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GR Library board votes to cut staff

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- The board of commissioners of the Grand Rapids Public Library voted Tuesday to approve $500,000 in budget cuts, including the elimination of 14 positions.

Library leaders are working to balance the district's 2013 fiscal year budget.  They blame reduced state and federal funding for the necessity of the cuts.

Officials say their choices came down to cutting staff positions or closing facilities.  Most of the positions being cut are part-time posts.

"I feel like we did what we had to do," says library board member Ann Armstrong-Cusack.  "I'm very sad that we are at the point that we have to attrition employees."

Union employees say they feel betrayed and disappointed with the board following its decision, as they say they have made concessions and offered suggestions on cutting costs without job losses.

Brewery Vivant to expand operations

Brewery Vivant to expand operations

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM)- A Grand Rapids brewery is spending $300,000 to expand its operations this summer. Brewery Vivant will begin shipping beer to Chicago this fall.

Jason Spaulding, the brewery's co-owner says, "We feel good, especially in this economy to be in a business that is growing and is ahead of the curve. To be ahead of our business plan, makes us feel good, like we're on the right track."

The expansion will double the brewery's annual capacity to 5,000 barrels in just a couple of years. It comes a year ahead of schedule. 

GR Fire Dept. is state's highest rated

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - Grand Rapids' Fire Department is the highest rated in the state in terms of its readiness to respond to structure fires.   That's according to its new Insurance Services Office ranking following a two-week evaluation last year.  

The ISO looks at a community's fire dispatch, water supply and fire department operations.  Previously, GRFD had a three ranking, now it has a one. 

Fire Chief Laura Knapp says the accomplishment catapults the department into the top 1% of all fire departments in the country, and makes the department the state's highest rated. 

Knapp says it's unclear what, if any impact the improved rating would have on homeowner insurance policies.

GRCC Hosting Info Fair for Gerontology Careers

GRCC Hosting Info Fair for Gerontology Careers

GRCC student Craig Scougale knows that as the mega generation known as the Baby Boomers hits retirement age, there will be a much higher demand for work with the aging population.  This is the reason why Scougale, a member of the Gerontology Club at GRCC, is organizing the Careers in Aging informational fair on April 3 from 3-6 p.m. outside of the enrollment center in the Main building.

Students will be able to speak with representatives from various agencies that are involved in elderly care and services.

According to the U.S. Census, between 2000 and 2010 the population 65 and older grew 15.1 percent, while the total U.S. population grew only 9.7 percent.  With average life expectancy on the rise, this trend will continue over the next 10 years as the Baby Boomers continue to age past 65.

The fair will include information on careers available serving the elderly population as well as the training necessary for those jobs.

Spectrum certified by Medicare for heart transplants

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - The Center for Medicare Services has formally issued certification to the Spectrum Health heart transplant program.

The certification means that in addition to meeting a standard of CMS quality, Spectrum Health will now be able to receive Medicare reimbursements for heart transplants.

"To receive Medicare approval without citation is a significant accomplishment for any heart transplant program. However, this is quite remarkable considering our program is not even two years old." said Michael Dickinson, MD, medical director of Spectrum Health's heart failure program in a press release."It's a direct reflection of the commitment to excellence shared by everyone in our program."

Spectrum Health says they requested CMS certification in July of 2011 after their 10th heart transplant.  CMS review came in January after 15 transplants had taken place.  As of today, 17 transplants have taken place at Spectrum Health.

AAA Diamond awards revealed

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM)- The Amway Grand Plaza Hotel Monday received AAA's prestigious Four-Diamond rating for hospitality industry excellence, one of 14 hotels and restaurants in the state to be so honored this year. It's the 27th year the Amway has been so honored - more than any other Michigan hotel. It's co-owned J.W. Marriott Hotel and Cygnus 27 restaurant also receive the Four-Diamond ratings.

The Amway Grand's Operations Director, Bruce Lyon, credits a culture that begins at orientation and is reinforced with regular training. "Staff is empowered to make decisions - lot of times if there's a dissatisfied customer they're empowered to make it right by them and that obviously helps the team morale - feel like they're a part of it," Lyon said Monday.

There are no Five-Diamond hotels or restaurants in Michigan. Amway used to operate one, The 1913 Room, within the Amway Grand Hotel. That is now a Ruths Chris Steakhouse.

GRCC and Wyoming Public Schools to Sign Middle College Partnership

Wyoming, MI - Grand Rapids Community College and Wyoming Public Schools (WPS) will be signing a letter of intent for the creation of a middle college program for the fall of 2012 at tonight’s school board meeting.  The meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the Wyoming Public Schools Administration Building.

According to the agreement, the vision of the middle college partnership is to provide the opportunity for participating students to earn both a high school diploma and an associate of arts degree in four years.   Wyoming Middle College students will begin in their sophomore year and complete the program after an extended year of classes.   Students will be “dual-enrolled” in high school and college courses, with tuition for the college courses paid for by WPS as part of the district’s per pupil state funding.