Grand Rapids

ARtPrize
Rich Evenhouse

Reports of a vandal striking an art installation last night in Grand Rapids.

From the Grand Rapids Press:

Judy Rogers of Gowen returned to her entry "Love Is..." about 10 p.m. Monday to find the large rotating globe that was installed on the north side of the David D. Hunting YMCA branch knocked over and mangled.

Witnesses told Grand Rapids police that someone ran up to it and purposefully began hammering at the work of art until the large sphere came off it’s support.

The Press reports this is the second piece of art to be vandalized this year.

Gowen's entry was constructed using drawings made by elementary school students. The students are scheduled to visit the installation sometime this week.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Voters in ArtPrize have narrowed more than 1,500 works of art down to the top ten. One of the top ten artists will take home the $200,000 top prize later this week.

This year more than 40,000 people voted (more than 400,000 votes in total so far) for their favorites. Thousands gathered Sunday afternoon to hear ArtPrize founder Rick DeVos list off the ten works of art that got the most votes.

Josh Leffingwell / Friends of Transit

People in the Grand Rapids suburb of Walker will vote this November on whether to withdraw from the regional bus system. Now transportation supporters are fighting back.

Supporters of the bus system in metro Grand Rapid held a kick-off rally in defense of the bus sytem, known as The Rapid.

Barbara Holt is a Walker City Commissioner and chairwoman of the regional transit authority. She and other business leaders at the rally said keeping Walker connected is vital to the overall community's economy.

“People can stay in Walker, go shopping someplace else, go working someplace else but we all come back. It’s so important that we do not isolate ourselves from the region,” Holt said.

“I use it for work, when I was working on my masters degree I used for school, medical appointments. I use it for everything,” Walker resident Tom Gilson said.

Steven Depolo / Flickr

ArtPrize 2012 has opened in Grand Rapids.

It's the fourth time round for the huge art exhibition and contest. This year, more than 1,500 artists are competing for $560,000 in prize money. And it's all there--from art that inspires to art that could outrage--and it does get folks talking.

Cyndy spoke with ArtPrize founder Rick DeVos.

She wanted to know how ArtPrize differs from shows like the Ann Arbor Art Fairs?

The main difference, he said, was that it’s not specifically a marketplace.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Thousands of people walked around downtown Grand Rapids for the kickoff of ArtPrize 2012 Wednesday.

1,517 artists are competing for more than half-a-million dollars in the art competition.

There’s so much art here I don’t even have to leave my office building to find some. Neither did Amy Norkus. I ran into the CPA in the lobby of our building taking a picture of a 20 foot long, very detailed quilt.

"I love it. For me to be able to work downtown and walk around and see art, it’s a real treat. It gets me away from all the numbers I have to deal with all day long,” Norkus said.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Hundreds of works of art are being installed across Grand Rapids this weekend.

The fourth annual ArtPrize exhibition officially gets underway on Wednesday.

ArtPrize public relations director Brian Burch admits there is some “anxiety” as the clock ticks down.

“With an event that is the size that it is…we’re expecting 350 thousand people…we have more than 1500 artists….at 161 venues,” says Burch,  “Every year anxiety is high.”

The artists are competing for more than a half million dollars in prize money.

Photo courtesy of Jackie Ladwein

This next story is about an epic friendship between a white, 76-year-old Grand Rapids teacher, and the driven Liberian boy she inspired 50 years ago when she was a young Peace Corps volunteer.

Their bond has survived hunger, poverty, and a brutal civil war. And it’s created ripples across Liberia, leading to the country’s first school for social workers . Now, it’s reuniting both friends back here in Michigan.

Brian D. Hawkins / Creative Commons

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan is urging local governments to review their laws regarding panhandling in light of a federal ruling handed down last week.

A federal judge ruled a state law banning panhandling in public places is unconstitutional.

But ACLU staff attorney Miriam Aukerman says one of her clients in that case, James Speet, was arrested for panhandling in Kentwood anyway.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Thursday morning the public got their first chance to sit down one-on-one with Democrat-turned-Republican Roy Schmidt since he switched political parties in May. The State Representative from Grand Rapids has been dealing with the political fallout ever since.

But at the coffee visit things seemed back to normal; assuming you ignore the massive media presence, which is not normal at these kinds of informal events.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Voters in a Grand Rapids suburb will decide in November whether the city should withdraw from the regional bus system.

This week the City of Walker certified petition signatures collected by the Kent County Taxpayers Alliance.

Ben Reisterer lives in Walker and is with the alliance.

"We’re not against busing at all. We think it’s a good thing for the community. But we don’t necessarily agree with the way they are going about providing that service," Reisterer said.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

 

It’s not unusual to see a thousand people hanging around and swing dancing at Rosa Parks Circle on any given Tuesday night in the summer. The Grand Rapids Original Swing Society (GROSS) has built a reputation as a fun, safe place for people to dance the night away.

Tyler Nickerson / Decriminalize GR

A group that’s trying to make marijuana possession in the City of Grand Rapids only a civil infraction turned in more than enough signatures to get the initiative on the November ballot.

The group modeled the proposed changes to Grand Rapids’ city charter after Ann Arbor’s. In Ann Arbor, fines for marijuana possession start at just $25 and are not more $100.

Tyler Nickerson is with the group known as Decriminalize GR. It collected more than 10,000 signatures during the petition drive.

Michigan.gov

Governor Rick Snyder’s plan to save money by privatizing nursing assistants at a state-run home for veterans is legal. The state’s Court of Appeals issued the decision Friday.

The Grand Rapids Home for Veterans is one of two state-run hospitals for vets in Michigan. More than 700 are housed there.

Governor Rick Snyder privatized about 170 nursing assistants at the home last year to save around $4 million.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The Transplant Games of America are traditionally put on once every two years for athletes who are organ donation recipients. Living organ donors can also compete. Hundreds, if not a thousand athletes from all over the country are expected to compete in a dozen sporting events including track, volleyball, golf, basketball, tennis and several others.

The games are held to promote organ donation and, according to the organization’s website “to show the world that transplantation is a treatment that does indeed work.”

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Two cities from opposite sides of the state are working together to come up with better ways to manage local governments.

Livonia and Grand Rapids are teaming up to find solutions to all kinds of common city management problems; like, what's the best practice for hiring city workers? What about for borrowing money? What’s the best accounting software for the price?

“In essence it could be anything necessary to run local government and best practices that we could easily share,” said Greg Sundstrom, Grand Rapids’ city manager.

DETROIT (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder's point man on the administration's vibrant cities initiative knows there's not a lot of spare money to invest in recreation and green space in Michigan cities.

But Rodney Stokes, the former leader of the state's Department of Natural Resources, sees a growing desire to expand urban trails, reclaim riverfronts for recreational use and offer outdoor activities. He's helped do that in Detroit, and sees potential elsewhere.

This month, he's planning meetings in Grand Rapids, and then will reach out in Lansing, Saginaw and other cities later.

courtesy photo

A Grand Rapids business owner will challenge a party-switching state representative in the Republican primary on August 7th.

Bing Goei made the announcement at the headquarters of his floral business Friday morning.

Official White House portrait

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - An annual wreath-laying ceremony has been held to remember former President Gerald Ford at a West Michigan museum bearing his name.

Relatives and friends of the Ford family attended Saturday's ceremony at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, where Ford and his wife are buried.

Gerald Ford died in 2006. The ceremony also was to include a remembrance of former first lady Betty Ford, who died last year.

The wreath-laying is held each year to mark Gerald Ford's birthday. He would have been 99 on Saturday.

Patrick Miles Jr.
Pat Miles for Congress / Wikimedia Commons

Western Michigan has a new top federal prosecutor.

Patrick Miles Jr. took the oath of office today at the federal courthouse in Grand Rapids. He's a 44-year-old Grand Rapids lawyer who was nominated by President Barack Obama and recently confirmed by the U.S. Senate. 

The U.S. attorney's office in western Michigan has not been led by a White House appointee for more than five years. Obama first nominated Michigan lottery chief M. Scott Bowen for U.S. attorney, but the Senate never acted and Bowen remains in state government.

The office has been in the hands of Don Davis since fall 2008. He's been a federal prosecutor in Grand Rapids for more than 35 years.

The Western District of Michigan consists of 49 counties, including all of the Upper Peninsula.

Occupy Grand Rapids is re-launching the movement after several months of lying low. The group doesn't have specific demands, “it’s not one thing, it’s everything,” the group’s facebook page says.

But several of its members say issues like income inequality, corporate influence, and housing security are important to them.

Anita Finch drove up from Kalamazoo to take part in the renewed effort. She says strong protest movements build over time; like the anti-war movement in the 1960s.

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