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January deal means more activities for families

January deal means more activities for families

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.— The Grand Rapids Children’s Museum and Blandford Nature Center are offering a deal to their members.

Throughout the month of January, both groups will be honoring each other’s memberships.  That means if you have a membership to Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, you will get member benefits at Blandford Nature Center and vice versa.  Blandford Nature Center says the offer provides even more opportunities for families looking for winter activities.

John Ball Zoo ownership shift approved by county commissioners

John Ball Zoo ownership shift approved by county commissioners

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—John Ball Zoo is getting the green light for new ownership.

During their regular meeting Thursday, Kent County commissioners formally approved a plan to put a new nonprofit group in charge of the zoo.  The changes come after years of study.

Supporters say the ownership shift will give the zoo new opportunities, but a labor leader is concerned the new plan may deny veteran zoo employees some of the many hours of sick time they have accrued. A county leader said Thursday they have great confidence all zoo employees will be treated fairly. 

Friends of Grand Rapids Parks awarded grant to grow urban forest

Friends of Grand Rapids Parks awarded grant to grow urban forest

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.— Friends of Grand Rapids Parks is getting even more funding to create a larger, healthier urban forest.

The Grand Rapids Community Foundation is awarding the organization with an additional $189,200 to recruit volunteers and rally community support for neighborhood trees.  The GRCF originally awarded the Friends of Grand Rapids Parks nearly $254,000 two years ago to launch the Urban Forest Project. Since then,  volunteers with Friends of Grand Rapids Parks have planted 489 trees, including those in Brewer’s Grove in Riverside Park.

"Growing our urban tree canopy is important not just for us – but for all the future generations after us. It’s about health, it’s about the environment, it’s about the future health of our city," said Community Foundation President Diana Sieger.

Going to the dogs: Covell Dog Park open and welcoming pets

Going to the dogs: Covell Dog Park open and welcoming pets

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—   Dogs now have a new place to roam in Grand Rapids.

The new entry gates are up and the cement entryway is down at Covell Dog Park.  Project co-leader Jessica Kooistra says volunteers have also brought picnic benches, dog waste pickup bags and trash cans into the two acre space, which is already being used by dog owners and their pets.

Covell Dog Park is located at the corner of Bridge and Covell, behind Union High School.  Kooistra says the space was once occupied by tennis courts.  The city eventually ripped out the cement and planted grass, but left the high fences, making it a perfect spot for a dog park.

Volunteer handyman helps Blandford rebuild after vandalism

Volunteer handyman helps Blandford rebuild after vandalism

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (Blandford Nature Center)--- Volunteers are usually front-and-center at Blandford. You see them leading school tours, clearing trails, removing invasive plants, caring for animals, and greeting visitors during special events like the Sugarbush.

But other volunteers work behind the scenes. One of the Blandford Nature Center's key unsung heroes is Joe Schmidt.

Joe is Blandford’s jack-of-all-trades, do-it-yourself super volunteer handyman. Without fanfare, the 72-year-old retiree spends one to two full days a week at Blandford tackling an amazing variety of complex repairs and renovations that are easy to overlook. Maintenance staff member Martin Ferrone says Joe is the “muscle and brains” behind many recent renovation projects.

"We simply convey project needs and Joe quickly turns to skilled solutions. Joe can fix anything right on the spot, and wham!

New bike path to cut through Grand Rapids

New bike path to cut through Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—A new bike path will soon take shape in Grand Rapids.

The city is getting a $618,514 grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation to create the Seward Avenue Bikeway.  The 3.5 mile bike route will cut through the heart of Grand Rapids and connect nearly 190 miles of regional trails, including the White Pine Trail, Oxford Street Trail and Kent Trails. The path will run along Seward Avenue from Wealthy Street to the Riverside Park trailhead and include a bike shelter, bike lockers, bike signs and signals and an upgraded pedestrian bridge over Indian Mill Creek at Broadway Avenue.

The project is expected to cost just over $1 million.  Additional funding will come from the City of Grand Rapids, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., Bikes Belong and Freewheeler Bike Shop.  The city commission will recognize all financial supporters during its meeting at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.    

Kent County accepting household hazardous waste

Kent County accepting household hazardous waste

Kent County will be accepting household hazardous waste from residents Saturday, October 26.

Residents with proper ID can drop off items from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. at 1500 Scribner Ave. NW in Grand Rapids.

Chemicals including weed killers, bug sprays, antifreeze, gasoline, oil-based paint, wood preservatives, paint thinner, pool chemicals, deck cleaners, fluorescent light bulbs, mercury thermometers and thermostats will all be accepted.  Latex paint, medical waste, prescription drugs, ammunition and fireworks are prohibited.

For more information, visit the Household Hazardous Waste Program website or call (616) 336-2570.