Category Archives: 3-bottom

May is Community Action Month Part 2: Fighting Poverty for 53 Years


By ACSET Community Action Agency

This is part two of a two-part series about Community Action Month.

For 53 years, Community Action Agencies (CAAs) in the United States have been fighting poverty at a local level. They are guided by their individual missions and are committed to the Promise of Community Action to improve the community by helping people help themselves and each other.

In Kent County, ACSET CAA is focused on providing services to generate a higher quality of life for all residents. In 2016, ACSET CAA:

  • Weatherized 101 homes
  • Provided tax preparation assistance to 2,662 individuals
  • Made 1,090 utility payments
  • Distributed 1,945,560 pounds of food
  • Served 18,068 Latin-inspired meals to seniors

ACSET CAA is grateful to their partners and volunteers. Without the support of 76 partner organizations and 36,588 volunteer hours they would not have the same impact on our community. Together, they are helping people and changing lives.

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

Government Matters: Week in review, May 22-26

House members seek to block proposed arms sales to Saudi Arabia

By Corie Whalen


Rep. Justin Amash

A bipartisan group of six representatives, led by Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.), have introduced a joint resolution of disapproval, H.J. Res. 102, to block proposed sales of precision-guided munitions and other offensive weapons to the Government of Saudi Arabia. The joint resolution is cosponsored by Reps. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), and Jim McGovern (D-Mass.).


Congress was notified of the proposed sales, which are part of a larger arms deal with Saudi Arabia reportedly worth $110 billion, on May 19.


“Saudi Arabia has one of the worst human rights records and has supported many of the extremists terrorizing the people of the Middle East and the world,” said Amash. “These arms sales extend a reckless policy from the Obama administration and prior administrations, and they come at a time when the Saudi government is escalating a gruesome war in Yemen.”

Huizenga Statement on Updated CBO Health Care Score

Rep. Bill Huizenga (MI-02)
Congressman Bill Huizenga (MI-02) has issued the following statement after the CBO released its updated score for the American Health Care Act (AHCA):

“The CBO projection confirms that the American Health Care Act will lower premiums and reduce the federal deficit. Yesterday, the Department of Health and Human Services released a study detailing how premiums for Michigan residents on the individual market have increased by 90% over the last four years alone. ObamaCare is collapsing and isn’t sustainable. We need to restore the ability for hardworking Michiganders to choose the health care plan that best meets their needs. The AHCA is a positive step in helping to achieve that objective.”

Stabenow Statement on CBO Score of Trumpcare

By Miranda Margowsky

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) released a statement on the Congressional Budget Office’s score of Trumpcare that shows 23 million people would lose health insurance:

“Today’s non-partisan report confirms once again that Trumpcare is a bad deal for Michigan families. It raises costs and takes us back to the days when insurance companies were in charge of your health care. If you or your family member has a “preexisting condition” like cancer, pregnancy, or diabetes, you could lose coverage or be forced to pay a lot more. I’m ready to work across the aisle to lower costs and improve care for Michigan families, but this plan makes people pay more for less.

Peters, Stabenow Announce New Pipeline Safety Legislation

By Miranda Margowsky


U.S. Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow have introduced a package of bills that would increase pipeline safety in and around the Great Lakes and account for the unique needs of the Great Lakes ecosystem. The bills announced today would raise liability caps for Great Lakes pipeline operators; expand and clarify U.S. Secretary of Transportation’s authority to suspend or shut down unsafe oil pipelines; strengthen federal review of oil spill response plans; increase transparency surrounding oil spill response and clean up plans; and create a Center for Expertise in the Great Lakes region to study freshwater oil spills.


“The Great Lakes ecosystem is unlike any other in the world, and many existing pipeline safety rules and regulations do not adequately protect this precious resource from a disastrous oil spill,” said Senator Peters, a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.


“We cannot allow another devastating pipeline break like the one that dumped a million gallons of oil in to the Kalamazoo River in 2010,” said Senator Stabenow.


These actions build on previous efforts by Senators Peters and Stabenow to increase pipeline safety in the Great Lakes. In 2015, Peters and Stabenow introduced legislation to strengthen pipeline oversight and improve response plans for oil spills under ice-covered waters. These provisions were included in the Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act, or PIPES Act, which was signed into law by President Obama last year.

Peters, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Strengthen Homeland Missile Defense

Bipartisan Legislation Would Accelerate Process for New Missile Defense Site & Fort Custer Among Finalists to Host

U.S. Senator Gary Peters, a member of the Senate Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees, joined his colleagues in introducing bipartisan legislation to strengthen and improve the reliability, capability, and capacity of U.S. homeland missile defense. The Advancing America’s Missile Defense Act of 2017 will, among other actions, accelerate the completion of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as part of the next step in developing an interceptor site in the Midwest or the East Coast of the United States. The Missile Defense Agency is preparing the EIS for three potential additional missile defense sites, including the Fort Custer Training Center near Battle Creek Air National Guard Base.


“The United States faces an evolving number of security threats — from North Korea’s provocative missile tests designed to inflame global tensions, to Iran’s ballistic missile tests in defiance of a UN Security Council resolution,” said Senator Peters, a former Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve. “It is critical that America take proactive steps to bolster our missile defense systems so we are prepared in the event of a missile attack directed at our homeland.


The Advancing America’s Missile Defense Act of 2017 will take a comprehensive review of current American missile defense system capabilities, including:

  • Promoting an integrated, layered ballistic missile defense system that incorporates different aspects of missile defense, such as ground based sensors and radars;
  • Authorizing an additional 28 GBIs;
  • Speeding the development and deployment of advanced interceptor technologies;
  • Accelerating the development and deployment of a space-based sensor layer;
  • Authorizing increased missile defense testing; and
  • Requiring a DoD report on potentially increasing GBI capacity.

Peters Statement on President Trump’s 2018 Budget Proposal

U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), Ranking Member of the Federal

U.S. Senator Gary Peters

Spending Oversight Subcommittee, released the following statement regarding President Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget proposal, which makes drastic cuts to programs that Michigan families and businesses rely on:


“I am extremely concerned that President Trump’s budget proposal makes significant cuts to critical programs that boost Michigan’s working families, support economic development in Michigan’s urban and rural communities, and protect the Great Lakes which are vital to some of our state’s largest industries.


“Rather than investing in policies that promote manufacturing, support small businesses, strengthen education, and drive our economy forward, President Trump’s budget only offers counterproductive cuts that would stifle Michigan’s economic growth and strain the pocketbooks of Michigan families. While Congress has a responsibility to ensure taxpayer dollars are being used efficiently and effectively, any budget passed by Congress must address the needs of middle class families, seniors and small businesses.”

Stabenow Statement on Trump Budget Request that Eliminates Great Lakes funding

By Miranda Margowsky

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) released a statement following news that President Trump’s full budget request for the 2018 fiscal year still completely eliminates funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative:


“It’s official—President Trump’s 2018 budget zeros out funding for our Great Lakes. Thanks to thousands of people across Michigan speaking out, we already stopped cuts for this year. This is a moment for Michigan when we all need to stand together to protect our Great Lakes.”


The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which Senator Stabenow authored in 2010, is critical to supporting jobs, fighting invasive species, and protecting the Michigan way of life. Earlier this month, Senator Stabenow led the bipartisan effort to successfully pass full funding for the Great Lakes for the remainder of fiscal year 2017.

Stabenow Statement Following DeVos Speech Outlining Massive Cuts to Public Education

By Miranda Margowsky


U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) released a statement following a speech by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos outlining a proposal to make massive cuts to public education:


“Parents’ worst fears were realized today when Secretary Betsy DeVos outlined the Trump Administration’s plan to shift billions of dollars away from our nation’s public schools. These policies have already failed children and families in Michigan and now Secretary DeVos wants to implement them nationwide. Instead of working cooperatively to improve our schools, this administration is playing politics with the future of our children.”

Play smart: Summer is here, and so is tick-carried Lyme disease

Michigan’s deer ticks can be as small as a poppy seed, and if attached care must be taken to remove. (State of Michigan)

By K.D. Norris


For West Michiganders, at least those sticking around the Grand Rapids area and not heading up north, a Memorial Day weekend visit to the Lake Michigan shoreline is a great option if not a must.


(State of Michigan)

But with the un-official start of the summer outdoor season also a Memorial Day weekend, outdoor adventures also bring the un-official start of Michigan’s deer tick season — and with black legged (deer) ticks comes the risk of Lyme disease.


Most humans are infected with Lyme disease through the bites of immature ticks, called nymphs, that feed during the spring and summer months. But these nymphs are approximately the size of a poppy seed, so they are hard to see.


“Prompt removal of ticks is the best method to decrease the chance of Lyme disease,” Dr. Paul Heidel, Ottawa County Department of Public Health medical director, said in supplied material. “Seek medical attention if you develop a fever, a rash, severe fatigue, facial paralysis, or joint pain within 30 days of being bitten by a tick.”


Routinely, ticks must be attached for 36 to 48 hours for the Lyme disease bacterium to be transmitted.


The State of Michigan and local health officials have suggestions to avoid Lyme-carrying ticks:


When outdoors, walk in the center of trails, and avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass.


Around home, create tick-safe zones in your yard by keeping patios and play areas away from vegetation, regularly remove leaves, clear tall grasses and brush around home, place wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas, and use a chemical control agent.


Use an insect repellent containing DEET (20-30 percent) or Picaridin on exposed skin, and treat clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks and tents) with products containing 0.5 percent permethrin — do not use permethrin directly on skin. (Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.)


Bathe or shower after being outside in tick-infested areas (preferably within two hours). And conduct a full-body tick check (under arms, in and around ears, inside belly button, behind knees, between legs, around waist and especially in hair), especially inspect children.


Finally, if you find a tick attached, use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth parts to break off and remain in the skin. Clean the area with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub or soap and water.


Blandford Nature Center kicks off summer activities with Farm Day Open House May 27

By Blandford Nature Center


Summer is knocking on our door, and Blandford Nature Center seems as busy as ever. As we close out the end of the school year, prepare for Summer Day Camps, and develop our Community Programs for the upcoming months, we have many openings for volunteers to come out during this busy, sunny season. Check out the Volunteer Opportunities below to get a sneak peek of all the things happening around Blandford!

Farm Day Open House

When: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday, May 27


Don’t miss this family friendly event down on the farm! Meet the goats, chickens, and pigs; say ‘hi’ to your local farmers; check out our plant sale; listen to a story; and play some games. This is a great option for a Memorial Day ‘stay-cation’.


Volunteer for this Event

Longest Day 5K

2017 marks the 6th year of Blandford Nature Center’s fundraising trail run/walk! Join us for an evening of fitness, food, and fun. Run or walk the trails through Blandford’s property. Afterwards, celebrate the summer solstice with us at our Summer Celebration!

  • Where: Blandford Farm
  • When: 4-9 p.m. on Friday, June 23

Volunteer for this Event

Spring Planting Days

As the temperatures rise and the sun shines brighter, Blandford is preparing to take on a few landscaping projects in the various gardens and green spaces around BNC. We need help planting.

We’ll be making several trips to buy/collect native plants from local nurseries so there will be a variety of days available for planting. Please specify a time frame during that day’s open hours so we can plan accordingly.

  • Where: Blandford Nature Center
  • When: Various dates

Volunteer for this Event

Eco-Stewardship Work Days

Eco-Stewardship work focuses on habitat restoration, trail restoration, stream clean-up and removal of invasive species on several sections of our 264-acre site.

  • Where: Blandford Nature Center
  • When: Various dates

Volunteer for this Event

Farm Work Days

NEW THIS YEAR! Perfect for volunteers who want to get their veggies on and hands dirty. Currently offered once a month with the potential to add more days as the season becomes busier.

  • Where: Blandford Farm
  • When: Various dates

Volunteer for this Event


Blandford Nature Center is located at 1715 Hillburn Ave. NW in Grand Rapids. For more info, call 616.735.6240.


All registration fees and donations will be used to further Blandford Nature Center’s mission to engage and empower our community through enriching experiences in nature.

What would you do for good grades? Indie film explores the length one person goes

The dean of Stratford Wellington sells his school to potential students.

Stratford Wellington defines prestigious with its top-notch professors, some of whom have earned Noble Prizes and more than 3,000 activities from birdwatching to the debate team. And with only 13,000 attendees, anyone should feel honored to be accepted.


However freshman Calvin feels only the pressure to not only to succeed but to do so exceptionally. And to Calvin, he could possible do that if he didn’t have to deal with his drugged out roommate Trevor.


Thus is the basis of Indie producer Matt Whitney’s film “4.0” or “How I Killed My Roommate for Better Grades” which will be the featured film at WKTV’s Midnite Movie on Saturday, May 27.


“Darkly funny and full of twists and turns, ‘4.0’ explores the struggle of depression, the rigors of higher education, and the dangers of secrets,” Whitney said.


“4.0” started as a project pitch by Whitney and some college friends. Time constraints did produce what the group wanted and the concept sat until last year, when Whitney was able to write a script he felt conveyed the message he wanted to share.


“It’s both a commentary on the sometimes sorry state of higher education, and a study of the different ways depression manifests in people,” Whitney said a 2016 Kickstarter description. “This is a story I need to tell. It deals with issues very personal to me. Depression is a daily issue for me, and far from this film being an exotic form of therapy, it is a way to show those who have never struggled with depression what it really is, and to give a voice to people who struggle with it now.”

Grand Rapids Public Museum to participate in Blue Star Museums

The Grand Rapids Public Museum. (Supplied)

By Kate Moore

Grand Rapids Public Museum


The Grand Rapids Public Museum announced it will once again be participating in Blue Star Museums, a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense and more than 2,000 museums across America to offer free admission to the nation’s active duty military personnel and their families from Memorial Day through Labor Day.


The program provides families an opportunity to enjoy the nation’s cultural heritage and learn more about their community, especially after a military move. A list of participating museums is available at


“The Grand Rapids Public Museum is happy to participate in Blue Star Museums once again this summer, ” said Dale Robertson, President and CEO of the GRPM. We are proud and privileged to offer this benefit to those who are serving our nation and their families.”


“The Blue Star Museums program is a great opportunity for the NEA to team up with local museums in every state in the nation to support our service members and their families,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “It means a lot to offer these families access to high-quality, budget-friendly opportunities to spend time together.”


The free admission program is available to any bearer of a Geneva Convention common access card (CAC), a DD Form 1173 ID card (dependent ID), or a DD Form 1173-1 ID card, which includes active duty U.S. military – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, as well as members of the National Guard and Reserve, U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, NOAA Commissioned Corps – and up to five family members. Some special or limited-time museum exhibits may not be included in this free admission program. For questions on particular exhibits or museums, please contact the museum directly. To find participating museums and plan your trip, visit


This year’s Blue Star Museums represent not just fine arts museums, but also science museums, history museums, nature centers, and dozens of children’s museums, including newly participating museums: the Edgar Allen Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia; The Blues Foundation’s Blues Hall of Fame Museum in Memphis Tennessee; the Hagerman Fossil 3 Beds National Monument in Hagerman Idaho; and the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming. Museums are welcome to join Blue Star Museums throughout the summer.


“Whether they want to blast off at a science museum, take a walk through nature, or encounter animals at the aquarium, Blue Star Museums will help service members and their families create memories this summer,” said Blue Star Families Chief Executive Officer Kathy Roth-Douquet. “This fantastic collaboration with the NEA brings our local military and civilian communities together, and offers families fun and enriching activities in their home towns. We are thrilled with the continued growth of the program and the unparalleled opportunities it offers.”

Employment Expertise: Job search buzzword — ‘Networking’


By West Michigan Works!

If you’ve job searched for more than a day, there are a handful of words you’ve probably heard over and over:

  • Network. 

  • Personal brand. 

  • Elevator speech. 

  • LinkedIn. 

  • Soft Skills.

What do these words actually mean? How do you do them well?

Welcome to our five-part series, Job Search Buzzwords. We’ll explain these terms in an easy way to understand. And, give you practical ways to start putting these words into actions.

Job Search Buzzword: Networking — What is it?

Dictionary definition: interact with other people to exchange information and develop contacts, especially to further one’s career.

Our definition: Getting to know other people in the community so you can help them and they can help you.

How to do it?

Forget the phrase networking. Instead think relationship maintenance. 
Networking is about meeting people you want to share ideas and resources with and are genuinely interested in staying connected. Networking is a way of thinking and not a “thing” you do once a month.

Networking is natural.
 When was the last time someone you knew asked you for a restaurant recommendation? Or asked for your thoughts on a problem they had with a project? This is networking in action! You develop relationships with people. And, they trust what you share because you have a relationship with them.

Attend events that make sense for you.
 Don’t go to every networking event planned. You’ll wear yourself out. Instead go to the events with interesting speakers or people attending.

Prepare before you go.

  • Decide your goal for going before you step in the door: do you want to meet with three people, meet a specific person, or find someone you can help.
  • Avoid awkward conversations. Have a few conversation starters in mind: ‘How did you hear about this event?’ ‘Have you ever been before?’ ‘Hi, I don’t know too many people here, so I wanted to introduce myself. I’m [name].’

People are busy. The next day, send a quick email to remind them of you and your conversation. Make sure to send them any articles, videos, project examples you promised.

Maintain the relationships. 
After you send your follow-up email, connect to them on LinkedIn. Do they tweet? Follow them on Twitter. Monitor your social media feeds and comment on their posts sometimes. Email them once in a while to check-in. And keep an eye out for them at future networking events.

Employment Expertise is provided by West Michigan Works! Learn more about how they can help: visit or your local Service Center.

School News Network: A ‘Thank You’ from KISD

By Ron Koehler

KISD Assistant Superintendent, Organizational & Community Initiatives and Legislative Affairs


Kent County voters on May 2 turned out to the polls and expressed confidence in their schools by approving a ballot proposal that will provide crucial support to all 20 districts in Kent ISD. The enhancement millage will yield approximately $211 per pupil for each of the next 10 years, beginning with the 2017-18 school year.


Thank you!

These dollars are essential to help our schools meet the needs of students, maintain programs and create more connections to the world of work as we prepare young adults for careers.


They also create a small, but stable and reliable source of revenue for schools as Lansing grapples with perennial budget problems, which make it very likely legislators will be tempted to drain even more money from the School Aid Fund for higher education in coming years.  Currently, more than $600 million is going out of the School Aid Fund to support community colleges and universities.


Ron Koehler

The recent Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference, conducted twice a year to predict revenues available for state government, forecast slow growth in Michigan’s general fund and significant budget pressures ahead.


Just a week earlier, the Senate Fiscal Agency projected a $2.072 billion hole in the general fund budget in five short years, due largely to the road package that passed in 2015 with a commitment to use general fund dollars to augment the fuel taxes dedicated to road repair. Other factors contributing to the projected deficit were elimination of the Personal Property Tax on business and the sales tax on the difference between the price of a new vehicle and the customer’s trade-in.


Legislators are already responding to the pressure. In the wake of the bleak general fund projections, Republican Rep. James Lower of Montcalm County introduced HB4261 to divert some $430 million from the School Aid Fund to the general fund by reversing the decades-long policy of applying all tax refunds to the state’s general fund.


Amid all of this, Kent County taxpayers sent a clear message to Lansing: Education is important.  Students deserve better. We need to adequately fund our schools to ensure a positive future for our children, and our communities.


So, again, on behalf of our students and our schools, thank you. For those of us who have devoted our careers to the education of children and the betterment of our communities, it is reassuring to know our community values our commitment to this work. Cheers!


Check out School News Network for more stories about students, schools, and faculty in West Michigan.

GVSU faculty member earns fellowship in Gerontological Society of America

Sandra Spoelstra

By Michele Coffill



A faculty research scientist in aging from the Kirkhof College of Nursing at Grand Valley State University was selected as a fellow of the Gerontological Society of America.


Sandra Spoelstra, associate dean for research and scholarship, was nominated for the fellowship by KCON faculty members Cynthia Beel-Bates and Rebecca Davis, who are also GSA fellows.


The GSA will honor all fellows at its annual Scientific Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts, in November. Fellowships recognize people who have contributed outstanding and continuing work to the field of gerontology.


Spoelstra co-leads a program designed to help adults who live below the poverty line remain at home and within their communities rather than moving into a nursing home. The MiCAPABLE (Community Aging in Place, Advancing Better Living for Elders) program has successfully reduced falls and hospital admissions while improving a person’s ability to function in a home setting.


Spoelstra’s research team, including co-investigator Sarah Szanton, from Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, received three grants to support implementing MiCAPABLE statewide next year.


Cynthia McCurren, dean of KCON, said, “This is a well-deserved honor for Dr. Spoelstra’s commitment to improving the overall well-being and health of older adults.”

Adoptable pets from Humane Society of West Michigan: Gracelyn, Tommy & Jerry


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.

Gracelyn — Female Boxer/American Pit Bull Terrier Mix

I’m a playful 2-year-old girl looking for my forever home! I have been waiting to find my family since October of 2016 at Humane Society of West Michigan, and before that at another shelter. I’m an active and playful dog who would do well in a home with no small children due to my activity level. Being only 2 years old, my family would ideally be willing to spend some time and energy training me to help me become the perfect fit! I’ve got a lot of love to give and know I could make someone very happy! I am currently living with a foster family to give me a break from the stress of the kennels so that I can relax in a home environment. If you’re interested in meeting finding out more or meeting me please call Humane Society of West Michigan at 616.453.8900 to schedule a meet and greet. My adoption fee ($175) will be paid by Kool Toyota, and Kool Toyota will also give my new family a $100 gift card to Chow Hound Pet Supplies to help get me settled!


About Gracelyn:

  • Breed: Boxer/American Pit Bull Terrier Mix
  • Age: 2 years
  • Gender: Female

To adopt, call 616.453.8900 or email


Tommy & Jerry — Male Domestic Short Hair

Tommy & Jerry are a bonded pair

We are a pair of 13-year-old cats who have lived our whole lives together. We are a bonded pair and must be adopted together. We would like to live in a quiet, relaxed home where we would have our own space to snuggle up and nap. We are both front declawed. Senior pets (ages 7 years and older) always have their adoption fees waived due to generous grant funding.


About the boys:

  • Breed: Domestic Short Hair
  • Age: 13 years
  • Gender: Male
  • Color: Tabby
  • Neutered
  • Front paw declawed

To adopt, call 616.453.8900 or email

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.

School News Network: Kentwood’s Luke Wilcox named Michigan Teacher of the Year

Eric Wilcox

By Erin Albanese

School News Network


Math teacher Luke Wilcox, who is credited with playing a large role in creating a culture of success at East Kentwood High School, is the 2017-2018 Michigan Teacher of the Year.


Wilcox, who began his teaching career at East Kentwood 16 years ago, was honored today with the award, announced by State Superintendent Brian Whiston, at an assembly attended by students, educators and Wilcox’s family. He was selected from between 60 and 70 nominees.


Wilcox said he is thankful to many, including teachers who served as incredible mentors to him and his students, who “inspire, push and help me to grow.”


“You guys are the reason I come to school every day,” he told students in the audience.


He succeeds Tracy Horodyski, a Kenowa Hills teacher who was the 2016-17 MTOY.


Wilcox teaches Advanced Placement statistics, with a very high percentage of his students passing the AP test. He has served as a leader in school improvement since East Kentwood was named a state Priority School four years ago. Since then it has leapt from the 4th percentile mark, meaning 19 out of 20 schools in Michigan were deemed better, to the 49th percentile today.


Wilcox is also an academic support coach, and leads a group called Rising Teacher Leaders to empower new teachers. He is a recent recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics Teaching Award.


Dave Stuart Jr., world history and English teacher for Cedar Springs Public Schools, was one of four finalists for the MTOY award.


Check out School News Network for more stories about students, schools, and faculty in West Michigan.

School News Network: First KISD MySchool blind graduate pursues creative ‘visions’

Tyler Zahnke succeeded in school with help from math aide Doug Morse, left, and Nancy Calvi, Kent ISD consultant for the visually impaired.

Tyler Zahnke sat down at his musical instrument – aka, his Toshiba laptop  – and proceeded to open a wonder-box of sounds. He called it “Welcome to the Tape.”


Out the sounds came, tumbling one into the next: Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 1; an announcer spouting “Hi boys and girls!”; daffy cartoon voices; a snippet of Van Morrison’s “Moondance”; and then several voices stitched together to say, “Welcome to a very special Mini Nifty mixtape, five years in the making.”


“That is how the CD begins,” Tyler said with some pride, after the soundscape ended. It was, he explained, an artistic form called “sound collage.”


“Sound collage is where you take pieces of collected audio and basically glue it together,” Tyler said. “After all, the word ‘collage,’ from French, means ‘gluing together.’”


Tyler knows whereof he speaks when it comes to sound. He creates great quantities of it, both in collage and more traditional musical forms. All unaided by sight — and perhaps enhanced by his lack of it.


Blind since birth, Tyler has turned his inner vision loose on music, as well as writing, while navigating the challenging terrain of academics required for a high school diploma.


He has done so with plenty of support from MySchool@Kent, a partly online and partly face-to-face program offered by Kent ISD that provides flexible, online learning for students with special circumstances. Tyler is the first blind student to graduate from the program – a fact of which he is rightfully proud.


“I managed to do it,” Tyler said. “I can’t believe it, personally.”


Perseverance plus Help


He actually completed his graduation requirements late last year, but plans to walk in the commencement ceremony of Northview High School East Campus, his base school, in early June. More than 35 MySchool@Kent students are expected to graduate from their home districts this spring.


Tyler finished his requirements both by online instruction and by coming to MySchool classes at the Kent Career Tech Center, where he worked for long hours with an aide on math — the toughest subject for a student who couldn’t see the shapes and angles of a problem.


Tyler Zahnke sits in on a jam session earlier this month at the Fulton Street Pub (photo courtesy of Rachel Buzzitta)

Principal Cary Stamas credited Tyler’s perseverance for his success, as well as MySchool’s flexibility and dedicated staff members who helped him.


“It starts with Tyler and his motivation and hard work to achieve,” Stamas said. “It really speaks to what our goal is, which is to try to figure out what roadblocks there are for students to achieve their goals. And how do we use the flexibility we’ve been given to innovate and alter things in a way that makes the experience something of value to them, and something of integrity.”


Flexibility also came from Northview Public Schools, where officials arranged for Tyler to enroll in the alternative East Campus school and connected him to MySchool. They enabled him to stick with the program after his father died two years ago and Tyler moved to live with his mother in Rockford.


Through all the challenges, Tyler drew on assistive devices for the blind as well as his own intelligence. As graduation came within sight, he applied himself more diligently, coming to the Tech Center three or four days a week when only two were required.


“I’m very proud of him,” said Nancy Calvi, a Kent ISD teacher consultant for the visually impaired who’s worked with Tyler since he was 3. “I’m so glad he made it. A lot of the reason he made it is he’s just a smart kid.”


A Bright Musical Mind


Tyler’s smart all right. That quickly becomes obvious when you first meet him, and he begins citing websites, musicians and authors with ease. He seems to know the Internet like the back of his hand, or rather the touch of his fingertips.


He’ll casually mention Jonathan Bowers, a mathematician and father of googology – “the study of ridiculously large numbers,” as Tyler puts it. Or he’ll tell you about the singer Imogen Heap starting a fair trade organization for the music industry that he supports, then break into singing her song “Let Go.”


Indeed, Tyler aims for a career in music, both as a studio session musician and as a composer for music libraries that provide sound for TV, radio and movies. And he plans to continue advocating for visually impaired people as a member of the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan.


He has composed numerous tracks, both solo on his Yamaha keyboard and with fellow advocate for the blind and musician Elizabeth Kazmierski of East Grand Rapids, with whom he has a longtime group they call Mini Nifty. “Welcome to the Tape” is from a longer work in progress he’s composing with her.


Tyler believes being blind and a musician enables him to see, in a sense, things other people don’t. He said he is proud of his blindness.


“I just think it’s a unique look at life,” he said firmly. “There’s a whole scene the rest of the world doesn’t seem to be knowledgeable about, a whole culture.


“Being a musician, I get to hear about composers and artists that the rest of the world seems to miss. The same goes for blindness. I know the world has discovered Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder, but for goodness’ sake, have you discovered Kevin Reeves? I don’t think so,” he added with a laugh.


Check out School News Network for more stories about students, schools, and faculty in West Michigan.

Residents encouraged to test boating safety knowledge through WKTV program






By Kelly Taylor, WKTV


With four of the five Great Lakes bordering Michigan along with all the lakes our great state has, boating is a popular hobby with Michiganders.


This week, WKTV will be airing a special program featuring United States Power Squadron National Safety Boating Test so area residents can brush up on their boating safety knowledge. The program will air at 1 a.m. Thursday, May 25, and again at noon Friday, May 26.


There are some 80 million recreational boaters in America engaged in all sorts of activities from paddling to cruising, from fishing to sailing. Yet many states do not require certification of any kind to operate a recreational boat. That’s why the United States Power Squadrons, in cooperation with the United States Coast Guard, has produced this program.


By watching this program, you can test you knowledge on topics import to your boating enjoyment. Featuring 27 questions on a wide range of boating topics, including Homeland Security, Rules of the Road, Aids to Navigate, Carbon Monoxide, and Small Boat Safety, you will watch real life scenarios and answer questions about what you would do in these situations.


As you watch, score yourself. You may want to hone your skills and increase your knowledge, and if so, take a USPS Boating Course or one of the other public courses or seminars to help make your boating a safer and a more enjoyable activity. USPS is dedicated to bringing you and its members practical information. Informed boaters have more fun, and statistics show, are far less prone to accidents afloat.


Organized in 1914, USPS has grown to become America’s largest boating educational organization with about 50,000 volunteer members in more than 450 local squadrons providing public and advanced boating courses, courtesy Vessel Safety check and more more. For details on USPS courses and members, call 888-FOR USPS or visit

Nine Wyoming area residents to showcase work in 2017 Legacy Trust Award Collection

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This year’s Legacy Trust Award Collection will feature nine Wyoming area residents among the 143 Michigan artists who will showcase their art for a chance to be sponsored in ArtPrize.


For the eighth consecutive year, Legacy Trust is sponsoring a statewide art competition for adult artists with disabilities in an effort to bring their voices and vision to ArtPrize, an international art competition that draws hundredss of thousands of visitors to Grand Rapids each year. Dates for this year’s ArtPrize are Sept. 20 – Oct. 8. Artists from Ada to Zeeland, the Lower Peninsula and into the UP have submitted artwork.


Artists from Wyoming include:

  • David DeBoer, Head Chef, mixed media
  • Adam Reidsma, The Workshop, mixed media
  • Jill Lindgren, Dogs, mixed media
  • Ryan Oosterheart, Fishing at the Cabin, mixed media
  • Mary Helmic, Abstract Geometry, mixed media
  • Jeffery Baar, Spring is in the Air, marker
  • Carole McDonald, Sapphire, mixed media
  • Jerrilynn Anderson, Getaway Place, acrylic
  • Tyler Riley, Bird’s Eye View, acrylic


Four winners will be chosen – one by a panel of celebrity judges, two by public vote and one special juried award – and sponsored in ArtPrize, the world’s largest art competition.


The public will have a chance to view and vote for its favorite entry on Tuesday, May 23, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, located in downtown Grand Rapids. Votes can also be cast online at


Along with the nine from Wyoming, there are 51 Grand Rapids residents whose pieces were selected. For a sneak peek at all 143 pieces, visit the Legacy Trust Awards Collection Facebook page.


Winners of LTAC 2017 will be announced on May 30. Along with having their artwork entered into ArtPrize, the winning artists will each receive a cash prize of $500.  All entry fees and promotion expenses for ArtPrize will be paid by Legacy Trust, which, for the fifth year, has secured the high-profile DeVos Place venue for the winning artists during ArtPrize.


Make-A-Wish® Michigan names GFIA Community Partner Honoree of the year


By Tara Hernandez, Gerald R. Ford International Airport


The Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GFIA) was recognized as a Community Partner Honoree of the Year by Make-A-Wish® Michigan at the annual Wish Ball earlier this month.


As a part of Wish Ball-West Michigan, Make-A-Wish Michigan recognizes three honorees: an Individual Honoree, a Corporate Partner Honoree, and a Community Partner Honoree. Each honoree is selected based on the impact they have on the organization’s ability to grant wishes to Michigan children with life-threatening medical conditions.


The Gerald R. Ford International Airport was selected as the 2017 Community Partner Honoree because of its game-changing impact on the Make-A-Wish Michigan mission, as well as the Airport’s commitment to creating special experiences for wish kids and families as they leave for their wish journeys. GFIA also played a vital role in the enhancement of one such recipient, young Anthony, whose wish to become a pilot was the 9,000th wish granted by Make-A-Wish® Michigan. Anthony was also surprised at the ball as Grand Rapids Station Manager for Southwest Nate Tenbrink told the youngster that Southwest would be flying him to Dallas to experience the Flight Operations Center; he will also get to ride in a 737 simulator.


“What a tremendous honor to be recognized by Make-A-Wish Michigan among all of the wonderful partners in the community,” said GFIA President & CEO Jim Gill. “We are proud to work with Make-A-Wish to make wishes come true, and to send the families off with a stress-free experience and a break from their times at medical appointments and hospital visits.”


Make-A-Wish Michigan has sent hundreds of kids and their families through the Gerald R. Ford International Airport, and 75-percent of wishes involve travel.


“The Gerald R. Ford International Airport … go[es] out of their way to provide special send offs and enhancements to our wish kids,” said Karen Davis, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish Michigan. “This year’s Wish Ball theme was ‘Let Your Dreams Take Flight’, which is exactly what special friends like the Gerald R. Ford International Airport allow our wish children to do.”


With the help of generous donors and 40,000 volunteers worldwide, Make-A-Wish has collectively granted more than 415,000 wishes worldwide, making it the world’s largest wish-granting organization. For more information on Make-A-Wish Michigan, visit


’80s show to benefit local Metro Health-University of Michigan Health Foundation


By Alison Goodyke


Grab your dark sunglasses, tease your hair, put on your spandex and headbands and join the wave headed back to the ’80s.


105.3 HotFM presents Retro Futura: HOT ’80s Rewind on Tuesday, August 1st at the Van Andel Area. Headlined by synth pioneer Howard Jones, the jam-packed show will also feature sets from the English Beat, Men Without Hats, Modern English, Paul Young and Katrina (ex-Katrina and The Waves) in support of Metro Health–University of Michigan Health Foundation.


The arena will host a pre-party prior to the show complete with a local ’80s band, ’80s costume contest, ’80s karaoke contest, games, prizes, food and drink specials and more! The show starts at 7 p.m., doors open at 6 p.m. and the pre-show activities will begin at 5:30 p.m. For more details visit


The Metro Health Hospital Foundation helps Metro Health meet the health care needs of more than 250,000 people annually. This includes providing assistance for people with limited or no health insurance, programs to detect cardiovascular disease in teens, summer camp for cancer patients and their families, Child Life Services for children experiencing hospitalization and funding to promote innovative treatment and compassionate care.


Tickets for Retro Futura: HOT ’80s Rewind can be purchased at the Van Andel Arena and DeVos Place box offices, charge by phone at 1.800.745.3000 or online at Ticket prices are $45, $57.50 and $75. Ticket prices are subject to change.

And the winner is: The 2017 Eclipse Awards


The 2017 Eclipse Award winners

It was a night for first-time award winners and a few surprises at the 2017 Eclipse Awards which took place Thursday, May 18, at the CityFlats Hotel in Grand Rapids.


The annual awards are designed to celebrate West Michigan filmmakers and the films they create. A call for entries was made at the end of March with judges from around the globe narrowing the entries down to a record number of nominees, which was more than 90. Past Eclipse winners were selected to place their votes for the best contenders in each category with those winners being announced last night.


For many, being nominated was a huge accomplishment and, in fact, all the nominees were honored at a special event at the JW Marriot earlier in the week.


“For me it is a great honor,” said first-time winner Andy Behm, who tied with Kyle Misak for Best Direction (Feature or Short.) Behm’s film is Hold On, which is about a couple and the trying times they face over a short period of time.


“I just graduated from college last week so it is a great way to start a career and for my film hopefully this is the first of many. It is a great honor just to be nominated and then to win is just awesome.”


First-time winner Geoffrey Young Haney, whose film Shadows won for Best Narrative Short, echoed the same about being nominated.


“This is the first thing I have ever submitted into anything at all,” Haney said, adding that he feels winning will help him to continue to build connections with those in the West Michigan film industry.


Deb Havens knows much about building connections as she was one of the leaders behind the development of the West Michigan Film and Video Alliance, one of the sponsors of the Eclipse Awards. Havens was honored for her leadership with the 2017 Hyperion Award.


“It is an award that really comes after a number of years of leadership,” Havens said. “But you are not a leader if no one is following or part of what you are leading toward as part of the goal and of the effort put into achieving that goal. And as I have mentioned, we have had over 50 people serve on the board and hundreds who have been members and we couldn’t have done anything without those folks.


“As you see tonight with all the people in the room, we made a difference and that is so huge.”


Receiving recognition for a film, any recognition, does help a project, said filmmaker Todd Lewis who won for Best Sound Design for the film The Rotation. Lewis said that it was “wonderful to be apart of this community,” but to be recognized in a room full of incredible artists from Grand Rapids and throughout Michigan only added to that honor.


Congratulations! And the Eclipse Winners at the 6th Annual Eclipse Awards are:

Best Editing in a Documentary
Rich Jackson for Stuck in Traffic, Modern-Day Slavery in Michigan

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Laura Walczak for Wake

Best Cinema Trailer
Migration – David Huizingh, producer

Best Director in a Documentary
Rich Jackson for Stuck in Traffic, Modern-Day Slavery in Michigan

Best Editor in a a Feature or Short
Cameron Lewis for Mordecai

Best Local & Regional Segments & Promotional Pieces
Gabe – David MacKenzie, Jilaine Snoeyink, Producers

Best Music Video, Original Performance
Private Slum – Zachary Clark, Andy Westra, Producers

The 2017 Hyperion Award
Dr. Deb Havens

Best Sound Design
Todd Lewis for The Rotation

On-Line programs, Segments or Promotional Pieces
Grand Rapids Glossary – Brian Kelly, Producer

Best Director in a Feature or Short
Andrew Behm for Hold On
Kyle Misak for Crazy Carl

Best Original Score
Gregory De lulio for Crazy Carl

Best Cinematography
Ben Wilke for Baxter Community Center

Best Narrative Short
Shadows – Geoffrey Young Haney, Joseph Scott Anthony, Dustin Wilfert, Producers

Best Writing in Documentary & Promotional Piece
Jason Ley for Modern Ahabs

Best Documentary Short
Renardo – Nathan Roels, Producer

Best Local TV & Cable
Modern Ahabs – Ben Wilke, Jason Ley, Producers

Best Feature Documentary
New Heights: Restoring A City – Eric Schrotenboer, Taz Painter, Producers

Best Animation
Erik Sebert for Space Scavenger

Best Screenplay
Harper Philbin and John Dufresne for Lucky Jay 2

Best Actor in a Lead Role
Morlan Higgins for Lucky Jay 2

Best Narrative Feature
Needlestick – Steven Karageanes, Producer


Presenters for this year’s event were John Philbin, Jessie Hollett, Sophie Bolen, Josh Reed, Michael McCallum, Mallory Patterson, Randy Strobl, Noah DeSmit, Amy Sherman, David Baker, Glen Okonoski, Anthony Griffin, Girbe Eefsting, Barb Roos, Jen Shaneberger, Rich Brauer, Stephen Tanner, Derk Baartman, Judy Bergsma, Gretchen Vinnedge, Stuart Poltrock, Sherryl Despres, and Todd Lewis.


Government Matters: Week in review, May 15-19

By Victoria Mullen, WKTV

Peters Cosponsors Bill to Protect Public Land & Water

Bill Permanently Reauthorizes Land and Water Conservation Fund

By Allison Green


U.S Senator Gary Peters announced that he is cosponsoring the bipartisan Land and Water Conservation Authorization and Funding Act to permanently reauthorize and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The LWCF uses revenues from offshore oil and gas drilling to fund the protection of everything from wildlife refuges and national parks to lakes, rivers and community parks.


Sleeping Bear dune

Michigan has received over $320 million in funding from the LWCF over the 50-year lifespan of the program, helping to protect places like Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the Keweenaw National Historical Park, the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, the North Country National Scenic Trail, and all of Michigan’s National Forests.


“Protecting our environmental resources is not just about good stewardship, it is also vital to our health, our economy and our way of life in Michigan,” said Peters.

Outdoor recreation is a key component of Michigan’s economy, generating $18.7 billion in consumer spending and supporting nearly 200,000 jobs, according to the Outdoor Industry Association. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 4.4 million people hunt, fish, or enjoy wildlife-watching in Michigan each year, contributing over $6.1 billion to the state’s economy.

Peters, Stabenow & Colleagues Introduce Bill to Tackle Student Loan Debt

Legislation Allows Borrowers to Refinance Student Loans at Lower Interest Rate

U.S. Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow joined their colleagues in introducing the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act. The legislation would allow those with outstanding student loan debt to refinance at the lower interest rates offered to new federal borrowers in the 2016-2017 school year.


“Access to higher education can provide a pathway to economic opportunity, but too many young people are saddled with crushing debt after they leave school,” said Senator Peters. “You can already refinance your mortgage or car loan, and there is no reason student loans should be treated any differently.”


“Our bill would allow students and parents to refinance their loans for a better rate – just like people can already do with their car or home loans. All of our students deserve an equal shot at success!” said Senator Stabenow.


Since the bill was introduced during the 113th congress, student loan debt has grown by about $200 billion. In 2015, 70% of college seniors graduated with debt. This year, more than one in four borrowers are in delinquency or in default on their student loans. In Michigan, tuition for almost every college has more than doubled since the early 2000s. Each student who attends a four-year college in our state leaves with over $29,000 in loan debt on average.


According to a recent analysis, a quarter of borrowers default over the life of their loans. It is clear that the student loan debt crisis is getting increasingly worse, with no signs of slowing down. It is a crisis that threatens our economy, and the futures of young people all across America. With interest rates scheduled to rise again this summer, the urgency for Congress to address the student debt crisis and to allow borrowers to access today’s lower rates is stronger than ever.


Peters Statement on Appointment of Special Counselor in Russia Investigation

The Kremlin in Moscow

U.S. Senator Gary Peters released the following statement on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller to serve as special counsel in the Russia investigation:


“Russia’s unprecedented interference into our election threatens our national security and the very foundation of our democracy. The appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel is a good first step toward a thorough investigation that is free from political pressure or interference. The American people deserve to know the facts about Russian efforts to disrupt the 2016 election, any involvement with the Trump campaign, and any attempt by the President or other officials to improperly influence the FBI. The facts alone should drive this investigation.”

Peters Cosponsors Bill to Help Veterans Exposed to Toxic Burn Pits

U.S Senator Gary Peters, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and former Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve, announced he is cosponsoring the bipartisan Helping Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits Act, which will help veterans suffering from respiratory ailments as a result of exposure to open burn pits during their military service in Iraq and Afghanistan. Burn pits were frequently used on military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan to burn waste, including toxic items such as plastics, electronics, batteries and human waste.


“When veterans are exposed to harmful substances in service to our nation, we must ensure they can receive the necessary medical care and treatments they need when they return home,” said Senator Peters.


The bill would establish a center of excellence within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for the treatment of health conditions related to burn pit exposure. Chemicals found in burn pits has been linked to a number of adverse health effects including cancer, neurological and reproductive disorders, and respiratory and cardiovascular toxicity.


Peters Introduces Bill to Expand Broadband Deployment Using Accurate Coverage Maps

Bipartisan Bill Requires FCC to ensure Broadband Coverage Maps Reflect the Real-World Experiences of Rural Consumers

U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced the Rural Wireless Access Act of 2017 to require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to collect up-to-date and accurate data on wireless broadband coverage across the United States and especially in rural areas.

“Having an accurate assessment of which rural areas are most in need of wireless broadband coverage is critical to closing the digital divide, but the availability of broadband coverage can be difficult to assess,” said Senator Peters.


According to the FCC, 87 percent of rural Americans – 52.2 million people – lack access to mobile broadband with minimum advertised speeds of 10 Mbps/1 Mbps, compared to 45 percent of those living in urban areas. According to Connect Michigan, 44 percent of working-age Michigan adults rely on internet access to seek or apply for jobs, while 22 percent further their education by taking online classes.


Stabenow Statement on Trump Administration’s NAFTA Renegotiation Notice

By Miranda Margowsky


U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow released the following statement on the Trump Administration’s NAFTA renegotiation notice:


“In the 23 years since NAFTA was signed, our country has lost too many good-paying manufacturing jobs to other countries. No other state has felt the pain of those losses more than Michigan. Given NAFTA’s importance to our workers, our farmers, and our economy, a modernization is long overdue.  As we move forward, we need to make sure that any changes to NAFTA lead to an improvement in our quality of life and higher incomes, not a race to the bottom.”


Peters, Collins Introduce Bill to Give Fire Departments Flexibility in

Bill Allows Fire Departments to Use Federal Funding to Promote Part-Time Firefighters

By Allison Green


U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have introduced bipartisan legislation to help local fire departments across the country save money and hire and promote trained first responders. The Firefighters Retention Act of 2017 will give fire departments flexibility to use Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response (SAFER) Grants to transition part-time or paid-on-call personnel to full-time status. Under current law, fire departments can only use SAFER grants to hire and train new personnel and are prohibited from using these grants to promote part-time firefighters, who are already trained and equipped to respond to emergencies.


“Part-time firefighters serve on the frontlines of their communities and have the experience to effectively and efficiently respond when emergency strikes,” said Senator Peters, a member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “This commonsense legislation would give fire departments greater ability to promote trained, experienced firefighters, which will save money and reaffirm the critical role these men and women play in keeping our neighborhoods safe.”


The SAFER grant program provides direct funding to fire departments and volunteer firefighter organizations to help them increase or maintain the number of trained firefighters available in their communities. The majority of organized fire departments recruit resident and community leaders who are familiar with their neighborhoods to be part-time or volunteer firefighters – comprising 70% of the total firefighting force in the United States.


Senator Stabenow Receives Praise and Recognition from Small BusinessCouncil of America

By Ian Wilhite


Senator Stabenow

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow was presented with the Small Business Council of America’s Special Congressional Achievement award during the 34th Annual Congressional Awards Reception. Stabenow was recognized for her tireless work as a member of the Senate Budget and Finance Committees and her continued role as a champion of small businesses. She is only the 6th member of Congress to ever receive this award.


Senator Stabenow has been a strong advocate for small businesses, cutting taxes and increasing access to capital for entrepreneurs to help them expand and create jobs. Over the past year, she has visited over 80 small businesses during her Small Business Tour across the state.



School News Network: Grant, donation makes outdoor lab a reality at Godfrey-Lee Public Schools

A wooden stage is taking shape at the Outdoor Learning Lap.

By Erin Albanese

School News Network


Buffered between Godfrey-Lee’s Early Education Center and an industrial building is a swath of wilderness complete with trees, brush and a winding creek. It’s the habitat of birds, small mammals and on recent sunny afternoon, kindergartners.


“Forts are our forte,” joked Deb Schuitema, a math coach who joined in the effort with physical education teacher Julie Swanson to design the new Outdoor Learning Lab’s natural play area.

Kindergartners were challenged to make their own shelters after listening to a story called “A House is a House for Me,” by Mary Ann Hoberman. They used branches and colorful pieces of cloth to design their shelters. Some added rocks and leaves turned into decor, and, when finished, they went inside their “houses” and peeked out of the sheer material.


Kindergartners walk along the rock grotto, counting stones as they go.

Around them, another class joined a representative from Blandford Nature Center in exploring the area for bird habitats. A third class spread out on the grassy hill to read.


“We have had five different classes out here at the same time,” said Swanson, who introduces those in her classes to different ways to use their muscles and develop balance by climbing rocks and jumping from stump to stump. “A year ago, nobody would have come out here.”


The lab, planned for two years, now includes a rock grotto and a sandy play space where toy trucks stay busy excavating. And there’s a nearly complete stage made of logs. Plans are to add a slide built into the hill, a teepee surrounded by native plants, a texture garden and a student-designed nature path.


Physical education teacher Julie Swanson checks out a pine cone with kindergartners

“We really want to make this part of the kids’ everyday experience,” Schuitema said.


The City of Wyoming, Dykema Excavators Inc., and Tontin Lumber Co. donated rocks, downed trees, other materials and services. Last fall, Women Who Care of Kent County, a group that supports non-profit groups, donated $12,000 to the district for outdoor education.


Kindergartners hoisted up big sticks, adding another layer to a fort, and wrapped material around it.


“I like making homes,” said Arielly Sanchez. “We can go in them.”


As class ended, Swanson let out a huge, wolf-like howl, signaling to kindergartners that she needed their attention. They howled back, running up from their shelter-building to head back inside.


Check out School News Network for more stories about students, schools, and faculty in West Michigan.

Memorial Day celebrations in central West Michigan

At Grand Rapids Treetop Adventure Park

By Jeremy Witt, West Michigan Tourist Association


Hard to believe, but Memorial Day is fast approaching. Here are a few fun things the whole family can enjoy!


The Grand Rapids Treetop Adventure Park has extended hours over Memorial Day weekend. If you want to pick up discounted tickets for the holiday weekend, stop in on May 20th for their May Kick-Off Event where tickets for shortened climb times and zip rides will be discounted, along with other giveaways and special offers. Spend the long weekend with family and friends among the trees.


The Grand Haven Area kicks off summer and celebrates Memorial Day weekend with a big summer run! There is something for everyone from the avid racer to the occasional walker, with their certified 5K Run, the 1 Mile Family Fun Run/Walk, and the Tot Trot obstacle course for ages 3 to 6. All ages are welcome to participate, so bring your mom, dad, grandma, and grandpa. Join your community for this annual family event to promote healthy lifestyles in the Tri-Cities area.


Inside USS Silversides

The Muskegon area has events throughout Memorial Day weekend for everybody. The Fruitport Old Fashioned Days is May 24th to 29th, and features fireworks, a carnival, community picnic, parade, Lions Ox Roast, a 5K Run, and more. Celebrating 30 years, the Lost Boat Ceremony on May 28th at the USS Silversides Museum is both a solemn and joyful celebration designed to honor the loss of 52 U.S. submarines and 3600 submariners during World War II. The 12th Annual Blessing of the Boats is the same day, with boats of all types gathering on Muskegon Lake near the Milwaukee Clipper for a parade of boats. Also May 28th is the Final Approach Memorial Program located at Old Grand Haven Road and Seaway Drive. May 29th brings a parade and American Salute Concert. Spend the morning watching seven bands and over 40 marching units highlighting patriotism and citizenship. After the parade, head over to the Frauenthal Theater for additional musical selections at this free performance. Muskegon celebrates Memorial Day in style and great quantity, so make sure to carve some time out of your calendar to experience it!


Join the Muskegon KOA Campground for an enjoyable holiday camping weekend. They require a three-night minimum stay for Holidays/Special Events, but it’s well worth your time. Stay from May 26th to 29th and enjoy an immersive outdoor experience. They have tent sites, a limited number of cabins, and a few 30 amp full service sites still available, but they’re going fast. Give them a call to book your stay today!


In celebration of Memorial Day, Mecosta County is home to the 4th Annual Memorial Weekend “4 Veterans Car and Craft Show” on Saturday, May 27th. There will be 32 awards including best of show, best car, best truck, best muscle car, best motorcycle, and many more! Other activities will include a craft show, door prizes, 50/50 drawings, and plenty of music. All proceeds will benefit local Amvets post 1941.

Alma, Michigan, is better known as Scotland, USA, over Memorial Day weekend each year as thousands of people gather together to celebrate the Alma Highland Festival and Games. The event is celebrating 50 years this Memorial Day weekend when they take over Alma on May 27th and 28th. This event has grown to become one of the largest, most prestigious attractions of its kind in the Midwest!



Serving Those Who Served Us: Five Local Organizations Assisting Veterans


By ACSET Community Action Agency

In the United States, Armed Forces Day takes place on the third Saturday of May each year; this year it will be observed on Saturday, May 20. Armed Forces Day was created in 1949 to pay special tribute to the men and women of the Armed Forces, recognizing their service and sacrifice for the country.

According to 2015 estimates, there are more than 31,000 veterans living in Kent County. Of these, 7% are unemployed and 7% are living in poverty. Kent County is home to several organizations that can provide services to veterans who may need assistance.

ACSET Community Action Agency focuses on meeting emergency needs such as utility and food assistance, home weatherization, medical insurance enrollment and tax preparation. Low-income veterans who are residents of Kent County may qualify for assistance.

West Michigan Works! offers specialized services and priority of service for eligible veterans and their spouses. To see if you qualify, visit a Service Center and tell the staff you are a veteran or spouse of a veteran.

West Michigan Veterans Coalition is a collaboration between local organizations who provide support, information and resources to veterans and their families. They can connect you with local services to assist with education, employment, healthcare, quality of life and more.

Heart of West Michigan United Way 2-1-1 is a database of thousands of local services. Veterans can search their online data base or dial 2-1-1 to be connected to veteran-specific services in Kent County.

Kent County Veterans Services assists veterans in our community in getting benefits they are entitled to at county, state and federal levels. They can also connect veterans to other resources in the community.

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

School News Network: Rockets, Welcome to Your New (Pretty Much) School

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By Erin Albanese

School News Network


Kelloggsville High School students now have a sparkling addition to their building, complete with a repositioned entrance, new gymnasium, two-story media center and classrooms, and plenty of open space. Paint and decor reflect Rocket pride in blue and orange, and natural light streams through new windows.


Construction recently was completed on the new entrance area of the school, allowing students to enjoy the space for the remaining weeks of the semester.


“It’s amazing. It’s a major upgrade,” said senior Anna Jensen.


Principal Kevin Simmons looks out of the new media center.

The project was made possible through a $30 million bond issue passed in 2015. The bulk of it, $27 million, went toward improvements at the high school, 23 Jean St. SW, including demolition of a 1930s wing and the large addition. The entrance of the school now fronts Division Avenue instead of Jean Street. Other renovations are in progress.


A new competitive-sized gymnasium will host varsity games and allows for more practice space. The auditorium has new theater-style seating for 480. A two-story media center outfitted with updated technology will serve as a hub for learning and a community center. The goal is to open some facilities to the public.


“The district realized the high school would be a hub for the community,” said Principal Kevin Simmons.


“It’s like a whole new high school,” said senior Sadie Mitchell.


Check out School News Network for more stories about students, schools, and faculty in West Michigan.

GVSU education vessel receives new radar, weather equipment

Grand Valley State University’s Grand Haven-based education and research vessel, the D.J. Angus, is kicking off the 2017 summer research season with new hardware that enhances the vessel’s education and research abilities.


The boat underwent the upgrades during the winter off-season to bring on-board equipment up to the same standard as the Angus’ sister boat, the W.G. Jackson which is located in Muskegon Lake at the Annis Water Resources Institute.


The updated equipment includes camera safety systems, an integrated touchscreen display for navigation, high-definition radar systems, Automated Identification System (AIS) and new digital weather sensors. The equipment enhances the educational mission of the boat, which is primarily used for K-12 outreach education programs. The radar, navigation and camera updates enhance ease of operation and safety.


“We replaced analog equipment with digital equipment and made several improvements that enhance the efficiency and safety of the vessel,” fleet captain Tony Fiore said. “It gives us access to navigation charts digitally instead of on paper, so the information is more accurate. It helps us with safety when we’re under way.”


Camera upgrades mean that the captain of the vessel can see, in real-time, what’s happening in all areas of the boat from the wheelhouse, including inside the engine room and on the back research deck. Having that information helps in case of emergency, Fiore said.


Navigation is also greatly improved, as a community data-sharing program provides all vessels that use the RayMarine system with crowd-sourced depth information rather than charts which can become outdated with time.


Even though the boat mainly serves AWRI’s educational outreach program, these upgrades also mean that should a researcher need to use the D.J. Angus instead of the W.G. Jackson the instrumentation and data collection systems are similar. The new weather sensors digitally track wind speed, wind direction, barometric pressure, temperature and more.


For more information on the Annis Water Resources Institute, visit

6th Annual Eclipse Awards nominees recognized for top-notch talent

The 6th Annual Eclipse Awards nominees, en masse, on the bank of the Grand River

By Victoria Mullen, WKTV


The evening of Monday, May 15 was balmy, and as the sun slowly sank over the Grand River at JW Marriot’s 616 Cabana in downtown Grand Rapids, Mich., the 6th Annual Eclipse Award nominees reveled in being recognized for their talent and hard work in filmmaking. The mood: shimmering anticipation.


WKTV spoke with 14 talented filmmakers — out of a total of more than 90 nominees — all of whom had one thing in common: being among the best talent in West Michigan.


Here is what they had to say.


Talon Rudel

Talon Rudel
Nominated for two awards — Best Narrative Feature and Best Direction in a Feature or Short — for his 8-minute film, Doorways, Talon Rudel hails from the east side of the state. He co-produced the nominated film last summer along with a talented team for a 36-hour film competition.

“It was surreal,” Rudel said of hearing about his nomination. “I’ve seen so many other people get nominated and they’re so good, so when I got nominated, I thought, ‘Wait, what?’ It felt like it was out of the blue.”

Rudel’s future plans are to write and direct features, and although he has no specific destination in mind, he does know that he wants to be where he can make his goal happen.

Johnny DeMarco

Johnny DeMarco
Nominated for Best Acting in a Lead Role for his portrayal of ‘Tommy’ in Confidence of a Tall Man, Johnny DeMarco has been acting for 6 years and nearly snagged a role on The Sopranos (yes, that Sopranos).

“It all happened on a whim,” DeMarco said. “I took a trek to New York and hung out in the bars where the series was filmed.”

The actor enjoys a bit of notoriety in his hometown of Lansing. In addition to acting, he’s been in real estate for 30 years and owns Paisano’s Restaurant.

“I wear many hats and the endeavors all blend together,” he said. “It’s very exciting to be nominated for this award. I am very humbled.”

Troy Randall-Kilpatrick

Troy Randall-Kilpatrick

Nominated for Best Acting in a Lead Role for his work in the short film, Beggar’s Remorse, actor, writer and producer (Crooked Limb Studio & Productions) Troy Randall-Kilpatrick has been acting on stage and in film, primarily in Michigan, for over 20 years.

In Beggar’s Remorse, Randall-Kilpatrick plays ‘John’, an extremely dark character, which prompted fellow actor and fianceé, Heather Fairbanks to say that she was both horrified and extremely impressed.

“He’s a gifted actor,” said Fairbanks, who is currently working with Randall-Kilpatrick on the film, Descending.

Of receiving the nomination, Randall-Kilpatrick said, “I thought it was wonderful. I’m pleased and happy. It’s a first-class awards show and a tremendous honor to be nominated.”

Heather Fairbanks

Heather Fairbanks

Written and directed by Rhodes Short, and co-produced by Short and Heather Fairbanks, Who Will Move the Stone is nominated for Best Narrative Feature. Representing the film at the event was Fairbanks, who has been acting since the age of 3.


“I grew up on the stage,” Fairbanks said. “I enjoy acting in diverse roles.”


Fairbanks said that she’s enjoyed traveling with the film to festivals throughout the U.S., and the film has won numerous awards along the way.


“I’m really honored that a faith-based film would be recognized in a secular film festival,” Fairbanks said. “It surprises people. It’s not a cookie-cutter Christian film.”

Sheri Beth Dusek

Sheri Beth Dusek
Nominated for Best Acting in a Lead Role for her portrayal of ‘Jayne Russo’ in Two Guns and a Body Bag, Sheri Beth Dusek said, “I was surprised. I’ve acted for 25 years — many years in theatre — and I’ve never been recognized. It’s nice to be recognized.”


Although acting is her first love, Dusek has been working on the producing end of the biz for the past two years and finds that aspect exciting and fun. She divides her time between Grand Rapids and Los Angeles.


“I’m absolutely loving it,” she said. “I wake up in L.A. and ask myself, ‘Is this my life right now? Meeting with producers?’”

Jason Ley and Ben Wilke

Jason Ley and Ben Wilke

Nominated for Best Local TV & Cable (30-minute time slot), Modern Ahabs is a travel beer show produced by Jason Ley and Ben Wilke. Ley is nominated for Best Writing in Produced Content (Documentary or Promo Piece) and Wilke is nominated for Best Sound Design and Best Direction (Documentary or Promo Piece) for the same project as well.


For those not in the know, Captain Ahab hunted the great white whale in Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. In a similar fashion, Modern Ahabs follows the hunt for the elusive craft beer.


“It’s a show for the craft beer enthusiast who is working on fulfilling a bucket list of beers,” said Ley, who admitted to not knowing how he wanted the pilot to be filmed. He put his full trust in co-producer Wilke, who has a ton of experience behind the camera.


Because craft beers can be fleeting, Ley and Wilke are at the mercy of a beer’s release. They had a quick, three-week turnaround time for filming the pilot.


“I was surprised that it was nominated. I had no idea it would turn into four Eclipse Award nominations,” said Ley. So far, the pilot has also won four Tellys and is nominated for an Emmy Award.

Jeff Morgan

Jeff Morgan

Hailing from Traverse City, Jeff Morgan co-produced Healing with Horses with Amber Elliott. The piece is nominated for Best Documentary (less than 20 minutes).


The documentary shares the journey of Kelsey Secor, who was partially disabled in 2015 after her car went off the road and hit several trees over the July 4th weekend. Secor’s rehabilitation included equine therapy at Karin’s Horse Connection and Legacy Stables in Caledonia, Mich., the setting for much of the documentary.


“I’m super excited,” Morgan said of being nominated. He plans on pitching the documentary to Netflix.

Angela Peavey

Angela Peavey

“It’s always an honor to be nominated,” said Angela Peavey, who produced Saugatuck Center for the Arts Theatre Promo, which was nominated for Best Online Programs, Segments or Promotional Pieces.


“I went on YouTube to see what the caliber of nominations was like and it’s amazing! Even if I don’t win, I can’t complain because the people are phenomenal.”


The project has been nominated for an Emmy award as well.


Peavey is currently busy with post-production on A Parent’s Worst Nightmare and recently became a full partner of Be Your Own Hollywood Production Company.


Peavey acknowledged that women are scarce in the male-dominated film industry.


“To be a woman filmmaker, you have to be tenacious and create your own magic,” she said. “You can’t wait for someone to open the door for you.”

David Huizingh

David Huizingh

Nominated for Best Cinema Trailer, David Huizingh’s project, Migration, began as a capstone project for a film class at GVSU.


“It felt wonderful to be nominated,” said Huizingh. “It’s a huge privilege to be here networking with others.”


Huizingh works in a “nerdy” field — virtual reality — at Steelcase, and he feels very lucky to be doing what he’s doing. He enjoys being active in the 3-D community, too.

Thom Bell

Thom Bell
Nominated for Best Local and Regional Segments and Promotional Pieces (under 20 minutes) for his work on WMFVA Sound Designer, Thom Bell is satisfied just to be in the circle of talent that make up the 6th Annual Eclipse Awards.


“Whether I win is not as important as navigating among these folks,” Bell said.


WMFVA Sound Designer was a collaboration between WMFVA and Celebration! Cinema. The piece plays prior to the start of a feature film (at Celebration! Cinema).


“It was really well received,” said Bell. “People in the theatre really liked it, and they were surprised to learn that films were still being made in Michigan.”

Kevin Kammeraad

Kevin Kammeraad
Nominated for Best Music Video Original Performance, Kevin Kammeraad’s piece, Inquiring Minds, was a family affair — Kammeraad produced the video and did the original song and puppetry. His wife, children and cousins all worked on the piece, which is par for the course — his family is always involved in his endeavors.


“I am delighted,” Kammeraad said of being nominated for an Eclipse Award. “It’s always reassuring when someone recognizes your work.”


Working as an independent artist creating books, music and poetry, the project is all part of Kammeraad’s goal: to inspire kids’ creativity and spark ideas.

Kyle Misak and Don Chase

Kyle Misak and Don Chase

Receiving not one, not two, but 8 nominations, Kyle Misak said, “It’s cool to be nominated among your colleagues.”


Misak’s feature film, Another Brick in the Wall is nominated for Best Narrative Feature, Best Direction, Best Editing (Feature or Short), and Best Screenplay (Feature or Short). Co-produced with Don Chase, Misak’s short film, Crazy Carl, is nominated for Best Narrative Short, Best Direction (Feature or Short), Best Editing (Feature or Short), and Best Screenplay (Feature or Short).


Said Chase of the multitude of nominations, “It doesn’t surprise me — Kyle is creative, talented and passionate. I’ve worked with him five years. The whole team is solid. When you’ve got a good team, you get nominated for awards. It’s about our whole team, not just us.”


Right now, the two are working on Eden Theory, a psychological thriller. They plan on making more films.


“It doesn’t stop,” said Chase. “When one’s done, it’s time to do another.”

Erik Sebert

Erik Sebert
A May 2016 graduate of Ferris State University, Erik Sebert said, “I’m confident about my work, but it’s awesome to be nominated. I was surprised — it felt really good.”


Sebert’s piece, Space Scavenger is nominated for Best Animation.


Sebert works at Tech World producing spec graphics, and he’s on the lookout for a job as a 3-D model environmental artist.


“More and more, I’m becoming a 3-D generalist,” he said.

Ken Orlich

Ken Orlich
Nominated for Best Acting in a Supporting Role for his portrayal of ‘Teddy’ in Confidence of a Tall Man, Ken Orlich has 20 years of acting experience under his belt — in comedy, public access and voice work.


“This is the first time I’ve been nominated for an award,” said Orlich. “I really was surprised. Working with Mike (McCallum), you know what you do with him gets out there — he makes sure people see it. Win or lose, I’m definitely happy.”


Orlich wants to keep working with McCallum and is starting a new production company in Lansing. In addition to acting, he has a background in engineering and farming.



44th Street to be closed this weekend, traffic will be re-routed

If you are planning to head down 44th Street, you might want to consider an alternate route as the road will be closed between Breton Road and Walma Avenue Saturday and Sunday, May 20 and 21.

Kentwood Assistant City Engineer Dan VanderHeide said the reason for the closure is so that contractors for the development at Holland Home’s Breton Ridge can install gas and water lines to the site’s newest building located near the corner of 44th Street and Breton Woods Drive. The water and gas services need to go under 44th Street which means the contractor will have to cut the road open to put the service lines in place, VanderHeide said.

Lane closures to accommodate the construction was not possible because of the  44th Street median which made it difficult to re-route traffic. It was decided the best way to handle the project was to close the street over a weekend, he said.

“There is not a time when 44th Street isn’t busy, but the weekend is when it is less busy,” VanderHeide said.

While the street is closed, cars and trucks will be detoured separately. Cars will be redirected through the roundabout using Breton Road and Walma Avenue, while trucks will be detoured north using Breton Road, 32nd Street and Shaffer Avenue.

Metro Health hosts newly combined Kentwood/Wyoming Relay for Life event

By Jennifer Huff

Metro Health – University of Michigan Health


There are some big changes for both the Kentwood and Wyoming Relay for Life events: the two have combined and this year, the Relay for Life of Kentwood/Wyoming will be at the Metro Health – University of Michigan Health/


The signature fundraiser for the American Cancer Society will be from noon to 10 p.m. Friday, May 19 at the Metro Health Village, located 5900 Byron Center Ave. SW.


“For the first time, we’re combining the Wyoming and Kentwood relays into one,” said event committee member Laura Smith, director of The Metro Health – University of Michigan Cancer Center. “We’re looking forward to a high-energy day that brings the community together to remember loved ones and honor survivors.”


Organizers of the event hope to raise at least $30,000, all of which will go to the local chapter of the American Cancer Society.


“Our theme is ‘We is greater than me,’” said Julie Helm, officer manager of Metro Health Ear, Nose and Throat, who also serves on the Relay for Life committee and is herself a cancer survivor. “There’s not a person you meet that hasn’t been touched by cancer, which is why this event is so important. The involvement of so many participants and organizations underscores how the fight against cancer happens on a personal level and a community level.”


Relay for Life events traditionally consist of teams whose members take turns walking around a track or path. Each team is asked to have a member on the track at all times to symbolize that cancer never takes a break.


This year, Relay for Life of Wyoming/Kentwood also invites individuals to participate, either by registering online or simply showing up the day of the event.


“We’re privileged to welcome the community to our campus and want to be sure there are no barriers to participation,” said Floyd Wilson Jr., chief administrative officer of Metro Health – University of Michigan Health. “Hosting Relay for Life is one way we can embrace our role as the hub of community wellness.”


The day also will feature a number of booths, games, classes, and special events at Metro Health Village.


“When not walking laps, participants will have plenty of opportunities for education and entertainment,” Helm says. “And even if you’re not walking, we invite you to stop by and enjoy the happenings.”


The day’s activities will kick off with the Kelloggsville High School Marching leading everyone on the first lap. Afternoon activities include a paint and pour canvas party at 2 p.m. with activities really getting underway around 6 p.m. with the survivor/caregiver dinner.


Other activities include:


·         The Metro Health Mammobus will be on site all day for tours and free mammography screenings.

·         A bevy of booths will be on hand, including a photo booth, cancer education awareness booth, and relaxation station featuring yoga and massage.

·         A daylong silent auction—from 1-7:30 p.m.

·         Wyoming’s Got Talent at 7:30 p.m. with a panel of judges featuring Eric Zane from WBBL FM 1340

·         A dance party with band at 9:30 p.m.


The luminaria lap, Relay for Life’s most moving tradition, will take place just before the dance party. Walkers will be guided along their path by hundreds of luminarias lit to remind those touched by cancer that they’re not alone.


The traditional survivor and caregiver reception will also take place during the event. Those interested in participating in this reception need to RSVP.


For the complete schedule of events, please visit the event’s Facebook page (Relay for Life of Wyoming/Kentwood).

School News Network: Godwin Heights Senior goes through the storm to see the rainbow

Grand with Grit April Martinez has come along way during her high school journey.

By Erin Albanese

School News Network


April Martinez is the kind of person who asks, “Do you need anything else?” and “What more can I do?”


She’s the student who is ever-present, often helping organize events and taking part in art shows, blood drives, pancake breakfasts, powder-puff games. Others say she’s a natural at uniting people.


“I’m everywhere,” the Student Council president said with a laugh. “I love helping people. We do events that make people happy and bring our school together and that’s wonderful to me.


Senior April Martinez will graduate on May 31

“Where they need me is where I’ll be.”


April graduates on May 31 from Godwin Heights High School, and is headed to Grand Rapids Community College for her associate degree before transferring to Western Michigan University or Aquinas College to major in political science and minor in art.


April has always had big goals and a go-getter attitude, she said, but on many days during high school, there was a lot more on her mind than schoolwork.


During her freshman year, April and her three siblings, the youngest a baby, were put into foster care after being removed from a situation involving abuse. April and two siblings moved in with an aunt, and the baby was placed with a foster family.


“I remember this day so vividly,” she said, recounting arriving at KidsFirst Emergency Shelter, in Grand Rapids. “I couldn’t stop crying. I tried so hard to keep it together. I was worried about how my younger sister was doing.


“The hardest part was my little sister being gone. When they took her, it was the worst year ever.”


April and her sisters and brother remained in foster care for over a year. The usually smiling, happy April acted out at school by being mouthy and disrespectful. She became unmotivated and depressed, even suicidal at times. She would weep silently in the bathroom at school. “There’s a certain stall where I would cry,” she remembered.


She now lives with her grandmother, and with the help of school counselors, her friends and a youth minister at St. Francis Xavier church, she turned things around. “Prayer’s a powerful thing,” she said.


April Martinez gets a hug from art teacher Deanne Base

Putting Others Ahead of Herself

She’s embraced her Student Council work with steadfast commitment. “I’m a very outgoing person, so I like to think of myself as reaching out to people who others don’t always notice and making sure people feel part of school. We’re like a family here. I love it.”


Teachers say April is always thinking about others. “She’s that person who asks, ‘What else do you need me to do?’ ” said Student Council adviser Robin Carlyle. “She goes above and beyond and is kind and considerate. Life isn’t always good for her, but she doesn’t let it get her down.”


Art teacher Deanne Basse said she has “a ton of admiration” for April.


“One of her absolute strengths is to keep her composure and poise and always looking beyond herself. When she is tackling her own aspirations, she is also equally as concerned with everybody else. It makes her a very strong leader.”


April said she wanted to share her story to help other people who face similar challenges and loss. She wants to inspire them to be strong, to turn to others for help and not give up.


“What’s coming is so much better than you ever imagine, if you take the good path,” she said. “You have to go through the storm to see the rainbow.”

Madam President?

Going through the foster care process has inspired April to become more interested in politics, and in the need for social change and to address global issues like human trafficking. She hopes to become a lawyer, and then aim even higher. Yes, that high.


“I’ve always wanted to get into politics and be President of the United States,” she said confidently. “I feel like the world can be changed. I’m a believer that we can fix the world.


“I tend to see the best in the world and people, because I love people. I love the world.”


April said her experiences have shaped her life. “They’ve taught me to be more compassionate and understanding, to be there and help people and not judge them.”


Sound like qualities of a good president?


“Maybe you’ll be interviewing me when I’m in the Oval Office,” she said. “We’ll see what I’m destined to be.”


Check out School News Network for more stories about students, schools, and faculty in West Michigan.

Cat of the week: Chrysanthemum

By Sharon Wylie
Crash’s Landing

Each week WKTV features an adoptable cat from Crash’s Landing or Big Sid’s Sanctuary. Both cat rescue organizations were founded by Jennifer Petrovich, DVM (Dr. Jen), who is on staff at Clyde Park Veterinary Clinic (4245 Clyde Park Ave SW).

Volunteer Patti F. and her family are very well versed in this whole stray cat thing, as living out in the country has brought them many a cat over the years; this summer however they found themselves coming across several ill or injured kitties that needed medical attention.

Such was the case with Chrysanthemum, a young mother (born in the spring of 2015) who ended up on their property sickly, swollen and very skittish. Seems that another Saranac stray had taken an extreme dislike to Chryssy, biting her on the right side of her face and causing a major abscess that not only affected her jaw but the inside of her mouth and underneath her tongue as well.

Given her frantic nature when in the presence of strangers at first, we suspect the ONLY way her rescuer was able to catch her and bring her in to safety was simply because she was so ill she didn’t have the energy to put up a fight. But after her spay and wound treatment, coupled with heavy-duty antibiotics and narcotics, Chryssy was rip-roaring mad at Dr. Jen and not afraid to show it (yes, that is the thanks Dr. Jen gets).

Chryssy roomed with another terribly shy guy while she recovered at the clinic in the hopes that his tender timidness would rub off on her, but unfortunately within a day of arrival at Crash’s she turned her fear of the unknown into aggression. It was so rough going at first that she became extremely violent when anyone so much as attempted to approach her.

Over the next few weeks though, as she grew more comfortable in her surroundings and realized that we are not the bad guys, her attitude changed and she was able to finally move past her disdain and hatred of humans. Even though she is far from fond of any of us two-legged creatures, she is smitten with other kittens and is ALWAYS found snuggled up close to one cat or another (or two or three!).

We believe that it is through our kindness towards her kitty companions that Chryssy is learning what it feels like to be loved unconditionally, and we know that patience and kindness will win her over. We are taking baby steps and asking her to toddle on after us towards a more peaceful coexistence; we are confident that her roommates will show her the way—and we are happy with whatever pace she sets for herself. Interested adopters must have a quiet home with no other pets or children.

We have no expectations of her other than to let her guard down and allow us to show her what compassion and tenderness is all about; if it takes weeks, months or even years, that is fine by us—we aren’t going anywhere and she can stay here as long as she pleases!


  • House trained
  • Spayed/Neutered
  • Current on vaccinations
  • Prefers a home without dogs and Young Children
Want to adopt Chryssy? 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.

Employment Expertise: 5 ways to stay productive during your job search

By West Michigan Works!

It’s really easy to get discouraged or depressed during your job search. Here are five ways to keep your job search upbeat and successful.

Connect with past co-workers. Let them know you are on the hunt. You’ll be surprised how many are willing to help.

Volunteer. Use your free time to help at your favorite non-profit. Go to their office once or twice a week to build relationships with their staff members. It will give structure to your weekly schedule (and may lead to a job!). You could also volunteer at an industry conference. Use the opportunity to learn new information and meet other people in jobs similar to the one you want.

Wake up early. Wake up at the same time you did while working. Keep your body in the routine of waking up, showering and eating breakfast. By 9 a.m., you’ll be ready to conquer the day.

Stay Sharp. Set a daily schedule. Block off times for online job searching and informational interviews. End your day by making a to-do list for the next day.

Try something new. Job searching is stressful and tiring. So, take a few hours a week to try something new and fun. Run a 5k race or try a new dinner recipe.

Employment Expertise is provided by West Michigan Works! Learn more about how they can help: visit or your local Service Center.

Summer Reading returns to the Kent District Library

Alesha (left) and Melissa Steele stay active during Summer Reading Month

By Katie Zuidema

Kent District Library


Looking for an exciting way to enhance your summer, learn something new and qualify for prizes in the process?


Look no further, as Kent District Library is again poised to offer its popular Summer Reading at KDL that last year attracted more than 27,000 children and adults to its wide range of books, programs and activities.



This year’s annual program, sponsored by Consumers Energy, kicks off Monday, June 5 and extends through mid-August. You can sign up at, or just stop into any KDL branch.


“Summer is our favorite – and busiest – time of the year,” says Michelle Boisvenue-Fox, director of innovation and user experience at KDL. “We love offering free programs to get people excited about reading and summer. And rewarding people for reading with prizes has been a longtime tradition for libraries. We want to keep kids reading in the summer months.”


Those who register for Summer Reading at KDL can qualify for prizes by tallying the number of books they read, or tracking the points they accumulate by attending activities.


But perhaps the best gain – especially for students – is how reading throughout the vacation months helps forestall the “summer slide” that negatively affects learning between the end and start of the traditional school year.


Extensive research shows that children involved in summertime reading programs sponsored by public libraries are more likely to retain their edge come the start of school, and in many cases do better on standardized tests offered at the beginning of the academic year.


This summer’s program lineup will include appearances by magician Tom Plunkard, The Village Puppeteers, Audacious Hoops and many more.

GVSU Police Academy sees increased class size, diversity




By Dottie Barnes

Grand Valley State University


The Grand Valley State University Police Academy’s 2017 class is the largest in more than 13 years, with 40 recruits.


The class is also one of the most diverse, consisting of 12 women (11 white, one Asian) and 28 men (22 white, four African American, two Hispanic).


Williamson Wallace, director of Criminal Justice Training at Grand Valley, said 13 recruits are already employed by area law enforcement agencies that are sponsoring their training.


The academy is conducted annually during the spring/summer semester, May–August. Grand Valley’s academy goes beyond the mandatory minimum training requirement of 594 hours set by the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and provides 653 hours of instruction in 16 weeks.


Wallace said the academy is a leader in the state, introducing innovative training methods and techniques that are setting the bar for law enforcement education.


Judy Collins highlights St. Cecilia’s peek at 2017-18 concert series lineups 

Judy Collins will be making her St. Cecilia Music Center debut in early 2018. (Supplied)

St. Cecilia Music Center


The 2017-18 concert season at St. Cecilia Music Center includes the always remarkable Chamber Music of Lincoln Center series and a dynamite lineup for the Jazz Series. But the highlight of the winter may well be a visit  by the incomparable Judy Collins as part of the Acoustic Café Series.


“Since its inception in the 2015-16 season the Acoustic Café Folk Series has expanded its offerings and brought some of today’s up and coming artists, as well as some of the veterans of the singer/songwriter genre,” said Cathy Holbrook, St. Cecilia executive director. “We currently have two artists booked who represent generations of great music making … (including) the appearance of renowned and beloved singer Judy Collins.”


St. Cecilia’s Royce Auditorium stage concerts begin Oct. 26 and run through spring 2018. Series and individual ticket sales have started.


The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center perform three times during the season with CMS artistic directors Wu Han and David Finckel featured in two of the three concerts. Programs include the works of Mozart, Brahms, Dvořák, and Beethovan. Concert dates are Nov. 2, Jan. 18, 2018, and April 19, 2018.


The 11th season of SCMC’s Jazz Series is appropriately entitled “The Encore Season” as it brings back favorite performers from the past 10 years. This special season will feature four concerts with performers who have all appeared at SCMC: Grammy-winning bassist Christian McBride on Nov. 16, contemporary jazz pianist Brad Mehldau on Nov. 30, Grammy-winning vocalist Gregory Porter on Feb. 22, 2018, and multi-Grammy nominated baritone vocalist Kurt Elling on March 22, 2018.


As part of a still-evolving Acoustic Café Series, singer/songwriter Collins will make her first appearance at St. Cecilia on Feb. 1, 2018. Before that, guitarist Leo Kottke will return to the Royce stage on Oct. 26. The Acoustic Café Series, in partnership with the syndicated radio show of the same name and its host Rob Reinhart, will bring these two legends of folk to the 2017/2018 season, with additional concerts to be announced later in the year.


Series subscription tickets are available now — subscription prices represent a 15 percent discount on regular single ticket prices and a reduced $7 fee for the pre-concert reception. The usual cost of the pre-concert wine and hors d’oeuvres reception is $15 per person, per concert for all Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and Jazz Series concerts.


Single tickets are also available at this time. A post-party is included with each ticket where patrons are able to meet the artists and obtain signed CDs of their music.


For more information and tickets, visit, call St. Cecilia Music Center at 616-459-2224, or visit the box office at 24 Ransom Ave. NE, Grand Rapids.


Byron Center student returns to her roots for benefit concert

Mallory Skilling

The sweet sound of country is coming to the Van Singel when homegrown music artist Mallory Skilling returns to West Michigan, performing a benefit concert for the Van Singel Fine Arts Foundation. Former Byron Center native and former Cornerstone University student is set to perform with her band at the Van Singel Fine Arts Center on Thursday, May 18, at 7:30 p.m.


As a young girl, the singer/songwriter, attended Byron Center Public Schools. She studied contemporary music performance at Cornerstone University, completing her degree at the Contemporary Music Center in Nashville, Tenn. During her time at Cornerstone, Skilling released her first EP, “Spitfire Heart.” Since the release of her first EP, Mallory has added several singles to her collection, which can be found on both iTunes and Spotify. Her music is inspired by many artists including Patsy Cline, Miranda Lambert, Alison Krauss, The Band Perry, and the Civil Wars.


Currently, Skilling is working toward her master’s degree in elementary education at the University of Georgia and plans to graduate this December. She is, “looking forward to teaching students and sharing my love of music in the classroom.” She added, “I have many fond memories attending shows at the Van Singel as a child.” The Van Singel Fine Arts Center was the core to Skilling’s inspiration for the love of music and theater. She found that she was greatly impacted by her experiences through events presented at the center. She is thrilled to be returning to her roots and performing at there.


Skilling continues to pursue her music endeavors and has recently recorded a small EP composed of four songs that will soon be released.


Band members include former Cornerstone University student Ben Hoppe (acoustic guitarist), Cornerstone University graduate Jake Milo Partridge (drummer), Evan Profant (electric guitarist) and Daniel Schuler (Bass) from Ann Arbor.


Reserved seats are $25 and include a post-performance dessert buffet where patrons can meet the artist. Reserve tickets in person at the Van Singel box office or by calling 616-878-6800, Monday through Friday, noon to 5 p.m. Tickets are also available at


The Van Singel Fine Arts Center is located at the east end of the Byron Center High School complex, at 8500 Burlingame SW (84th Street and Burlingame SW) in Byron Center, just 1.5 miles west of US-131. The Van Singel features free, easy parking and curbside handicap parking is available.

School News Network: Godwin Heights High School Provides Room to ‘Rest, Recharge, Refocus’

The Godwin Heights Empowerment Room is a place to rest, relax and then start thing about possibilities.

By Erin Albanese

School News Network


In a room at Godwin Heights High School that formerly served as the site for in-house suspension, students now come for help in the areas of college, career and comfort.


The Empowerment Room is a recently revamped space serving a two-pronged purpose: a needed area for decompression and quiet, and a place to think big about the future.


“It’s a humongous paradigm shift,” said school counselor Kristi Bonilla, referring to it as a place of support rather than punishment. “The hope, goal, dream of this is that kids feel like they have a place to reset, recharge, refocus and be empowered.”


Juniors Dominic Donato and Mamadee Diabate take a break.

While the room is still in its infancy, Bonilla and fellow counselor Tish Stevenson envision it as a place where students can take momentary refuge. It could be during lunch, when they have time outside of class, or when the demands of teenage life bubble over and they need to reel in their emotions. They can also use it to channel their energy into preparation for what comes after graduation day.


“We wanted it to be a center for yoga, breathing and reset time,” Stevenson said. “We also wanted it to be a place for community members to meet with students.”


Meetings have already taken place between students and representatives from college, the military and the Urban League, who helped students apply for jobs.
Yoga sessions will begin soon.


Funded by a $1,000 grant from Wyoming Community Foundation, the room’s seating area has space for reclining and relaxing, comfy chairs and pillow. Yoga mats fill a corner bin, ready for poses. Students come in for the peacefulness, to talk to the counselors and eat lunch in a quiet place.


“We have a long day,” Stevenson said. “If you are a teenager mixing in with all the other teenagers in the day, you need a break.”


Equipping Students with Lifelong Skills

Bonilla and Stevenson have both completed training in cognitive behavior modification at the University of Michigan. They are using it to help students become more mindful, aware and rational in reacting to situations.


Yoga helps students deal with stress.

The end goal is to improve learning and develop lifelong skills, plus decrease detentions and suspension using a non-punitive approach. While the school still uses detentions and in-house and out-of-school suspensions, the counselors aim to be proactive in addressing behavior issues.


Common stressors in teens’ lives include test anxiety, social anxiety, family issues and relationships. Those things often manifest themselves as behavior problems.


“Being a teenager is stressful,” Stevenson said.


Juniors Mamadee Diabate and Dominic Donato juggle between classes at Godwin Heights and programs at Kent Career Technical Center, as well as working and volunteering. They both often come to the room to relax and talk with counselors.


“I feel it will be beneficial for our students because there’s a lot of stress going on,” Mamadee said. “I definitely will use it for yoga.”


“It’s kind of a relaxing place to let stuff come out,” Dominic said, “… not talk to anyone, and just be quiet.”


Check out School News Network for more stories about students, schools, and faculty in West Michigan.

City of Wyoming names new assistant city manager

Megan Sall

A familiar face has returned to the City of Wyoming this month as Megan Sall stepped into the role of assistant city manager.


In her new role, Sall will serve as the city manager’s principal representative in various administrative affairs with an emphasis on economic development and downtown development. She will also serve as communication director and will be responsible for managing the City’’s website, social media platforms and media inquiries. She will also be responsible for directing and monitoring city projects, acting as liaison between the city manager and department heads, community groups, boards and designated government agencies.


““We are excited to have Megan back at the City in this new and expanded role,”” said Wyoming City Manger Curtis Holt. ““She brings a passion for municipal work, community engagement and the City of Wyoming, along with a strong understanding of who we are.


“Megan’’s past work with us, along with the expertise and skills she has developed in the interim, will allow her to be a tremendous asset to our continued growth and development.””


Sall comes to the city with experience in economic development and governance in both local and national organizations. She began her career as assistant to the city manager in Wyoming before moving on to work as downtown development authority director and community services coordinator.


Sall then took the role of campaign coordinator and legislative aide for regional political and governing figures and went on to become program manager at International City/County Management Association in Washington, D.C. Returning to Grand Rapids, Sall worked as business development manager for The Right Place and then project and engagement manager at CQL Incorporated.


Sall received her bachelor’’s degree in international relations and her master’s in public administration from Grand Valley State University.


Sall is an active community member, serving on the board of Grand Valley State University. She also mentors at the Cook Leadership Academy at Grand Valley State University and has worked on the planning committee for the Great Lakes Software Excellence Conference and as a cabinet member of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Gateway Transformation Campaign.


To learn more about Wyoming, visit the City website at Follow the City on Twitter @WyomingCityHall and on Facebook at