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My Town: Four fun ways to prepare for heading back to school

My Town: Four fun ways to prepare for heading back to school

The start of the 2014-15 schools year is just around the corner.

As a parent, don’t let the start of a new school year catch you off guard- start preparing your students now to hit the books this fall.  While some activities, like waking up early, may be met with less enthusiasm, back-to-school preparation can be fun. 

Educators at Michigan Connections Academy have developed four fun, yet educational, activities parents and students can do together to help prepare for a successful start to the new school year— and the best part is the students won’t even realize they are learning!

Mastercraft Pro Wakeboard Tour comes to Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- Some of the best wakeboarders in the world have come to West Michigan to compete.

The Mastercraft Pro Wakeboard Tour is holding its final stop and competition series at Millennium Park this weekend.

The tour travels around the country, making stops in states like Florida, California, and Washington state.

It came to West Michigan last year, too.

And while the competitors are trying to win titles, they also like to have the people come to watch, according to wakeboarder Rusty Malinoski.

"It's not very often you get the best in the world at what we do. I think there's 32 of the best wakeboarders that will be here competing for the title. It's pretty cool," said Malinoski.

The pro men's quarterfinals begin at 10 Saturday morning at Millennium Park, and organizers say anyone is welcome to get tickets and come watch.

My Town: Michigan Works employment support center closing Aug. 21

My Town: Michigan Works employment support center closing Aug. 21

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—Michigan Works is closing its service center in My Town Grand Rapids North.

The facility at 1560 Leonard NE will shut down at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 21.  Michigan Works says a new service center opening in the Westside Complex, at 215 Straight Ave. NW, will provide limited services beginning at 8 a.m. Friday Aug. 22.  The new facility will begin offering a full array of free employment support services beginning Thursday, Aug. 28.

The facility changes are part of Michigan Works restructuring plan.

“The Service Center relocation will reduce our overhead costs substantially,” said Jacob Maas, executive director for ACSET. “That’s in addition to an anticipated $1 million savings due to a recent change to our service delivery model. That’s money that will be invested directly into our employment and training programs. As federal funding decreases, we are tasked with being more creative and flexible.”

My Town: Tim Hortons serves up sweet treat for Special Olympics Michigan

My Town: Tim Hortons serves up sweet treat for Special Olympics Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Grand Rapids area Tim Hortons are serving up some sweet smiles for a good cause.

Now through Aug. 17, participating Tim Hortons Café and Bake Shops will be selling Smile Cookies to benefit Special Olympics Michigan’s Young Athletes program.  The cookie is chocolate chunk with a smiley face draw on it in pink and blue frosting.  Each treat is $1 and available while supplies last.

The Young Athletes Program introduces children ages 2-7 with intellectual disabilities to sports, fostering their physical, cognitive and social development.

This is the second year for the Smile Cookie program in Grand Rapids; last year, participating businesses collected more than $5,000 for Special Olympics Michigan in just 10 days.

Prices increasing for GR yard waste tags

Prices increasing for GR yard waste tags

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- Grand Rapids residents will pay more for some yard waste collections starting Friday.

The city has posted notice of a price increase on its yard waste services website at this link. Yard waste cart tags will cost $6.00 and bulk yard waste tags will cost $2.50. The prices are increasing from $5.25 and $1.50, respectively.

The city also sells yard waste bags, at $2.50 apiece.

School rankings show districts' points of pride, areas for improvement


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- Michigan's annual school accountability scorecards are out.


The report ranks schools according to factors like attendance and how well they meet goals set by the state's education department.


Schools that fall in the bottom five percent of the rankings are considered "priority" schools and are placed under the supervision of Michigan's school reform officer. There are 138 schools identified as "priority" schools. Nearly half of them are on that list for the fist time.


At least two West Michigan districts with priority schools also have schools among the state's top performers: Grand Rapids Public Schools and Godwin Heights Public Schools.


Suspect in 2013 murder to be charged

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- An 18-year-old man has been charged with murder in the drive-by death of a 16-year-old.

Luis Gonzalez was fatally shot on the 700 block of Coate Court SW on August 24, 2013.

The GRPD's Major Case Team investigated and identified Juan Diego Chavarria as a suspect. Detectives interviewed him on April 1, 2014, and they determined he lied during that interview. The next day, he was arrested for giving false information during the investigation of a felony.

Investigators continued working the case, and on Wednesday, the Kent County Prosecutor's Office authorized a two-count warrant charging Chavarria with open murder and felony firearm.

Chavarria is due in 61st District Court Thursday for arraignment.