All posts by admin

Consumers Energy seeks public input in developing long-term energy plan


An upcoming public session set for Monday, Feb. 12, in Grand Rapids will give community members an opportunity to learn about Consumers Energy and to provide thoughts on how to meet Michigan’s future energy needs.


The open house is scheduled for 4 – 7 p.m. at Consumers Energy’s Russell Leadership Center, 120 Front Ave. SW .


The input from the public will help Consumers Energy develop an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), a valuable long-range tool the company will use to continue to powering Michigan with affordable, reliable and clean energy.


The energy provider expects to submit the plan to the Michigan Public Service Commission by mid-year, as part of the energy law that Michigan lawmakers approved in late 2016. The commission will have about a year to review the plan.


“This process will help set the foundation for serving Michigan, its customers and guiding key decisions for our company in the coming years,” said Brandon Hofmeister, Consumers Energy’s senior vice president of governmental, regulatory and public affairs. “We’re committed to aligning our focus on people, planet and prosperity with this future energy plan. Our goal is a strategic vision that makes sense for our company, our customers and Michigan.


The Feb. 12 event is the second of two public forums. The first was held Jan. 29 in East Lansing.


Consumers Energy serves about two thirds of Michigan’s residents, providing electricity and/or natural gas to homes and businesses in every Lower Peninsula county.


Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest energy provider, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and/or electricity to 6.7 million of the state’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.


To see more information about Consumers Energy’s commitment to a sustainable future, visit

Kent County invites public involvement in new county administrator selection

By K.D. Norris


Kent County leadership is nearing the end of its process to name a new county administrator/controller — in essence the chief administrative and financial officer, as well as the person who oversees day-to-day operation of county government.


And the public will have opportunity in early January 2018 to engage and offer feedback on the process and the two final candidates for the job.


The final candidates for the position are Wayman P. Britt, from Grand Rapids, and Marc S. Ryan, from Land O’Lakes, Fla.


The importance of that job is evidenced in the fact that the county’s just approved 2018 budget of $417 million will be second highest in the area, behind only the City of Grand Rapids’ $528 million budget, and that the county will spend just over $350 million to fund the sheriff’s office and courts, social services, the county’s elections, veterans services and other programs.


The position answers directly to the Board of Commissioners. The position’s salary ranges from $110,300 to $171,078, according to the county, but the specific contract for the new administrator/controller is as-yet undetermined.


“The (recruitment) committee is proud to hold the community forum and ask for public feedback in the recruitment process for this important role,” Sandi Steensma, commissioner and Administrator/Controller Recruitment Subcommittee Chair, said in supplied material. “The community’s input in the process is critical to making the right decision for such an important leadership role. We hope residents will make their voices heard as we complete this process.”


Britt is currently the interim county administrator and previously served as assistant administrator. He also played basketball for University of Michigan, and played in the NBA for two seasons before continuing his education. Ryan is currently Chief Strategy and Compliance Officer at MedHOK, Inc., and previously served in the State of Connecticut Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management/State Budget Director.


One of the two will replace former Kent County Administrator Daryl Delabbio, who retired in June of this year after 22 years of service to county.


On Jan. 10, from 5-7:30 p.m., the county will host an open Candidates Community Forum in the Multi-Purpose Room at the Human Services Complex, 121 Franklin SE, Grand Rapids. This will provide an opportunity for the public to provide feedback regarding the candidates, according to supplied material.


On Jan. 11, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the finalist candidate interviews with the full Board of Commissioners, will take place and will be open to the public.


Finally, also on Jan. 11, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., recruiting subcommittee will review member commissioner feedback and identify the top candidate to be recommended to the full Board of Commissioners for consideration.


For more information visit .


The travels of a GVSU professor highlighted in upcoming exhibit at university’s art gallery

Common Balance, Still Life Paintings by Mike McDonnell

“Afghanistan to Morocco: Journeys of Jim and Virginia Goode”
Exhibition Dates: August 25–October 27
Exhibition Reception: September 18, from 5-7 p.m.
Art Gallery, Performing Arts Center, Allendale Campus


Jim Goode, professor of history at Grand Valley State University, and his wife, Virginia, have explored 11 countries throughout the Middle East for business and pleasure over the past 50 years. They have also taken great satisfaction in introducing more than 100 Grand Valley students, faculty, staff members and friends to the people, cultures and landscapes of this area of the world. Along their adventures the duo has collected a wide variety of ceramics, rugs, textiles and other everyday objects — most representing simple instruments of daily life in these regions of the world. During the art exhibition, “Afghanistan to Morocco: Journeys of Jim and Virginia Goode,” many of these acquired items will be on display for the first time in Grand Valley’s Art Gallery.


“The exhibition displays some very simple, but important objects that allow insight into the daily lives of ordinary people in the Middle East region,” Jim Goode said. “We all share certain common practices, such as the need to prepare food and drink, entertaining family and friends and worshiping. This exhibit emphasizes such commonalities; we are more alike than we are different, regardless of our cultural backgrounds.”


Goode began teaching for Grand Valley’s History Department in 1986, and said students have been at the center oftheir involvement in the Middle East. He helped establish the university’s Middle East Studies program and has facilitated student involvement in the Model Arab League since 1988. Jim has additionally led study abroad programs to Egypt and Turkey over the past 17 years. He will retire from Grand Valley in December; Virginia retired as office coordinator of Grand Valley’s Chemistry Department in 2006.





For more information about Grand Valley State University art exhibits, call (616) 331-2563 or visit


“Mathias J. Alten: An Evolving Legacy”
Exhibition dates: ongoing
George and Barbara Gordon Gallery
DeVos Center, Building E, Room 103 and 202, Pew Grand Rapids Campus
Gordon Gallery hours: Friday and Saturday, 1-5 p.m.; closed on holiday weekends


The German-born American artist, Mathias Joseph Alten (1871-1938) is often referred to as the dean of Michigan painters. Working in a traditional representational style, Alten incorporated the aesthetics and techniques of the Impressionist Movement in paintings infused with light and punctuated with deft brushwork. Based in Grand Rapids, Alten created more than 3,800 works of art over a more than 40-year career, including landscapes, seascapes, portraits and florals. Grand Valley State University holds the largest public collection of Alten’s work in the world.


“Common Balance: Still Life Paintings by Mike McDonnell”
Exhibition dates: Thru Sept. 22
Blue Wall Gallery, DeVos Center, Building B, Pew Grand Rapids Campus


In the early 1980s, Michigan-based artist Mike McDonnell became enamored with still life arrangements of common household objects. He began by drawing each object individually, then patiently applied multiple glazes of watercolor paint to achieve rich color and the illusion of realism. This exhibit features a selection of McDonnell’s work from 1982-2009 that spotlights his desire to idealize common objects in balanced and unique groupings.


“Roger That! The Life of Astronaut Roger B. Chaffee”
Exhibition Dates: Thru Oct. 27
Kirkhof Center Gallery, Allendale Campus


Roger Bruce Chaffee was chosen to be one of America’s first Apollo astronauts as part of NASA’s program to send a man to the surface of the moon and back to earth. Tragically, the 31-year-old Grand Rapids native died, along with his two fellow crew members, when a fire broke out inside of their spacecraft during a routine test on January 27, 1967. The photo exhibition, “Roger That! The Life of Astronaut Roger B. Chaffee,” marks the 50th anniversary of that tragedy and seeks to educate the public on his life and achievements.


“Humanitarian Work in Havana: The Story of First-Hand Aid”
Exhibition dates: Thru Sept. 22
Red Wall Gallery, Lake Ontario Hall, Allendale Campus


In June 2012, Gordon Alderink, associate professor of physical therapy, and Charlie Pryor, ’12, traveled to Havana, Cuba, with First-Hand Aid (FHA). FHA is a humanitarian organization based in Grand Rapids that sends representatives to Cuba to provide food, medicine and financial support to people in need. Alderink and Pryor learned of FHA during a previous trip in 2012 to Havana with the organization and the Grand Valley State University men’s baseball team. However, during the initial trip, Alderink and Pryor were unable to join in the work of FHA. So, they decided that they had to go back on their own. This exhibit shares the FHA experience and informs visitors about the Cuban national health system, its strengths and weaknesses and FHA’s story.

On the shelf: ‘The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted…’ by Elizabeth Berg

By Laura Nawrot, Grand Rapids Public Library

As far as I’m concerned, you can’t go wrong with Elizabeth Berg. Her latest release is a collection of short stories that celebrates women and moments in their lives. Most of these moments start with a spark of discontent and blossom into something wonderful.

As a lifetime member of Weight Watchers (currently over my goal weight) the title story celebrated food and health and what we go through to maintain ourselves in order to live longer in a manner that I related to. Berg successfully takes the everyday events of our lives and somehow makes them more. Each character in this collection becomes you, someone you know, or someone you’d like to know. For new readers and regular fans, this book won’t disappoint.


On the shelf: ‘The Secret Between Us’ by Barbara Delinsky

By Laura Nawrot, GRPL-Main

Secrets. We all have them. Do we share them? Should we keep them? It was this concept that I found so I intriguing in Barbara Delinsky’s latest book, The Secret Between Us.

Deborah, a recently divorced family physician in a small New England town, and her daughter, Grace, are the principle characters in this deception. The story opens with a car accident during a torrential downpour on an unlit street, and spirals from there. Deborah went out in the rain to pick up Grace from a friend’s house and allowed Grace to drive home with her learner’s permit. The two are arguing when suddenly there is a flash of movement, a hideous thump, and events unravel from there.

While I could totally relate to the maternal instinct to protect your child at all costs, I don’t think this story could have worked without its setting. Everybody in a small town knows, or knows of, everyone else, which is what makes the keeping of secrets so tenuous. They all know each other’s business and each character naturally has something to hide. I found parts of the story to be somewhat contrived, but I was still interested enough to finish the book.

If you’re looking for an opportunity to sort through some small town family dynamics, this is the book for you.

On the shelf: ‘The Devil in the White City’ by Erik Larson

By Kristen Krueger-Corrado, GRPL-Main

When I started to read The Devil in the White City, I was surprised to discover that it was a nonfiction book. Larson skillfully alternates between two stories about the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair: the story of the men who built the Fair, and the story of the serial killer who used the Fair to lure young women to their death.

I have always been fascinated with the Chicago World’s Fair, however I found the chapters on its creation to drag a little, and I often found myself skimming them so that I could get back to the fast-paced chapters about H.H. Holmes, the charming serial killer and his evil doings. I understand that the author was using the juxtaposition of the light and dark sides of Fair to create tension, but I found the dark side of the story more compelling.

The Devil in the White City is a fascinating read for history buffs and true crime fans alike. The book brings to life turn-of-the-century Chicago, the growth of a nation, and a frightening tour inside the mind of a killer.


On the shelf: ‘Sensible Shoes…’ by Sharon Garlough Brown

By Karen Thoms, Main Library


Can a novel deliver entertainment and promise spiritual enlightenment? It can when served up by West Michigan pastor and spiritual director Sharon Garlough Brown. Packed inside her engaging story, Sensible Shoes, is a small non-fiction work on incorporating ancient spiritual disciplines into life. This 2013 Midwest Publishing Awards Show Honorable Mention book chronicles the friendship between four women who meet at a spiritual disciplines class, a class none of them initially wanted to attend.

The back cover of the book describes the women this way:

  • Hannah, a pastor who doesn’t realize how exhausted she is
  • Meg, a widow and recent empty-nester who is haunted by her past
  • Mara, a woman who has bounced from relationship to relationship and who is trying to navigate a difficult marriage
  • Charissa, a hard-working graduate student who wants to get things right

The book is structured around the development of the friendships, how the women are responding to the Saturday morning lessons given over three months, and what the practice of each discipline is dredging up from their pasts. Key to the development of the story and spiritual growth of the women is the seminar leader, Katherine Rhodes, and Charissa’s professor, Dr. Nathan Allen. The reader is set up to understand the conflict in the story by Brown’s effective use of short flashbacks.

Most chapters begin with the handout the women received at the start of a session, followed by the leader walking the women through the new discipline. Brown makes smooth transitions from the seminar to the lives of each woman, which she separates within the chapters. The story flows just like a typical novel.

Do not be deceived. Even if you skip reading the handout page or the explanation of the discipline you will not be able to escape the spirituality because the women share it with you, with either the personal reflection going on in their heads or in dialogue with each other.

At times, the dialogue itself will make the reader feel as if they are sitting with their own spiritual director. Take these examples:

“He (professor) placed his elbows on his desk, still clasping his hands together. ‘Your desire for control is keeping you from entrusting yourself to Christ, Charissa. And your desire for perfection is preventing you from receiving grace. You’re stumbling over the cross by trying to be good, by trying so hard to be perfect.’”

In the session on praying with imagination, the leader, Katherine refers back to the story of Bartimaeus asking for sight: “That’s a courageous thing to ask for, isn’t it? Sometimes it’s easier to remain in our darkness and blindness. But Bartimaeus wants to see.”

In the session about establishing a rule of life, Katherine gives an analogy: “Rules of life are like trellises … helping branches grow in the right direction and providing support and structure.”

Other practices Brown successfully weaves into her story include: Walking a Labyrinth as a Journey of Prayer, Lectio Divina, Praying the Examen, Wilderness Prayer, and Self-Examination and Confession.

Although I believe this book will find only a small audience in readers from West Michigan, readers of Christian fiction, and readers of Christian spiritual growth books, my hope is that others will pick up this gem and be as pleasantly surprised as I was.


On the shelf: ‘Nothing to Envy’ by Barbara Demick

By Jen Andrews, Grand Rapids Public Library-Main 

Nothing to Envy follows the lives of six North Koreans over fifteen years — a chaotic period that saw the death of Kim Il-sung, the unchallenged rise to power of his son Kim Jong-il, and the devastation of a far-ranging famine that killed one-fifth of the population. Taking us into a landscape most of us have never before seen, Barbara Demick brings to life what it means to be living under the most repressive totalitarian regime today — an Orwellian world that is by choice not connected to the Internet, in which radio and television dials are welded to the one government station, and where displays of affection are punished; a police state where informants are rewarded and where an offhand remark can send a person to the gulag for life.

Demick takes us deep inside the country, beyond the reach of government censors. Through meticulous and sensitive reporting, we see her six subjects — average North Korean citizens — fall in love, raise families, nurture ambitions, and struggle for survival. One by one, we experience the moments when they realize that their government has betrayed them.

This is an outstanding work of narrative nonfiction that offers a never-before-seen view of a country and society largely unknown to the rest of the world. With remarkable detail and through a deeply personal look at the lives of six defectors from the repressive totalitarian regime of the Republic of North Korea, Demick brings to life what it means to be living under the most repressive totalitarian regime in the world today.

The reader will find it heartbreaking, pitiful and with every page turn wish it not true.


Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapy: What are the Differences?


By Peg Cochran, Holland Home


Has a doctor prescribed therapy for you or a loved one after surgery, an illness or accident?  There are three different types of therapy — physical, occupational and speech therapy — and it’s easy to be confused about the differences between them.


Physical Therapy

Most people are familiar with physical therapy. The goal of physical therapy is to reduce pain and inflammation, accelerate healing, strengthen muscles and increase range of motion—all the things that will help get you on your feet again. Physical therapy might also be used to help alleviate chronic pain from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia or neuropathic sources. Physical therapy is often prescribed after surgery such as joint replacement or following an injury or prolonged illness.


Physical therapy is provided in many settings and may be started while the patient is still in the hospital. Physical therapy is often continued at a rehabilitation center, nursing home, outpatient clinic or in the patient’s own home.


In the hospital, rehabilitation center or nursing home, the goal of therapy is to improve the patient’s function and strength so that they can return home and to a level of independence.


Physical therapy in an outpatient facility is generally for more active people who are not home bound. However, physical therapy can also be administered in the home for those unable to leave for medical or logistical reasons.


With older patients, physical therapists can provide exercises to strengthen muscles and improve or maintain their ability to get out of bed, a chair, to walk with or without assistance and to help prevent falls.


Physical therapy utilizes several treatment methods including exercise, massage, joint mobilization, electrical stimulation and the application of heat or ice.


Occupational Therapy

In general, the purpose of occupational therapy is to assist the patient in improving or maintaining the ability to perform the activities of daily living (ADLs) such as dressing, toileting and bathing.


Occupational therapy can provide support for older adults experiencing physical or cognitive changes and may also provide education for patients with chronic diseases, as well as guidance and education for family members and caregivers. Occupational therapists are also skilled in evaluating a patient’s home and making recommendations for appropriate adaptive equipment such as eating and drinking aids, dressing and grooming aids, as well as products and ways to improve home safety.


Occupational therapy can be beneficial for patients who have been injured, have orthopedic conditions such as a joint replacement, suffer from arthritis or Parkinson’s or who have limitations following a stroke or heart attack.


The therapy can be performed in the hospital, a rehabilitation facility or in the patient’s home. Occupational therapists use a variety of treatment methods including stretching and strengthening exercises, practice of daily activities and instruction in the use of adaptive equipment.


Speech Therapy

Speech therapists deal with a person’s ability to communicate and swallow. Speech therapy can help someone who is having difficulty swallowing or eating, or who has language or cognitive-linguistic problems. Speech therapy is often prescribed after a stroke or for someone with progressive neurological conditions such as dementia. It can also be useful in treating breathing problems associated with lung diseases. In general, speech therapy is helpful in addressing the decline sometimes associated with the aging process.


Speech therapists work with patients in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and in the patient’s own home. Speech therapists may use specific exercises to strengthen the muscles of the mouth and throat, or cognitive exercises to help restore memory or improve sequencing and problem solving.


The use of one of the above therapies, or a combination of these various therapies, can be very useful in restoring and rehabilitating your life or that of a loved one after surgery, an illness or accident.

GVSU hosts two popular carillon programs, the Beckering and the Cook

Cook Carillon Bells by Bernadine Carey-Tucker

Some of the finest carillonneurs from around the world will fill the air with music on the campuses of Grand Valley State University during the annual International Carillon Concert Series. The 23rd annual Cook Carillon International Concert Series will take place on Sundays at 8 p.m. on the Allendale Campus through August 20. The 17th annual Beckering Family Carillon International Concert Series brings five concerts to the Lacks International Plaza located at the DeVos Center on Grand Valley’s Pew Grand Rapids Campus. These concerts will take place on Wednesdays at noon. For more information, contact Grand Valley’s Music and Dance Department at (616) 331-3484.


Beckering Carillon – Pew Grand Rapids Campus

August 2 – Julianne Vanden Wyngaard, GVSU university carilloneur


Cook Carillon – Allendale Campus

August 6 – Sue Bergren, Naperville, Illinois

August 13 – Ray McLellan, Ann Arbor, Michigan

August 20 – Julianne Vanden Wyngaard

On the shelf: ‘Making Room’ by Christine Pohl

By Karen Thoms, Grand Rapids Public Library-West Side Branch

The word ‘hospitality’ brings to mind dinners or parties with friends and family. Almost always being hospitable includes food and drink shared with people you know. If this description of hospitality resonates, you may find Christine Pohl’s discussion of the evolution of hospitality in Making Room an interesting read.

Weaving together Biblical texts and ancient philosophical writings, Pohl discusses the roots of hospitality. Initially people, especially members of the church, were hospitable to strangers in need. Gradually, the magnitude of these genuine needs caused people to think in new ways about meeting those needs. Hotels, hospitals and even our current mental health care system sprung up. As these agencies, businesses and non-profits became part of the social landscape, fewer individuals stepped up to aid the poor and outcasts of society.

Today professionals attend to those who need lodging and healing, making face-to-face encounters with people in need more difficult and less frequent. Pohl argues that the long-term effects of professionalizing hospitality contributes to those helped being disconnected from the community and feeling invisible. Her honest assessment includes how to engage with the disenfranchised instead of sending them to professionals or, if need be, to stand with them as they seek professional help.

Throughout this excellent work, which comes with a companion study guide, Pohl will guide you from abstract commitments of loving your neighbor to concrete expressions of hospitality to the marginalized. Read as a history you will be enlightened, read as a commentary on society and the church you will be challenged to think differently about what true hospitality is and provoked to actions that contribute toward community healing.


On the shelf: ‘Packing for Mars’ by Mary Roach

By Mary Knudstrup, Grand Rapids Public Library, Main

Packing for your summer vacation? Be sure to take along Mary Roach’s Packing for Mars. Not exactly a travel guide, but an informative and often hilarious look at the arduous task of getting a human into space. This is not book about rocket thrusters and gaining orbit, but a look at the more intimate aspects of space travel that confound NASA scientists.

While reviewing the history of the space race, Roach unabashedly investigates some of science’s most delicate engineering challenges. Among her topics are digestion, and egestion in a zero-gravity environment and the problems that result from “two men, two weeks, no bathing, same underwear.” She revels about the joys of weightlessness; “(it’s) like heroin, or how I imagine heroin must be. You try it once, and when it’s over, all you can think about is how much you want to do it again.”

Her writing is smart, sassy and well-researched, loaded with footnotes that stand out as quirky entertaining side-bars to the main text; for example, did you know that guinea pigs and rabbits are the only mammals thought to be immune to motion sickness? Dogs, on the other hand, come by the old adage “sick as a dog” quite honestly. She also delves into the problem of taking a corned beef sandwich on a space mission and the contribution of cadavers to the space program.

While never losing sight of the heroic feats that astronauts perform, Roach probes fearlessly into the “ick factor” of living in space and in the end gives the reader an even deeper appreciation for what astronauts endure in terms discomfort and lack of privacy. Whether you are scientifically inclined or not, Packing for Mars will take you to places you’ve never been before.





Author Susan Dennard scheduled to make a stop at Schuler Books

New York Times bestselling young adult author Susan Dennard will present a talk and signing Thursday, July 27, at 7 p.m. at Schuler Books and Music, 2660 28th St. SE.


The Grand Rapids author is know for the popular “Something Strange and Deadly” series. She will present “Windwitch,” the follow up to the New York Times bestselling novel “Trutwithch.”


After an explosion destroys his ship, the world believes Prince Merik, Windwich, is dead. Scarred yet alive, Merik is determined to prove his sister’s treachery. Upon reaching the royal capital, crowded with refugees, he haunts the streets, fighting for the weak — which leads to whispers of a disfigured demigod, the Fury, who brings justice to the opposed.


Author Susan Dennard

When the Bloodwitch Aeduan discovers a bounty on Iseult, he makes sure to be the first to find her — yet in a surprise twist, Iseult offers him a deal. She will return money stolen form him, if he locates Safi. Now they must work together to cross the Witchlands, while constantly wondering, who will betray whom first.


After a surprise attack and shipwreck, Safi and the Empress of Marstok barely escape with their lives. Alone in a land of pirates, every moment balances on a knife’s edge — especially when the pirates’ next move could unleash war upon the Witchlands.


For more information about the author presentation, visit

Music Laser light Shows take over Chaffee Planetarium at the Grand Rapids Public Museum


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


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.

Local graduate directs, produces first play at Wealthy Street Theater

Abby Pletcher

By Dan Pletcher


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

Cat of the Week: Cilantro

By Sharon Wylie, Crash’s Landing

Each week WKTV features an adoptable pet — or few — from an area shelter. This week’s beauty is from Crash’s Landing. Crash’s Landing and Big Sid’s Sanctuary rescue organizations were founded by Jennifer Denyes, DVM (Dr. Jen), who is on staff at Clyde Park Veterinary Clinic (4245 Clyde Park Ave SW).

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.

Interested in volunteering at one of the cat shelters? Email

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.


Helping Your Loved One Transition to Assisted Living



By Peg Cochran, Holland Home


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.


On the shelf: ‘No Time to Lose…’ by Peter Piot

By Grand Rapids Public Library

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.


Caregivers Corner: Empowering Seniors with Technology

File photo

By Regina Salmi and Kendrick Heinlein, Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan


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.

Caregiver’s Corner is provided as a public service of the Caregiver Resource Network. The Caregiver Resource Network is a collaboration of West Michigan organizations dedicated to providing for the needs and welfare of family and professional caregivers within the community. Funded by the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan with Older American’s Act Title IIIE, Family Caregiver Support funds.

Newly Unemployed? Five Steps to Put you on the Road to a New Job or Career


By West Michigan Works!

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

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 or your local Service Center.

On the shelf: ‘Deadline: [A Virgil Flowers Novel]’ by John Sandford

By Lisa Boss, Grand Rapids Public Library, Main

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.



Alternatives in Motion enhances independence through access to mobility equipment


By Alternatives in Motion and C. Davis


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.


Southern Senior Little League to defend state title in weekend tournament

The Southern Senior Little League team after winning the District 9 title last week. (Supplied)

By K.D. Norris


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.”


For more information on Southern Little League, see


GVSU economist: Local economy remains on track

Brian Long, photo from

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. 

Michigan native Erin McCahan presents young adult novel ‘The Lake Effect’

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.


For more about the book reading and discussion, visit

Wyoming resident’s donation helps Tree Commission to jump start fundraising efforts

Tree Commission Vice-Chair Greg Bryan (center with check) with the Tree Commission and City Council member Kent Vanderwood (far right).

By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma


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.


Tree Commission Vice Char Greg Bryan shakes hands with City Council member Kent Vanderwood at the the check presentation.

“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

Gerald R. Ford International Airport Sets More Passenger Records in June

By Tara Hernandez, Gerald R. Ford International (GFIA) Airport


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.



GVSU group develops tool for children to earn screen time

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

Pets of the Week: Missy, Safya & Feisty

By Brooke Hotchkiss, Humane Society of West Michigan

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
  • Species: Cat
  • Breed: Domestic Shorthair/Mix
  • Age 9 years 8 months
  • Gender: Female
  • Size: Medium
  • Color: Black/Orange
  • Spayed
  • Not declawed

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
  • Species: Dog
  • Breed: Catahoula Leopard Dog/Mix
  • Age: 4 years 1 month 25 days
  • Gender: Female
  • Size: Medium
  • Color: Grey/Black
  • Spayed

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
  • Species: Cat
  • Breed: Domestic Shorthair/Mix
  • Age 3 years 20 days
  • Gender: Female
  • Size: Small
  • Color: White/Orange
  • Not declawed

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)
  • Spay/Neuter Surgery
  • 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 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 or call 1.866.375.7387 (PETS).

Humane Society of West Michigan is open Tues-Fri 12-7, Sat & Sun 11-4.

Your Community in Action: Hot Weather Safety for Older Adults

By ACSET Community Action Agency


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
  • Headache
  • Heavy breathing or a fast pulse
  • Lack of sweating when it’s hot out
  • Fainting

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

Kentwood Concert Series continues with Kalamazoo’s The Mainstays

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

School News Network: Student Talent plus Technology Tackle Pollution Problem

Freshman Will Chatlosh shows his map detailing water runoff, a non point source of pollution.

By Erin Albanese

School News Network


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.


Students gather to fly the drone in the schoolyard.

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.


“Unfortunately, that’s a major source of nonpoint-source pollution,” Bihler said.


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 created projects with technology including drone pictures of campus and 3-D printed items.

Ongoing Work

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.


A water-mitigation garden, created by staff, is just one step in reducing the problem of water runoff from the school.

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.”


Students debate what do do about non-point source pollution during a Socratic Smackdown.

Take a Chance on the D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops

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.


The Grand Rapids Symphony’s D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops remembers The Music of ABBA to open the 23rd annual summer of musical fun at Cannonsburg Ski Area.


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


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!”

Good tunes, great food at ‘Music at the Market’, July 19

By Downtown Market GR

Stop by during Music at the Market to enjoy a little after-hours live music!

What’s better than good tunes, great food, and delicious drinks? Aperitivo, Love’s Ice Cream, Rocket Pies, Slows Bar-B-Q, and Social Kitchen & Bar are open late!

On July 19 from 7-9 pm, enjoy live strolling music while soaking in the sun on Downtown Market’s patios.


WKTV airs special on Muskegon Bike Time as event revs up in downtown Muskegon

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.


For more information on the Muskegon Bike Time, visit