The Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM) announced that a special week of Laser Light Shows will take place this summer at the Chaffee Planetarium. For one week only, visitors to the Chaffee Planetarium can recline, relax, and rock out to dazzling laser light performances set to popular and classic music. From Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin to nineties hits and today’s hottest pop, get ready for a timeless journey of light and sound.
Laser Light Shows have something for every music lover, including: Laser Beatles, Pink Floyd’s The Wall, Laser Vinyl (the best of classic rock), Laser Zeppelin, Laserpolis (pop, rock, alternative and oldies), Laser Country, Electro Pop (today’s hottest hits), Lase Rock (classic rock), Laser Tribute (great artists whose music has inspired many), Electrolase (electronic dance music), and Metallica.
Laser Light Shows will take place starting Monday, July 24 and continue through Sunday, July 30. Shows begin at 3 or 4 p.m. each day, and continue with the last show at 9 p.m. Tickets to shows are $4 with Museum general admission, and $5 for planetarium-only tickets. Members receive free admission to planetarium shows. For a full schedule and to purchase tickets in advance, please visit grpm.org/Planetarium.
The Chaffee Planetariums special week of Laser Light Shows will return in September during ArtPrize. Save the dates for Sept. 25 through Oct. 1 for another round of dazzling lights and tantalizing tunes.
You can say that theater is in Abby Pletcher’s blood. Her grandmothers and mother have been involved in the arts including theater arts and now Pletcher will follow in their footsteps making her directorial and producing debut this month with the production of “Little Women: The Broadway Musical.”
OK, so the show scheduled for July 28 and 29 at the Wealthy Theatre is not her first foray into directing. The home-school graduate has directed many shows over the last several years, if directing your cousins counts. She usually has directed one show each summer since the age of 10. Her first big show involved all the kids in her neighborhood, where she directed a place called “Hotel for Kids,” which was a re-write of the kids movie “Hotel for Dogs.”
All of the other shows Pletcher has directed have been with her willing, although sometimes, coersed cousins. These shows would be held at the family’s favorite annual reunion hotspot in Big Rapids.
Although Pletcher has directed about a dozen shows with youth, this will be her first time directing for a show that is in conjuction with Homeschool Performing Arts – or just HPA (as referenced by those who know the group closely). HPA is a theater group that produces shows every year in the communities of Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Kalamazoo. To be more specific the shows are performed in the theaters of the Caledonia, Charlotte, and Comstock Public Schools. The show’s cast, crew, make-up, lighting, sound, and music are all done by high school kids who are home schooled. Parents and other family members assist in making the costumes, sets, and running rehearsals, but the kids learn and perform the shows. The group was stared by Brad Garnaat back in 1997. Pletcher has been involved with HPA as a student since 2008 where she has had the opportunity to observe, learn, and grow as a thespian.
Show times for the “Little Women: The Broadway Musical” are 7 p.m. both days, July 28 and 29, at Wealthy Street Theatre, 1130 Wealthy St. SE. Tickets are $8. For tickets, click here. For more information about the production, visit www.hpami.org.
In honor of Cinco de Mayo 2017, Dr. Jen opted to give all of the ‘newbies’ for the month names of Hispanic origin; we had already had a Cinco (and Dr. Jen is saving Mayo for a white kitty). So, here’s a little bit about Cilantro, one of May’s magnifico kiddos that became a Crash Cat.
Super cute Cilantro is a fun and fabulous fella born in early 2015 who was fortunate enough to cross paths with one of our volunteers. As part of her TNR efforts on the south side of town, the volunteer comes across MANY a cat in need, but thankfully Cilantro was pretty darn healthy, just homeless.
He initially had a difficult time adjusting to shelter life as he didn’t take too kindly to others invading his personal space, but over time he has gotten used to their company. However, we are sure he wouldn’t mind being in a single cat house as long as it is a VERY busy one, probably with a rambunctious kid or two! He can’t wait to chum around with a human that is as energetic and adventurous as he is.
Want to adopt Cilantro? Learn about the adoption process here. Fill out a pre-adoption form here.
Can’t adopt, but still want to help? Find out how you can sponsor a cat!
Crash’s Landing and Big Sid’s Sanctuary have a common mission: To take at-risk stray cats off the streets of the Greater Grand Rapids area, provide them with veterinary care and house them in free-roaming, no-kill facilities until dedicated, loving, permanent homes can be found.
Change is never easy. Change becomes even more difficult to manage as we get older and more set in our ways. One of life’s more difficult transitions is the move from independent living to an assisted living facility. Many seniors view this transition as the last move of their life and perhaps, their final chapter. Coming to terms with that knowledge can bring sadness and depression. There are many ways to help your loved one ease into this transition and manage the emotions that accompany it.
When to Move to Assisted Living
There are many reasons to make the move to assisted living. Many seniors are more than capable of managing in their own home with some outside help from family, friends or a paid caregiver. However, this is not always possible or even feasible. Following are some things to consider as you work to determine the best care option for your loved one.
They can no longer shower or bathe without help, or you are concerned about their safety in the tub or shower.
They are at risk for falls.
They forget to take medications ortake medications improperly.
They no longer cook nutritious meals for themselves and may be losing weight.
They can no longer drive and are becoming isolated.
They have been recently hospitalized and you are concerned about whether they can recover at home.
Breaking the Ice
Moving a parent or loved one to assisted living is stressful for everyone involved. Adults are accustomed to being self-sufficient and to keeping their own unique schedule. Giving up their home can leave them feeling frustrated, helpless or angry. In addition, it’s hard for the caregiver to see their loved one growing older, and you may be having difficulty accepting the change yourself.
Visit the chosen facility several times and give your loved one a chance to become accustomed to the idea of moving. When you visit, encourage your loved one to talk with as many of the residents as possible. Most facilities will allow you to join them for meals. You should also take the time to meet with the administrator and any relevant staff members. Spend some time with your loved one going over any brochures or written material you may have been given. Be sure to get a copy of the activities schedule and point out anything you think might interest your loved one.
Ask the facility about respite care. Many offer it, and it’s the perfect way for your loved one to try out their new lifestyle without making a long-term commitment.
“Respite stays can last from a few days to more than a month,” said Amy Thayer, senior living consultant for Holland Home. “It’s not unusual for one of our respite residents to decide to make the move after experiencing everything we offer.
“It’s important to choose a facility that offers the full continuum of care, if possible,” said Thayer. “That way, should a move to a higher level of care such as nursing be required, your loved one will only have to change floors as opposed to moving to a whole new facility.”
Making the Move
When it’s time to make the physical move to the new facility, planning is key. Make sure you have the dimensions of the new space. If possible, plan the furniture arrangement in advance. You will want to bring enough personal items and furniture to make the space feel like “home,” but chances are you will not need everything in your loved one’s current home. Special pieces can be passed down to family and friends. Knowing others will be enjoy treasured belongings can make parting with it easier.
Have a plan for arranging the furniture so that the movers set things up in a way that suits your loved one’s lifestyle and makes them feel more “at home”. Placing knickknacks and pictures in the same or similar places will go a long way toward giving the new space a feeling of familiarity.
After Moving In
One of the best ways to ease the transition to your loved one’s new way of life is to get to know neighbors. They’ve already “been there, and done that,” and can help the individual adapt to the change. One of the best parts about assisted living is that your senior will no longer be isolated, dependent on visits from family and friends to ease any loneliness. They will be surrounded by peers and will have access to a full calendar of specially planned events and outings.
Check the activities calendar as soon as they move in and plan on participating in at least a few of the scheduled events. You may find there are clubs to join, musical evenings, movie showings and bus trips. Getting involved will help your loved one meet people and make new friends.
In addition, they should familiarize themselves with their new surroundings—check out the library, the exercise room, and the laundry facilities. Knowing their way around will make things feel familiar more quickly.
Finally, encourage your loved one to give themselves time to adjust to their new lifestyle. No matter how much they like it, there will most likely still be days when they feel sad or nostalgic for their old way of life.
“If those emotions persist,” said Thayer, “be sure to talk to the staff. Arrangements can be made for the individual to speak to a counselor who can help them ease into their new way of life.”
Most importantly, try to keep a positive mindset. Help your senior focus on the things they like about their new living situation and take advantage of all that it has to offer.
Men are passionate about many things, and Piot’s memoir, No Time to Lose: A Life in Pursuit of Deadly Viruses is by turns, chilling and fascinating, as he reveals how a boy growing up in a small Belgium town, went on to pursue a consuming desire to help eradicate major infectious diseases, especially in Africa. People who are aware at a young age, of their calling — of some great work they must achieve, have always intrigued me. How do they know? Where does such an unselfish desire and drive come from?
As a child, Peter would pass by the tiny museum dedicated to a local man who had been a missionary to the lepers in Hawaii. He was incensed by society’s cruelty to people with a disease that brought such condemnation and isolation, and determined that he too, would serve those in great need.
Fresh out of medical school, in 1976 he was employed at a Belgium laboratory when a blood sample, thought to be a variety of yellow fever, came in. Routine tests were done on what Dr. Piot would later have the honor of helping to put a name to: Ebola. The most lethal and feared of all the hemorrhagic viruses to come out of Africa, with a 50-90 percent death rate.
After Ebola came another mysterious epidemic, slower to kill, but quicker to spread; and he realized how wrong his old professors had been, thinking that we had conquered the microbes. Piot would eventually go on to head up UNAIDS for fifteen years.
The author has a great storytelling voice — down home, funny, compassionate, engaging. He’s like a witty professor combined with a pirate with Bill Clinton, as he talks about working with political leaders and prostitutes, scary plane flights, irascible bosses, turf wars at the U.N. and more. A wonderful read.
The use of smartphones, tablets and computers has become firmly integrated into our daily lives. Even the most resistant adopters of electronic devices in their daily lives often find themselves on the way to their local library or a family member’s house in order to ‘get online’ to complete an important task. Fast-moving technologies can make once simple tasks like banking or ordering from a catalog difficult for those who have not stayed up to date with changes.
While in many ways it can seem like technology has overtaken our lives, it has brought us many opportunities we previously didn’t have. Being able to place a video call to grandchildren who may live miles and miles away from us, or to consult with a physician and get help without an appointment, enriches our everyday experience. Using electronic devices can also empower us, increase our independence and safety, and reduce isolation by connecting us to our communities.
In May, the Pew Research Center (2017), released results on a study of the use of technology by older adults and the results indicated a significant increase of electronic devices in the few years. Since 2011, the use of smartphones among older adults increased 35%. Today 4 in 10 adults age 65+ own a smart phone. There were similar increases in tablet use. One third of seniors own a tablet, like an iPad, which is a 19% increase from 2010. These results indicate that older adults are just as connected as other age groups, yet for many older adults, their devices seem more a hindrance than a help in their daily lives.
While 75% of older adults surveyed in the Center’s study are online several times a day, only 26% of those same adults feel confident in their use of electronic devices. There are several factors that contribute to this experience, but one of the main ones is the feeling of disorientation that older adults sometimes experience when they first get a smartphone, tablet or computer. Well-meaning family members, may get a device for a family member, set it up for them with passwords and security questions they don’t share with the new owner, and then become impatient with them when the device isn’t working properly.
Seniors will often limit themselves to only using features of their devices that they are certain they know how to operate, like making a phone call or playing a favorite game, missing out on a world of functions and apps that can actually enhance their lives and help them continue to be independent.
There are many organizations working to help seniors become more comfortable and proficient on using electronic devices throughout the nation. Public libraries are a great resource for seniors to learn the basics about how to use computers and even tablets and smartphones. Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan (AAAWM) is developing a class to teach seniors how to use their devices, and show them specific applications available that can support their independence and connection to their communities. We’ll also teach seniors how to protect themselves from scams while on the internet.
On Tuesday, August 22nd from 1-3 pm as part of Family Caregiver University, AAAWM will be introducing our new technology class. On this day, participants will learn the best ways to integrate new technology into the lives of older adults, some of the assistive technologies built into many devices, review apps that can help caregivers manage their lives, as well as give a preview of an upcoming course designed specifically to help seniors use mobile devices like a smartphone or tablet. The class will take place at Area Agency on Aging located at 3215 Eaglecrest Dr. NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525.
For a full list of Family Caregiver University classes provided by the Caregiver Resource Network, please call 888.456.5664 or go here.
It’s no secret that job loss is stressful. Losing your income, daily routine and professional identity can lead to feelings of anger, fear and grief. Coping with these emotions can make searching for a new job overwhelming. There are things you can do to help stay positive and keep moving forward.
Start by organizing what you need to do into easy-to-follow steps. Focus on one step at time. Every time you complete a step, check it off your list. Eventually your list will no longer seem so overwhelming! The checklist below can help you get started.
Register with the Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA). You can register for unemployment and update your records all online. Visit the Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM) to set up an account and file your claim.
Create a Pure Michigan Talent Connect (PMTC) account. PMTC is an online portal where you can search for jobs and upload your resume so employers can find you. Get started at www.mitalent.org/.
Visit a Michigan Works! service center. Once you file for unemployment, you will need to register for work in person at a service center. Michigan Works! staff can help you through the process. The service center in Ottawa County is located at 121 Clover St, Holland, MI 49423. Visit the West Michigan Works! website to find other locations in our region.
Talk to a service center staff member. They can tell you what free services you are eligible for. Depending on your situation, you may qualify for employment preparation, career planning or scholarships for career training or on-the-job training.
Connect online. Follow the Michigan Works! Facebook page in your county to stay up-to-date on employers that are hiring and other resources for job seekers. Update your PMTC profile at least once every 30 days. This ensures your information will continue to be seen by employers.
Remember to stay positive, take it one step at a time and use the many resources available to job seekers. West Michigan Works! offers a variety of free services to help you develop a plan and take your next step to a new career!
Employment Expertise is provided by West Michigan Works! Learn more about how they can help: visit westmiworks.org or your local Service Center.
“D. Wayne Sharf slid across Winky Butterfield’s pasture like a greased weasel headed for a chicken house.” Criminal stealth and practice have readied D. Wayne with a center cut pork chop as part of his kit, and soon he is on the run with his victims. A hail of bullets from their frantic owner suggests to D. Wayne that there has to be a better way to make a living, but — what? “There was stealing dogs, cooking meth, and stripping copper wire and pipes out of unoccupied summer cabins. That was about it in D. Wayne’s world.”
Thus begins the newest Virgil Flowers thriller, and no sooner had I brought it home, than my husband nabbed it. Putting aside his historical studies, he decided he needed a break with some less taxing reading. Soon he was chortling away, as detective Flowers steps in to help a close friend find some missing dogs. All this is on the QT, since Flowers can’t tell his boss he’s working a dog-napping case. But soon after the BCA agent arrives, the quiet southern Minnesota town of Trippton is struck by a murder. And then another murder—
Flowers is soon on the trail of a very, very, bad school board, meth makers, killers, and worst of all, cold-hearted dog-nappers. If you are already a Sandford fan, you’ve already read this book (pre-ordered possibly!), but if you haven’t tried him yet, he writes a meanly humorous thriller. This one is just a little lighter than usual, but it was just as much fun.
Being disabled is tough enough, but imagine not having access to mobility equipment to get around. Thankfully, there’s a nonprofit that helps people who can’t afford or fall through the cracks of health insurance.
Alternatives in Motion enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing independence through access to mobility equipment.
The nonprofit’s vision is to be the central hub in West Michigan for recycling, distributing, and maintaining mobility devices for those in need. Alternatives in Motion had its beginnings in 1993, after the brother-in-law of founder George Ranville, a Grand Rapids native, got into a tragic accident. As Ranville struggled to help his brother-in-law attain proper — but expensive — equipment, he saw an opportunity to help the disabled community.
The new nonprofit began raising money and making its cause known, believing that access to mobility equipment is the path to independence for those in need. Since then, Alternatives in Motion, which remains entirely funded by independent donations, has continued to grow and strives to keep up with the need for mobility equipment.
The organization’s mission is to provide wheelchairs to individuals who do not qualify for other assistance and who could not obtain such equipment without financial aid. By creating access to mobility equipment and repair services for those in need, Alternatives in Motion gives them the independence and quality of life they deserve.
If you or someone you know needs mobility equipment, apply here. (You must live in West Michigan to qualify.) For more information go to the website or call 616.493.2620.
As he prepares his team for a state Senior Little League tournament hosted by District 9 Southern Little League this weekend — a tournament WKTV will be broadcasting — Southern manager Jamie Billo is glad to have several players who have “been there; done that.”
Not only will he get the on-field talent, but also the off-field wisdom, of five players who return from a team that won the state title and won three games in the Central Regional tournament last year before falling to an eventual national champion team from Illinois.
And that leadership was evident last weekend as the Southern team, after rolling through three games in the District 9 tournament, had to bounce back from a title-game loss to Georgetown to win the tournament.
That loss “taught the kids a valuable lesson — on any given day, if you do not play up to your capability you get beat,” Billo said in an interview with WKTV. “It (also) helps a lot (to have experienced players). They can explain to the kids there is no reason to have that ‘awe’ factor. It is just another baseball game. They also reinforce that they have to come to every game ready to play.”
Attend the games; watch them on WKTV
WKTV will also be at every District 9 game this weekend, ready to play. WKTV’s coverage crew will broadcast live Southern’s opening game Friday, July 14, at 7 p.m., and then also be live on Saturday for the team’s games at 10 a.m. or 4 p.m., depending on Friday results. All live games will be available on Comcast Cable Channel 24. Some later games will be taped-delayed.
Southern will open action against the District 16 representative from Onsted. The other teams in the tournament will be Portage, from District 2; Ypsilanti, District 3; Commerce, District 4; Taylor NW, District 5; and St. Clair, District 7.
All games will be at the Southern Little League field complex at 2525 Kalamazoo Ave. SW, just north of 28th Avenue. The title game will be Monday at 5:30 p.m. with a second title game to follow, if necessary.
The winner of the state tournament will play in the Central Regional tournament, along with teams from nine other Midwest states, in Peru, Ill.
The team and its coaches
The Southern team is an all-star team made up of players, age 15-16, selected by the coaches from four Senior level teams who played in the Southern Little League this season.
Billo is in his first year as head coach of the Senior team, but has coached Southern Little League teams for eight years. He is the junior varsity head football coach at East Grand Rapids.
“I have coached a lot of these kids over the last few years,” he said.
The players include, from Central Catholic High School, Myles Beale, a centerfielder and pitcher; Matt Moore, outfielder/catcher; Kyle Tepper, 3rd base/outfielder/pitcher; Luke Passinault, 2nd base/outfielder; Joe Collins, outfielder/pitcher; and Nate Trudeau, short stop.
From East Grand Rapids are Reilly O’Connor, infielder and pitcher; Micah Baermann pitcher/outfield; Billy Bernecker, 1st base/outfield; John Shelton lV, catcher; Jack Billo, 3rd base; Peter Kratt, outfield; Ryan Sullivan, pitcher; and Nick Lambert, pitcher.
Also on the team are, from Grand Rapids Christian, Keegan Batka, middle infielder and pitcher, and Luke Elzinga, 1st base/pitcher.
Shelton, who started on the EGR varsity team this season, will be the team’s clean-up hitter. Billo, the manager’s son, was a starter on last year’s team that won the state tournament, as was Lambert, Trudeau, Elzinga and Kratt. Also of note, Batka’s brother, Austin, pitches for the University of Michigan.
“John Shelton is huge part of the team, batting,” Billo said. “Peter Kraff is probably the vocal leader of the team and has a great bat. Jack (Billo) will hit from the 2-hole two and is very fast. Kegan Batka leads with RBIs.”
Pitching, however, is a little more of uncertainty for the team.
“The strength of the team is batting and defense,” Billo said. “Last year we had two pitchers who we could just roll the ball out to. This year we have a lot of pitching depth but no top pitchers, but we have eight guys we are confident of to put out there.”
In addition to Billo, the other coaches for the team are Jim Passinault and Pat Batka.
“When it comes to pitching, I defer to Pat, his sons are pitchers and he pitched. He calls all the pitches,” Billo said. “We have known each other, coaches against each other in the regular season. As manager, I could pick my coaches and I could not have picked two better ones.”
The West Michigan economy is still growing, a Grand Valley State University economist said.
Brian G. Long, director of Supply Management Research in the Seidman College of Business, surveyed local business leaders and his findings below are based on data collected during the last two weeks of June.
The survey’s index of business improvement (new orders) came in at +31, a modest improvement over last month’s +27. The production index edged up to +26 from +19. The index of purchases remained virtually unchanged at +22, while the employment index jumped to +23 from +13.
Long said slower auto sales have resulted in most auto parts suppliers showing signs of plateauing, but no major firms have reported a significant drop in sales. He said some firms have seen an uptick in quoting activity.
Long also said the office furniture industry continues to show signs of topping out, but no decline appears to be on the horizon. “Because of the apparent topping out for some of our local industries, the capital equipment market remains mixed, and the bias is still to the down side,” he said. “For the industrial distributors, the summer maintenance schedules have given some firms a slight boost.”
The West Michigan employment picture continues to be a bright spot for the local economy, Long said. Ottawa County has the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 2.6 percent, and Kent County tied for third lowest at 2.8 percent. The current Michigan unemployment rate stands at 4.2 percent.
The Institute for Supply Management survey is a monthly survey of business conditions that includes 45 purchasing managers in the greater Grand Rapids area and 25 in Kalamazoo. The respondents are from the region’s major industrial manufacturers, distributors and industrial service organizations. It is patterned after a nationwide survey conducted by the Institute for Supply Management. Each month, the respondents are asked to rate eight factors as “same,” “up” or “down.”
Brian G. Long, Ph.D, C.P.M., serves as Director of Supply Management research for the Seidman College of Business at Grand Valley State University. Dr. Long earned a B.S. and M.B.A. from Central Michigan University, and a Ph.D. in Marketing from Michigan State University. He is also a Certified Purchasing Manager.
For over 28 years, Dr. Long has edited a survey of local purchasing managers for both the Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids areas, which has proved to be a major indicator of current and future business conditions. This survey appears in many local newspapers and national business publications, including the Grand Rapids Press, MiBiz, and the Grand Rapids Business Journal. The survey is also a component of the Federal Reserve’s bimonthly survey of business conditions.
Grand Haven native Erin McCahan presents her critically acclaimed young adult novel ‘The Lake Effect’ Tuesday, July 18 at 7 p.m. at Schuler Books & Music, 2660 28th St. SW.
A funny, bracing, poignant young adult romance and coming-of-age for fans of Huntley Fitzpatrick, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, and The Beginning of Everything.
When eighteen-year-old Briggs Henry decides to work for an eighty-four-year-old widow at her house on Lake Michigan the summer before college, he assumes he’ll take her to doctor appointments and help her with house work. Wrong. Briggs tries to leave behind his family and school troubles for a relaxing summer on the lake and instead encounters an eccentric elderly woman, tight-knit locals, and an enigmatic girl all of which gives a new meaning to “lake effect.”
McCahan grew up on the beaches of Grand Haven and Macatawa. Now a resident of landlocked New Albany, Ohio, she and her husband return every summer to North Beach in South Have, not he shores of Lake Michigan.
Greg Bryan and his wife, Beverly, watched as the City of Wyoming was forced to remove the city trees. First it was due to the Dutch Elm Disease which wiped out about 75 percent of North American’s elm trees by 1989.
Then in early 200s, it was the Emerald Ash Borer, an insect that is lethal to ash trees, with the City of Wyoming becoming part of a countywide Emerald Ash Borer Quarantine.
“They cutdown more than a 1,000 trees,” Bryan said. “My wife turned to me and said ‘We have to do something.’”
Bryan did. He helped establish the Wyoming Tree Commission and this week, in memory of his wife who passed way in the spring, he donated $10,000 to the commission to help get its fundraising efforts moving forward.
“We are in the process of raising funds,” Bryan said. “For many of the grants we are seeking, you need to have matching funds. I am hoping this will help in the group’s fundraising efforts.”
Just a year-old, the Wyoming Tree Commission’s focus has been centered on planting trees. It recently helped the city be named as a Tree City USA, a national movement formed in 1976 to provide the framework necessary for communities to manage and expand their public trees.
With that honor, the commission, named nicknamed the Tree Amigos, has been focusing on projects within the city including a collaboration with Wyoming Public Schools in developing a small orchard at West Elementary School.
Tree Commission Chairperson Stella Slootmaker, who also helped establish the Tree Commission, said during the commission’s recent meeting, that the group is working to raise funds by looking at various grant opportunities through the Department of Natural Resources and the USDA Farm to School Grant.
The Tree Commission also has sponsorships available at various levels, the Service Berry level, $100 – $499; the Silver Maple level, $500 – $999; and the Mighty Oak level, $1,000 or more. For more information about the Wyoming Tree Commission, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
June 2017 was the busiest June on record at the Gerald R. Ford International (GFIA) Airport, coming off a March that was the single busiest month in airport history.
June 2017 passengers were up 5.59 percent year-over-year, not only resulting in the busiest June ever, but also securing the title of busiest second quarter in airport history by over 30,000 passengers; and the busiest overall quarter ever serving over 700,452 passengers since the beginning of the year.
“We are halfway through 2017 and already seeing incredible record-breaking statistics,” said GFIA President & CEO Jim Gill. “This is a testament to our region, and our growing community along with our airline partnerships. Not only does this June go down in airport history, but 2017 now holds the title for busiest first half ever beating out 2016 by over 86,000 passengers.”
Each month of 2017 has resulted in record-breaking passenger numbers, and the Airport has seen ten straight months of record growth.
Through June 2017, GFIA has served 1,385,730 total passengers — up 6.6 percent from 2016.
“The first phase of our Gateway Transformation Project will be complete at the end of summer, and we’re excited to see what the combination of this redesign along with the growing business in West Michigan does for our numbers,” said Gill. “We hope our continued growth prompts more nonstop service, and more options for those travelers who keep supporting us to achieve these record- breaking stats.”
Gateway Transformation Project construction began in December 2015 and is slated to continue through summer 2017. The project’s main feature is the consolidated passenger security checkpoint which opened in June, and centralizes security screening to one main checkpoint in the Airport. Construction also includes new terrazzo flooring, lighting fixtures, kids play areas, restroom and nursing room, family restrooms, pre- and post-security business centers, new retail and food & beverage space, and much more.
A Grand Valley State University group has developed an app for a local entrepreneur that addresses a common concern among parents: the amount of time their children spend on electronics.
Grand Valley’s applied Medical Devices Institute (aMDI) has developed Test 4 Time! (T4T), an app that makes children earn screen time on tablets and smartphones. T4T asks math questions for children in kindergarten through sixth grade. If they answer the questions correctly, they get the time.
“The app addresses a difficult challenge all parents have and allows parents to manage their child’s time on a device while making the experience fun, educational and challenging,” said Brent Nowak, executive director of aMDI.
The idea for the app came from its inventor and founder Tim Smock, from Forest Hills, six years ago when his 7-year-old son asked to play video games every day.
“I would write down 20 math questions and told him if he answered them, he could have one hour on the Wii,” he said. “I wondered if this process could be automated and came up with the idea for Test 4 Time.”
He filed for a provisional patent in August 2011 and began exploring development options.
Smock worked in 2016 with students from Grand Valley’s School of Computing and Information Systems to build a prototype of the app. Earlier this year, he came to aMDI to bring the app to market. John Doneth, a computer science major from Ada, was hired by aMDI in February to help write code and design the app.
Nowak said in six months aMDI created a full development program for T4T, from market study to product testing to launch.
“The aMDI team, which includes students and staff members, demonstrated that we can work at the pace of industry to launch a product to industry standards,” Nowak said.
Smock said he’s enjoyed working with aMDI. “The value and professionalism are exemplary, and we are very excited by the early enthusiasm for this app from parents and teachers,” Smock said.
Nowak said the next step is to develop a hardware device with the T4T software that requires children to earn time on the TV and video game consoles.
The project was funded in part by the State of Michigan’s Small Company Innovation Program/Technology Commercialization Assistance program. Learn more at www.test4time.com.
Each week, WKTV features an adoptable furry friend (or few) from various shelters in the Grand Rapids area. This week, we focus on Humane Society of West Michigan, located at 3077 Wilson Dr. NW in Grand Rapids.
Humane Society of West Michigan’s mission is to rescue hurt, abused and abandoned animals and find them a new forever home. The 501(c)3 non-profit organization helps over 8,000 animals annually and is 100% donor-funded by caring individuals and businesses in the community. Additional programs help reduce pet overpopulation, provide assistance to low-income pet owners, behaviorally assess animals and reunite lost pets with their owners.
Missy — Female Domestic Short Hair Mix
I’m a 9-year-old cat looking for my forever home! I’m sweet, affectionate and relaxed. I would do well as the only pet in the home in a laid-back environment. My favorite activity is napping! I love to be petted and shown love. I would be a great companion for a senior or someone who is looking for a calm, loving, low-maintenance cat. My adoption fee is waived due to generous grant funding.
More about Missy:
Animal ID: 33958186
Breed: Domestic Shorthair/Mix
Age 9 years 8 months
Safya – Female Catahoula Leopard Mix
I’m a playful and friendly 4-year-old dog looking for my forever home! I’m an active dog who would do well in a home with people who give me an active lifestyle by playing with me, going for walks, etc. I am kenneled with a playful male dog and we get along great! Having a dog friend in the home would be a great way for me to get out some of my energy by having a friend to play with. I would not do well in a home with cats. I would do well in a home with older/respectful children. Please come meet me at Humane Society of West Michigan!
More about Safya:
Animal ID: 35588482
Breed: Catahoula Leopard Dog/Mix
Age: 4 years 1 month 25 days
Feisty – Female Domestic Short Hair Mix
I’m a 3-year-old cat looking for my forever home! I was brought in to HSWM as a stray in April and am looking for a good home to call my own. I would do well in a relaxed home. I enjoy napping, being petted, and playing around. Please come meet me at Humane Society of West Michigan! Cat adoption fees are only $15.
More about Feisty:
Animal ID: 35187536
Breed: Domestic Shorthair/Mix
Age 3 years 20 days
Adoption fee includes:
A physical done by the staff veterinarian
A test for heartworm disease (if six months or older)
A first series of vaccines including DHLPP (distemper combo), Bordatella (kennel cough) vaccine, and rabies (if older than 14 weeks of age)
Treatment for internal parasites
One dose of flea preventative
One dose of heartworm preventative
The organization automatically microchips all adoptable animals using 24PetWatch microchips, which include FREE registration into the 24PetWatch pet recovery service. For more information visit www.24petwatch.com or call 1.866.597.2424. This pet is also provided with 30 days of FREE ShelterCare Pet Health Insurance with a valid email address. For more information visit www.sheltercare.com or call 1.866.375.7387 (PETS).
Humane Society of West Michigan is open Tues-Fri 12-7, Sat & Sun 11-4.
Everyone is looking for ways to stay cool under the summer sun, but it is even more important for older adults. Seniors are more vulnerable to heat because their bodies don’t adjust as well to temperature changes. Medical conditions and medications can also make it hard for their bodies to regulate temperature or can cause dehydration. In fact, a recent study found that 40% of heat-related deaths in the US were among people over 65.
It is important to know the signs of heat stroke so steps can be taken to treat it as soon as possible. Symptoms include:
Body temperature over 104 degrees
Changes in behavior, like acting confused or agitated
Dry, red skin
Nausea and vomiting
Heavy breathing or a fast pulse
Lack of sweating when it’s hot out
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, take steps to cool down and seek medical help. Use these tips to stay cool and prevent heat stroke this summer:
Drink plenty of water. Even if you don’t feel thirsty, be sure to drink plenty of cool water and avoid coffee and alcohol.
Eat light. Eat small portions of cold meals like salads. Hot, heavy meals like pot roast can increase your body temperature.
Keep the house cool. You may avoid running the air conditioning to save money, but in a heat wave it can be a life-saver. Keep your air conditioner filters clean to help them run more efficiently. Close your blinds to keep sunlight out and decrease the need for the air conditioner to work as hard.
Keep yourself cool. Wet a towel with cool water and place it on your wrists, face and back of your neck. Sit with your feet in a pan of cool water. Or take a cool shower or bath.
Visit a cooling center. If you can’t cool down at home, visit a public place with air conditioning to get some relief. A shopping mall, library or senior center are places to consider.
ACSET Community Action Agency (CAA) provides a variety of programs to help keep seniors in Kent County health and safe. To learn more, go here.
Your Community in Action! is provided by ASCET Community Action Agency. To learn more about how they help meet emergency needs and assist with areas of self-sufficiency, visit www.communityactionkent.org.
The Kentwood Summer Concert series continues this Thursday with the Kalamazoo-based funk and soul band The Mainstays.
The Mainstays are set to perform at 7 p.m. on the lawn of the Kentwood City Hall, 4900 Breton SE.
The group includes singer/songwriter Andrew Schrock, bass player Neal Conway, guitarist Nate Heymoss, drummer Paul Bauer and organist/clavinet player/wurlitzer player Tom Eldred.
Having recently performed with the legendary organist Booker T., of the 1960s R&B band Book T. & The M.G.’s, earlier this month, The Mainstays draws heavily from the groovy elements that made Funktion (Heymoss’s Michigan funk/dance band) a bonafide dance party, while crafting dynamic, insightful and almost folk-influenced songs. Bauer behind the drum kit and the dirty playing of Eldred on keys bring the sound fully together.
Guests are encouraged to bring a lawn chair and enjoy the evening. A variety of food trucks will be on hand for the event.
For more information about this Summer Concert Series or other programs offered by the Kentwood Parks and Recreation, visit www.yourkprd.org.
A drone buzzed over the East Kentwood Freshman campus, snapping photos to document the path of water runoff from the school building to a Buck Creek tributary that runs across the property. While watching the miniature aircraft, science students talked about how to reduce humans’ impact on the environment. They would later use technology to create maps and documentaries.
Welcome to 21st-century biology, where students have tools like drones for snapping photos from a bird’s eye view, 3-D printers for creating three-dimensional models and smartphones to create video.
In science teacher Nicholas Bihler’s class, they also had the drive to tackle a real-world problem: Water that comes off the school roof simply drains onto the ground, collecting sediment and chemicals and polluting nearby waterways.
While solutions to fix the runoff problem are still unfolding, students completed several projects connected to nonpoint source pollution, and the ramifications it has on the community and local watershed. They recently showcased their work – models of campus that show the runoff path, reports, informational posters and videos – after several weeks exploring the issue and building awareness.
“Our whole purpose is to educate the community on how water runoff affects the community and the environment as a whole,” said freshman Emily Kwekel.
Students’ projects and data will be used by next year’s class, and could eventually be part of a local information campaign to spur efforts to reduce pollution in the watershed. Research included gathering and testing water from the creek to create an analysis of the stream’s health. Results showed excessive phosphorus levels. Insects lacked diversity, indicating poor water quality, and next year’s students will use the data as a baseline.
“I want my students to be able to educate others about nonpoint source pollution and meaningful ways citizens can take action to reduce it,” Bihler said.
Students said they learned that pollution can come from everyday things: Fertilizers and cars have a far-reaching effect.
“It hurts the animals and then those animals can’t eat because their food source is dying off, and then they die and go extinct and people wonder why,” said freshman Lilli Crowley.
Taking action at a staff level, Bihler and his colleagues, teachers Adrienne DeMilner, Alan Freudigmann and Beth Thompson, partnered with Groundswell, an initiative through Grand Valley State University, in creating a rain mitigation garden in the school to capture water runoff and hold it in the soil with native plants.
As for sharing the message, freshman Will Chatlosh’s report, presented to his class and earning loud applause from peers, gets to the point.
“Human activities such as deforestation, agricultural advancements, and increased urbanization are all factors that increase pollution in this way,” he said, while reading his report to the class. “However, it may be a lack of information that kills millions of animals a year and increases the chance of disease around the world. However, more specifically our community is also affected by nonpoint source pollution.”
He said becoming informed is key. “Nonpoint source pollution could destroy the world but it doesn’t have to.”
In 1815, Napoleon met his Waterloo with a spectacular defeat that ended his reign as Emperor of France. In 1974, four Swedish singers met their “Waterloo” with spectacular success, winning the Eurovision Song Contest, launching a career in music that would inspire a Broadway musical, a major Hollywood movie, and sell millions of records.
Arrival from Sweden joins the Grand Rapids Pops with songs such as “Mama Mia,” “Dancing Queen,” “Gimme Gimme,” “Take a Chance On Me,” and many more to open the season at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, July 13-14, at Cannonsburg ski area, 6800 Cannonsburg Rd NE. Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt will be on the podium for both concerts underwritten by Kennari Consulting, Price Heneveld LLP and TerryTown RV as Benefactor Sponsors.
Season tickets offering substantial discounts as well as single tickets for all concerts in the D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops are on sale. Call the Grand Rapids Symphony at (616) 454-9451 ext. 4 during business hours or (616) 885-1241 evenings or go online to PicnicPops.org
ABBA, named after the first names members of the group, Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, was the first non- English speaking musical group to achieve major success across the English-speaking world from New Zealand to the United Kingdom and from South Africa to the United States.
From 1972 to 1982, ABBA sold over 500 million records, making them one of the best-selling music artists of all time. After 10 years of international success, the band dissolved. Except for a TV appearance in 1986, the four musicians did not appear together publicly again until they were reunited at the Swedish premiere of the movie Mamma Mia! starring Meryl Streep, in July 2008.
Arrival from Sweden, the most popular ABBA tribute group, has toured more than 48 nations and appeared with dozens of symphony orchestras since 1995.
Over the past 10 years in the United States, ARRIVAL has sold out eight shows in the Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre in Denver, an arena where other world-famous artists including Elvis Presley, the Beatles, U2, and many more have appeared. Arrival last was in Grand Rapids in February 2012 at the Van Singel Fine Arts Center.
Named for ABBA’s fourth studio album, “Arrival,” as well as ABBA’s No. 1 best-selling album in Europe and Australia, Arrival from Sweden is the only tribute group given a previously unreleased ABBA song, “Just A Notion,” composed by Ulvaeus and Andersson. Arrival also has permission from ABBA’s original designer to wear exact copies of ABBA’s original stage costumes.
ARRIVAL from Sweden not only resembles ABBA in appearance, the group truly embodies the sound and personality of the Swedish pop band, making audiences feel as though ABBA itself is on stage. In fact fans often say, “It was like a real ABBA concert!”
In honor of this year’s Muskegon Bike Time, which is July 13 – 16 in downtown Muskegon, WKTV will be airing the highlight reel of the Muskegon Bike Time 2016.
The half-hour show, produced by WKTV volunteer producer Gary Vande Velde
aka GV Wheels, will air on WKTV 25 this Thursday, July 13, at 1 a.m. and will repeat on Friday, July 14, at noon followed by by DMX Sports Blessing of the Bikes. It also will air on Saturday, July 15, at 12:30 p.m.
The 2016 event marked the 10th anniversary of the annual Muskegon Bike Time, which attracts more than 100,000 people and 75,000 bikes from across the country. The goal of the event is to produce entertainment opportunities in Muskegon aimed at attracting a broad spectrum of motorcycle enthusiasts for a vacation experience on Michigan’s West Coast.
The event’s activities include the Relentless Stunts Show featuring a motorcycle stunt team performing an array of nonstop action acrobats. There also is the Harley-Davidson Rushmore Experience Demo Rides along with the Blessing of the Bikes and the Patriot Ride on Sunday. The four-day event also will have food and plenty of live entertainment.
As beer continues to remain popular in Western Michigan and across the state, the Michigan Brewers Guild has labeled July as Michigan Craft Beer Month with the celebration of the Guild’s 20th anniversary.
Michigan Brewers Guild was created in 1997, hosting its first festival in July 1998. This year, produced by its members Breweries, the Guild will again be hosting four festivals dedicated exclusively to Michigan Craft Beer. The festivals attract more than 3,500 people each year, according to supplied material.
The first event, the Michigan Summer Beer Festival will take place July 21-22 at Riverside Park in Ypsilanti’s Historic Depot Town. Other upcoming festivals include: Saturday, Sept. 9, UP Beer Festival, in Marquette; and Friday and Saturday, Oct. 27-28, Detroit Fall Beer Festival, at Eastern Market in Detroit.
With the number of breweries and brewpubs, Michigan ranks 6th in the nation — with claims of being The Great Beer State.
For ticket and more information visit MiBeer.com .
Bell’s announces coffee milk stout offering
Comstock’s Bell’s Brewery recently announced its new addition to its beer offerings, set to be released this fall as part of its specialty lineup.
Arabicadabra, a coffee milk stout with ABV of 5.5 percent, made to debut on draught in 12-ounce bottles, packaged in six packs, this upcoming October, according to Bell’s.
“This year, we are changing things up a bit,” said Laura Bell, CEO of Bell’s. “Arabicadabra is a different take on a coffee stout and very similar to a local favorite that was released at our pub and at some events. It’s time to share it with an even larger audience.”
The beer was inspired by Milchkaffe, another Bell’s specialty beer, which debuted 2015, with the mix of milk stout.
For more information on this upcoming beverage visit bellsbeer.Com .
Metro Health – University of Michigan Health will host Family Day Camp, an annual event for families coping with cancer, from 3-5 p.m. every Thursday afternoon, July 13 through Aug. 3. Camp will be held at The Cancer Center at Metro Health Village, 5950 Byron Center Ave. SW.
A free four-week program, Family Day Camp provides education and emotional support for families that have a loved one battling cancer.
“Family Day Camp is a fun, supportive environment that gives participants a chance to learn about cancer and its effect on the family,” says Metro Health – University of Michigan Health President and CEO Michael Faas. “It helps families form stronger bonds with each other, while also connecting with other families that understand what they’re going through.”
Each two-hour session will be packed with fun for all ages. The entire family is invited, from newborns to great-grandparents. Children may participate without an adult, though families are encouraged to attend together.
“We’ve gathered the best family fun activities from around Grand Rapids and brought them all to the Cancer Center at Metro Health,” says Laura Smith, Cancer Center director. “We want families to be able to have some fun together while someone they love is battling a disease.”
Activities and educational topics will vary depending on the day. Families can participate in one or all of the four sessions:
July 13: Someone I Love is Sick (about cancer)
July 20: Battling the Bad Guys (about cancer treatment)
July 27: I’m Still Me (about changes in loved ones and routines)
August 3: Happy or Sad, the Good and the Bad (how to express emotions and support each other)
Participants are invited to meet at the big tent beside the cancer center. There’s no charge and no need to register in advance.
Family Day Camp is hosted by Metro Health Child Life Services, a department that specializes in helping children cope with illness, injury and hospitalization. The annual camp is funded through donations to the Metro Health Hospital Foundation.
For some people, being resilient is a way of life. As early as five years old, one Arbor Circle Homeless Youth client was removed from her mother who was selling drugs. During the course of multiple foster home placements and other times when she was physically and sexually abused, she was separated from her siblings and left completely on her own.
She dropped out of school in the 9th grade and ran away — again — staying with friends and other family members for short periods of time. She lived this way for years.
She then began prostituting herself with landlords for places to stay. When she came to Arbor Circle to see about the Homeless Youth program, she had just been told to leave a shelter home.
TheBridge of Arbor Circle is a safe shelter program for youth who are facing homelessness or considering running away. In the middle of crisis, The Bridge offers youth a stable and accessible place to stay. Along with a variety of supportive programs,it helps them connect with peers, learn new skills, and find resources to reconnect with their families, schools and community.
How it works
The Bridge provides crisis shelter, counseling, case management, group support, youth activities and connections to other needed services, The Bridge assists youth with meeting their basic needs, setting goals, building new life skills, and establishing connections with peers and mentors who can support them. Services include:
Shelter services available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for up to 21 days
Community education and prevention services
Service learning opportunities for civic engagement
The Bridge services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year to youth in need of safe shelter and supportive services due to issues such as safety, runaway/homelessness, and/or disconnection from family, school or community. Services are available for:
Youth between the ages of 10-17, both Male and Female
Youth staying/residing in the Counties of Kent, Ottawa, Montcalm, and Ionia
Youth/families in crisis can call or walk in anytime
Services are free
Are you or is a youth you know homeless or considering running away? The Bridge can help. Call toll-free 1.877.275.7792 or call 616.451.3001.
Arbor Circle’s main campus is located at 1115 Ball Ave. NE in Grand Rapids. Phone 616.456.6571 for more information. The Bridge 24-hour Hotline is: 616.451.3001.
How did an upper middle-class family who went to the vet to euthanize their beloved elderly cat, end up taking home one of the newer “super-pit” breeds cropping up? Well- you’ll have to read the book to find out, and it makes for a fairly unusual tale, as Eli (Oogy) returns from an almost Biblical destruction to prove that ultimately “living well is the best revenge”.
Caution: dog lovers will not be able to resist this dog or this book.
Editor’s Note: This story was first published in August 2016
Gloria Tungabose’s eyes flash as she tells of her father, killed in Burundi. Her mother’s ethnicity was Tutsi and her father’s was Hutu, and the two groups were engaged in a bloody civil war. Her mother, Butoyi, was arrested.
“My mom went to jail and was raped there and had my sister,” said the East Kentwood High School student, describing how men measured her mother’s nose to determine her ethnicity.
The family moved to Congo, where violence also raged, Gloria said. They eventually arrived at a refugee camp in Namibia, living off rations of flour, beans, oil, sugar and salt, carrying drinking water to their shelters and going to school. She was 10 years old, and would remain there for three years.
Sponsored by a local organization, Gloria moved to Michigan four years ago, to discover a place where snow falls in the winter, people ride daily in cars and buses and where she can go to school with students from many different backgrounds. Now she can graduate from high school, go to college and become a nurse.
“I feel like it’s a dream and I’m still sleeping. Am I in America, really?” she asked. “I just have to live life and accept the reality in it. Even though the past was horrible and bad, I want to make my future better and help people in the future.”
Gloria’s story is similar to many refugee students who attend East Kentwood High School. They’ve escaped war. They’ve ridden on top of trains to elude dangerous gangs. They’ve seen family members murdered. They’ve crossed oceans and lived in refugee camps. They’ve faced religious and ethic persecution unlike most Americans ever experience.
Now they are seated at their desks Monday through Friday, reading literature, learning algebra, studying U.S. history and taking Michigan Merit Curriculum tests. They dream of careers, financial security, a future without violence.
A Mosaic of Backgrounds
School diversity is often painted with a broad brush: white, black, Hispanic and Asian. But in Kentwood Public Schools, where students there come from 89 different countries, that picture is much more detailed. Diversity means students hail from all over the globe: from bustling Indian and Chinese cities to mountainous Balkan countries, to African tribal communities.
“We have 61 languages spoken here, which creates unique challenges,” said Erin Wolohan, an interventionist who works with students learning English. “We have many, many languages and cultures, so we have to come up with unique solutions.”
Many students speak half a dozen or more languages, a result of growing up in several countries, as their families fled areas and resettled in others. Gloria speaks Swahili, Kirundi, Kinyarwanda, English, French and Portuguese. She has already graduated out of the English Language (ELL) Learner program, and her accent is barely detectable.
“I feel great. I am surrounded by different cultures. I feel at home,” she said.
Newcomers arrived in waves to the Grand Rapids area from Bosnia, Kosovo, Vietnam and other Asian countries, Burma, Nepal and Africa. Many have moved to the Kentwood area because of housing availability. In the 8,856-student Kentwood Public Schools district there is an English-language learner population of 1,686 students, 19 percent of the district.
“For the past two decades Kentwood Public Schools has experienced a demographic shift within our student population,” said Shirley Johnson, assistant superintendent of Student Services.
One way the district has responded is to provide cultural competency training to all employees to address the numerous challenges: logistic, communication and cultural. Teachers help with transportation and in reaching parents who don’t have cars or driver’s licenses, and who work second- and third-shift jobs. The district spends approximately $60,000 annually on translation services.
Two Kentwood schools, Meadowlawn Elementary and Crestwood Middle, have Newcomer Center programs for which students receive full-time, intensive ELL instruction. The high school also has many newcomer classrooms. Recently, in ELL social studies teacher Carlotta Schroeder’s class, students from Nepal, Burma, Congo and many other countries finished their first-semester exams.
Damber Chhetra, who came from Nepal five years ago, said his family came for better opportunities. “It’s a better life. I can have a better education,” Damber said. “I like the way the teachers teach. It’s different. They are so nice to the students.” He wants to become a computer engineer.
Students Settle Where Housing is Available
Families often live in apartments, and children who come unaccompanied by parents live with foster families and have church sponsors. Many high school students, without families to take them in, begin living on their own.
There are several reasons the Grand Rapids area became a destination for refugees, Johnson said. Grand Rapids participated in the resettlement of refugees even before 1980, when the Refugee Resettlement Act was passed authorizing more organizations to help facilitate refugee migration to the U.S. Some local agencies include Bethany Christian Services, Lutheran Social Services and West Michigan Refugee Education & Cultural Center.
Placement of refugees is based on housing availability. Resettlement agencies work with landlords to get fair and affordable housing, said Susan Kragt, executive director of the West Michigan Refugee Education & Cultural Center, located in Kentwood. Because Kentwood and Grand Rapids school districts have newcomer center schools, most refugee children end up in those schools.
School is sometimes entirely new for refugee children. Many come from non-urban areas without formal education systems, putting them behind academically. For teachers, nothing can be assumed or taken for granted, ELL Interventionist Wolohan said. Even the volume of someone’s voice can seem aggressive to non-English-speaking students.
Students have cultural differences and experiences that affect attitudes toward education, the roles of men and women and how they interact with each other. They may have never seen snow before, so aren’t prepared for cold winters. There’s also pressure from family members for teenagers to go straight to work to make money, Wolohan said. Kentwood teachers encourage them to stay in school because they will make more money in the long run, she said.
Adjusting to the Culture
A key piece in breaking down barriers is helping students and their families adjust to U.S. culture, as well as educating teachers about their needs, Kragt said.
The center works with refugee students through its School Impact Program. The program provides orientation sessions for students and parents; holds workshops for educators on the resettlement process and the cultural backgrounds of refugees; hosts panel discussions with refugee students and offers eight-week peer support groups for middle- and high-school students.
Workshops inform educators about students’ prior school experiences, and alert teachers to the symptoms of culture shock and trauma that can leave refugee students feeling isolated and depressed, Kragt said.
“Unfortunately, sometimes our kids get bullied,” she said. “We talk about the trauma of what they’ve been through, but sometimes it can be more traumatic trying to fit into a new culture… Their classmates are looking at them going, ‘You’re different.'”
Also, Wolohan added, it’s incorrect to assume students are here because they want to be. While many came for a better life, often they wish they could have stayed in their own countries.
“It’s a lonely life, it’s a hard life. They know they are better off than where they were, but it wasn’t their idea,” she said. “It’s not like they woke up one day and said, ‘I want to live in America.’ We have that misnomer that we think they should be so thankful to be here, and they are grateful, ultimately. But that doesn’t mean they don’t miss their families. If they could go back to their homeland and have it be more free, they would.”
A Welcoming Environment
Teachers are encouraged to lead by example in the classroom, giving other students “less permission to pick on that kid,” Kragt said. “These kids are not going to be the ones going around introducing themselves to everybody. They need people to reach out and say, ‘Hey, how are you?'”
The big picture is to help students acclimate permanently. A successful school experience is crucial to refugee families’ fortunes in America, Kragt said. Without students learning English, graduating high school and going on to college, refugees are apt to stay in an “enclosed community” apart from the broader society.
But in schools where there may be 21 foreign languages in one classroom, teaching is “a pretty daunting task,” she noted.
Her center provides after-school tutoring and other programs to help students catch up. More broadly, it strives to provide a welcoming culture for refugee resettlement in West Michigan. When Gov. Rick Snyder last fall sought to pause the state’s acceptance of Syrian refugees due to terrorism concerns, Kragt accused him of “leading with fear rather than reason” in a teleconference sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan.
“We have a strong history of welcoming refugees (in West Michigan), and a lot of people are informed about refugee resettlement,” she said. “That’s allowing us to maybe push back on some of the misinformation that’s out there.”
Just walking the halls at East Kentwood High School helps dispel fears and promote acceptance. Students are often dressed in native clothes, speak their native languages and celebrate their traditional holidays, all while navigating the U.S. education system.
Wolohan said refugee students and the perspectives they bring add to the richness of the district.
“It’s an education you can’t buy,” said Wolohan, who’s had four children in Kentwood Public Schools. “What we have here doesn’t exist anywhere else. I think this is one of the most diverse schools in the country. For my own children, it’s given them more acceptance of other cultures and also a world view. It brings the world to them.”
That kind of attitude is one of the district’s core values, Assistant Superintendent Johnson said.
“We believe that our district reflects the real world. As students prepare to live and compete in a global market place, they will fully appreciate the rich differences among their peers, understand the value of diversity and be equipped to successfully interact within a multicultural society.”
SNN reporter Charles Honey contributed to this article.
The City of Wyoming’s yard waste drop-off site will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. through Saturday, July 15 to allow for storm damage clean up. The drop-off site, located at 2660 Burlingame Ave. SW, will return to normal hours on Monday, July 17. The site is free to Wyoming residents and they are encouraged to continue assisting with the clean-up efforts.
The City will also be performing a city-wide pickup of branches and trunks starting today. All debris must be stacked neatly in the parkway areas between the curb and sidewalk. Homeowners are asked to have this material ready for pickup by Monday, July 17.
While this is not a regular service provided by the City, leaders feel it is necessary due to the severity of the storm. “We generally do not provide yard waste pick-up after weather events, unless they are extremely severe in nature such as last year’s tornado. There are extra costs associated with these services, and we always seek to use our resources in the most judicious ways,” said Curtis Holt, City Manager for the City of Wyoming. “Due to the severity of last weekend’s storm we feel we should assist residents to the extent we’re able. Our thanks go out to all of the residents who have already cleaned their properties and brought debris to our yard waste drop-off site. Their efforts are tremendously helpful and we hope they will continue to assist us.”
The cleanup effort will be performed by both City staff and contractors. City staff will be removing small piles of debris, while contractors will remove larger piles throughout this week and next. At this time, residents do not need to call Public Works to request pickups.
As a young kid, Adam Khafif was already developing a sense for business, working in his off-school hours for the family’s cookie business. In high school, he launched a streetwear company, completing his first sale – to his aunt! With the dauntless spirit of an entrepreneur, Adam sharpened his focus, majoring in business at Babson College and cementing his vision for his LSNP clothing line. Today, he sells hip clothing, all the while incorporating his core values that set LisnUp apart in a very competitive industry.
Cutler Park was filled with bluegrass fans as Macey Jane Williams, 7, took the stage and was part of the kick-off show at the Sounds of Summer Cutlerville.
Proud daddy, bluegrass singer and songwriter Lare Williams and his band members from New Direction smiled as Macey sang one of Williams’ original songs.
Sounds of Summer Cutlerville hosts free community concerts every Thursday evening in July starting at 7 p.m. This week the series “rocks out” with the Lakeshore-based band Bettie Paige which is fronted by the ever amazing and entertaining John Merchant. According to organizers it should be a great night of music and a variety for all tastes.
Concerts are taped through WKTV and aired throughout the summer. Television showtimes are 8 p.m. Tuesdays; 10 p.m. Fridays; and 9 p.m. Saturdays.
David Fuentes believes it is impossible to find a piece of music that is not about who we are and what we care about. “In fact, I even offer $500 to any student that can find one,” said the music professor. “I’m not out any money yet.”
Fuentes addresses this in his writing for, Vocation across the Academy, a book collaboration with NetVUE, a nationwide network of colleges and universities. NetVUE is working to create resources that empower students in vocational exploration, said Fuentes. Fuentes contributed chapter five, “To whom do I sing, and why,” addressing the place of music in human flourishing.
Fuentes began his musical journey when his mother picked up his first instrument, an accordion, at a garage sale. From then on, said Fuentes, he had a knack for music and liked making up his own songs. Since then, Fuentes has enjoyed composing music for theater, television and the concert hall as well as teaching a number of Calvin’s music courses.
Music as vocation
The topic of vocation is particularly important to Fuentes because part of his job is to help students uncover their personal calling and understand how much of their lives will be directly related to music. “For some this will be 100 percent, for others it will be a smaller part,” he said.
Fuentes believes the way students approach education has changed over the years. In the past, it was about learning reasoning and critical thinking, he said. Then, in whatever field you pursue, you would be pulling from a pool of knowledge. “Students today are trying to be practical about what they are going to go into. If they don’t have a job right out of college, they feel like a failure.”
Fuentes said students are often so focused on finding a career that they forget to ask: What are my gifts and loves? How can I contribute to God’s Kingdom? Educating students about vocation helps them fine-tune and understand all of their giftings, he said. It also gives students permission or a calling to help people.
“I have been nervous about pursuing music as a major for the longest time, but I definitely felt more comfortable after taking his class,” said Alexia White, a student of Fuentes.
Why music matters
Each semester Fuentes asks his students: Why does music matter in human lives? Are people just listening because they like it or is there something deeper?
“I assumed that when I took this class it would be about how music is only meant to bring glory and honor to God,” said White. “But Professor Fuentes helped us understand how that can be one purpose for music, but music can help us explain our biblical worldview. Music can teach us about God, others and ourselves.”
In the chapter he wrote in Vocation across the Academy, Fuentes tackles the issues of artists creating only for self-expression and audiences expecting a profound emotional experience with every artistic encounter. According to Fuentes, this is only a small part of what music can do.
“Sometimes people use music to escape; music is good at that. We go into a different state of mind and can experience great emotion there. On the other hand, music can help us delve into issues,” said Fuentes. “The deepest and most profound emotions come when we realize something. Rather than escaping from reality, music can bring us deeper into reality,” said Fuentes.
“There are two basic ways human beings make sense of the world: rationality and intuition,” said Fuentes. “Music brings those two together beautifully.”
Copyright Calvin College, reprinted by permission.
The Wyoming-Kentwood Chamber of Commerce’s monthly Government Matters meetings bring together government leaders of all levels and topics often range from local libraries to Washington. D.C. politics. You can see for yourself as WKTV replays the meetings.
At the July 10 meeting, discussion on the current state of healthcare reform took center stage as Greg VanWoerkom, district director for U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Michigan 2nd District), gave a status report to the other government officials and representatives.
“Really, all the eyes have been on the Senate the past two weeks, what their strategies are regarding healthcare, and we hope to hear more information on that this week, ” VanWoerkom said. “Everybody is watching every senator and what they are saying about it.”
Rep. Huizenga has consistently called for repeal of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
“What we are seeing, with the Affordable Care Act, is that more and more people are not having options to purchase (medical insurance) in the individual market,” VanWoerkom said. “Counties, states, individual insurance companies are just dropping out of that exchange marketplace at a pretty good clip. … the Affordable Care Act is not working.”
To see the entire discussion, check out WKTV’s replay of the meeting (link below).
The Chamber’s Government Matters meetings include representatives of the cities of Kentwood and Wyoming, Kent County, local Michigan House of Representatives and Senate, and, often, representatives of other State of Michigan and federal elected officials. The next meeting will be Aug. 7 at Wyoming City Hall.
The meetings are on the second Monday of each month, starting at 8 a.m. WKTV Journal will produce a highlight story after the meeting. But WKTV also offers replays of the Monday meetings on the following Wednesday at 7 p.m. on Cable Channel 25. Replays are also available online at WKTV’s government meetings on-demand page (wktv.viebit.com) and on the chamber’s Facebook page.
Metro Health – University of Michigan Health is now giving away free of charge the life-saving medication, Narcan, to patients upon discharge who experience an accidental or intentional opioid overdose. These kits are funded through a generous grant from the Metro Health Hospital Foundation.
Opioids, like heroin and common prescription pain medications, have been associated with overdoses at epidemic levels nationally. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, more than 33,000 people died because of opioids in 2015. The Center also reports that nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid. In 2015, Metro Health’s emergency department treated 285 drug overdoses with 190 of those being actual or potentially opioid related.
“Opioid use is on the rise, and so are overdoses,” said Dr. Marc Afman. “Overdoses can be accidental or intentional. We also know that if a person has one overdose, they are far more likely to have a second, and that one could be fatal. An overdose can happen to anyone. By distributing these kits, we are helping to save lives by providing education, community resources and Narcan; an antidote (reversal) for opioids.”
Metro Health – University of Michigan Health is distributing Narcan in nasal spray form. Narcan is a prescription medication used to reverse the dangerous life-threatening effects of opioids. An overdose is a medical emergency. Narcan does not take the place of emergency medical care, and 911 should be called when it is used.
The hospital’s goals for distributing these kits include:
eliminating the need for the patient to travel to a pharmacy to fill a prescription for Narcan;
removing any financial barriers that would prohibit a patient from obtaining a kit at a pharmacy;
educating the patient and caregivers regarding appropriate use; and
reducing the amount of deaths in the community related to opiate overdoses.
“At Metro, we want to be clear about one thing: we do not encourage the improper use of opioid drugs; rather, we recognize that Narcan used immediately by family and friends could save the life of someone they hold dear,” said Pete Haverkamp RPh. “We recognize that not all overdose victims are using illegal drugs, and whatever the cause of the overdose, we want to provide life-saving tools to those who may need it the most.”
“Our mission at Metro Health – University of Michigan Health is to improve the health and well being of our communities,” said President and CEO Michael Faas. “The focus of this program is to be proactive and do what we can to curb the spread of this health epidemic. That’s why we are so pleased to provide these kits—free—to patients upon discharge who have overdosed on an opioid.”
Each Narcan kit includes two doses of the spray. Instructions are printed in English, Bosnian and Spanish. Also included in the kit are instructions indicating how to recognize an overdose, initiating emergency response by calling 911, and how to administer the life-saving medication, Narcan. Additional information includes a list of community resources where an individual, or family member, can find local help, including support groups, shelter, food, addiction services, crisis lines and counseling.
Stabenow, Peters Accepting Applications from Candidates Interested in Nomination for Federal Judgeship and U.S. Attorney in Eastern and Western Districts of Michigan
U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters have announced they are accepting applications from qualified persons interested in nomination for federal judge or United States Attorney. There is currently one vacancy on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan and one vacancy on the United States District Court for the Western District. Both U.S. Attorney positions are also vacant. Interested candidates should request an application by emailing email@example.com. Applications are due no later than July 31, 2017.
Peters Amendments to National Defense Authorization Act Passed by Senate Armed Services Committee
By Zade Alsawah
U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, authored several provisions and amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which sets policy for the Department of Defense (DoD) for Fiscal Year 2018. The legislation was approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee this week.
Senator Peters also cosponsored several provisions that were approved by the Committee, including a provision to require the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to conduct a study on the health implications of PFAS in drinking water, as well as an amendment authorizing funding to support the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program, encourage partnership between MEP affiliates and the Manufacturing USA Institutes established by DoD, and improving manufacturing engineering education. MEP is a public-private partnership dedicated to providing technical support and services to small and medium-sized manufacturers.
Senate Commerce Committee Approves Peters’ Amendments to Strengthen Airport Security
Amendments Included in Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Bill
By Zade Alsawah
The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee today approved several amendments authored by U.S Senator Gary Peters (MI) to help strengthen security and protect travelers outside of Transportation Security Administration (TSA)-screened areas in local airports. Recent incidents at airports in Ft. Lauderdale, Brussels, and Bishop International Airport in Flint, Michigan, have highlighted vulnerabilities to coordinated and lone-wolf attacks in public areas like baggage claims or pick up and drop off points.
In Grand Haven, Senator Stabenow Joins “All Hands on Deck” Event on Lake Michigan to Highlight Importance of Protecting Our Great Lakes
U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Co-Chair of the bipartisan Senate Great Lakes Task Force, today joined community members at the Grand Haven State Park for the “All Hands on Deck” Great Lakes event. The event was one of 64 local events happening in communities and at public beaches in six different states to raise awareness about the importance of protecting our Great Lakes and funding the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
“All Hands on Deck” was started by Kimberly Simon of Charlevoix in March, 2017 to raise awareness and bring people together in a nonpartisan way to advocate for our Great Lakes. Kimberly launched the idea after the Trump Administration proposed eliminating funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. For a complete list of the more than 30 events happening in Michigan, visit https://allhandsondeckgreatlakes.org/communities-participating/ and for more information, visit https://allhandsondeckgreatlakes.org/.
Peters, Stabenow Urge Department of Defense to Explore Efforts to Reduce Prescription Drug Costs in TRICARE
By Zade Alsawah and Miranda Margowsky
U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) sent a letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis asking him for timely consideration of a pilot program to improve access and reduce the costs of prescription drugs in the TRICARE program, which serves active duty military personnel, National Guard, reservists, retired service members and their families.
Currently, all TRICARE beneficiaries must get non-generic medications from a military treatment facility (MTF) or through mail order, but have no option to visit a pharmacy in person. The pilot program, which was established in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2017, will allow beneficiaries to get their medications from local pharmacies while preserving access through the existing MTF and mail order systems, and reduce costs by allowing the Department of Defense to purchase non-generic medications at the same lower rate it pays for drugs dispensed through the mail or MTFs.
The pilot will also provide additional options for the families of retired servicemembers, National Guard members and reservists who may not live near an MTF to visit a pharmacy in person to purchase their medications. There are more than 97,000 TRICARE beneficiaries living in Michigan, but there are no military treatment facilities in the state.
For the first time in its history, the Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GFIA) will be a venue for ArtPrize.
GFIA has been a sponsor and welcoming point for artists and visitors for several years, and decided to sign on as a venue for the 9th annual art competition, given the connection to the community. Seven artists will have art displayed at the Airport, which includes both indoor and outdoor work.
“We are thrilled to be a part of ArtPrize in more ways than one, and serving as a venue will not only give visitors a first impression of our city; but it will hopefully bring in those from around West Michigan into the airport to see the art and check out our newest facilities,” said GFIA President & CEO Jim Gill. “The Ford Airport strives to be reflective of the people and events in West Michigan, and what better opportunity is there to do so other than partner with ArtPrize? We look forward to welcoming in both local and international artists, and look forward to seeing their talents on display.”
ArtPrize is an open, independently organized international art competition which takes place for 19 days each fall in Grand Rapids. More than five hundred thousand dollars in prizes are awarded each year, which include a $200,000 prize awarded entirely by public vote and another $200,000 prize awarded by a jury of art experts.
Any artist working in any medium from anywhere in the world can participate. Art is exhibited throughout downtown Grand Rapids—museums, bars, public parks, restaurants, theaters, hotels, bridges, and for the first time – the Airport. Over eight years, 2.9 million visitors have cast 3.2 million votes and artists from around the country and world have received $4.1 million in awards.
“In addition to their stunning renovations, we are excited to expand the ArtPrize boundaries to include The Gerald R. Ford International Airport allowing visitors from all over the world to experience — an vote for — the work of ArtPrize Artist on their first and last stop in West Michigan,” said ArtPrize Executive Director Christian Gaines.