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GRFD crews battle West side house fire

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- There are new details about a house fire on Grand Rapids' west side that investigators say is suspicious. According to investigators, the homeowner says he thinks a gang is likely responsible for the fire that destroyed his home and damaged the one next door.

The fire started around 3:15 a.m. Thursday at a home in the 900 block of Watson Street Southwest. When firefighters arrived at the scene they found flames ripping through the front of the home and some flames on the home next door as well. Both homes were evacuated without injuries.

The homeowner was the only person inside the home where the fire started. He told police he thinks the fire is retaliation against someone who'd been staying with him but left a few days ago.

Investigators say the way the fire started makes gang activity seem a likely cause.

1st Ward commissioner will not seek re-election

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) Grand Rapids 1st Ward City Commissioner Walt Gutowski, Jr. announced Thursday that he won't be seeking another term in office.

Gutowski started on the commission in 2008 and will serve through the end of 2015. A new commissioner will be elected in November.

Read Gutowski's full statement below:

With Sincere Appreciation to the Citizens of Grand Rapids

My final term as First Ward Commissioner comes to a close on December 31, 2015. After a great deal of spiritual reflection and conversations with friends and family, I have decided that business commitments will prevent me from seeking another elected office at this time.

Student housing planned near GVSU downtown

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Rockford Construction will be break ground later this month on a West Side housing development designed for students.

Fulton Place will be located on Fulton Street West, between Lexington and Seward Streets, adjacent to Grand Valley State University's Pew campus.

The development will include three buildings: a 13,000-square-foot building with seven three-story townhomes, each with four bedrooms; a three-story 5,500-square-foot building with three apartments, each with three bedrooms; and a five-story 125,000-square-foot mixed-use building with 102 units with a mix of one bedrooms and lofts, two bedrooms and four bedrooms.

"We are seeing such a bigger demand for residential in this area and with the growth of the universities downtown we feel that we are meeting that additional demand," says Mike Mraz of Rockford Development.

First Graduates of Kenowa Hills Middle College - 2015

First Graduates of Kenowa Hills Middle College - 2015

The Board of Education of Kenowa Hills Public Schools is pleased to announce the savings of college expenses valued at $512,126 by the first Kenowa Hills High School/Davenport University Middle College graduating class. The first students scheduled to complete the program this spring have participated in classes valued from $30,361 to $35,076.

From Allison Polkowski, a student who will be graduating in May. “For the past three years, Middle College has impacted me in a way I had never considered. Taking a blended schedule of high school and college classes simultaneously has challenged, driven and progressed me more than many students the same age. I am incredibly confident in the interpersonal, professional and medical skills that I have gained in this period of time. I have also discovered possibilities for future careers with no college debt.”

Animal Welfare Fund Provides $155,500 to Local Animal Shelters

Animal Welfare Fund Provides $155,500 to Local Animal Shelters

News Release:

Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s (MDARD) State Veterinarian Dr. James Averill announced the Michigan Companion Animal Welfare Fund check-off will fund projects totaling over $155,500 for 26 registered shelters in 2015. 

The Michigan Animal Welfare fund was established under Public Act 132 of 2007 as a tax check-off to support animal shelters statewide. This year’s awards will go to the spaying and neutering of animals, fund registration fees for anti-cruelty training conferences, and help cover costs for protecting and caring for Michigan animals subjected to cruelty or neglect.

“Thanks to the generous support of Michiganders, local shelters will be able to train more staff on anti-cruelty, care for animals looking for their forever home, and conduct spay and neutering programs in their communities,” said Averill.

My Town: Kent ISD Board names new superintendent

My Town: Kent ISD Board names new superintendent

KENT COUNTY, Mich.-- The search for Kent Intermediate School District's next leader is over.

Grandville Superintendent Ron Caniff will replace Kevin Konarska, who is retiring.  Caniff was the lone finalist left after West Ottawa Superintendent Tom Martin withdrew his application for the job.  Caniff's final interview with the Kent ISD Board was held Tuesday.

“The Board is thrilled to welcome Ron Caniff as the next leader of Kent ISD,” said Kent ISD School Board President Claudia Bajema. “He brings 15 years of experience and the strong support of his peers.

“We are confident that the transition from Kevin to Ron will be very smooth, and that Ron will lead with the talent, energy, and interpersonal skills that we have enjoyed for the past nine years under Kevin’s leadership. We also wish Kevin all the best in the next phase of his life,” she added.

Armed robber holds up G.R. party store

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Police are looking for the suspect in an armed robbery Monday afternoon.

It happened around 1:30 p.m. at the B&B Party Store in the 500 block of Leonard Street NW. No one was hurt.

Police have released few other details. We'll have more information when it becomes available.