Grand Rapids

Education
9:18 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

It's time for Michigan kids to start preparing to return to school

A big crowd turned out today for Grand Rapids Public Schools Back to School kickoff event
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan school districts are gearing up for the beginning of the school year.

Many school districts are holding kickoff events, including Grand Rapids Public Schools which drew hundreds of grade-school students and parents today.

Teresa Weatherall-Neal is Grand Rapids' school superintendent. She says it’s important for parents and children to realize summer is almost over.

"We need people to now switch gears. Summer is over. We need you to start thinking about school,” says Weatherall-Neal. “It’s time to come back.”

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9:37 am
Wed August 13, 2014

What makes a kid "hard to place" in a foster home, and who is willing to take them?

Lead in text: 
Dustin Dwyer profiles the Goodson family in this weeks State of Opportunity feature. Stacy Goodson says, "If a child showed up at your doorstep, hungry, needing somewhere to live, you would let them come stay with you. ... we sign up to be the doorstep that they show up on."
Rosslyn Bliss leads the way across a boardwalk on a five-acre piece of land on the north side of Grand Rapids to a one-story light-brown building. This building is an emergency shelter for kids who've been removed from their home by the state. "We serve ...
Culture
9:56 am
Tue July 8, 2014

Philanthropist and former Steelcase chairman Peter Wege dies at 94

Peter Wege.
Credit Steelcase

"Do all the good you can for as many people as you can for as long as you can."

- Peter Melvin Wege

The Former Steelcase Inc. chairman and philanthropist Peter Wege died at his home in Grand Rapids yesterday.

He was the son of Peter Martin Wege, who founded Steelcase more than a century ago. Steelcase and rival office furniture manufacturers Haworth Inc. and Herman Miller Inc. anchored the Grand Rapids area's economy for decades.

Peter Melvin Wege created his foundation in 1967. It has given away millions, much of it in his hometown.

More about Wege from his obituary:

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Law
5:35 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

Same-sex couple from Grand Rapids sues to get state to recognize out-of-state marriage

Governor Rick Snyder's statement after a federal court overturns Michigan's ban on same sex marriage in March 2014.

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Economy
11:03 am
Fri May 23, 2014

Lower mortgage interest rates offered in 8 Michigan cities

Michigan State Housing Development Authority Executive Director Scott Woosley says most of Michigan's real estate market has bounced back, but some areas are still experiencing significant sales declines.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING – Michigan is helping provide lower interest rates to first-time homebuyers in eight cities.

About 300 individual or families in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Flint, Pontiac, Saginaw, Battle Creek, Benton Harbor, and Jackson can take advantage of a program announced Friday.

First-time homebuyers who meet eligibility requirements can get a 3.125% mortgage interest rate without down payment assistance. If they need help with their down payment, the interest rate is 3.625%.

Gov. Rick Snyder says he wants to increase home sales in five cities hit hard by blight and three other cities needing a boost.

Michigan State Housing Development Authority Executive Director Scott Woosley says most of Michigan's real estate market has bounced back, but some areas are still experiencing significant sales declines.

Education
2:15 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

In light of federal ruling, Grand Rapids looks to restrict “aggressive” panhandling

Proposed changes to Grand Rapids ordinance would ban people from asking for money from people driving cars.
Credit Brian D. Hawkins / Creative Commons

Grand Rapids police used to use a state law outlawing panhandling to arrest hundreds of people over the years. But a federal judge struck down that law as too broad, saying it impinged on free speech rights.

So now the city is trying to narrow when, where, and how people can ask for money.

Panhandling from drivers on the side of the road, for example, would be illegal.

Grand Rapids’ attorney Catherine Mish says it can cause accidents and be dangerous for the person asking for money. Mish says a person panhandling was hit by a car just this week.

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Law
5:41 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court ruling may help clear the air in Michigan

The court's 6-2 decision Tuesday means that a rule adopted by EPA in 2011 to limit emissions from plants in more than two-dozen Midwestern and Southern states, including Michigan, can take effect.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Clean air advocates in Michigan are cheering a U.S. Supreme Court decision that will allow stricter regulation of coal-fired power plants.

The high court decided this week to overturn a lower court ruling and allow the Environmental Protection Agency to slap new limits on pollution from power plants.

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Economy
11:59 am
Tue April 22, 2014

Unemployment down, but workers making less money in Grand Rapids

Credit Sheila Steele / Creative Commons

The unemployment rate in Grand Rapids is back where it was before the Great Recession.

But workers in Michigan’s second-largest labor market are making less money. Grand Rapids had the second-worst earnings decline of the top-100 labor markets in the country since 2001, down 6.6%. Only Detroit was worse at 7.2%.

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Arts & Culture
8:00 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Power shift at Kendall College causing a stir

David Rosen helps present juried awards at ArtPrize 2013.
Credit Kendall College of Art and Design

The president of Kendall College of Art and Design, David Rosen, announced his resignation Thursday afternoon. It’s not clear why he resigned.

Students and staff rallied in support of Rosen in person and on social media.

Kendall is a college within Ferris State University. FSU spokesman Marc Sheehan says the reactions are “completely understandable.”

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Arts & Culture
1:26 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

'The Nutcracker' will get a makeover in Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids Ballet performers.
Clark Art Photography Grand Rapids Ballet Facebook

Chris Van Allsburg, known for his book "The Polar Express" will design the new production for the Grand Rapids Ballet, and the set will be built by designer Eugene Lee, known for his work on SNL.

More from the Grand Rapids Press:

A $2.5 million fundraising campaign, in part, is providing for the 42-year-old company's first entirely new production of "The Nutcracker" in three decades…

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Law
4:08 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

Irritated but not shocked, same-sex couples hope their marriages will be recognized

Newlyweds Art Bristol, left, and Corey Ledin want the federal and state governments to recognize their marriage and their new last names.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

For many newly married couples, it’s not unusual to apply to the state and federal government to get their new last names.

But for Art Bristol and Corey Ledin, whose newly minted marriage license declares their last names as Ledin-Brisol, the process was far from usual.

TV cameras were watching and photographers snapped pictures. The secretary of state's office wouldn't even accept the same-sex couple's paperwork for a new driver’s license.

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Law
7:43 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

Judge rules Grand Rapids can put income tax hike extension on May ballot

If the proposal passes, Grand Rapids would use it to pay for street and sidewalk improvements.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

A Kent County judge says Grand Rapids can ask voters in May to approve an income tax extension.

At issue is a temporary income tax hike that's set to expire in July 2015. The city wants to extend the tax an additional 15 years to pay for road improvements.

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Offbeat
11:55 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Veteran treasure hunter solves the last 'Wyoming Riddle'

It took Robert Lyons around a half an hour to dig all the snow away from this utility pole where he thought the medallion was. He ended up finding it about 60 feet down the road.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

I got some bittersweet news this morning.

Bitter because after more than 30 years running, the last “Wyoming Riddler” treasure hunt is over. Sweet because one of the veteran hunters I followed to tell the story last month turned out to be the winner.

I watched Robert Lyons do the heavy lifting one day, shoveling about five feet of snow packed around a utility pole in single-digit temps.

We found nothing.

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Weather
5:14 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Flood risk has West Michigan Red Cross focusing on disaster aid

Flooding last year in Grand Rapids.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Almost a year after Grand Rapids was slammed by major flooding, the Red Cross is rallying West Michigan aid groups in case this spring’s snowmelt leads to another big flood.  

Chip Kragt, of the Red Cross in Michigan, says the organization is getting updates from the National Weather Service.    

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Weather
3:43 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Records may fall with the snow this week in Michigan

A winter storm bearing down on Michigan may push Detroit and Flint very close to breaking their all- time winter snowfall totals.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

All-time snowfall records could be broken this week in Michigan.

A storm blowing through the state tonight is expected to dump two to eight inches of snow.

What’s on the line this week may very well be bragging rights for generations of people in Flint and Detroit.

Flint is just about five inches short of its all-time snowiest winter. 82.9 inches fell during the winter of 1974-75. So far this winter, Flint has been buried under 77.3 inches of snow. 

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Arts & Culture
11:58 am
Thu March 6, 2014

Big changes coming to ArtPrize this year

Families take pictures in front of "Rusty" near the Grand Rapids Public Museum during ArtPrize 2011. Voters picked Rusty as number 5 in the top ten.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

ArtPrize, the annual art competition in Grand Rapids, will still award $560,000 this year, but professional jurors will now have a bigger say in who gets the money.

The people who visit ArtPrize and register to vote have always decided the winner. But this year there will be two top prizes, each worth $200,000. One will go to the top vote-getter. The other winner will be decided by three art jurors.

Dana Friis-Hansen heads the Grand Rapids Arts Museum. He thinks the change will attract more professional artists to ArtPrize.

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Law
8:25 am
Sun March 2, 2014

Gun rights advocates to march in Grand Rapids this afternoon

Gun rights advocates gathered at a Grand Rapids City Commission meeting earlier this week.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Supporters of Michigan’s laws allowing people to openly carry guns plan to march through Grand Rapids this afternoon.

They’re supporting Johann Deffert, a Grand Rapids resident who’s suing the city in federal court. Deffert claims his constitutional rights were violated a year ago when Grand Rapids police briefly detained him for openly carrying a gun as he walked through a residential neighborhood.

For more than a year, open-carry advocates have been demanding Grand Rapids repeal a local ordinance they believe is unconstitutional.

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Offbeat
9:46 am
Tue February 25, 2014

The last treasure hunt: ‘Wyoming Riddler’ retires after 34 years of silver bounty

Joe Cramer, aka "The Wyoming Riddler," shows part of the this year's prize. The riddle hadn't been solved as of today.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Every winter, hundreds of people living around Grand Rapids go on a treasure hunt of sorts. They’ve been doing it for decades.

Robert Lyons has been hooked on the treasure hunt for 25 years. Over the years, he’s taken his kids and even his grandkids.

Lyons found the treasure once. He’s still got the newspaper clipping.

“I think it says right on here, I got a 1997 champion cup, which of course is about as proud as you can get of anything,” Lyons said. His treasure also included 34 silver dollars and a complete set of silver tableware.

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Stateside
5:24 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

What mixed-use zoning means for your city

A map of mixed use zoning in Ann Arbor.
Facebook

Zoning laws.

Those two words alone might not grab your interest.

But watch residents pour into city commission and council chambers when there is some proposed change to the zoning laws in their neighborhood.

Maybe it's deciding whether to allow big-footprint houses and extra-large garages. Maybe it's deciding whether to permit residential and commercial buildings to coexist or how many stories a building may be.

But what one person thinks is a great idea, such as allowing more shops or restaurants into an area, might be a horrible idea to that homeowner who wants to come home to a peaceful street.

Grand Rapids recently implemented a new zoning policy that allows more mixed uses. Director of the Grand Rapids Planning Department, Suzanne Schultz, and University of Michigan Urban Planning Professor Dr. Jonathan Levine joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Business
6:45 am
Mon February 10, 2014

Today is the deadline for business owners to apply for a major state tax exemption

A123 Systems Inc.'s battery manufacturing facility in Livonia, Michigan.
A123 Systems Inc. Facebook

Michigan business owners have until the end of the day to file a form that could potentially save them lots of money on their 2014 tax bill.

Michigan’s personal property tax applies to all kinds of things. Carmakers pay the tax on heavy machinery; restaurants pay it on new ovens and dishwashers.

But in order to qualify, business owners have to file a form with their local government.

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