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A volunteer effort led by a group of young professionals in Grand Rapids will work to beautify a green space and help prevent flooding.  About 20 govern:GR members along with other city employees are taking “personal” time today to plant perennials on the city’s west side. 

“It just shows the commitment that the staff members are willing to go out on their own to beautify and help protect the area from flooding.”

Advocates of installing solar panels on rooftops are protesting state legislation they fear would make it harder for residents to reduce utility bills with their own renewable energy sources.
Dozens of people are expected to rally Wednesday at the Capitol. It's the same day a Senate committee considers a bill that includes utility-backed changes to Michigan's "net metering" program.
More than 1,800 customers participated last year by installing their own solar panels or wind turbines.

Lawmakers resume push for Michigan road-funding plan

Aug 19, 2015

Michigan legislators chosen to forge a compromise on a $1.2 billion road-improvement plan are on standby in case a deal can be reached.
A House-Senate conference committee could vote on some bills as early as Wednesday in the Capitol. The panel includes four Republicans and two Democrats.
It was established on Tuesday by legislative leaders pushing for a breakthrough this week.

Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety logo
city of Kalamazoo /

Police in Michigan say a man who damaged a parked police cruiser while taking selfies on the unoccupied vehicle is remorseful but still could face charges.
The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety says he approached the car about 3:40 a.m. on Aug. 9 in downtown and took photos in front of the vehicle, kneeling on the hood and lying on the windshield. Police say he then climbed onto the roof of the cruiser before leaving.

A man accused of stabbing four people on an Amtrak train in southwestern Michigan is scheduled for trial in November.
Dates were set Tuesday during a hearing for Michael D. Williams. A judge ruled in March that he was mentally incompetent for trial, but he was found competent this month after receiving medications and treatment.
Family members have said that Williams has struggled with delusions and paranoia. He's pleaded not guilty.

Three suspects have been charged in an alleged illegal gambling operation in Grand Rapids.

Kevin McKenney, 39, was arraigned on Tuesday and charged with one felony and three misdemeanors.

Barry Lott, 66, and Mark Stouten, 73, were arraigned on the same four charges on Monday.

Investigators say search warrants were executed at Putt Putt’s Bar in Grand Rapids as well as the homes of each man in May.

The Grand Rapids Press reports a tip regarding illegal sports betting was received by authorities prior to the May raids.

Downtown Grand Rapids

 The site of a future Embassy Suites in downtown Grand Rapids may now be the site of two future hotels.

Brian Beukema is the president of property development for hotel management company Suburban Inns. He tells city commissioners a co-branded opportunity is the reason Suburban’s requesting a new extension from the city.

“[It’s an] opportunity that arose with one of the franchise companies that we work with. They came to us with a concept and an idea for the site," Beukema says.

Manager at credit union pleads guilty to embezzling $1.9M

Aug 18, 2015

A manager at a Muskegon County credit union has pleaded guilty to embezzling $1.9 million from its cash vault between 2001 and this year.

The U.S. attorney's office in Grand Rapids said Tuesday Kathryn Sue Simmerman made the plea in federal court after being charged last month and admitting to the embezzlement.

Authorities say she took cash from the vault at Shoreline Federal Credit Union in Norton Shores and hid it in her purse.

Court documents say Simmerman was fired from her job in February.

She's scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 30.

2 Michigan lawmakers back for session after sex scandal

Aug 18, 2015

Two Michigan lawmakers who are under fire for an extramarital relationship and fictional email intended to minimize attention are back in the Capitol for the first House session since the scandal broke. Republican Rep. Todd Courser of Lapeer tells reporters Tuesday he's in Lansing because "it's my job" and his voice is needed to oppose tax hikes for road repairs. He declined to comment about the controversy. Courser separately posted a statement calling on Michigan's attorney general to investigate the Senate's planned moved into new offices in 2017. Republican Rep.

Bridge at Ionia State Recreation Area open to public

Aug 18, 2015

  The state of Michigan says the bridge over Sessions Creek in Ionia State Recreation Area is now open to the public. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says the bridge replaces one that was destroyed by a tree knocked down by heavy rains and flooding in 2009. The DNR says Tuesday bridge replacement was postponed due to budget constraints and a growing list of higher priority infrastructure issues around the state. The project was funded by a trail grant and the bridge allows people to complete the 3.5 mile loop on Sessions Lake Hiking Trail without interruption. The popular trail