west michigan

Here are 10 West Michigan trails to explore this fall

Sep 17, 2014
Hiking in Seidman Park in December of 2012.
Steven Depolo / Flickr

The days are getting shorter, but don't resign yourself to settling in for a long, lazy season inside.

One of Grand Rapids' greatest assets is the natural beauty that surrounds this mid-size city, with amenities that you won't even find in many big cities. From small pocket parks to epic-sized Lake Michigan, you're never far away from a wooded trail, a mountain bike path, or a gorgeous beach.

As summer turns to fall, Rapid Growth rounded up ten of West Michigan's best hikes, with hidden urban hiking trails mixed in with cross-country paths that lead to the great lake even in the snowiest of months.
 
City hikes
 
Have an hour or an afternoon? Looking for a hike that can happen within the city limits?

Grand Rapids contains more urban paved trails and hidden hikes than we can count. Savvy West Michiganders already know about the bounty of outdoor experiences at Blandford Nature Center, Provin Trails, Meijer Gardens, and the Calvin College Ecosystem Preserve around the city's edges, plus favorites like Riverside Park and Huff Park right in the city.

Here are a few more in-town walks and hikes to get you started.

Mandi Wright / Detroit Free Press

Controversy over police force has hit not only Ferguson, Missouri but a small town in West Michigan as well.

Some residents in Barry Township, Michigan are getting angry over the build-up of its police force.

Specifically, the nearly three dozen unpaid, reserve police officers from outside the community.

These non-certified officers are carrying guns, riding in patrol cars and, according to some, using way too much force.

Lori Brasier of Detroit Free Press has been covering this controversy.

“These officers were stopping people for having things dangling off their rear view mirrors, they were stopping a lot of high school kids just to stop them,” says Brasier.

The department also has two Humvees and two armored personnel carriers received free of charge from the U.S. Department of Defense for a township with only four full-time officers. 

"People are paying attention. They are going to realize these things are unnecessary and aren’t going to keep us safe,” says Brasier.

* Listen to the full story on above.

Here's a video from the Free Press:

Music artists who are "walking the beat."
Walk The Beat / facebook

Using music to bring communities together and to help children discover music – that's the idea behind a new foundation called Walk The Beat.

There's a big event coming up Saturday in Grand Haven, Spring Lake, and Ferrysburg to help launch the foundation.

Musician and songwriter David Palmer is the founder of the Walk The Beat Foundation.

He says the goal of the foundation is to get kids involved with music, which leads to its slogan: "Teaching the Rhythm of Life."

On August 16 from noon to 5 p.m., each one of the three cities will have open houses featuring local musicians and businesses. Visitors are welcome to go from location to location and experience different types of music.

*Listen to the interview with David Palmer above.

Racine Boat Manufacturing Company Plant, Muskegon, MI
Flickr user Wystan/creative commons

It’s probably pretty stressful being a high school principal, for all kinds of reasons.

But Eric Alburtus, principal of Portage Central High School, spends a big chunk of his time worrying about the arts. He’s specifically worried about the kind of human beings our schools are producing, when kids must fulfill heavy requirements in math and science, yet they barely have a chance to study music, choir, theater, or the visual arts.

(For a more complete look at the state’s requirements, click here.)

Alburtus says arts classes give kids a chance to discover new worlds and different ways of thinking and creating.

Lyon thinks this years clue leads to one of four light poles at this intersection.
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.

Incentive OK'd for filming in southwest Michigan

Feb 23, 2014
Middle Distance/FB

NEW BUFFALO – A movie filming in southwestern Michigan has been approved for a state incentive.

The Michigan Film Office says "The Middle Distance" is being awarded $39,000 on $145,000 of projected in-state expenditures.

The movie is set to film this month in New Buffalo, Three Oaks and Grand Beach. It's to feature local diners and landscapes.

"The Middle Distance" director Patrick Underwood says the community support for the film "has been overwhelming."

There are 2,5000 dams in Michigan and more than 90% are going to hit or exceed their design life by 2020. On today's show: How concerned should we be about our aging dams, and is there the money and political will to fix them? Then, the state's chief medical doctor explains why this year's flu season seems to be a particularly rough one.  And, one man from Ann Arbor is working to earn respect for dads all over America with the Dad 2.0 Summit. Also, the Detroit Zoo is not just a tourist attraction, it's a leader in animal conservation and preservation. 

First on the show, the data and numbers crunchers have been working away, trying to peer into the future to figure out what lies ahead for Michigan over the next 10 years in terms of jobs and pay.

The verdict: Michigan's economic axis is tilting west. Rick Haglund's recent story for Bridge Magazine is headlined: "Future job growth favors West Michigan." 

And Don Grimes is with the Institute for Research on Labor, Employment and the Economy at the University of Michigan.

They join us today to discuss the issue.

Steven Depolo / Creative Commons

The data and numbers crunchers have been working away, trying to peer into the future to figure out what lies ahead for Michigan over the next 10 years in terms of jobs and pay.

And the verdict: Michigan's economic axis is tilting west.

Rick Haglund's recent story for Bridge Magazine is headlined: "Future job growth favors West Michigan."

And Don Grimes is with the Institute for Research on Labor, Employment and the Economy at the University of Michigan.

They both joined us today to discuss the issue.

Listen to the full interview above.

Matthew Kanable / Creative Commons

Tonight is the biggest bar night of the year, with many people visiting family and friends back home in Michigan. It’s a crowd employers in West Michigan are trying to reach. So they’re getting creative with their tactics.

Cindy Brown is executive director of Hello West Michigan. It’s a group made up of more than 40 businesses is trying to lure professionals back to the state.

Hello West Michigan

That’s the message of a new advertising campaign running through the holiday season.

A group of West Michigan employers is behind the effort. More than forty business members make up the group called “Hello West Michigan.”

Its goal is to attract professionals to Grand Rapids, Holland, Muskegon, Battle Creek, and Kalamazoo.

The group’s executive director Cindy Brown says they know there are a lot of people outside of the area that want to come home.

“They just don’t really know how,” she said. "We have a lot of great things that are happening. We’re very humble, pretty quiet."

Brown says the ad campaign in Chicago will show people how and why they should consider moving back to Michigan.

Billboards will brag about better beaches, better beer, shorter commutes to work, even rent without ramen noodles.

“What they found from just talking to people that were relocating back to the area; everyone has a reason,” Brown said.

The $50,000 ad campaign will run through the holiday season.

user BigMikeSndTech / Flickr

The Muskegon port could be expanded to accommodate for larger cargo. The port is one of the only naturally occurring deep water ports, which makes it ideal for bigger ships.

The port could be used to transport agricultural fertilizers and other goods like wind turbines, scrap metals and coal.

Flickr user tinatruelove / flickr

What comes to mind when you think about women playing baseball?

You might think of Tom Hanks yelling “There’s no crying in baseball!” in the 1992 film "A League of their Own."

Well there is a women’s softball team in West Michigan that would be more than happy to show that they don’t cry and they can play. Some of them have been on the team together for more than 40 years.

Joining us now is Lynn Schweibert. She has been playing on the same team in West Michigan with three other women for the past four decades. Her daughter Leslie Reimink also plays on the team. They joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

COVERT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Operators have restarted the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant in southwestern Michigan after finishing repairs to a water tank that leaked slightly radioactive water into Lake Michigan.

New Orleans-based Entergy Corp. idled the plant May 5 after operators found a tank leaking faster than regulations allow. Company spokeswoman Lindsay Rose says it returned to service about 2:10 p.m. Monday.

The plant is in Van Buren County's Covert Township, about 80 miles east-northeast of Chicago,

WOODTV blog

The show will go on tonight in South Haven.

It looked for a while this morning that the start of the 15th annual Waterfront Film Festival might be delayed. Last night’s wind storm knocked out power to more than 95% of South Haven.

Patrick Revere is with the film festival. He says things looked “dicey” this morning, but they have since made arrangements to have the backup power they need to kick off the festival tonight.

“We’ll be able to do everything that we were planning on doing for our opening night party tonight at South Beach,” says Revere.

Elizabeth Lienau / Grand Valley State University

Economists predict the economy in West Michigan will grow at a slow but steady pace this year.

“I mean we’re really looking at another year that feels like last year which isn’t so bad,” Paul Isley, chair of Grand Valley State University’s Seidman College of Business, said.

“We're growing here in West Michigan. We have a potential that by the end of this year at least some areas of West Michigan will finally be above, employment wise, where we were in 2000, which will be really a hallmark,” Isley said.

MLive reports the Pastor of a church with around 750 members confessed to turning in receipts for reimbursement that were never approved.

More from MLive:

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.

amyway.com

Amway plans to spend up to $81 million to build a new facility in West Michigan.

The direct-sales company says it received a $1.6 million grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation for the project. The new facility will manufacture and process vitamins and supplements for Amway's Nutrilite brand.

From their press release:

This investment includes a new $81 million nutrition plant at the company's Spaulding Avenue site in Ada, Michigan, near Amway World Headquarters. The new plant is expected to create 200 jobs over the next three years.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) today approved a $1.6 million Michigan Business Development Program incentive from the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) to support construction of this nutrition products manufacturing facility for Access Business Group LLC, an affiliate of Amway.

Amway says it employs 4,000 people in Michigan. Amway was started in 1959 by Rich DeVos and Jay Van Andel.

Grape vines in west Michigan
user rkramer62 / Flickr

A devastating frost has wiped out grapes grown for juice in southwestern Michigan. John Jasper, a surveyor for Welch's Foods, tells TV station ABC57 that he went through hundreds of acres before even finding a live bud. He estimates more than 10,000 acres were destroyed Thursday, mostly in Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties.

courtesy Riveer Environmental

Riveer Environmental in South Haven will nearly triple in size to accommodate a new $10.4 million contract with the U.S. Army, according to the Kalamazoo Gazette:

Riveer Environmental has been contracted to build 50 vehicle-washing systems that soldiers will use to power-wash everything from Jeeps and Humvees to Abrams tanks.

The systems, which are to be delivered to the Army on June 1 and Sept. 1 (18 and 32 units respectively) are expected to be used in Afghanistan. The company landed the Army contract in late February.

The company says the expansion translates into 10 new jobs - six have been filled.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The Grand Rapids area economy will continue to grow at a modest pace in 2012. Economists at Grand Valley State University are predicting employment growth between 1.5 and 2-percent this year.

GVSU Professor of Economics Hari Singh surveyed close to 300 business owners in Allegan, Ottawa, Kent and Muskegon counties to compile his report. He says 70-percent of employers told him they plan to hire permanent employees this year.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The Grand Rapids economy grew faster than predicted this year and economic forecasters say growth will continue into 2012.

George Erickcek is an economist at the Upjohn Institute for employment research. He says the Grand Rapids economy did grow in 2011, but only by two-percent. (His full presentation is linked here.)

“There’s been no talk of a double dip for many, many months. But the growth…is disappointing. It’s not the growth we want,” Erickcek told a group of business leaders assembled Wednesday.

He says a recovering auto industry and gains in advanced manufacturing are the main reasons Grand Rapids’ economy has grown.

In fact, Erickcek says Grand Rapids is technically over the recession in terms of employment numbers.

Operators of the Palisades nuclear plant say they've restarted the power generator on the Lake Michigan shoreline after a one-week shutdown following a mechanical problem.
    

Authorities say the plant shut down automatically September 25 when two small pieces of metal inside the breaker panel touched, causing a short circuit.
    

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said last week that the plant would remain offline until workers determine what happened and fixed the problems.
    

screen grab from YouTube

Fifty years ago this week, "Runaway" by Del Shannon was the Number One song in the U.S.

It was the first rock 'n' roll song by a West Michigan-born artist to hit the top.

He was born in Grand Rapids, and grew up in nearby Coopersville.

Aside from his own hits, Del Shannon wrote Peter & Gordon's hit "I Go To Pieces", and he produced a 1964 recording by a young Michigan musician named Bob Seger, among other achievements.

Bonnie Raitt recorded her own version of "Runaway' in the 1970s.

Tragically, Del Shannon took his own life in 1990. He was inducted into the Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.

Earlier this year, ahead of the 50th anniversary of the song's recording, John Sinkevics of The Grand Rapids Press wrote about Shannon and his no. 1 song:

Few could have guessed at the time that this pop single would propel the Coopersville native — born in Grand Rapids as Charles Westover — to national super-stardom or that it eventually would be regarded as a milestone in rock history.

 

Here is a link to Del Shannon on a show called "The Golden Age of Rock And Roll". The song recording is from 1961, but the TV show is from 1965... as evidenced by the groovy dancers:

Update 4:41p.m.:

77 people are in custody following a 4-day operation in West Michigan by the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement office.

Federal agents arrested the men and women in 7 counties; from Ludington south to Michigan, Indiana line. 

Khaalid Walls is with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Office. He says they were arrested for their illegal immigrant status, but a few, he says face criminal charges.

A federal appeals court has ruled that a Wayland Township resident has the legal standing to sue to stop the development of a casino.

The Gun Lake Tribe of Pottawatomi Indians recently announced their plans to open the casino in Wayland Township south of Grand Rapids:

The Associated Press reports that the federal appeals court will allow David Patchak to "challenge how the federal government placed the land in trust for the Gun Lake Tribe of Pottawatomi Indians."

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The annual West Michigan Economic forecast was held today in Grand Rapids. Hari Singh is an economist at Grand Valley State University. He expects employment will increase 2% in the region this year .

flickr - photodu.de

The Grand Rapids Press reports that AT&T plans to cut 110 union jobs in West Michigan. The paper reports:

The West Michigan job losses are part of a total of 371 jobs being eliminated by the telecommunications giant in Michigan, said Ryan Letts, president of the Communications Workers of America Local 4034.

Letts is quoted as saying they saw the job cuts coming because the telecommunications industry is changing:

Canis latrans
user mayra / wikimedia commons

Coyotes are opportunistic animals. They'll just as soon go after your cat as they would a rabbit in the wild.

So if you live in an area where coyotes are abundant, you might see them as a nuisance.

Kaitlin Shawgo of the Grand Rapids Press writes about coyotes on the rise in West Michigan.

In the piece, Sara Schaefer with the Department of Natural Resources and Environment says the numbers are up in that part of the state:

"There's no doubt that the coyote population is up. In almost all areas I cover in southwest Michigan, they’re up."

Village hopes a private prison brings jobs, money
Flickr user Still Burning / Creative Commons

The tiny village of Baldwin is hoping a private prison contract bringing thousands of inmates from California to Michigan will help revitalize the area. Baldwin is 65 miles north of Grand Rapids.

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