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Grand Rapids Public Schools says extended hours come at a cost

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Longer school days or a longer calendar year -- that's what Governor Jennifer Granholm wants for Michigan school children.

This week Gov. Granholm challenged state lawmakers to extend the school year, requiring districts to be in session for more than 180 days a year. The current requirement is at least 165 days.

"When you look at it compared to the international community, you look at those countries that are our so called competitors...they have significantly more instructional school days than we do," says John Helmholdt, spokesman for Grand Rapids Public Schools. "I think that is a reality check that is coming into view right now. The United States was number one at one, bar none, in public education. We have slipped, I haven't seen how far down that list, but it is something like 60. They are challenging the status quo and clearly the status quo is not good enough."

Revisiting ArtPrize's Big Ten

Last year, photographer Brian Kelly was given full access to the city of Grand Rapids to create special portraits of the Top 10 ArtPrize Artists. Brian presents this retrospective of his portraits here in a photo essay of these artists and their winning works as the second annual ArtPrize approaches.

Back to School across West Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - It is Back to School day for most students around West Michigan today.

Grand Rapids Schools Superintendent Dr. Bernard Taylor walked the red carpet at Gerald R. Ford Middle School with one of many students to kick off the day.

About 50 community leaders who are part of the Believe 2Become initiative; city council members, school leaders, and other prominent community members are acting as the paparrazi for the event.

A dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony will be held Tuesday morning for the newly renovated and refurbished school of business, leadership and entrepreneurship at Ottawa Hills High School in Grand Rapids.

The school partnered with Amway for the program that started last year as one of four centers of innovation. Ottawa Hills renovated part of its building to house the school of business. Amway along with Steelcase and Custer Workplace worked on equipping it with the latest technology.

Windy day causing power outages; search for missing man in Ludington postponed

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - Strong winds are creating some scattered power problems around West Michigan.

As of 4 p.m. Monday, Consumers Energy is reporting 2,615 outages in Kent County, 1,110 in Muskegon County, 713 in Ottawa County, and 370 in Allegan County.

Mecosta County has 1,268 outages, Manistee County has 985, Ionia County has 514, Newaygo County has 307, and Montcalm County has 226.

If you do encounter a downed power line Consumers Energy wants to remind you to stay away and call 911.

83-year-old convention bureau changes name to Experience Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids (WZZM) - The Grand Rapids/Kent County Convention & Visitors Bureau today announced a new name for the 83-year-old organization - Experience Grand Rapids.

The organization says that the new name and brand more accurately reflects the organization's mission to market the region.  

The development of the new brand is the result of a two-year process of analysis and research that engaged the organization's leadership, staff and community members. The name change also mirrors recent trends by other cities and destination marketing organizations that have made a similar switch, such as Visit Denver and Discover Kalamazoo.

Recycling on the rise in Kent County

KENT COUNTY, Mich. (WZZM)- People in Kent County are recycling more since the county opened its new recycling center.  Public Services Director James Hurt says the amount of recycled waste in the first three weeks of August was 25% higher than the same time last year.

The county recently finished distributing 35,000 recycling bins for its new processing plant.  The facility sorts recyclables so residents do not have to. 

People say they are more willing to take part in the easier system.  Resident Beverly Reid says, "I see more people using them now that they've been delivered to everyone.  I see more of the bins out, the large rolling bins than I did see the smaller bins, so I think more people are utilizing them now which is a good thing."

Over the next few weeks crews will visit homes that they missed during the recycle bin drop-off.  They will also swap out bin sizes.

Grand Rapids man going to prison for child pornography

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM)- A Grand Rapids man convicted on child pornography charges is going to prison.  A judge has sentenced 28-year old Nicholas Job Woodard to six years in prison.  The Grand Rapids man will also spend the rest of his life on probation.

The Department of Justice says Woodard used a computer to download and share thousands of lewd images of children. 

An undercover FBI agent arrested Woodard. He pleaded guilty to three counts of distributing child pornography.