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DHS cuts force local office to close

CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WZZM)— With $7.5 million in cuts to the Michigan Department of Human Services looming, a DHS office in Cascade Township must close.

The West Self Service Processing Center is shutting down. About 90 people work at the office processing online applications, among other duties. It's not clear how many employees will lose their jobs, since many will have a chance to transfer to other locations.

The local office will close in February. County DHS offices will remain open without staffing cuts.

Airport launches new logo, tagline

CASCADE, Mich. (WZZM) - The Gerald R. Ford International Airport has a new logo.

The new look was unveiled Wednesday morning after the airport board meeting. The new logo was inspired by the shape of the airport's parking canopy.

They also unveiled a new brand promise trying to get people to think about the airport in a new way: Getting there is better here.

The airport recently announced a $95 million investment for capital improvements. The work is scheduled to be done between next year and 2020.

Heroes take students on a holiday shopping spree

CASCADE, Mich. (WZZM) – A group of Grand Rapids area children got some help with filling the space under their Christmas trees on Tuesday.

A dozen children from Coit and East Leonard elementary schools met up with Grand Rapids police officers and firefighters to "Shop with a Hero." Each child was given a $100 Meijer gift card to purchase holiday gifts for family and friends at the Meijer store at 1997 E. Beltline Ave. NE. Community Officer Neil Gomez says the children chosen to participate work hard in school while facing financial hardships at home.

This is the third year Grand Rapids police and firefighters have teamed up with Meijer for the event. Including this year, Meijer has donated $4,000 to the event, helping 40 children.

Kent ISD superintendent announces retirement

Kent ISD superintendent announces retirement

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM)—After more than three decades helping to educate hundreds of thousands of children, the superintendent of Kent Intermediate School District is leaving his post.

Tuesday, Kevin Konarska announced his plans to retire at the end of the school year. Konarska has worked for Kent ISD for nine years, helping the agency navigate through the Great Recession and deep funding cuts by the state, all while opening new education programs and a laboratory school.

"It will be very hard to see Kevin leave," Board President Claudia Bajema said in a news release to WZZM 13. "He has made such a difference in the schools we serve and in the opportunities available to the more than 100,000 students throughout our service region."

Deputy: Don't be an easy target

Deputy: Don't be an easy target

KENT COUNTY, Mich.-- Don’t be an easy target. That’s the message from Kent County Deputy Ryan Roe to drivers, after a series of thefts from vehicles in Ada, Grand Rapids and Cascade townships.

The crimes took place in the early morning hours during the week of Thanksgiving.  Investigators say the thieves targeted unlocked vehicles parked in driveways and inside garages. 

Drivers are encouraged to take all valuables out of their vehicle and lock it before leaving.

Anyone with information about these crimes is asked to call the Kent County Sheriff’s Department at (616) 632-6357.

Meijer Gardens holiday display focuses on Asian traditions

GRAND RAPIDS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WZZM)—An annual holiday event at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park has a special focus on Asia this year.

"Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World" continues until Jan. 4. Visitors can view more than 40 international Christmas trees and displays. This year's event highlights New Year's traditions celebrated in Korea, Japan, Vietnam and China.

"A lot of the traditions in Asia focus on the New Year. There are a number of different things like the Korean beautiful silk dress that is very traditional and worn for this special occasion. There is the gate pine, the Japanese tradition of these beautiful pieces that are put together. They're typically on either side of a doorway. And [there are] a number of other things that help celebrate that New Year," said Steve LaWarre with Meijer Gardens.

Operation Handshake welcomes returning service members

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - The Gerald R. Ford International Airport, along with the Patriot Guard Riders of West Michigan, welcomed troops arriving at the airport on Wednesday. The day before Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel days of the year.

"Operation Handshake" had volunteers on both concourses from 8:30am to 7:00pm with refreshments, and, of course, handshakes. Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and other community service groups were encouraged to attend, as well.