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Community updates: Friday, Feb. 19

City of Grand Rapids launches survey tool to regularly collect quick resident feedback; Grand Rapids Public Library tentatively reopening branches on Feb. 24; Kent County Health Department reports continued decline in county’s COVID-19 case growth; and more.
Overlooking the Grand River, near Margaux restaurant's dining domes.

Overlooking the Grand River, near Margaux restaurant's dining domes. /Experience Grand Rapids

City of Grand Rapids launches survey tool to regularly collect quick resident feedback

The City of Grand Rapids will begin collecting quick resident responses on local issues through a newly-implemented surveying tool, it announced Wednesday.

In partnership with survey provider FlashVote, the city will periodically send residents short, three-to-five question surveys on time-sensitive city issues, with participants having 48 hours to respond. Residents can sign up to receive the surveys at

Surveys will include a range of topics, according to Assistant City Manager Doug Matthews, such as public safety concerns, budget formation, housing, recreation, and more. The surveys can be responded to through email, text message, or phone call, depending on participants’ chosen method.

We continue to stress and strive for enhanced communication with our residents, and engagement is at the core of effective communication,” Matthews said in a statement. “FlashVote allows us to engage with residents in a non-traditional way that reduces barriers for participation. The feedback can help shape city policy and operations.”

After a resident signs up to be part of the survey pool, they will receive “FlashSurveys” whenever they’re issued by the city. Whenever the 48-hour window closes for each survey, FlashVote immediately tabulates responses, and provides statistically-valid responses to City Hall staff, city commissioners, and the public.

The City of Grand Rapids confirmed in its Wednesday announcement that “all results are anonymous and FlashVote does not share your personal information with anyone.”

The survey tool’s role in city policymaking is meant to be in addition to local elections, public meetings, and the city’s already-existent long-form surveys. These long-form surveys are available at

More details about Grand Rapids FlashSurveys are available on the city’s FlashVote website.


Grand Rapids Public Library tentatively reopening branches on Feb. 24

All Grand Rapids Public Library (GRPL) branches are planned to reopen on Feb. 24 with limited services, the GRPL announced Monday. The plan is pending its Board of Commissioners’ approval at their Feb. 23 meeting.

The library’s eight branches have been closed since Nov. due to the pandemic, with curbside pickup and virtual resources offered during that time.

As part of Phase III of the GRPL’s reopening plan, services planned to return include:

  • Material browsing in the branches’ stacks, with only limited popular browsing at the Main Library and a retrieval services for its other collections.
  • Holds pickup
  • Reference questions
  • Library account assistance
  • Public computers and Wi-Fi
  • Free printing, copying, scanning, and faxing
  • Research by appointment-only in the Grand Rapids History & Special Collections department

Visits at all branches will be limited to 30 minutes. Library hours will be reduced from their normal hours, and are already available on the Hours and Locations page on the GRPL’s website. The library’s curbside pick services and virtual resources will also continue.

More details about the GRPL’s phased reopening plan are available on its website.


Kent County Health Department reports continued decline in county’s COVID-19 case growth

Kent County’s rate of new COVID-19 cases is continuing to decline, the Kent County Health Department (KCHD) reported on Thursday. The downward trend comes as vaccinations continue across the county.

An average of about 80 new cases per day were reported in Kent County over the last week, compared to an average of almost 800 new cases per day a few months ago, said KCHD Director Dr. Adam London in a video update. The county’s rate of tests coming back positive has also fallen below 5 percent for the first time since mid-Oct.

Now, a number that's going up, London said,is the number of people who have received vaccine here in Kent County and around the state.”

So far in Kent County, 83,000 residents have received the first dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, with about 46,000 having received the second dose. London notes that the current total ends up being around 13 percent of the eligible population who have received vaccine.

We are encouraged,” said London of the data. We’re optimistic that the number of people who are vaccinated continues to increase.”

Now, we know we've got some work to do yet,” he continued.This virus isn't going away. There are new variants that have arrived, so we need to continue to have people follow our recommendations about wearing face masks, social distancing, hand hygiene, and sanitation.”

Priority groups currently eligible in Michigan for vaccines include people age 65 and older, healthcare workers, essential workers such as teachers and police, and others in Phases 1A and 1B of the state’s vaccine rollout plan.

More information about vaccine eligibility and registration in Kent County is available at Up-to-date data on administered vaccine in the county is available on the KCHD’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard on its website.


Avenue for the Arts hosting virtual skills-building talks for creative professionals in March

Local nonprofit Avenue for the Arts will be hosting its sixth annual Break it Down | Make it Better skills-building conference throughout March – in continuation of its mission to support Grand Rapids artists and creatives.

Taking place virtually this year in light of the pandemic, the free conference will be split into four two-hour talks every Thursday in March from 7-9pm. It will stream live through Avenue for the Arts’ Facebook page.

An announcement on panelists is forthcoming, with past panelists featuring a range of local creative professionals, such as art curators, arts journalists, teachers, and more. Among panelists have been current-Grand Rapids poet laureate Kyd Kane, UICA Executive Director Miranda Krajniak, and jazz singer and Ebony Road Players Executive Director Edye Evans Hyde.

Topics for this year’s talks are:

More details about the conference will be made available on Avenue for the Arts' Break it Down | Make it Better website.


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