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Former pastor sentenced on charges of CSC

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM)- A former West Michigan pastor accused of inappropriately touching a young boy will spend more time in jail.

Tedd Butler was initially charged with 1st Degree CSC but reached a plea deal. Under the lesser charge he will serve 365 days in jail with 51 days already served.  Butler admitted to touching a young boy more than 20 years ago when he was youth pastor at the now disbanded Landmark Baptist Church in Algoma Township.

Last week Butler was sentenced to 12 months in jail in Ottawa County on charges of second degree criminal sexual conduct. The victim in that case was five years old when the abuse occurred.

Both sentences will be served concurrently.  

The Rapid opens new operations center

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- This week The Rapid will begin moving employees into its new $31 million operations center. The bus company says this is just one more step the company is taking to improve public transportation in Grand Rapids.

Employees and passengers on The Rapid have noticed a lot of changes over the past several months.   According to spokesperson, Jennifer Kalczuk, there are many more to come.

"We've been growing steadily since 2000 when The Rapid actually started, but we have had a lot of changes recently," said Kalczuk.

Among those changes is the new Wealthy Street Operations Center. Saturday, The Rapid officially cut the ribbon on the 285,000 square feet facility. The project, which was paid for primarily with federal and state grant and stimulus money got underway more than 2 years ago. Kalczuk says the project was necessary because the old building no longer supported current and future growth.

GRPS superintendent lays out top 10 district issues

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Grand Rapids Public Schools' new superintendent, Teresa Weatherall Neal, is on a listening tour.

Teachers, principals, the superintendent, and other staff helped come up with a top ten list of issues concerning the district. They are as follows:

  1. Hubs for electives (like marching band)
  2. Blended learning (combination of lessons on computers and traditional teaching)
  3. 'H' grades instead of F's for attendance
  4. Lack of electives
  5. Absence of Art and PE
  6. Scheduling
  7. Inconsistent use of the Uniform Discipline Code
  8. Clear process for hiring, recruiting, and retention
  9. Culture (fighting in school, etc.)
  10. Lack of alignment of initiatives

One of the biggest issues is poor attendance -- and they say a policy doesn't correct the problem. 

Catholic Central Student Named Semifinalist in 71st Annual Intel Science Talent Search

Catholic Central Student Named Semifinalist in 71st Annual Intel Science Talent Search

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Jan. 30, 2012 -- Catholic Central senior Jessica Wojtczak was named a Semifinalist in the 71st annual Intel Science Talent Search.  This is the nation's oldest and most prestigious pre-college science competition. Jessica is one of 300 finalists out of 1,839 entrants, the largest number this competition has seen in over a decade. Each Semifinalist receives an award of $1,000 from the Intel Foundation with an additional $1,000 going to his or her school.

Ms. Wojtczak's entry in the competition investigated emotion and the role of sleep in memory consolidation as a way to determine how the brain prioritizes and controls memory.

Leadership West Michigan Graduates 27 in December 2011

Leadership West Michigan Graduates 27 in December 2011

The 2011 class of Leadership West Michigan (LWM) graduated on December 15, 2011. The class of 27 participated in 8 day sessions over the past 4 months which included a two day bus tour of the region and culminated in Regional Trustee day and graduation.

Patricia Ackerberg - Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce  
Justin Arnold - WMPS  
Charles Ash, Jr. - Warner Norcross & Judd LLP  
Douglas Bagley - Ottawa Area ISD - MTEC  
Michael Brecht - St. Mary's Health Care  
Marlene Brostrom - Michigan Works Ottawa County  
Cindy Brown - Hello West Michigan  
Frederick Bw'Ombongi - Spectrum Health  
Valerie Byrnes - Barry County Chamber of Commerce  
Kyle Dannenberg - Ottawa Area Intermediate School District  
Lori Duff - TrueNorth Community Services  
Kathy Finkler - Davenport University  
Jeffrey Hoerle - Priority Health  
Ammy Johnson - Harbor Hospice  

Love Equalizer: Q&A with Erin Wilson

Love Equalizer: Q&A with Erin Wilson

Written by Lindsay Patton

Questions for Erin Wilson, founder of Until Love Is Equal, director of Wealthy Theatre and board president of ArtPeers.

You're involved in Wealthy Theatre, Until Love Is Equal and ArtPeers. What's your main focus for 2012?
I couldn't say one would be less immense than the other. There's the centennial campaign at the theatre and ArtPeers is in the middle of a major reboot. Of course, we carry on with Until Love Is Equal.

Until Love Is Equal began in June of 2011 as a response to the City of Holland's June 15 vote excluding sexual orientation and gender identity from an anti-discrimination ordinance. How has the movement grown since then?

WZZM 13 Veteran Newsman Honored by Silver Circle

WZZM 13 Veteran Newsman Honored by Silver Circle

Longtime WZZM 13 News Reporter Peter Ross has been inducted into the 2011 class of Silver Circle. The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences recognizes people having over 25 years of Broadcasting expertise. The Michigan Chapter will honor Ross and five other new members at a Silver Circle Gala Luncheon the end of next month on Sunday, February 26th in Birmingham Michigan. WZZM 13 News Anchor Lee Van Ameyde and Chief Meteorlogist George Lessens have also been honored by the Silver Circle. Ross has been with WZZM since July of 1986. He began his Broadcasting career at a Vermont radio staion in 1978.