Tag Archives: Kentwood 50

Kentwood 50: Easter Egg Hunt set for Saturday at City Hall

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma



This year, Kentwood City Hall lawn will be speckled with color as thousands of Easter eggs will be placed there for the city’s Easter Egg Hunt set for 10 a.m. Saturday, April 15.


Every year for the past several, the Kentwood Parks and Recreation Department has hosted an Easter activity. Last year’s event was a breakfast with the Easter Bunny and in years past, there have been Easter egg hunts at the Kenwood Activities Center, said Kentwood Parks and Recreation Event Coordinator Laura Barbrick. This year, with the city’s celebrating its Golden Anniversary, it was decided to have an Easter Egg Hunt on the lawn at the Kentwood City Hall, Barbrick said, adding it is the first time the egg hunt has been at city hall.


“Being that this is city’s 50th anniversary, it only made sense to have the Easter Egg Hunt at city hall, since it is the hub of city activities,” Barbrick said. “We are going to hid thousands of eggs. Kids always have a great time collecting them. It’s a perfect family event to kick off spring.”


And to mark the Kentwood 50, among those eggs will be a few special golden ones that will contain a certificate to redeem for prizes. “Everyone who participates will get something whether that is candy or a prize,” Barbrick said.


The event is open to children 10 and younger. There is no registration, but participants must bring their own bag or basket to collect eggs.


The Easter Bunny also will be making a special appearance and will be available for photos.


For more information, visit www.ci.kentwood.mi.us. The Kentwood City hall is located at 4900 Breton Road SE.


The next Kentwood 50 event will be the Kentwood Parks and Recreation Gala, The Vibe, set  for May 19. This year’s event will highlight the Adaptive Water Ski Program, the only one of its kind in the state of Michigan. Tickets for the event are $75. For more information about The Vibe, visit www.kentwoodvibe.com.



Kentwood 50: City recognizes establishments that have been part of the community for 50 years or more

Mayor Stephen Kepley with the founder of Kentwood Plumbing and Heating John VanderWeide and his family.

By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma



It was Bill Hoeneveld , the owner of the former Avon Hotel, who recommended to John VanderWeide that he might want to snap up the name Kentwood Plumbing and Heating.


“I was doing plumbing work for Avon Hotel at the time,” VanderWeide said. “It was 1967 and the city had just incorporated. Bill was like you might want to grab the name before someone else does.”


He did and just a month after the city had its first meeting in February, Kentwood Heating and Plumbing was born.


Kentwood 50 breakfast honoring local establishments who have been in the city since its incorporation in 1967.

Almost fifty years from its start, VanderWeide, along with several other business owners and leaders representing around 23 Kentwood companies were recognized at a 50th anniversary breakfast Thursday morning at the  KDL Kentwood (Richard L. Root) Library. The breakfast honored local establishments who have been in business since the city incorporated in 1967.


“When you succeed, we all succeed,” said Kentwood Mayor Stephen Kepley, who added that the city never wants to be a hindrance to business growth, but is here to work with its businesses. “I’m an engineer by trade and so I enjoy solving problems. If you see one or feel you have one, please contact me and we’ll sit down and work on it together.”


The 23 businesses that were recognized at the breakfast include Advance Packaging Corporation; Animal Hospital of Kentwood; Born Clinic, PC; Casa Via Motel; Christian Schools International; Consumers Energy; DTE Energy; Henry A. Fox Sales, Inc.; JC Penney Corporation; Kamminga and Roedvoets, Inc.; Kentwood Plumbing and Heating; Kentwood Fun Spot; Knoll, Inc.; Penning Plumbing; Plastic MoldTechnologies; Sears Roebuck & Co.; Siegel Jewelers; Spencer Gifts; Tubergen Saw & Cutter; Turner Industries; Velting Contractors; Woodland Shopping Center; and Zales Jewelry.


“It is an awesome thing you have done here,” said Bob O’Callaghan, president and CEO of Wyoming-Kentwood Area Chamber of Commerce, which along with the Kentwood Economic Development Corporation, sponsored the breakfast. “I just want to say thank you for staying in Kentwood and for helping to make the city what it is today.”


Each business received a special 50th anniversary clock statute featuring the anniversary logo. As part of its Kentwood 50 coverage, WKTV will be featuring each business on its news website, now.wktv.org, during the next several months.



“This is really an honor to be able to see some of the faces who helped shape this area,” said Joey Jacobson, a long time resident to the area who recently started working at Spencer Gifts, located in Woodland Mall. “To be able to start my career by being at this 50th anniversary event is a real honor and a cool transition as one generation starts to take over for the next.”


Spencer Gifts Store Manager Megan LaClair and Assistant Store Manager Joey Jacobson.

Specner Gifts Store Manager Megan LaClair said many people do not realize the company has such a long history. Spencer Gifts started in 1947 in Easton, Penn. Its first location in Grand Rapids was at the North Kent Mall and it moved to Woodland Mall shortly after the mall opened.


“We have played musical store fronts at the mall, but have been then since its inception,” LaClair said, adding that she has only been with the company for four years and was pleasantly surprised to learn of Spencer Gifts history with the city and honored to receive the award for the store.

Kentwood 50 talent show gives out ‘Golden Tickets’ to finalists

After an event at the City of Kentwood’s City Hall, the Kentwood 50’s Kentwood’s Got Talent contest now has 11 finalists for the August finals. (WKTV)

WKTV Staff
The field competing in the City of Kentwood’s Kentwood’s Got Talent event, a part of the city’s Kentwood 50 anniversary celebration, got a little smaller Wednesday as 11 finalists were given “Golden Tickets” and an invitation to the August finals.


WKTV was there filming the event, held in City Council chambers at City of Kentwood City Hall, and you can see the video here.


About 30 auditions — ranging from singing to dancing to comedy — were held prior to the deadline of Friday, March 3. The finals will be Aug. 11 at 7 p.m., at a community event outside at city hall.


For more information on Kentwood 50 celebrations, visit kentwood50.com.


Kentwood 50: Railtown’s golden ale a natural fit for celebration

Railtown Brewing’s Gim Lee, at the brewery’s tap room, will be serving up some spacial Kentwood 50 golden ale this year. (K.D. Norris/WKTV)

By K.D. Norris



Following the City of Kentwood’s special City Commission meeting Monday, held as the kickoff event of the year-long Kentwood 50 celebration of the city’s 50th anniversary, the reception was held at Railtown Brewing Company and the beer of choice was — naturally — a golden ale brewed with a touch of mango.


Two reasons for the beer being the natural choice of the celebration: a 50-year anniversary is considered a “golden” anniversary, and the brew was the pick of some staff at the city’s Park and Recreation Department, which has, shall we say, a relationship with the 2-year-old Railtown.


The addition of the mango flavor? Well, the parks people also liked it so that was good enough for the brewery.


“A lot of the Kentwood Parks and Recreation Department are actually mug clubbers here, they have a mug on the wall over there, they are just regulars,” said Gim Lee, who along with his partner Justin Buiter opened the brewery in late 2014. “They are friends and they asked if we would like to do something special (for the anniversary celebration) and we said ‘absolutely.’


“A group of them came, we sat down and collaborated on what they were celebrating and what kind of beer would work with that. They threw a whole bunch of different styles on the table, what they might want to try. They, as a team, actually landed on the golden ale — this is their golden 50th — and the mango being a golden fruit, that would be a perfect pairing. They wanted something unique and mango is a flavor not used too frequently.”


Railtown is located at 3555 68th St., in Dutton but just across the border with Kentwood. Since it opened it has grown to be a 3,500-square-foot space at the east end of the Village Mall plaza. The brewery’s tap room has 10 taps and usually 10 different brews available, and it has started to distribute kegs to other restaurants.


While the special Kentwood 50 brew was tapped at Monday’s invite-only opening ceremony reception, Lee said it would be available to the public — just maybe not until they brew up some more.


“We will have it on and off throughout the year, so people should be able to come in here and get it through the rest of the week — assuming we do not blow it out that first night,” he said. “We’ll see.”


If you fill the special Kentwood 50 growler at Railtown Brewing a donation will be made to the city’s Park and recreation department. (Supplied)

Also debuting on the night of the reception were growlers with a special logo, which are part of the brewery’s continuing support of the Kentwood 50 event. The brewery will be donating a portion of its growler sales as the celebration continues.


“We are raising some money for the parks and recreation department by doing this,” Lee said. “When you buy a growler, we will be donating a couple bucks back to parks and recreation every time you fill that growler, regardless of what beer it is. It doesn’t have to be the golden ale. This will be an on-going promotion.”


As far as the process of developing the new brew, Lee admitted it was pretty much like Railtown decides on any beer it brews — they like to drink it, so they know other people will like to like to drink it. Although, he said, this time they had to satisfy more tastebuds than just the staff’s.


“We have brewed golden ales, we have done a lot of that. That part is easy,” he said. “We took a different golden ale, we racked it off to what is called a firkin, a 10-gallon cask, it is an old-fashioned way of serving beer. In the firkin you can dose whatever you want in it, that is part of the fun of using a firkin — you can add a little fruit, extra hops, a little coffee, whatever you want. It is a really good way to experiment with different flavors. … based on that, that flavor profile, we can scale it up to a bigger scale” for brewing.


“The (Kentwood 50) beer has been done for quite a while, and that was intentional,” he said. “I wanted to make sure if they did not like it at all, I would have time to brew something else if I had to. Its been done for a month. They came in and tried it, and I tried it, and my brewers tried it. We all thought it was pretty nice.”

For more information on Railtown Brewing Company, call the taproom at 616-881-2364 or visit railtownbrewing.com (leads to a Facebook page).


Kentwood 50: Opening celebration brings dignitaries to town

Former Kentwood mayors Richard Clanton, Jerry DeRuiter, and Bill Hardiman; former mayor Richard Root’s wife, Karleen; Kentwood Mayor Stephen Kelley, and first mayor Peter Lamberts’ son Richard.

By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma



It was a celebration of Kentwood’s past and future as residents, city leaders, school officials and students came together Monday night for the city’s kick off to its 50th anniversary.


Feb. 27, 1967, the Kentwood City Commission had its first meeting at Bowen Elementary School, so organizers of the year-long celebration decided it would only be fitting, and a perfect way to kick off the 50th anniversary celebration, if fifty years to the day, the Kentwood City Commission would have its meeting at Bowen Elementary School.



Kentwood Public Schools Superintendent Michael Zoerhoff said the district was excited to be able to help make that happen as both school and city officials are proud of the strong partnership that exists between the two organizations. In fact, at the meeting, Zoerhoff said it is that partnership between the Kentwood Public Schools and the City of Kentwood that has made the community the incredibly strong one that it is.


“I am excited to see what we will do in the next 50 years because its going to be something,” Zoerhoff said.


State Senator Tonya Schuitmaker (R-26th District) presents a proclamation with current and former state legislators to Kentwood Mayor Stephen Kepley.

Last night’s celebration had a definite eye toward the city’s future with Kentwood Public Schools students open the meeting with the Pledge of Alliance followed by students welcoming audience members in their native language, wearing the clothing of their homeland, which was designed to celebrate one of the city’s most unique attributes — it’s diversity. In fact, Kentwood is often called “the melting pot” as its residents represent more than 60 different countries, speaking more than 70 languages.


“If you ask a citizen of Kentwood why they like the city of Kentwood, the first thing that will come of of their mouth usually is diversity,” said Kentwood Mayor Stephen Kepley to the almost 200-person crowd in attendance.


Kentwood’s residents’ and leaders’ willingness to work together have made it the success it is today, said State Senator Tonya Schuitmaker (R-26th District), who, on behalf of the state legislature and with other state officials, presented the city with a special proclaimation. For that reason, she believed the quote at the top of the proclamation from Henry Ford was especially appropriate for the city: “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”


Lt. Governor Brian Calley, who also was in attendance along with other national, state, county and local officials, said it is the attitude of strong people, strong families and strong communities that has made Kentwood and West Michigan the vibrant community it is today. He said that Kent and Ottawa counties make up 10 percent of the state’s population but has been about 20 percent of the job growth over the last six years.


Kentwood Public School students participate in the program with a special welcome to the audience.

“So in celebrating 50 years, I want to say to the leadership that this doesn’t happen by accident,” Calley said. “It happens when people really know there stuff. Who are accountable and transparent and have the type of professionalism to do it and do it right.


“And clearly in Kentwood, you do it right.”


At the closing of the meeting, each of the commissioners talked about how much they have enjoyed living, working and serving Kentwood, making it a place to call home.


“How can a community so diverse unify?” Kepley said. “I think we have the answer not just for Michigan, the country, but for the world. It is a very simple word, and the word is love.


“We love each other. Neighbors love each other, taking care of each other and that neighbor might not look like you, talk like you, worship like you, but there is love there and I think that is why it all works.”


During the meeting, Kentwood resident Dale Potter was recognized for his 30 years of service to the community as representative of the importance volunteers have played in building the city and helping to continue to grow, Kepley said. Also a clip of the Kentwood 50th Documentary was shown, which was produced by WKTV. The full documentary will be available March 20 and will air on WKTV.


The Kentwood 50 celebration continues as the Taste of Kentwood is March 2 and the audition deadline of the Kentwood’s Got Talent is Friday, March 3. The first round of the Kentwood’s Got Talent is March 9. For more information, visit www.kentwood50.com.

Kentwood kicks off year-long 50th anniversary celebration with a special city commission meeting

The first Kentwood City Commission met on Feb. 27, 1967

By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma



On Feb. 27, 1967, the City of Kentwood had its first commission meeting at Bowen Elementary School. Fifty years to the day, the city commission will once again meet at Bowen Elementary to kick off Kentwood’s golden anniversary.


“February 27 marks a truly historic occasion for the City of Kentwood,” said Kentwood Mayor Stephen Kepley. “Celebrating the original City Commission meeting is a memorable way to honor Kentwood’s past while looking forward to our future.”


Long before the city was even mapped out as Paris Township, people were coming to the area mostly because it reminded them of their former homes, with rolling hills and good soil, said Ray Boisvenue, a local historian who has helped collect oral histories of many of Kentwood’s residents.


In 1939, the township organized with resident Joel Guild suggesting the name Paris for the area after his former home of Paris, New York. Guild was then elected the first township supervisor. The township at that time was a perfect square, bordered by Hall Street to the north, 60th Street to the south, Division Avenue to the west and Patterson Avenue to the east.


As the township grew, so did the neighboring City of Grand Rapids, which slowly chipped away at the township’s area though annexations. The first annexation took place in 1891 but the bulk happened from 1958 to 1963 causing residents to fight for incorporation. It would take three attempts and the announcement of a new $4 million shopping center – Woodland Mall – for the vote of incorporation to pass by a slim margin of 177 votes in favor on Feb. 20, 1967.


A few minor details had to be worked out, but the newly formed city had its first meeting Feb. 27, 1967, with Peter Lamberts elected as the city’s first mayor. The rest of the city commission include Dale Heyboer and Robert Ide as commissioners-at-large, Preston Miller and Quinten (Jack) Ward from Ward 1 and Gordon Gezon and Clifford Barnes from Ward 2.


Kentwood officials moved into the current city hall structure in 1979.

The anniversary commission meeting – which will feature the current City Commission, Mayor Stephen Kepley, Commissioner-at-Large Betsy Artz, First Ward commissioners Gerald DeMaagd and Robert Coughlin and Second Ward commissioners Erwin Haas and Michael Brown – is at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 27, at Bowen Elementary, 4483 Kalamazoo Ave. SE. The event will feature special programming provided by the current city commission. The meeting will flow much like a typical city commission meeting but with special tributes and fun facts about the city and will include a two-minute clip of the Kentwood 50th Anniversary documentary produced by WKTV.


According to organizers, the evening will be a celebration of the community’s growth and recognition of the residents, schools, businesses and nonprofit that have made Kentwood a great place to live, work and raise a family. Among the special guests scheduled to attend are Michigan Lt. Gov. Brian Calley and State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, both of whom will be presenting proclamations honoring the city.


Kentwood 50th Anniversary events have been planned throughout the year. Among the public events coming up in the next couple of months are the Taste of Kentwood set for March 2, the Kentwood’s Got Talent auditions March 9 (registration deadline is March 3), and an Easter Egg Hunt April 15. There is also a breakfast planned to honor businesses that have been in Kentwood since 1967 on March 23. Also, Railtown Brewing Company, 3555 68th St. SE, Dutton, will be unveiling a special beer next week in honor of Kentwood’s 50th Anniversary.


“We have been working really hard to make this a special year for our community,” said Kentwood Treasurer and Kentwood 50 committee leader Laurie Sheldon. “Our residents, businesses and organizations have made Kentwood an amazing city and we are making sure we express our thanks through great events in 2017.”


Other programs include The Vibe – a Parks and Recreation Gala that raises money for the department’s programs will be May 19 and a weekend-long street fair and festival August 11 and 12 that will include food, kid-friendly events, live entertainment and the finale of the Kentwood’s Got Talent.


The Farmer’s Market, Fourth of July celebration and parade and all other city-sponsored events also will be focused on the Kentwood 50th Anniversary.


WKTV also will be providing coverage of many of the events along with special Kentwood 50 stories at now.wktv.org.


For more about Kentwood’s 50th Anniversary celebration, visit www.kentwood50.com.