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GRBJ: Amway hotels undergo facelift

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (Grand Rapids Business Journal)- The management of the Amway Grand Plaza, the venerable flagship of the Amway Hotel Corp.'s three Grand Rapids hotels, is looking forward to a good fall season with a totally new look to the second floor center concourse.

Major renovation of the concourse, which the corporation's CEO/president Joe Tomaselli said had been somewhat of a bottleneck, began in mid-May and concluded in mid-August, with the exception of the installation of new chandeliers any day now.








To read more of this story visit the Grand Rapids Business Journal online.

High winds knocks out power in Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM)- Consumers Energy says the high winds kept crews busy trying to restore power to numerous homes and businesses.

Around 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Consumers Energy says a substation failure knocked out power to some businesses in downtown Grand Rapids.

The outage temporarily closed the David D. Hunting YMCA  and a museum downtown.

Crews restored power downtown just before 2:30 p.m.

Report says joblessness is reaching 'crisis level'

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- A new report out Friday is discouraging for Michigan's unemployed.  According to The Michigan League for Human Services, a nonprofit, nonpartisan statewide policy and advocacy group for low-income citizens, long-term unemployment has grown to "crisis levels."

The Labor Day Report indicates that "41% of the unemployed had ben out of work for six months or longer in 2009.  That's up from just 6.5% in 2000.  Nearly 273,000 workers each month in 2009 were out of work for more than six months."

"Folks are much more desperate about finding a job.  Folks who never thought they would be unemployed are unemployed.  They are unemployed for longer period of times," said Maureen Downer, programs manager for Michigan Works for Kent and Allegan Counties.

Downer says not having a steady income for an extended period of time is causing stress for countless families.

Recycling on the rise in Kent County

KENT COUNTY, Mich. (WZZM)- People in Kent County are recycling more since the county opened its new recycling center.  Public Services Director James Hurt says the amount of recycled waste in the first three weeks of August was 25% higher than the same time last year.

The county recently finished distributing 35,000 recycling bins for its new processing plant.  The facility sorts recyclables so residents do not have to. 

People say they are more willing to take part in the easier system.  Resident Beverly Reid says, "I see more people using them now that they've been delivered to everyone.  I see more of the bins out, the large rolling bins than I did see the smaller bins, so I think more people are utilizing them now which is a good thing."

Over the next few weeks crews will visit homes that they missed during the recycle bin drop-off.  They will also swap out bin sizes.

Grand Rapids man going to prison for child pornography

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM)- A Grand Rapids man convicted on child pornography charges is going to prison.  A judge has sentenced 28-year old Nicholas Job Woodard to six years in prison.  The Grand Rapids man will also spend the rest of his life on probation.

The Department of Justice says Woodard used a computer to download and share thousands of lewd images of children. 

An undercover FBI agent arrested Woodard. He pleaded guilty to three counts of distributing child pornography.

GRPS - Last day of voting for Kohl's Cares initiative

Dear GRPS Students, Parents, Staff and Supporters:
Following our email yesterday, it was brought to our attention that Ken-O-Sha Elementary was not the only school involved in the Kohl's Cares initiative on Facebook. In fact, nearly every school in the district has applied! That means that ANY school in the Grand Rapids Public School district could win one of 20 $500,000 grants to improve their school.
Today is the last day of voting. All you have to do is log on to (or join, if you haven't already) Facebook and find the Kohl's page at http://www.facebook.com/#!/kohls?ref=ts. Click on the Kohl's Cares tab and search for your favorite GRPS school. Every vote counts, so vote multiple times for any and all of the GRPS schools involved!
Get the word out, post to your Facebook page and email all your friends! Show everyone how much you support GRPS and our ongoing success story.

GRPS to begin blended learning curriculum at high schools

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM)-  Starting Tuesday, high schoolers at Grand Rapids Public Schools will have to adapt to a blended learning curriculum. It's a new way of instruction and learning that has generated strong opinions from both supporters and opponents.

The blended model will offer two subjects, Social Studies and Math, in a blended form starting this school year. Students will operate on a three day schedule. On day one, students will meet in a traditional classroom setting where the teacher explains a concept. Days two and three the students will meet with one or more teachers and assistants and much of the work will be technology based.