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ArtPrize Preview begins in Arena District

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- ArtPrize 2014 begins one week from today, and many of the artists and their entries are already out in downtown Grand Rapids.

Beginning today, the Arena District is hosting the ArtPrize Preview, inviting people to the area to meet the artists and see their work. It gives them and their entries extra exposure before the contest officially begins on September 4.

The ArtPrize Preview Kickoff party is from 6-9 p.m. tonight at The Ballroom of CityFlats Hotel, 77 Monroe Center St NW. It will have a live art gallery viewing, hors d'oeuvres, a silent auction, and more attractions.

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My Town: Volunteers needed for Grand River cleanup on Sept. 21

My Town: Volunteers needed for Grand River cleanup on Sept. 21

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- The annual Mayor’s Grand River Cleanup takes place Sept. 21.

Volunteers are encouraged to make a difference in their community by taking part in this clean-up effort focusing on sites in Grand Rapids, Grandville, Plainfield Township, Walker and Wyoming.

Registration takes place on Sept. 21 at Sixth Street Park located at 647 Monroe Ave. on the corner of Monroe Avenue and Newberry in downtown Grand Rapids. Arrivals after 9:15 a.m. may not be guaranteed a place on the bus. Buses leave at 9:35 a.m. sharp from the Sixth Street Park.

Call Becky Brown at (616) 451-3051, e-mail her at bbrown@wmeac.org or visit www.grandrivercleanup.com for more information.

Snyder: Only poll that matters is November

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- The November election is just seven weeks away, and recent polls show Governor Snyder in a dead heat with his Democrat challenger, Mark Schauer.

The Governor was in West Michigan Tuesday night, speaking at the Health Care Association's annual expo in downtown Grand Rapids.

We used the opportunity to talk to him about a poll released just last week by our Gannett News Partner USA TODAY. It has Schauer leading 45 percent to Snyder's 43 percent, with nearly 12 percent undecided.

"The only poll that really matters is November," the Governor said. "You're gonna see that be different numbers from different places. I'm gonna stay out there, positive on the campaign, talking to our citizens. That's what matters."

If you are not registered to vote in the November election, you have until October 6.

311 program to connect GR residents to city resources

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- City residents had the chance Tuesday evening to learn about a new customer service line.

Starting October 1, people in Grand Rapids can simply call 311 to access any non-emergency information about the city's services, activities, and programs.

City leaders hope is it will make it easier to get the answers you want.

"They no longer have to call five departments," said the city's managing director of emergency services, Mari Beth Jelks. "They can just call 311 for all non-emergency calls and get their service."

If you would like to learn more about how 311 will work, there's another meeting Wednesday evening at City High Middle School. It starts at 6:30.

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Tom Izzo keynotes YMCA luncheon

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo and his Spartans are less than two months away from the start of a new season -- but Tuesday, Izzo took some time out from preparing for the season to speak in Grand Rapids.

He was the keynote speaker at a fundraising luncheon for the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids, held at the JW Marriott ballroom.

There, he talked about how the Y helps young people build character.

"When you go to places like the YMCA, I think they help build that," he said. "It's one of the greatest things they can do: get the kids off the streets, give 'em a place to go to, give them a place to learn at, give them a place to build relationships. And, hopefully, there's a seven-footer there who wants to go to Michigan State."

Izzo has strong ties to this area; he owns a home in Ottawa County.

President and CEO leaves Mel Trotter Ministries

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - The President and CEO of a major Grand Rapids outreach mission has left his office.

A spokesperson with Mel Trotter Ministries tells WZZM that the Rev. Chico Daniels' "service to the mission has ended" as of September 15th. Daniels was at Mel Trotter for seven years.

Operations at the mission are continuing, unchanged.

The spokesperson says that donors are being informed by the mission and more information will be coming to the public tomorrow.

We'll have more details when they become available.

Celebrating 30 years of Amtrak in West Michigan

(WZZM) - Tuesday marks 30 years of Amtrak service between Grand Rapids and Chicago. Since the service began in 1984, ridership numbers have doubled and continue to grow.

Tuesday morning, the public was invited to join in on a celebration as the train made stops in Grand Rapids, Holland, Bangor, then Benton Harbor and Saint Joseph.

"The demand here in the Grand Rapids area for a passenger train into Chicago continues to grow every year, which is absolutely tremendous," said Kirk Steudle, Director of the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Ray Lang of Amtrak believes the growth could mean more options in the future for riders. "I have every reason to believe that there's enough demand on this corridor for additional frequencies and we would love to entertain that question in the future."

All rides aboard the Pere Marquette are 30% off for the rest of September.