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Organizer of Christian music summer concert series hopes to expand next year

Organizer of Christian music summer concert series hopes to expand next year

ROCKFORD, Mich.-- "The old adage, 'You build it - they will come' is spot-on when describing the huge success of Rockford's 2013 Praise in the Park summer concert series," said Rockford city council member Steve Jazwiec during the September Rockford City Council meeting.

Jazwiec was responding to a recap presentation by former Rockford city council member Rich Moll, who organized Praise in the Park. 

The event is staged in the beautiful confines of Garden Club Park adjacent to the Rogue River and the iconic Rogue River Dam every summer Sunday evening, from June through August. Praise in the Park, in its second season, has seen attendance grow week after week.

West Michigan Labor Fest returns with freebies September 2

West Michigan Labor Fest returns with freebies September 2

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—The community is invited to celebrate Labor Day with the West Michigan Labor Fest September 2 in Ah-Nab-Awen Park.

This is the fifth year for the Labor Fest, which begins shortly after Mayor George Heartwell’s bridge walk.  The event includes free admission to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, which is celebrating what would have been President Ford’s 100th birthday. Visitors can also enjoy live music, food from local restaurants, arts and crafts vendors, the American Made Classic Car & Motorcycle Show and a beer tent.  Children can hitch a free ride on a mini Ferris wheel or check out the bouncy house, Berry-Go-Round, games, chalk art and face painting.

ArtPrize 2010 winner Chris LaPorte will be on hand, creating caricatures for families.  For more information, visit the West Michigan Labor Fest’s website.

Grand Valley Metro Council to award grants to six community projects

Grand Valley Metro Council to award grants to six community projects

The Grand Valley Metro Council will award $668,000 in grant funding to six community projects.

On Tuesday, a GVMC committee narrowed down the pool from 85 projects to seven.  A day later, a study group met with the committee to whittle the finalists down to six.

The grant money will be divvyed up between Cannon Township, Jamestown Township, Rockford, Wyoming, Grand Rapids and the Kent County Parks Department.   All of the projects are non-motorized, meaning they will not involve road improvements or construction. GVMC plans to release further details of the projects at a later date.

Blue Bridge will reopen for Labor Day tradition

Blue Bridge will reopen for Labor Day tradition

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—A Grand Rapids landmark undergoing $1.1 million in renovations will reopen for a Labor Day tradition.

Although the city engineer doesn’t expect work on the Blue Bridge to wrap up until September 16, the City will halt renovations and reopen the span for one day only, during the Mayor’s Labor Day Walk.

So far, crews have finished repairing the pedestrian bridge’s deck surface. The sidewalk at the west end of the bridge should be complete by Saturday, August 24.  

Crews still need to install lighting upgrades, including color-changing LED lights.  That work is scheduled to begin next week, and be complete by September 13. Workers will then touch up paint near the light fixtures before reopening the Blue Bridge in time for ArtPrize.

Grand Rapids Community Foundation announces $385,000 in grants

Grand Rapids Community Foundation announces $385,000 in grants

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—Four non-profit organizations are getting $385,000 in funding to improve the neighborhoods, health, engagement and environment of Kent County.

Grand Rapids Community Foundation announced the grants Tuesday.   The foundation awarded Habitat for Kent County $150,000 for its Building Blocks program, which is expected to restore or rehabilitate 36-40 properties in two years for low income families.  The funding also includes $150,000 to West Michigan Trails and Greenways Coalition to expand and improve trails, and a $60,000 grant to Health Intervention Services (HIS) for dental rooms, a nursing station and an improved volunteer area, which should allow HIS to double the number of patients it serves.

Grand Rapids Community Foundation also awarded $25,000 in grants to John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to create three Grand Rapids area programs to support local arts.

Animals take over final Parkapalooza Park Party August 8

Animals take over final Parkapalooza Park Party August 8

EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—The final Parkapalooza Park Party is guaranteed to be wild.

Join the staff of East Grand Rapids Library at John Collins Park for the “Animal Extravaganza”, featuring wildlife from the John Ball Zoo, the Kalamazoo Nature Center and the Critter Barn of Zeeland.  Children of all ages are also invited to take part in crafts during this free event.

 The Animal Extravaganza runs from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, August 8.  John Collins Park is located at 650 Lakeside Dr. SE. 

Communities celebrate National Night Out August 6

Communities celebrate National Night Out August 6

National Night Out is August 6, providing community members a free and fun opportunity to meet neighbors and local police officers.

National Night Out started in1984 as a way to encourage the community to get involved in crime-prevention, sending a message to criminals that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.  Organizers often fold food and family-friendly activities into the event.  This year’s participating communities include:

Kalamazoo County

·         Kalamazoo: Arcadia Neighborhood Assoc., Arcadia School, 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.

·         Kalamazoo: Eastside Neighborhood Assoc., Rockwell Park, 5 p.m. - 7 p.m.

·         Kalamazoo: Edison Neighborhood Assoc., 816 Washington, 5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.