Category Archives: Citizen Journalism

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

By Laura Nawrot, Grand Rapids Public Library

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

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


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

By Laura Nawrot, GRPL-Main

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

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

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

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

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

By Karen Thoms, Main Library


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

By Mary Knudstrup, Grand Rapids Public Library, Main

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

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

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

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





Author Susan Dennard scheduled to make a stop at Schuler Books

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


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


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


Author Susan Dennard

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


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


For more information about the author presentation, visit

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


The Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM) announced that a special week of Laser Light Shows will take place this summer at the Chaffee Planetarium. For one week only, visitors to the Chaffee Planetarium can recline, relax, and rock out to dazzling laser light performances set to popular and classic music. From Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin to nineties hits and today’s hottest pop, get ready for a timeless journey of light and sound.


Laser Light Shows have something for every music lover, including: Laser Beatles, Pink Floyd’s The Wall, Laser Vinyl (the best of classic rock), Laser Zeppelin, Laserpolis (pop, rock, alternative and oldies), Laser Country, Electro Pop (today’s hottest hits), Lase Rock (classic rock), Laser Tribute (great artists whose music has inspired many), Electrolase (electronic dance music), and Metallica.


Laser Light Shows will take place starting Monday, July 24 and continue through Sunday, July 30. Shows begin at 3 or 4 p.m. each day, and continue with the last show at 9 p.m. Tickets to shows are $4 with Museum general admission, and $5 for planetarium-only tickets. Members receive free admission to planetarium shows. For a full schedule and to purchase tickets in advance, please visit


The Chaffee Planetariums special week of Laser Light Shows will return in September during ArtPrize. Save the dates for Sept. 25 through Oct. 1 for another round of dazzling lights and tantalizing tunes.

Local graduate directs, produces first play at Wealthy Street Theater

Abby Pletcher

By Dan Pletcher


You can say that theater is in Abby Pletcher’s blood. Her grandmothers and mother have been involved in the arts including theater arts and now Pletcher will follow in their footsteps making her directorial and producing debut this month with the production of “Little Women: The Broadway Musical.”


OK, so the show scheduled for July 28 and 29 at the Wealthy Theatre is not her first foray into directing. The home-school graduate has directed many shows over the last several years, if directing your cousins counts. She usually has directed one show each summer since the age of 10. Her first big show involved all the kids in her neighborhood, where she directed a place called “Hotel for Kids,” which was a re-write of the kids movie “Hotel for Dogs.”


All of the other shows Pletcher has directed have been with her willing, although sometimes, coersed cousins. These shows would be held at the family’s favorite annual reunion hotspot in Big Rapids.


Although Pletcher has directed about a dozen shows with youth, this will be her first time directing for a show that is in conjuction with Homeschool Performing Arts – or just HPA (as referenced by those who know the group closely). HPA is a theater group that produces shows every year in the communities of Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Kalamazoo. To be more specific the shows are performed in the theaters of the Caledonia, Charlotte, and Comstock Public Schools. The show’s cast, crew, make-up, lighting, sound, and music are all done by high school kids who are home schooled. Parents and other family members assist in making the costumes, sets, and running rehearsals, but the kids learn and perform the shows. The group was stared by Brad Garnaat back in 1997. Pletcher has been involved with HPA as a student since 2008 where she has had the opportunity to observe, learn, and grow as a thespian.


Show times for the “Little Women: The Broadway Musical” are 7 p.m. both days, July 28 and 29, at Wealthy Street Theatre, 1130 Wealthy St. SE. Tickets are $8. For tickets, click here. For more information about the production, visit

Cat of the Week: Cilantro

By Sharon Wylie, Crash’s Landing

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

In honor of Cinco de Mayo 2017, Dr. Jen opted to give all of the ‘newbies’ for the month names of Hispanic origin; we had already had a Cinco (and Dr. Jen is saving Mayo for a white kitty). So, here’s a little bit about Cilantro, one of May’s magnifico kiddos that became a Crash Cat.

Super cute Cilantro is a fun and fabulous fella born in early 2015 who was fortunate enough to cross paths with one of our volunteers. As part of her TNR efforts on the south side of town, the volunteer comes across MANY a cat in need, but thankfully Cilantro was pretty darn healthy, just homeless.

He initially had a difficult time adjusting to shelter life as he didn’t take too kindly to others invading his personal space, but over time he has gotten used to their company. However, we are sure he wouldn’t mind being in a single cat house as long as it is a VERY busy one, probably with a rambunctious kid or two! He can’t wait to chum around with a human that is as energetic and adventurous as he is.

Want to adopt Cilantro? Learn about the adoption process here. Fill out a pre-adoption form here.

Interested in volunteering at one of the cat shelters? Email

Can’t adopt, but still want to help? Find out how you can sponsor a cat!

Crash’s Landing and Big Sid’s Sanctuary have a common mission: To take at-risk stray cats off the streets of the Greater Grand Rapids area, provide them with veterinary care and house them in free-roaming, no-kill facilities until dedicated, loving, permanent homes can be found.


Helping Your Loved One Transition to Assisted Living



By Peg Cochran, Holland Home


Change is never easy. Change becomes even more difficult to manage as we get older and more set in our ways. One of life’s more difficult transitions is the move from independent living to an assisted living facility. Many seniors view this transition as the last move of their life and perhaps, their final chapter. Coming to terms with that knowledge can bring sadness and depression. There are many ways to help your loved one ease into this transition and manage the emotions that accompany it.


When to Move to Assisted Living

There are many reasons to make the move to assisted living. Many seniors are more than capable of managing in their own home with some outside help from family, friends or a paid caregiver. However, this is not always possible or even feasible. Following are some things to consider as you work to determine the best care option for your loved one.

  • They can no longer shower or bathe without help, or you are concerned about their safety in the tub or shower.
  • They are at risk for falls.
  • They forget to take medications ortake medications improperly.
  • They no longer cook nutritious meals for themselves and may be losing weight.
  • They can no longer drive and are becoming isolated.
  • They have been recently hospitalized and you are concerned about whether they can recover at home.

Breaking the Ice

Moving a parent or loved one to assisted living is stressful for everyone involved. Adults are accustomed to being self-sufficient and to keeping their own unique schedule. Giving up their home can leave them feeling frustrated, helpless or angry. In addition, it’s hard for the caregiver to see their loved one growing older, and you may be having difficulty accepting the change yourself.


Visit the chosen facility several times and give your loved one a chance to become accustomed to the idea of moving. When you visit, encourage your loved one to talk with as many of the residents as possible. Most facilities will allow you to join them for meals. You should also take the time to meet with the administrator and any relevant staff members. Spend some time with your loved one going over any brochures or written material you may have been given. Be sure to get a copy of the activities schedule and point out anything you think might interest your loved one.


Ask the facility about respite care. Many offer it, and it’s the perfect way for your loved one to try out their new lifestyle without making a long-term commitment.


“Respite stays can last from a few days to more than a month,” said Amy Thayer, senior living consultant for Holland Home. “It’s not unusual for one of our respite residents to decide to make the move after experiencing everything we offer.


“It’s important to choose a facility that offers the full continuum of care, if possible,” said Thayer. “That way, should a move to a higher level of care such as nursing be required, your loved one will only have to change floors as opposed to moving to a whole new facility.”


Making the Move

When it’s time to make the physical move to the new facility, planning is key. Make sure you have the dimensions of the new space. If possible, plan the furniture arrangement in advance. You will want to bring enough personal items and furniture to make the space feel like “home,” but chances are you will not need everything in your loved one’s current home. Special pieces can be passed down to family and friends. Knowing others will be enjoy treasured belongings can make parting with it easier.


Have a plan for arranging the furniture so that the movers set things up in a way that suits your loved one’s lifestyle and makes them feel more “at home”.  Placing knickknacks and pictures in the same or similar places will go a long way toward giving the new space a feeling of familiarity.


After Moving In

 One of the best ways to ease the transition to your loved one’s new way of life is to get to know neighbors. They’ve already “been there, and done that,” and can help the individual adapt to the change. One of the best parts about assisted living is that your senior will no longer be isolated, dependent on visits from family and friends to ease any loneliness. They will be surrounded by peers and will have access to a full calendar of specially planned events and outings.


Check the activities calendar as soon as they move in and plan on participating in at least a few of the scheduled events. You may find there are clubs to join, musical evenings, movie showings and bus trips. Getting involved will help your loved one meet people and make new friends.


In addition, they should familiarize themselves with their new surroundings—check out the library, the exercise room, and the laundry facilities. Knowing their way around will make things feel familiar more quickly.



Finally, encourage your loved one to give themselves time to adjust to their new lifestyle.  No matter how much they like it, there will most likely still be days when they feel sad or nostalgic for their old way of life.


“If those emotions persist,” said Thayer, “be sure to talk to the staff. Arrangements can be made for the individual to speak to a counselor who can help them ease into their new way of life.”


Most importantly, try to keep a positive mindset. Help your senior focus on the things they like about their new living situation and take advantage of all that it has to offer.


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

By Grand Rapids Public Library

Men are passionate about many things, and Piot’s memoir, No Time to Lose: A Life in Pursuit of Deadly Viruses is by turns, chilling and fascinating, as he reveals how a boy growing up in a small Belgium town, went on to pursue a consuming desire to help eradicate major infectious diseases, especially in Africa. People who are aware at a young age, of their calling — of some great work they must achieve, have always intrigued me. How do they know? Where does such an unselfish desire and drive come from?

As a child, Peter would pass by the tiny museum dedicated to a local man who had been a missionary to the lepers in Hawaii. He was incensed by society’s cruelty to people with a disease that brought such condemnation and isolation, and determined that he too, would serve those in great need.

Fresh out of medical school, in 1976 he was employed at a Belgium laboratory when a blood sample, thought to be a variety of yellow fever, came in. Routine tests were done on what Dr. Piot would later have the honor of helping to put a name to: Ebola. The most lethal and feared of all the hemorrhagic viruses to come out of Africa, with a 50-90 percent death rate.

After Ebola came another mysterious epidemic, slower to kill, but quicker to spread; and he realized how wrong his old professors had been, thinking that we had conquered the microbes. Piot would eventually go on to head up UNAIDS for fifteen years.

The author has a great storytelling voice — down home, funny, compassionate, engaging. He’s like a witty professor combined with a pirate with Bill Clinton, as he talks about working with political leaders and prostitutes, scary plane flights, irascible bosses, turf wars at the U.N. and more. A wonderful read.


Caregivers Corner: Empowering Seniors with Technology

File photo

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


The use of smartphones, tablets and computers has become firmly integrated into our daily lives. Even the most resistant adopters of electronic devices in their daily lives often find themselves on the way to their local library or a family member’s house in order to ‘get online’ to complete an important task. Fast-moving technologies can make once simple tasks like banking or ordering from a catalog difficult for those who have not stayed up to date with changes.


While in many ways it can seem like technology has overtaken our lives, it has brought us many opportunities we previously didn’t have. Being able to place a video call to grandchildren who may live miles and miles away from us, or to consult with a physician and get help without an appointment, enriches our everyday experience. Using electronic devices can also empower us, increase our independence and safety, and reduce isolation by connecting us to our communities.


In May, the Pew Research Center (2017), released results on a study of the use of technology by older adults and the results indicated a significant increase of electronic devices in the few years. Since 2011, the use of smartphones among older adults increased 35%. Today 4 in 10 adults age 65+ own a smart phone. There were similar increases in tablet use. One third of seniors own a tablet, like an iPad, which is a 19% increase from 2010. These results indicate that older adults are just as connected as other age groups, yet for many older adults, their devices seem more a hindrance than a help in their daily lives.


While 75% of older adults surveyed in the Center’s study are online several times a day, only 26% of those same adults feel confident in their use of electronic devices. There are several factors that contribute to this experience, but one of the main ones is the feeling of disorientation that older adults sometimes experience when they first get a smartphone, tablet or computer. Well-meaning family members, may get a device for a family member, set it up for them with passwords and security questions they don’t share with the new owner, and then become impatient with them when the device isn’t working properly.


Seniors will often limit themselves to only using features of their devices that they are certain they know how to operate, like making a phone call or playing a favorite game, missing out on a world of functions and apps that can actually enhance their lives and help them continue to be independent.


There are many organizations working to help seniors become more comfortable and proficient on using electronic devices throughout the nation. Public libraries are a great resource for seniors to learn the basics about how to use computers and even tablets and smartphones. Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan (AAAWM) is developing a class to teach seniors how to use their devices, and show them specific applications available that can support their independence and connection to their communities. We’ll also teach seniors how to protect themselves from scams while on the internet.

On Tuesday, August 22nd from 1-3 pm as part of Family Caregiver University, AAAWM will be introducing our new technology class. On this day, participants will learn the best ways to integrate new technology into the lives of older adults, some of the assistive technologies built into many devices, review apps that can help caregivers manage their lives, as well as give a preview of an upcoming course designed specifically to help seniors use mobile devices like a smartphone or tablet. The class will take place at Area Agency on Aging located at 3215 Eaglecrest Dr. NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525.

For a full list of Family Caregiver University classes provided by the Caregiver Resource Network, please call 888.456.5664 or go here.

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

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


By West Michigan Works!

It’s no secret that job loss is stressful. Losing your income, daily routine and professional identity can lead to feelings of anger, fear and grief. Coping with these emotions can make searching for a new job overwhelming. There are things you can do to help stay positive and keep moving forward.

Start by organizing what you need to do into easy-to-follow steps. Focus on one step at time. Every time you complete a step, check it off your list. Eventually your list will no longer seem so overwhelming! The checklist below can help you get started.

Register with the Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA). You can register for unemployment and update your records all online. Visit the Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM) to set up an account and file your claim.

Create a Pure Michigan Talent Connect (PMTC) account. PMTC is an online portal where you can search for jobs and upload your resume so employers can find you. Get started at

Visit a Michigan Works! service center. Once you file for unemployment, you will need to register for work in person at a service center. Michigan Works! staff can help you through the process. The service center in Ottawa County is located at 121 Clover St, Holland, MI 49423. Visit the West Michigan Works! website to find other locations in our region.

Talk to a service center staff member. They can tell you what free services you are eligible for. Depending on your situation, you may qualify for employment preparation, career planning or scholarships for career training or on-the-job training.

Connect online. Follow the Michigan Works! Facebook page in your county to stay up-to-date on employers that are hiring and other resources for job seekers. Update your PMTC profile at least once every 30 days. This ensures your information will continue to be seen by employers.

Remember to stay positive, take it one step at a time and use the many resources available to job seekers. West Michigan Works! offers a variety of free services to help you develop a plan and take your next step to a new career!

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

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

By Lisa Boss, Grand Rapids Public Library, Main

D. Wayne Sharf slid across Winky Butterfield’s pasture like a greased weasel headed for a chicken house.” Criminal stealth and practice have readied D. Wayne with a center cut pork chop as part of his kit, and soon he is on the run with his victims. A hail of bullets from their frantic owner suggests to D. Wayne that there has to be a better way to make a living, but — what? “There was stealing dogs, cooking meth, and stripping copper wire and pipes out of unoccupied summer cabins. That was about it in D. Wayne’s world.”

Thus begins the newest Virgil Flowers thriller, and no sooner had I brought it home, than my husband nabbed it. Putting aside his historical studies, he decided he needed a break with some less taxing reading. Soon he was chortling away, as detective Flowers steps in to help a close friend find some missing dogs. All this is on the QT, since Flowers can’t tell his boss he’s working a dog-napping case. But soon after the BCA agent arrives, the quiet southern Minnesota town of Trippton is struck by a murder. And then another murder—

Flowers is soon on the trail of a very, very, bad school board, meth makers, killers, and worst of all, cold-hearted dog-nappers. If you are already a Sandford fan, you’ve already read this book (pre-ordered possibly!), but if you haven’t tried him yet, he writes a meanly humorous thriller. This one is just a little lighter than usual, but it was just as much fun.



Alternatives in Motion enhances independence through access to mobility equipment


By Alternatives in Motion and C. Davis


Being disabled is tough enough, but imagine not having access to mobility equipment to get around. Thankfully, there’s a nonprofit that helps people who can’t afford or fall through the cracks of health insurance.


Alternatives in Motion enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing independence through access to mobility equipment.


The nonprofit’s vision is to be the central hub in West Michigan for recycling, distributing, and maintaining mobility devices for those in need. Alternatives in Motion had its beginnings in 1993, after the brother-in-law of founder George Ranville, a Grand Rapids native, got into a tragic accident. As Ranville struggled to help his brother-in-law attain proper — but expensive — equipment, he saw an opportunity to help the disabled community.


The new nonprofit began raising money and making its cause known, believing that access to mobility equipment is the path to independence for those in need. Since then, Alternatives in Motion, which remains entirely funded by independent donations, has continued to grow and strives to keep up with the need for mobility equipment.


The organization’s mission is to provide wheelchairs to individuals who do not qualify for other assistance and who could not obtain such equipment without financial aid. By creating access to mobility equipment and repair services for those in need, Alternatives in Motion gives them the independence and quality of life they deserve.


If you or someone you know needs mobility equipment, apply here. (You must live in West Michigan to qualify.) For more information go to the website or call 616.493.2620.


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

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

By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma


Greg Bryan and his wife, Beverly, watched as the City of Wyoming was forced to remove the city trees. First it was due to the Dutch Elm Disease which wiped out about 75 percent of North American’s elm trees by 1989.


Then in early 200s, it was the Emerald Ash Borer, an insect that is lethal to ash trees, with the City of Wyoming becoming part of a countywide Emerald Ash Borer Quarantine.


“They cutdown more than a 1,000 trees,” Bryan said. “My wife turned to me and said ‘We have to do something.’”


Bryan did. He helped establish the Wyoming Tree Commission and this week, in memory of his wife who passed way in the spring, he donated $10,000 to the commission to help get its fundraising efforts moving forward.


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

“We are in the process of raising funds,” Bryan said. “For many of the grants we are seeking, you need to have matching funds. I am hoping this will help in the group’s fundraising efforts.”


Just a year-old, the Wyoming Tree Commission’s focus has been centered on planting trees. It recently helped the city be named as a Tree City USA, a national movement formed in 1976 to provide the framework necessary for communities to manage and expand their public trees.


With that honor, the commission, named nicknamed the Tree Amigos, has been focusing on projects within the city including a collaboration with Wyoming Public Schools in developing a small orchard at West Elementary School.


Tree Commission Chairperson Stella Slootmaker, who also helped establish the Tree Commission, said during the commission’s recent meeting, that the group is working to raise funds by looking at various grant opportunities through the Department of Natural Resources and the USDA Farm to School Grant.


The Tree Commission also has sponsorships available at various levels, the Service Berry level, $100 – $499; the Silver Maple level, $500 – $999; and the Mighty Oak level, $1,000 or more. For more information about the  Wyoming Tree Commission, email

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

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


June 2017 was the busiest June on record at the Gerald R. Ford International (GFIA) Airport, coming off a March that was the single busiest month in airport history.


June 2017 passengers were up 5.59 percent year-over-year, not only resulting in the busiest June ever, but also securing the title of busiest second quarter in airport history by over 30,000 passengers; and the busiest overall quarter ever serving over 700,452 passengers since the beginning of the year.


“We are halfway through 2017 and already seeing incredible record-breaking statistics,” said GFIA President & CEO Jim Gill. “This is a testament to our region, and our growing community along with our airline partnerships. Not only does this June go down in airport history, but 2017 now holds the title for busiest first half ever beating out 2016 by over 86,000 passengers.”


Each month of 2017 has resulted in record-breaking passenger numbers, and the Airport has seen ten straight months of record growth.


Through June 2017, GFIA has served 1,385,730 total passengers — up 6.6 percent from 2016.


“The first phase of our Gateway Transformation Project will be complete at the end of summer, and we’re excited to see what the combination of this redesign along with the growing business in West Michigan does for our numbers,” said Gill. “We hope our continued growth prompts more nonstop service, and more options for those travelers who keep supporting us to achieve these record- breaking stats.”


Gateway Transformation Project construction began in December 2015 and is slated to continue through summer 2017. The project’s main feature is the consolidated passenger security checkpoint which opened in June, and centralizes security screening to one main checkpoint in the Airport. Construction also includes new terrazzo flooring, lighting fixtures, kids play areas, restroom and nursing room, family restrooms, pre- and post-security business centers, new retail and food & beverage space, and much more.



Pets of the Week: Missy, Safya & Feisty

By Brooke Hotchkiss, Humane Society of West Michigan

Each week, WKTV features an adoptable furry friend (or few) from various shelters in the Grand Rapids area. This week, we focus on Humane Society of West Michigan, located at 3077 Wilson Dr. NW in Grand Rapids.

Humane Society of West Michigan’s mission is to rescue hurt, abused and abandoned animals and find them a new forever home. The 501(c)3 non-profit organization helps over 8,000 animals annually and is 100% donor-funded by caring individuals and businesses in the community. Additional programs help reduce pet overpopulation, provide assistance to low-income pet owners, behaviorally assess animals and reunite lost pets with their owners.



Missy — Female Domestic Short Hair Mix

I’m a 9-year-old cat looking for my forever home! I’m sweet, affectionate and relaxed. I would do well as the only pet in the home in a laid-back environment. My favorite activity is napping! I love to be petted and shown love. I would be a great companion for a senior or someone who is looking for a calm, loving, low-maintenance cat. My adoption fee is waived due to generous grant funding.


More about Missy:

  • Animal ID: 33958186
  • Species: Cat
  • Breed: Domestic Shorthair/Mix
  • Age 9 years 8 months
  • Gender: Female
  • Size: Medium
  • Color: Black/Orange
  • Spayed
  • Not declawed

Safya – Female Catahoula Leopard Mix


I’m a playful and friendly 4-year-old dog looking for my forever home! I’m an active dog who would do well in a home with people who give me an active lifestyle by playing with me, going for walks, etc. I am kenneled with a playful male dog and we get along great! Having a dog friend in the home would be a great way for me to get out some of my energy by having a friend to play with. I would not do well in a home with cats. I would do well in a home with older/respectful children. Please come meet me at Humane Society of West Michigan!


More about Safya:

  • Animal ID: 35588482
  • Species: Dog
  • Breed: Catahoula Leopard Dog/Mix
  • Age: 4 years 1 month 25 days
  • Gender: Female
  • Size: Medium
  • Color: Grey/Black
  • Spayed

Feisty – Female Domestic Short Hair Mix

I’m a 3-year-old cat looking for my forever home! I was brought in to HSWM as a stray in April and am looking for a good home to call my own. I would do well in a relaxed home. I enjoy napping, being petted, and playing around. Please come meet me at Humane Society of West Michigan! Cat adoption fees are only $15.


More about Feisty:

  • Animal ID: 35187536
  • Species: Cat
  • Breed: Domestic Shorthair/Mix
  • Age 3 years 20 days
  • Gender: Female
  • Size: Small
  • Color: White/Orange
  • Not declawed

Adoption fee includes:

  • A physical done by the staff veterinarian
  • A test for heartworm disease (if six months or older)
  • A first series of vaccines including DHLPP (distemper combo), Bordatella (kennel cough) vaccine, and rabies (if older than 14 weeks of age)
  • Spay/Neuter Surgery
  • Treatment for internal parasites
  • One dose of flea preventative
  • One dose of heartworm preventative

The organization automatically microchips all adoptable animals using 24PetWatch microchips, which include FREE registration into the 24PetWatch pet recovery service. For more information visit or call 1.866.597.2424. This pet is also provided with 30 days of FREE ShelterCare Pet Health Insurance with a valid email address. For more information visit or call 1.866.375.7387 (PETS).

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

Your Community in Action: Hot Weather Safety for Older Adults

By ACSET Community Action Agency


Everyone is looking for ways to stay cool under the summer sun, but it is even more important for older adults. Seniors are more vulnerable to heat because their bodies don’t adjust as well to temperature changes. Medical conditions and medications can also make it hard for their bodies to regulate temperature or can cause dehydration. In fact, a recent study found that 40% of heat-related deaths in the US were among people over 65.


It is important to know the signs of heat stroke so steps can be taken to treat it as soon as possible. Symptoms include:

  • Body temperature over 104 degrees
  • Changes in behavior, like acting confused or agitated
  • Dry, red skin
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Heavy breathing or a fast pulse
  • Lack of sweating when it’s hot out
  • Fainting

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, take steps to cool down and seek medical help. Use these tips to stay cool and prevent heat stroke this summer:


Drink plenty of water. Even if you don’t feel thirsty, be sure to drink plenty of cool water and avoid coffee and alcohol.


Eat light. Eat small portions of cold meals like salads. Hot, heavy meals like pot roast can increase your body temperature.

Keep the house cool. You may avoid running the air conditioning to save money, but in a heat wave it can be a life-saver. Keep your air conditioner filters clean to help them run more efficiently. Close your blinds to keep sunlight out and decrease the need for the air conditioner to work as hard.

Keep yourself cool. Wet a towel with cool water and place it on your wrists, face and back of your neck. Sit with your feet in a pan of cool water. Or take a cool shower or bath.


Visit a cooling center. If you can’t cool down at home, visit a public place with air conditioning to get some relief. A shopping mall, library or senior center are places to consider.


ACSET Community Action Agency (CAA) provides a variety of programs to help keep seniors in Kent County health and safe. To learn more, go here.


Your Community in Action! is provided by ASCET Community Action Agency. To learn more about how they help meet emergency needs and assist with areas of self-sufficiency, visit

Homeless Youth program helps when no one else is there

File photo

By Arbor Circle


For some people, being resilient is a way of life. As early as five years old, one Arbor Circle Homeless Youth client was removed from her mother who was selling drugs. During the course of multiple foster home placements and other times when she was physically and sexually abused, she was separated from her siblings and left completely on her own.


She dropped out of school in the 9th grade and ran away — again — staying with friends and other family members for short periods of time. She lived this way for years.


She then began prostituting herself with landlords for places to stay. When she came to Arbor Circle to see about the Homeless Youth program, she had just been told to leave a shelter home.


The Bridge of Arbor Circle is a safe shelter program for youth who are facing homelessness or considering running away. In the middle of crisis, The Bridge offers youth a stable and accessible place to stay. Along with a variety of supportive programs,it helps them connect with peers, learn new skills, and find resources to reconnect with their families, schools and community.

How it works

The Bridge provides crisis shelter, counseling, case management, group support, youth activities and connections to other needed services, The Bridge assists youth with meeting their basic needs, setting goals, building new life skills, and establishing connections with peers and mentors who can support them. Services include:

  • Shelter services available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for up to 21 days
  • Crisis Intervention
  • Intake/Assessment
  • Counseling
  • Case management
  • Placement
  • Community education and prevention services
  • Service learning opportunities for civic engagement


The Bridge services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year to youth in need of safe shelter and supportive services due to issues such as safety, runaway/homelessness, and/or disconnection from family, school or community. Services are available for:

  • Youth between the ages of 10-17, both Male and Female
  • Youth staying/residing in the Counties of Kent, Ottawa, Montcalm, and Ionia
  • Youth/families in crisis can call or walk in anytime
  • Services are free

Are you or is a youth you know homeless or considering running away? The Bridge can help. Call toll-free 1.877.275.7792 or call 616.451.3001.


Arbor Circle’s main campus is located at 1115 Ball Ave. NE in Grand Rapids. Phone 616.456.6571 for more information. The Bridge 24-hour Hotline is: 616.451.3001.

On the shelf: ‘Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love’ by Larry Levin

By Lisa Boss, Grand Rapids Public Library, Main

How did an upper middle-class family who went to the vet to euthanize their beloved elderly cat, end up taking home one of the newer “super-pit” breeds cropping up? Well- you’ll have to read the book to find out, and it makes for a fairly unusual tale, as Eli (Oogy) returns from an almost Biblical destruction to prove that ultimately “living well is the best revenge”.

Caution: dog lovers will not be able to resist this dog or this book.


Wyoming to extend drop-off hours and assist residents with storm debris

The City of Wyoming’s yard waste drop-off site will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. through Saturday, July 15 to allow for storm damage clean up. The drop-off site, located at 2660 Burlingame Ave. SW, will return to normal hours on Monday, July 17. The site is free to Wyoming residents and they are encouraged to continue assisting with the clean-up efforts.


The City will also be performing a city-wide pickup of branches and trunks starting today. All debris must be stacked neatly in the parkway areas between the curb and sidewalk. Homeowners are asked to have this material ready for pickup by Monday, July 17.


While this is not a regular service provided by the City, leaders feel it is necessary due to the severity of the storm. “We generally do not provide yard waste pick-up after weather events, unless they are extremely severe in nature such as last year’s tornado. There are extra costs associated with these services, and we always seek to use our resources in the most judicious ways,” said Curtis Holt, City Manager for the City of Wyoming. “Due to the severity of last weekend’s storm we feel we should assist residents to the extent we’re able. Our thanks go out to all of the residents who have already cleaned their properties and brought debris to our yard waste drop-off site. Their efforts are tremendously helpful and we hope they will continue to assist us.”


The cleanup effort will be performed by both City staff and contractors. City staff will be removing small piles of debris, while contractors will remove larger piles throughout this week and next. At this time, residents do not need to call Public Works to request pickups.


For more information, follow the City on Twitter @WyomingCityHall and on Facebook at

Music’s part in life’s harmony

Fuentes is a professor of music at Calvin College and he also enjoys composing music for theater, television and the concert hall. (Photo courtesy Calvin College.)

By Hannah Ebeling, Calvin College

David Fuentes believes it is impossible to find a piece of music that is not about who we are and what we care about. “In fact, I even offer $500 to any student that can find one,” said the music professor. “I’m not out any money yet.”

Fuentes addresses this in his writing for, Vocation across the Academy, a book collaboration with NetVUE, a nationwide network of colleges and universities. NetVUE is working to create resources that empower students in vocational exploration, said Fuentes. Fuentes contributed chapter five, “To whom do I sing, and why,” addressing the place of music in human flourishing.

Fuentes began his musical journey when his mother picked up his first instrument, an accordion, at a garage sale. From then on, said Fuentes, he had a knack for music and liked making up his own songs. Since then, Fuentes has enjoyed composing music for theater, television and the concert hall as well as teaching a number of Calvin’s music courses.

Music as vocation

The topic of vocation is particularly important to Fuentes because part of his job is to help students uncover their personal calling and understand how much of their lives will be directly related to music. “For some this will be 100 percent, for others it will be a smaller part,” he said.

Fuentes believes the way students approach education has changed over the years. In the past, it was about learning reasoning and critical thinking, he said. Then, in whatever field you pursue, you would be pulling from a pool of knowledge. “Students today are trying to be practical about what they are going to go into. If they don’t have a job right out of college, they feel like a failure.”

Fuentes said students are often so focused on finding a career that they forget to ask: What are my gifts and loves? How can I contribute to God’s Kingdom? Educating students about vocation helps them fine-tune and understand all of their giftings, he said. It also gives students permission or a calling to help people.

“I have been nervous about pursuing music as a major for the longest time, but I definitely felt more comfortable after taking his class,” said Alexia White, a student of Fuentes.

Why music matters

Each semester Fuentes asks his students: Why does music matter in human lives? Are people just listening because they like it or is there something deeper?

“I assumed that when I took this class it would be about how music is only meant to bring glory and honor to God,” said White. “But Professor Fuentes helped us understand how that can be one purpose for music, but music can help us explain our biblical worldview. Music can teach us about God, others and ourselves.”

In the chapter he wrote in Vocation across the Academy, Fuentes tackles the issues of artists creating only for self-expression and audiences expecting a profound emotional experience with every artistic encounter. According to Fuentes, this is only a small part of what music can do.

“Sometimes people use music to escape; music is good at that. We go into a different state of mind and can experience great emotion there. On the other hand, music can help us delve into issues,” said Fuentes. “The deepest and most profound emotions come when we realize something. Rather than escaping from reality, music can bring us deeper into reality,” said Fuentes.

“There are two basic ways human beings make sense of the world: rationality and intuition,” said Fuentes. “Music brings those two together beautifully.”

Copyright Calvin College, reprinted by permission.

Government Matters: Week in review, July 3-7

By Victoria Mullen, WKTV

Stabenow, Peters Accepting Applications from Candidates Interested in Nomination for Federal Judgeship and U.S. Attorney in Eastern and Western Districts of Michigan

U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters have announced they are accepting applications from qualified persons interested in nomination for federal judge or United States Attorney. There is currently one vacancy on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan and one vacancy on the United States District Court for the Western District. Both U.S. Attorney positions are also vacant. Interested candidates should request an application by emailing Applications are due no later than July 31, 2017.

Peters Amendments to National Defense Authorization Act Passed by Senate Armed Services Committee

By Zade Alsawah


U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, authored several provisions and amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which sets policy for the Department of Defense (DoD) for Fiscal Year 2018. The legislation was approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee this week.

Senator Peters also cosponsored several provisions that were approved by the Committee, including a provision to require the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to conduct a study on the health implications of PFAS in drinking water, as well as an amendment authorizing funding to support the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program, encourage partnership between MEP affiliates and the Manufacturing USA Institutes established by DoD, and improving manufacturing engineering education. MEP is a public-private partnership dedicated to providing technical support and services to small and medium-sized manufacturers.

Senate Commerce Committee Approves Peters’ Amendments to Strengthen Airport Security

Amendments Included in Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Bill


By Zade Alsawah


The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee today approved several amendments authored by U.S Senator Gary Peters (MI) to help strengthen security and protect travelers outside of Transportation Security Administration (TSA)-screened areas in local airports. Recent incidents at airports in Ft. Lauderdale, Brussels, and Bishop International Airport in Flint, Michigan, have highlighted vulnerabilities to coordinated and lone-wolf attacks in public areas like baggage claims or pick up and drop off points.

In Grand Haven, Senator Stabenow Joins “All Hands on Deck” Event on Lake Michigan to Highlight Importance of Protecting Our Great Lakes

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Co-Chair of the bipartisan Senate Great Lakes Task Force, today joined community members at the Grand Haven State Park for the “All Hands on Deck” Great Lakes event. The event was one of 64 local events happening in communities and at public beaches in six different states to raise awareness about the importance of protecting our Great Lakes and funding the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

“All Hands on Deck” was started by Kimberly Simon of Charlevoix in March, 2017 to raise awareness and bring people together in a nonpartisan way to advocate for our Great Lakes. Kimberly launched the idea after the Trump Administration proposed eliminating funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. For a complete list of the more than 30 events happening in Michigan, visit and for more information, visit

Peters, Stabenow Urge Department of Defense to Explore Efforts to Reduce Prescription Drug Costs in TRICARE

By Zade Alsawah and Miranda Margowsky

U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) sent a letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis asking him for timely consideration of a pilot program to improve access and reduce the costs of prescription drugs in the TRICARE program, which serves active duty military personnel, National Guard, reservists, retired service members and their families.


Currently, all TRICARE beneficiaries must get non-generic medications from a military treatment facility (MTF) or through mail order, but have no option to visit a pharmacy in person. The pilot program, which was established in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2017, will allow beneficiaries to get their medications from local pharmacies while preserving access through the existing MTF and mail order systems, and reduce costs by allowing the Department of Defense to purchase non-generic medications at the same lower rate it pays for drugs dispensed through the mail or MTFs.


The pilot will also provide additional options for the families of retired servicemembers, National Guard members and reservists who may not live near an MTF to visit a pharmacy in person to purchase their medications. There are more than 97,000 TRICARE beneficiaries living in Michigan, but there are no military treatment facilities in the state.

Employment Expertise: How to Deal with Negative Coworkers

By West Michigan Works!


‘Tis the season for office parties and coffee breaks over holiday treats. While many enjoy these opportunities for more casual office interactions, it can also open the door to negative conversations and gossip.

According to a survey from Fierce, four out of five employees surveyed work, or have worked, with someone who is negative. Use these tips to keep the negativity to a minimum:

The Gossip
If you talk to someone who makes outrageous claims, you can politely challenge the information by asking “Is that a fact?” Or, “Did someone tell you?” These questions will make it clear that you only want to talk about factual things. Hopefully they’ll leave the gossip out of future conversations.

The “Venter”
This is the person who always needs to “vent” about something. Their conversations quickly turn from positive to negative. You can easily leave the conversation before things get out-of-hand by saying “I have to get back to my to-do list.” Or, “I need to finish a few things before the day’s over.”

The Negative Nancy
Sometimes you can’t avoid working with your negative co-workers. If a conversation starts to turn negative, you can quickly change the direction by saying “There’s too much negativity these days. Let’s focus on the positive.” While this person may not like the redirect, it will help alleviate the uncomfortable position of listening to their toxic conversation.

While you’re sharing a mug of hot chocolate at your company holiday party, make sure you do your part to shift negative conversations to positive ones. If the conversation swings back to negativity, stay but don’t contribute or politely excuse yourself.

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

Baby animals are adorable — but leave ’em alone, OK?

A possum family

By Blandford Nature Center and Victoria Mullen


Aw, isn’t that baby animal just adorable? Maybe you’re tempted to scoop him up and turn him into a pet — after all, he must be starving, because mom isn’t around, right?


Not necessarily. In fact, if you intervene, you could make things a lot worse.

Baby mammals

Mammal babies are usually born naked with their eyes shut and require a lot of care from their parents. People are often tempted to take in mammal babies and try to raise the babies themselves. This is a bad idea. Not only is it illegal to do so without the proper permits, but it is dangerous for the animal and yourself for multiple reasons:


Misfeeding or Dietary troubles

People will try to feed mammal babies, and they will often end up having the babies choke to death on the food. Many people are under the misguided impression that since it is a baby animal, they should get milk from the store and feed that to it; however, only humans and cows can digest cows’ milk! Baby animals are lactose intolerant, which means that drinking milk will cause diarrhea, which may result in death (due to dehydration and lack of nutrition).


Mammals can carry a variety of diseases.

For example, raccoons can carry distemper, rabies, and a roundworm parasite that can be transmitted to other mammals, including humans. The parasite finds its way into the body and can burrow into the brain.


Squirrel siblings

Another problem is that of imprinting.

People who don’t know how to properly rehabilitate animals will end up with imprinted babies — even skilled rehabbers can have problems with imprinting babies. So, when the cute baby mammal turns into a mean adult mammal, and you try to release it, it can come right back and not be afraid of you, other humans, or people’s dogs and cats. Imprinting makes it easier for these animals to be hunted or injured, and there have been attacks on people by imprinted animals, particularly children.

About bunnies

Baby rabbits are often found in backyards. Rabbits will make nests in shallow depressions in the ground, in grassy areas. These areas are often near edges of forest, by fences, and under shrubs. Before you mow the lawn or rototill your garden, you should check the area for rabbit nests, and if you find one, just work around it and wait a few weeks; the babies will be ready to leave and get out of your way.


Bunnies are born with their eyes closed and no fur. Their ears are close to their head. Bunnies are on their own when they are around 5 inches long and furry, with their eyes open and ears up. They may still hang out with each other near the nest for awhile before going their separate ways. You don’t want to bring these older bunnies to a wildlife rehabber, since they don’t need help, and bunnies tend to become stressed out very easily and could die from just the transport to a rehab center. It’s a good idea to make sure they need help before trying to help them, or you could do more harm than good.


Baby bunnies

If you find a nest with bunnies inside that are too young to be on their own, unless they look injured, leave them alone. The mother will come back, but not until dusk and dawn. So, you won’t see her coming back to the nest. If you’re worried that the mother isn’t coming back to the nest, put flour around the nest and place some twigs in an X formation over the nest, and check back the next morning. If the flour and/or twigs have been disturbed, the mother hasn’t abandoned her babies. If you happen to touch one of the babies, just put it back and gently touch the others so they all smell the same. The mother will still accept them, just make sure you don’t handle them much.


It is not a good idea to move a rabbit nest, but if you can’t wait a week or two for them to leave, or if you have already disturbed the nest, you can try to move it. You should move it to an area as close as possible to the original location, in an area that has some longish grass, possibly under a shrub. Put the fur that was in the old nest in the new one, and cover the bunnies with dry grass. Again wait till the morning to see if the nest was visited by the mother, using flour and twigs.


For info on other baby animals, go here.



New technology simplifies Kent County’s FOIA request process

Kent County’s FOIA web page

By Victoria Mullen, WKTV


Have you ever filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to get information from a governmental body? If so, you are likely familiar with how slow and cumbersome the process can be.


For those not familiar with FOIA, it’s a law that gives the public the right to request information from the federal government, often described as the law that “keeps citizens in the know about their government.” Enacted in 1967, it requires federal agencies to disclose any information requested unless it falls under one of nine exemptions which protect interests such as personal privacy, national security and law enforcement.


Michigan enacted its own FOIA (Act 442) in 1976.


Kent County currently processes more than 4,300 FOI requests each year. To streamline the process, the county’s Corporate Counsel’s Office has updated the website to allow the public to submit requests for public records online, through the County’s web page. The new electronic system automates the FOIA processing from submission of the request until final disposition.


Sangeeta Ghosh, Kent County Assistant Corporate Counsel

On June 15, Assistant Corporate Counsel Sangeeta Ghosh, along with AccessKent vendor Webtecs, rolled out the upgraded system for FOIA coordinators who serve at the Sheriff Department, Prosecutor’s Office, Purchasing Division, Health Department, and Animal Shelter. The new system will help process timely FOIA responses, as requestors have the right to file appeals or lawsuits that can result in increased civil fines, punitive damages, and legal fees and costs to a public body.


The upgrade lets users track the status of a FOIA request from start to finish. Upgrades to the system provide a faster turnaround in releasing records, uploading records online for a user to download from his or her preferred device, encryption of confidential records, retention of records, generation of reports, payment by credit or debit card, internal communication between the Corporate Counsel staff and coordinators on formal responses, and monitoring for legal exposure.






Enjoy these FREE events in July 2017!

By Brittany Schlacter, The Rapid


We’ve entered one of Michigan’s most magical seasons. Michigan summers are the perfect time for exploration, new activities and, most importantly, fun! Fortunately for Grand Rapidians and those living in surrounding transit-friendly suburbs, there are a number of outdoor events to ensure you’re able to embrace the sunshine and warmth promised in July. The best part is that all of these events are free to the public.


Whether it’s watching your favorite local band or musician in the park, catching a movie or exploring your local farmer’s market, there are so many reasons to hop on board the bus and let us do the driving to these fun summer events. If you’re looking for the best deal and aren’t a frequent Rapid rider, purchase a 10-Ride Card to use for riding to these events.


The Mainstays play July 13

Enjoy Concerts in Kentwood
On July 13, and 27, ride Routes 2 and 44 to Kentwood City Hall for live music from 7 – 8:30 p.m for the Kentwood City Summer Entertainment Series. The Mainstays will play on the 13th; Look Out Lincoln will be on the 20th; and The Tomas Esparza Blues Band plays on the 27th. This event also features food trucks and more! Grab your blanket or a chair for some Thursday evening fun.


Route 2, 44


Get fit

Every Monday through Thursday, you can find a variety of fitness classes taking place throughout downtown Grand Rapids thanks to the Stay Fit Downtown Class Series. This 9-week program is a joint effort through Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. and the City of Grand Rapids Parks & Recreation Department. Free, no-registration classes include Zumba, ballroom dancing, kickboxing and more. Classes take place at Rosa Parks Circle, the Blue Bridge and the JW Marriott Lobby.


Routes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6+


Listen to Music in Walker

The Standale Summer Concert Series takes place July 13 with Strumble Head and July 27 with Brena Band at Walker Community Park. Music starts playing at 6:30 p.m. and the fun lasts until 8:30 p.m. Ride Routes 12 and 50 to get there, pack a picnic and enjoy a beautiful evening with local tunes!


Route 12, 50


Explore the Market with your Kids
Grab your children and get on board the Silver Line or Routes 1 and 2 to head to the Downtown Market for free fun for kids every week in July. You can expect crafts, educational activities and more! Each week, Kids at the Market has a new theme that your children will love. While you’re there, grab lunch or a snack and do a bit of shopping.


Routes 1, 2, SL


Experience Hands-On Learning at the Museum

Grand Rapids Public Museum is opening their doors for a day of free admission on July 16 from 12–5 pm. Explore all three floors of exhibits and dive into hands-on fun for the whole family. Make a day out of it by riding Routes 7 and 9 and enjoying lunch or dinner at a downtown Grand Rapids eatery.


Routes 1, 2, SL


Groove to Jazz in the Park

Every Monday, ride Routes 7 and 9 to Ah-Nab-Awen Park to enjoy an evening of jazz presented by the West Michigan Jazz Society. Some of this month’s upcoming acts include Metro Jazz Voices, Kevin Jones Band and The Lakeshore Big Band.


Routes 7, 9


Fulton Street Farmers Market

Stock up at Local Farmers Market

How close is your nearest farmers market? There are so many that are transit-friendly throughout Grand Rapids, Grandville, Wyoming and Kentwood! Grab your reusable shopping bags, hop on board the bus and ride to your favorite farmers market to enjoy local produce and goods. You can even ride Route 14 straight to the Fulton Street Farmers Market every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday!


Route 14



Ride The Rapid to ‘Movies in the Park’ this summer!

At Ah-Nab-Awen Park (photo by Steven Depolo)

By Brittany Schlacter, The Rapid


Ride The Rapid Routes 7 and 9 to enjoy an evening in Ah-Nab-Awen Park with movies, games, music, food and so much more!


Movies in the Park is back and better than ever before. If you haven’t been to this bi-weekly summer event at Ah-Nab-Awen Park in downtown Grand Rapids before, make sure to get one of the movie dates on your calendar. It’s the perfect chance to enjoy a budget-friendly evening with your friends or family in one of Grand Rapids’ beautiful riverfront parks. Along with the movies, attendees also have access to games, food trucks, a live DJ and much more before and in between movies.


This year, attendees can watch their favorite movies on a new LED screen. This means that you can now catch a double feature with the first film starting at 7 pm and an additional feature at 9:30 p.m.


Upcoming movies:

July 7

  • –    7 p.m. – Mrs. Doubtfire (PG-13)
  • –    9:30 p.m. – Forrest Gump (PG-13)

July 21

  • –    7 p.m. – The Book of Life (PG)
  • –    9:30 p.m. -Jaws (PG)

August 4

  • –    7 p.m. – Selena (PG)
  • –    9:30 p.m. – The Bodyguard (R)

August 18

  • –    Remember the Titans (PG)
  • –    Pitch Perfect (PG-13)

Some tips for making the most out of this event include getting there early so you can get a great spot, and ride The Rapid or your bike to save money and time with parking. Costumes are encouraged for children and adults. For those 21+, bring your own alcoholic beverages and photo ID so you can enjoy them during the event.


Cats of the Week: Goldie and Buzz

Meet Buzz! Could he be any cuter? We think not.

By Sharon Wylie, Crash’s Landing

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

Beyond-beautiful Buzz (born in April of 2005) and drop-dead gorgeous Goldie (born in April of 2004) were former Crash Cats known as ‘M-n-M’ and ‘Horatio’ back in the day. Both boys were so social and adorable that it was no surprise to any of us that they got adopted (and together) not too long after they were put on Petfinder.

The dashing duo resided harmoniously with a retired gentleman for the better part of nine years, but when their proud papa passed away in 2016, the boys were relocated to a relative’s house. Unfortunately, the relative’s two feline residents didn’t take kindly to the additional company, so he contacted us in early April of 2017, asking if we would be willing to open our doors to them once again; we jumped at the opportunity without hesitation.

We hadn’t seen the guys in years, so the first order of business was to get them out to the clinic for wellness exams, re-testing, vaccines, lab work and dental cleanings. Buzz needed a few teeth extracted and some minor grooming (as the fur on his undercarriage tends to mat and clump, since it is soft as down) but other than that, he was good (no, great) to go!

Goldie fared a little bit worse, as Dr. Jen discovered the reason he had been over-grooming his belly prior to his arrival was that he suffers from an inflammatory condition of his bladder known as Feline Idiopathic Cystitis; Dr. Jen suspects the stress of his owner’s death and upheaval from the move exacerbated this underlying condition that can wax and wane.

In order to control this extremely common affliction, Goldie was put on daily canned food and oral anti-inflammatory medication. He was also started on monthly injections of a drug that helps protect the cartilage in his joints, as Dr. Jen had diagnosed him with a tear of his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee back in 2014. Now he simply glides around our place with grace and ease, as comfy as they come; since both medications are very inexpensive, we don’t feel that either condition is a deterrent to adoption. For an old guy, Goldie does pretty darn well for himself!

Meet gorgeous Goldie!

We were a bit concerned as to how the pair would fare, not having lived at Crash’s for over 10 years, but we needn’t have given it a second thought, as they settled in so seamlessly and quickly that you would have thought they never left! Both are VERY nice boys who seek out any attention they can get; if you stand still for more than a few seconds, Buzz will jump onto your shoulders or try to climb you like a tree, and Goldie follows the volunteers around asking for belly rubs constantly. They aren’t particularly bonded, so they do not have to go into a home together, though Goldie would do best in a place without small kids, as he likes to nip a bit when you touch his hindquarters.

Overall, each fab cat couldn’t be sweeter; both are excellent choices for companions! Take it from us when we say that seniors make THE BEST PETS, as they seem to be sincerely appreciative for another chance at a life surrounded by creature comforts and people to adore and share their time with!

More about Buzz:

  • House trained
  • Spayed/Neutered
  • Declawed
  • Current on vaccinations
  • Coat Length: Medium
More about Goldie:
  • House trained
  • Spayed/Neutered
  • Declawed
  • Current on vaccinations
  • Special needs
  • Coat Length: Short
Want to adopt Buzz or Goldie — or both? 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.

Your Community in Action: Expanding affordable housing opportunities

By ACSET Community Action Agency

Inner City Christian Federation (ICCF) recently announced that they signed an agreement to purchase nearly 200 homes in Grand Rapids and Lansing from a Chicago developer. ICCF will work with other affordable housing advocates to make sure these homes remain affordable for individuals and families with limited incomes.

While Kent County—and Grand Rapids, in particular—is seeing tremendous population and economic growth, it is creating a housing shortage that is driving up the cost to buy or rent a place to live. In many cases, people who have lived in neighborhoods for decades can no longer afford to live there.

There are several agencies in Kent County that are working to ensure that all residents have access to affordable housing and thriving communities. When the broad community is engaged in addressing the urgent need for adequate, affordable housing, we all become less vulnerable and more resilient:

Habitat for Humanity of Kent County brings people together to build or rehabilitate affordable homes.

Kent County Land Bank Authority works with local governments and nonprofits to revitalize and stabilize communities.

Kent County Housing Commission provides rental assistance to families on extremely low incomes through a voucher system. They also educate property owners and the community on the need for affordable housing.

LINC Up links community organizations with real estate developers to “help neighbors, business owners, and community stakeholders realize their visions for 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

‘Summer in the Studio’ series at the SCA begins with Elden Kelly, July 10

Elden Kelly (photo supplied)

By Angela Peavey, Saugatuck Center for the Arts

The Saugatuck Center for the Arts (400 Culver St.) kicks off its Summer in the Studio concert series with guitarist Elden Kelly. Kelly will perform July 10 at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $15 and available at, 269.857.2399, or by visiting the box office.

Elden Kelly is an improviser, bandleader, guitarist, composer and singer-songwriter. He is known for a type of classically influenced jazz and world music. Of a live performance, reviewer Lawrence Cosentino wrote, “He meandered from the Ganges to Delta blues, bluegrass, flamenco and a folk idiom so heartfelt it bordered on the devotional.”

After graduating from Boston’s prestigious New England Conservatory of Music with a degree in Contemporary Improvisation in 2008, Kelly accepted a full scholarship and teaching assistantship at Michigan State with Rodney Whitaker, earning a graduate degree in 2011 in Ethnomusicology.

Today Kelly’s sound is  influenced by genres such as jazz, neoclassicism, American Roots, Hindustani and Turkish music. Kelly is also known for playing the glissentar, an 11-string fretless guitar.

“The music I play on the fretless guitar is a combination of Indian music, Turkish music, and roots music, so I call it ‘Indo-Turkish Bluegrass’,” Kelly said.

Kelly processes a voice akin to Jeff Buckley, and technique that is the guitarists envy. But Kelly says he isn’t limited to just one genre such as folk. Instead he has experimented and blended many genres throughout his career to create his own powerful sound.

The Summer in the Studio series is an intimate, living room-style series hosted by the SCA. The next artist to be featured is Danika & the Jeb, a guitar and vocal duo who provide a unique blend of acoustic pop music.


School News Network: Kent County school districts make breakfast more accessible

Kindergaren teacher Joy Howard hands Jerez Prebble his morning meal.

By Erin Albanese

School News Network


Just after the morning school bell rings, West Kelloggsville Elementary School teacher Joy Howard calls up her kindergartners one-by-one to hand them breakfast. They settle back in their seats to sip milk and juice, nibble cereal, crunch apples and devour muffins.


“It makes us healthy,” said kindergartner Jerez Prebble, after polishing off his morning meal.


Following spring break, six teachers at West served breakfast in the classroom as a way to make sure their students not only had the option to eat at school, but that a meal was put right in front of them every morning. It’s a way to get more children eating; while free breakfast has been available to all students before school through the School Breakfast Program for years, the number of them arriving in time to eat was lagging. At West, 79 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-priced lunches.


“The percentage of students at West eating breakfast was way lower than you’d expect the need to be,” said Principal Eric Schilthuis. “We want them to have a nutritious meal to get them through the morning.”


It’s a common scenario. Nationwide, 21 million U.S. children get free or reduced-price school lunch, but only half of those students get breakfast even though they are eligible. That’s according to No Kid Hungry, a campaign of Share Our Strength, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit that connects children with healthy food offered through federal programs such as the School Breakfast and Summer Meals. In Michigan, offering breakfast is mandated in schools with a free and reduced-lunch population of more than 20 percent. Some low-income districts offer free breakfast to all students.


Research shows starting the day with breakfast has long-term benefits. According to the report, “Ending Childhood Hunger: A Social Impact Analysis” by Deloitte and the No Kid Hungry Center for Best Practices, students who eat breakfast attend an average of 1.5 more days of school; average 17.5 percent higher on math tests; and are 20 percent more likely to graduate high school.


Since serving it in the classroom, breakfast participation at West jumped from about 35 percent to 68 percent building-wide. That should increase more when more teachers offer it next school year. “It’s been a great success here,” said Brenda Jansen, food service director.


Dexter Andrew digs into breakfast at West Kelloggsville Elementary.

The Big Picture

The story is bigger than breakfast: it’s about ending childhood hunger. Amy Klinkoski, breakfast coach for Michigan No Kid Hungry, is working with Kent County districts, including Kelloggsville, to make breakfast more accessible.


Klinkoski recently coached food service directors on implementing a “Grab and Go” option at Union and Ottawa Hills high schools and C.A. Frost middle and high schools. The option allows students to grab prepackaged breakfasts from mobile carts in high traffic areas, such as hallways, entryways or cafeterias. Since starting the option, the number of Union High students eating breakfast has increased by 250 to 300 students per day, she said.

East Kentwood High School offers vending and smoothies to students until mid-morning, and has the highest percentage of students who eat breakfast at a Kent County high school, Klinkoski said.



Wyoming, Godwin Heights, Godfrey-Lee Public Schools, and Alpine Elementary in Kenowa Hills Public Schools have had breakfast in the classroom in place for several years.


Xaded Douglas has got milk.

In Wyoming’s Oriole Park Elementary School, second-grade teacher Danielle Terpstra said eating breakfast in the classroom is part of the routine for at least 50 percent of students. She keeps leftover breakfast items around for snacks later, so nearly every student in her room eats something.


“Some of the kids eat the food as breakfast, morning snack, some at lunch, and even ask to take some home,” Terpstra said. “I believe it gives the kids the necessary start to a healthy body and brain for learning that day.


“I am thankful that we can fill that basic need for so many of them,” she added. “I don’t have any test scores to back my claims, but I really believe that the breakfast is one thing we can do to get our kids just what they need at the start of the day.”


Klinkoski reminds hesitant educators that offering breakfast at the beginning of instruction time is the same type of interruption as having snack time later — and keeps hunger in check earlier. Also, increased revenue from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to pay for more breakfasts offsets the cost of labor and food.


Alaina Humphrey enjoys her juice box.

Why it Matters

According to the report “Ending Childhood Hunger” from The Lunch Box, a network supporting healthy school food programs, 48.8 million Americans — including 13 million children — live in households that lack the means to get enough nutritious food on a regular basis. As a result, they struggle with hunger at some time during the year. The average Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program monthly benefit is $1.46 per meal, and nearly half of SNAP recipients are children. Three out of four teachers say their students regularly come to school hungry.


In her kindergarten classroom, Joy Howard agreed starting the day with breakfast in class helps her students be more ready to learn until lunchtime.


“Some of the children who needed it the most were missing it,” she said. “There’s a comfort knowing that if they haven’t eaten, they can get it here.”

Hoist the Stars and Stripes! — and be sure to follow flag etiquette


By Kelly Taylor, WKTV


Old Glory is displayed practically everywhere on Independence Day, but did you know one cannot simply hoist up the flag? There’s a certain way to do it, and there many, many rules to follow.


We thus take this occasion to review the rules of displaying the United States flag, under Chapter 1 of U.S. Code: Title 4 — Flag and Seal, Seat of Government, and the States. As with any U.S. Code, things can get mighty confusing, so we’ve abridged the rules here, in no particular order:

  • The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.
  • It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed 24 hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.
  • When flown at half-staff, the flag should first be hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position.
  • When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the field of stars should be in the uppermost corner and to the observer’s left.
  • No other flag or pennant should be placed above or, if on the same level, to the right of the flag of the United States of America.
  • The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, except when an all-weather flag is used.
  • When displayed on an automobile, the staff should be fixed firmly to the chassis or clamped to the right fender.
  • The flag should never be used as clothing, bedding or drapery.
  • The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.
  • The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled or damaged.
  • The flag should never be displayed with the field of stars down, except as a distress signal.
  • The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor or water.
  • The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.

Fun fact:

The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, a lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.


If you’d like to see a cool, historical progression of flag designs over the years, go here.


First-ever Runway 5K at Gerald R. Ford International Airport coming this fall

The runways at the Ford International Airport will be the running track for a fall 5k. (Supplied)

by Montae Harris, WKTV Staff


Lace and gear up your sneaks and get ready for the first ever Runway 5K, starting this fall at the Gerald R.Ford International Airport (GFIA).


The event will take place Saturday, Oct. 7, at 9 a.m., on airport grounds.The race will begin near the cargo facilities, under a runway tunnel, loop around by the airport fire station, and wrap around on runway 8L/26R.


The proceeds will be donated to Make-A-Wish Michigan, with the cost of $28 per person. That includes T-Shirts, post-race snacks and beverages, and awards for top finishers as well as other giveaways.


“It’s through the generous support of our Michigan Community, like our friends at GFIA that we are able to grant life-changing wishes to Michigan children,” Karen Davis, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish Michigan, said in supplied material.


There will also be a 1-mile fun run/walk, starting at 9:05 a.m., with the cost of $15 per person.


“This is a tremendous opportunity for runners, walkers, and families who want to come out for a Saturday morning stroll or a competitive race, and to experience a fun event on a runway that is normally only being used for aircraft,” Jim Gill, CEO and airport president, said in supplied material.

For more information on how to register visit here.