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City of Grand Rapids taps community for Chief of Police search

City of Grand Rapids taps community for Chief of Police search

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—The City of Grand Rapids is turning to community members to help select the city’s next police chief.

The city will hold community input meetings beginning Tuesday, Feb. 18 at Union High School.  The city has also posted an online survey for residents, addressing what people want in their next police chief.  The surveys are due March 7.

 “Community input is critical to finding the best police chief to lead our community. Residents, businesses, local law enforcement professionals, neighborhood and community leaders, and youth will all have an opportunity to share the qualities they believe the Grand Rapids’ new police chief should possess,” said City Manager Greg Sundstrom.

The community input meetings are scheduled as follows:

Experience Grand Rapids launches personalized travel planning website

Experience Grand Rapids launches personalized travel planning website

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.---Experience Grand Rapids, the official destination marketing organization for Kent County, recently announced the launch of its new personalized travel planning website, www.GRCityTwist.com.

The new interactive website targets 18 different interests, from “art lovers” to “thrill seekers”, allowing the visitor to customize their trip.  For example, craft beer enthusiasts can find breweries to explore, activities and nightlife related to craft beer, and accommodations for the weekend.

EXGR launched the new, mobile-friendly website on Dec. 17 at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park with the hospitality community, business and political leaders, and its Certified Tourism Ambassadors.

Friends of Grand Rapids Parks awarded grant to grow urban forest

Friends of Grand Rapids Parks awarded grant to grow urban forest

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.— Friends of Grand Rapids Parks is getting even more funding to create a larger, healthier urban forest.

The Grand Rapids Community Foundation is awarding the organization with an additional $189,200 to recruit volunteers and rally community support for neighborhood trees.  The GRCF originally awarded the Friends of Grand Rapids Parks nearly $254,000 two years ago to launch the Urban Forest Project. Since then,  volunteers with Friends of Grand Rapids Parks have planted 489 trees, including those in Brewer’s Grove in Riverside Park.

"Growing our urban tree canopy is important not just for us – but for all the future generations after us. It’s about health, it’s about the environment, it’s about the future health of our city," said Community Foundation President Diana Sieger.

Kent County health officials prepare to MAPP out community health concerns

Kent County health officials prepare to MAPP out community health concerns

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.--  The Kent County Health Department and Healthy Kent are getting ready to MAPP out the health concerns of residents.

MAPP stands for Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships.  It’s the framework both agencies will use to create a plan to improve community health.  Every three years, hospitals are required to update their Community Health Needs Assessment for state accreditation.  Local health departments must do the same once every five years.  Healthy Kent and the Kent County Health Department will work with organizations in 2014 to meet both requirements.

New bike path to cut through Grand Rapids

New bike path to cut through Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—A new bike path will soon take shape in Grand Rapids.

The city is getting a $618,514 grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation to create the Seward Avenue Bikeway.  The 3.5 mile bike route will cut through the heart of Grand Rapids and connect nearly 190 miles of regional trails, including the White Pine Trail, Oxford Street Trail and Kent Trails. The path will run along Seward Avenue from Wealthy Street to the Riverside Park trailhead and include a bike shelter, bike lockers, bike signs and signals and an upgraded pedestrian bridge over Indian Mill Creek at Broadway Avenue.

The project is expected to cost just over $1 million.  Additional funding will come from the City of Grand Rapids, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., Bikes Belong and Freewheeler Bike Shop.  The city commission will recognize all financial supporters during its meeting at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.    

Senator Jansen decides against congressional run

Senator Jansen decides against congressional run

KENT COUNTY, Mich.—  Republican Senator Mark Jansen says he will not join the race for Congressman Justin Amash’s seat next year.

“I have decided at this time my focus will continue to help Michigan find the road to recovery, from Grand Rapids to Detroit to the Upper Peninsula to our lake shores,” Jansen said. ”Right now I really feel the call to continue helping Michigan’s recovery as my Senate term ends in 13 short months.”

Jansen says he has been “strongly encouraged” to run for the 3rd Congressional District seat for the past two years.  He believes people want the same level of reform achieved in Michigan to happen in Washington.

Jansen represents the northern portion of Kent County.  The U.S. 3rd Congressional District includes Belding, Rockford, Lowell, East Grand Rapids, Walker, Ada and Cascade, Alpine Township, Sparta, Plainfield Township and all of Grand Rapids.

Kent County honors cleanest restaurants with Food Safety Awards

Kent County honors cleanest restaurants with Food Safety Awards

KENT COUNTY, Mich.—Where are the safest places to eat in Kent County?

The county health department is answering that question with the 2013 Food Safety Awards.   The agency whittled down the list of 1,654 eligible restaurants to just 269 facilities, based on routine restaurant and food service inspections over the past year.  Under the county’s criteria, restaurants that earn the award must have a certified food safety manager, no confirmed violations of the Michigan Smoke Free Law and no confirmed foodborne illness outbreaks during the year.