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New uniform requirement begins at GRPS middle schools

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Summer vacation ends for many West Michigan students Tuesday, and for some children in Grand Rapids, this new school year brings a new requirement.

PHOTO GALLERY: Back to School 2014

Starting September 2, middle school students in Grand Rapids Public Schools must wear school uniforms. The district implemented the plan saying uniforms help increase focus on learning and reduce behavior problems. Officials say it seems to be working.

"We really removed that behavioral issue or bullying issues as it's related to what students are wearing," said GRPS spokesman John Helmholdt. "We saw a significant reduction in that, at least anecdotally, from feedback we got from teachers and support staff in the school."

Masked man robs northeast G.R. motel

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Investigators are looking for a man who held-up a northeast Grand Rapids motel overnight.

It happened around 3:15 a.m. Friday at the Knights Inn on Plainfield Avenue NE by I-96.

Officers say the robber pulled a gun on the front desk clerk. The suspect was wearing a black ski mask, gloves, and a long dark-colored jacket.

No one was injured.

Investigators were reviewing surveillance video from the motel to get an idea of how the man got away. Grand Rapids Police and Kent County deputies are involved in the search.

G.R. dog owner to stand trial on cruelty charges

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) - A Grand Rapids woman was ordered today to stand trial on animal cruelty charges stemming from sub-par treatment of 39 dogs taken from her Northeast Side home in June.

Kimberly Savino was bound over to Kent County Circuit Court after Grand Rapids District Court Judge David Buter this morning found there was enough evidence to send the case to trial.

Criminal charges were dismissed Wednesday against her co-defendant, Susan Kay Strotheide.

Savino, 32, is charged with felony animal abandonment-cruelty. If convicted, she faces two years in prison and up to 300 hours of community service.

Animal control officers seized the dogs in June. They were put up for adoption on Friday after Savino was unable to come up with $106,000 to pay for their care. As of today, three of the dogs have been adopted.

My Town GR North: Creston Neighborhood welcomes city's first hostel

My Town GR North: Creston Neighborhood welcomes city's first hostel

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—Two longtime Grand Rapids residents plan to transform a 150-year-old Victorian home into the city’s first hostel.

Cousins Mark and Phil Bouman plan to open the Grand Rapids International Hostel in 2015. The men recently purchased a home near Leonard and Plainfield for their pursuit.  The house, built in 1878 by a lumber baron, features four bathrooms and five bedrooms, which will welcome up to 30 people a night.

“The hostel experience is really one of community,” said Phil Bouman, co-owner of Grand Rapids International Hostel. “It’s about sharing space, food, knowledge and experience. Mark and I believe Grand Rapids has a lot to offer, and we want to share it with others.”

How investments in solar energy make for better business plans in West Michigan

How investments in solar energy make for better business plans in West Michigan

by Anya Zentmeyer
This story originally ran in Rapid Growth

First dogs rescued from G.R. home up for adoption

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM)— The first pets taken from a suspected hoarding situation will go up for adoption at the Kent County Animal Shelter Friday afternoon.

Kent County spokeswoman Lisa LaPlante says five puppies and several other adult dogs taken from a Grand Rapids home in June are ready to find a permanent home. The dogs include a three-legged Dalmation named Tripawd.

RELATED: Seized dogs forfeited to Kent County

GRPS Back to School Celebration moved indoors

GRPS Back to School Celebration moved indoors

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- The wet forecast is forcing the Grand Rapids Public Schools district to move Tuesday's Back to School Celebration indoors.

Instead of John Ball Park, the venue will be City High Middle School on Plainfield Ave. NE.

The celebration offers free food, games, and a chance for parents and students to get their back-to-school questions answered.

"We have informational booths with of our school programs and services. There will be everything from transportation, to food service, early childhood, adult education and everything in between," said district spokesperson John Helmholdt. "So, parents, prospective parents come one and come all."

Helmholdt says last year more than 6,000 people attended the Back-to-School Celebration.