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GRPS celebrating best count day in nearly 20 years

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- The Grand Rapids Public Schools district is celebrating its best student count day in nearly 20 years.

The state provides funding based on student population, so attendance on count day is very important.

Schools usually to do something special to encourage attendance even more. At Palmer Elementary, students played with sidewalk chalk, jumped rope, and more.

Grand Rapids receives more than $7,200 per student from the state. The money is used to cover costs in the classroom, as well as salaries, benefits, and retirement.

The district's total budget is $200 million.

GRPS anticipated losing 400 students this year, but the district says it now expects that number to be less than 100. District spokesman John Helmholdt credits the transformation plan put into place two years ago.

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It's Pulaski Days on Grand Rapids' Westside this Weekend

It's Pulaski Days on Grand Rapids' Westside this Weekend

Pulaski Days will be in full swing this weekend, October 3rd-5th on the West Side of Grand Rapids, MI when all the Polish Halls will be open to the public for dancing and good times. Most halls open at Noon, Friday through Sunday and there will be lots of Polish food as well as libations.

Today, October 1st, there is a Kiebasa Eating Contest at 7:00pm at Eastern Ave Hall

Thursday, October 2nd, the Polish Falcons Hall on Fulton St. NW opens mid-afternoon for their Thirsty Thursday tradition. At 5:30pm they will begin serving food and at 7:00pm the Diddlesticks Band will play. No cover charge for this event.

Saturday, October 4th, a Parade will take place on the East Side of Grand Rapids

Sunday, October 5th, the last event of the celebration is a Raffle Drawing at 7:00pm at Kosciuzko Hall


West Coast Coffee hosts ArtPrize entries

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Artists with entries at an Arena District coffee shop say they're happy to see how ArtPrize has brought new life to the downtown Grand Rapids area.

West Coast Coffee at 55 Monroe Center NW is in its fourth year as an ArtPrize venue.

The shop opened in 2005 and has long been a showplace for area artists' works.

This year, 33 ArtPrize entries are on display at West Coast Coffee. Artists say the festival has enlivened downtown with new energy.

"The energy that it creates in the city is just fabulous," says Brian Rieth. "When I was growing up, the city was so dismal and there wasn't really much going on. It's just brought so much life to the city."

Students help Broadway Grand Rapids open new season

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- Broadway Grand Rapids opened its 2014-2015 season Tuesday evening, with a performance of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat."

Meghan Distel of Broadway Grand Rapids says the organization worked with students at Ellington Academy for Arts and Technology on the show.

"The students at the school created all kinds of art projects to show some of the elements of the show," Distel said. "We combined history lessons with their art class, and designed this beautiful coat using all kinds of fabrics and textures."

She said it was a wonderful opportunity, especially with ArtPrize going on during the show's eight-performance stint at DeVos Performance Hall.

The show was originally created for kids.

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Steel truck tips, closes downtown highway ramp

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- A tipped semi-truck kept a major downtown highway ramp closed much of Tuesday morning.

The truck carrying rolls of steel tipped on the ramp from eastbound I-196 to northbound US-131 at about 8:00 a.m. The ramp has since reopened, although authorities plan to close it again this weekend to permanently fix a concrete barrier on it that was damaged in the accident.

There were no reported injuries.

Cascade Community Foundation Iron Chef Competition Tonight

Cascade Community Foundation Iron Chef Competition Tonight

Grand Rapids Community College Secchia Institute for Culinary Education student chefs will be competing this evening, using the "secret ingredient," for the opportunity to take home the Iron Skillet Award and a College Scholarship. They will be preparing gourmet cuisine for the judges to savor.

Cynthia Kay Afendoulis will be honored at this year's event with the Claude and Marion Robinson Community Leadership Award. This is awarded to an individual who is committed to improving the community and the lives of neighbors. Cynthia is the owner of Cynthia Kay & Co., a media production and corporate communications company.

Governor Snyder speaks at West Michigan Policy Forum

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- Governor Snyder says his top priority is connecting more Michiganders to open jobs.

Snyder was a featured speaker Monday at the West Michigan Policy Forum.

He told attendees that Michigan made a mistake decades ago by emphasizing that everyone needed a college degree. He also said he's still hopeful lawmakers will find funds to really improve the state's roads.

"That would be the priority in lame duck, to get it wrapped up," the Governor said. "Waiting has no value -- it just makes our roads worse to wait -- so let's get it going. Let's improve our roads."

Lawmakers have been leery of voting to raise any taxes to improve the roads before they are up for re-election in November.