliss said.

Courtesy of Erin Wilson

West Michigan, you're getting a chance to see unique performance art in the form of music, movement, choreography, film happening Jan. 8-17 at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts in Grand Rapids.

A Gallery Exhibition of New Works in Screendance is a collection of three short films along with dance photography and video all presented by ArtPeers and Dance in the Annex.

The short film “Pull Me Back” features actor Joshua Burge (The Revenant) and tackles the theme of addiction.

police officer directing traffic
Flickr user lincolnblues / Flickr

Attorneys have filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Grand Rapids and three city police officers over a 2014 incident that left an unarmed teenage boy in the hospital.

A big economic development project in Grand Rapids seems to have Republican lawmakers rethinking their opposition to industry-specific tax breaks.

Bennett / Ashlee Kristin Photography

 

The Grand Rapids based band Bennett is releasing their second EP Friday called A Moment’s Time.

 

 


The Grand Rapids Symphony is asking musicians to make more concessions in contract talks
flickr user Steven Depolo / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

These are challenging times for one of Michigan’s symphony orchestras.

The Grand Rapids Federation of Musicians is still trying to come to a contract agreement with the Grand Rapids Symphony. Its  four-year contract expired at the end of August.

But the musicians continue to play as bargaining goes on. They’re trying to regain some of what they gave up to keep the symphony afloat during the Great Recession.

The "Holy Quintet" in Detroit.
Kevin Fox / Fox Photography

Halloween is Saturday, but that won’t stop people from dressing up early.

Youmacon kicks off in Detroit today.

It’s the biggest anime, gaming, and comic convention in the state. The event is in its 11th year, and – along with a lot of other “cons” around the state – it continue to grow.

The popularity of these conventions piqued Lorraine Schleter’s curiosity, so she posted her question to MI Curious:

Michigan quiltmaker wins top prize at ArtPrize, again

Oct 10, 2015
ArtPrize

For the second time, Ann Loveless of Frankfort, Michigan has won the top prize at Grand Rapids' annual ArtPrize competition.

This year, she had some help.

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