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Networking event aims to bring back people who left West Michigan


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- On what's traditionally the biggest bar night of the year, a "party with a purpose" was held at the B.O.B. the night before Thanksgiving.

It was a networking event called "Rethink Michigan." Students and young professionals who've moved out of state were invited.

The goal: for employers with job openings and for local job recruiters to try to convince them to move back home.

Many local companies with job openings want to hire West Michigan natives. The people there hope the connections made Wednesday night will result in just that.


Zip-line project appears dead in Grand Rapids


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- Plans to build a huge zip-line over the Grand River in Grand Rapids are apparently dead in the water.

The man behind Zip the Grand said the project ran into too many road blocks.

The original plan called for a three-story ropes course and a 65-foot zip-line across the river in the heart of downtown.

After three years of discussion without any action, project leaders are now considering other cities, including possibly Lansing.

"I think it's possible in any city that has a wonderful river running through its urban setting -- we can run a zip-line and ropes across that river," said Jarl Brey. "I think It's possible. It's possible in any city."

Brey says he has supporters for the project from across the country and he will not give up.


Paralyzed principal finds healing after hunting accident


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) - Just over a month ago, a hunting accident left school principal Ron Koole paralyzed with no feeling below his chest. Now, despite his debilitating injury, he is staying positive by relying on his faith and family.

At Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, Ron Koole practices getting in and out of his wheel chair. He still can't do it alone, but he's learning how to operate without using his legs.

Five weeks ago, Koole went bow hunting. He said he was climbing a tree to his tree stand when "the chain that held the top of the tree stand in place broke; the next thing I knew, I was on the ground, and I knew I had a serious accident."

There he laid for three hours as feeling returned to his arms, but not his legs. His son found him and called for help. Koole knew something was very wrong with his back.

Mel Trotter preps for Thanksgiving feast


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- Volunteers are hard at work getting ready for this year's Thanksgiving feast at DeVos Place, hosted by Mel Trotter Ministries.

More than 1,500 pounds of turkey, 1,200 pounds of stuffing, 50 gallons of gravy, and 500 pies will be served at the annual meal.

Organizers say that the event offers a family to people who otherwise wouldn't have one on the holiday.

Mel Trotter Ministries director of marketing and communication Cindy Smies told WZZM 13 the meal is a beautiful event.

"It's a mix of 2,000 or so guests being served family-style by 700 volunteers," said Smies. "It's really just a family that we create at this holiday."

Doors open at 10:30 a.m and Mel Trotter Ministries is partnering with The Rapid to offer free bus rides to DeVos Place for the guests expected to attend.

Barfly bars encourage giving before enjoying evening out


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- The night before Thanksgiving is traditionally the biggest bar night of the year. Barfly Ventures is hoping people will take time in their evening to give back to the community.

That's why Barfly Ventures is partnering with Will Play for Food Foundation (WPFF) to raise money for meals provided by Feeding America West Michigan.

Grand Rapids' New Year's Eve party moved to Calder Plaza


GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- After six years at Rosa Parks Circle, the City of Grand Rapids is moving the location for this year's New Year's Eve party.

The event will be held at Calder Plaza, on Ottawa Avenue between Michigan and Lyon Street. City officials say they changed the location to allow for a larger crowd.

"We made the decision to move it to Calder Plaza to expand the event, make it a little more user friendly, and take it out of the chaos that is Monroe Avenue and Pearl Street on New Year's Eve," said Todd Tofferi, office of special events.

The city announced the change in a YouTube video on its Twitter account Tuesday.

The downtown New Year's party has been held in Rosa Parks Circle since 2008. Organizers have not yet announced which bands will perform this year.

Crowd in downtown G.R. protests Ferguson decision


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) - Grand Rapids was one of many cities where rallies took place Tuesday, calling for justice and change.

A crowd gathered downtown at Rosa Parks Circle to share their concerns.

"People didn't even want to consider that he might have been guilty; it wasn't even going to be on the table, so a lot of us are upset and [there are] a lot of tears," says Brianna Urena-Ravelo.

Ravelo is one of the organizers of the demonstration. About 300 people showed up at the event, many of them holding signs that read, "Black lives matter."

A couple things stood out about the protest: it was peaceful, there was not much police presence in the area, and the crowd was quite diverse.