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Community updates: Saturday, Aug. 1

Grand Rapids Police Department addresses city’s recent gun violence; State of Michigan launches online hub to help Michiganders learn new job skills amid economic strains; and Grand Rapids Symphony launches Sidewalk Serenades concert program.
Grand Rapids Symphony musicians performing outdoors.

Grand Rapids Symphony musicians performing outdoors. /Grand Rapids Symphony

Grand Rapids Police Department addresses city’s recent gun violence

Grand Rapids Police Department's (GRPD) Chief Eric Payne addressed Grand Rapids' rise in gun violence and homicides this year on Friday, affirming that the department's working diligently to combat the uptick.

Seven months into 2020, the city's now had 20 homicides, with 13 of them attributed to gun violence. In 2019, the city had 18 homicides for the entire year; 2018 had nine.

"The incidents of gun violence in Grand Rapids would be much higher if it wasn’t for the work our officers are doing – work that I know has helped prevent even more serious injuries and potential homicides from happening," said Payne.

"We are working proactively to get guns off the streets and combat the violence in our neighborhoods, while continuing to be responsive to resident complaints regarding such incidents."

Payne shared details of five gun-related arrests by the GRPD in July on the department's Facebook page, to highlight its continuing work to keep residents safe.

All five arrests occured on the city's southeast side between July 14 and 28, with nine handguns found in total. One of the people arrested confessed to the city's June 29 shooting and two of the people were recognized by police from previous shooting reports before arrest. Charges from the arrests include carrying a concealed weapon (CCW), felon in possession of firearm, and others.

"It is the diligence and commitment of all the officers in our department that will allow us to continue going after violent criminals, whose brazen actions directly affect the safety of our city," the police chief continued. "These five incidents I’ve highlighted are a testament to that."

"I would add, however, that we still need the community’s support in this fight and would encourage our residents to continue working with us in whatever manner they can to help us. Together we can keep our neighborhoods safe."

Details about the GRPD's policing policies and procedures are available on its website.


State of Michigan launches online hub to help Michiganders learn new job skills amid economic strains

Michigan's Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) launched a new website to help Michiganders learn new job skills amid current economic strains, LEO announced Wednesday.

The website,, offers a range of online training and career exploration options – many being free – that pulls from the state's 28 community colleges and 16 Michigan Works! agencies.

"With the economic disruption caused by COVID-19, it’s more important than ever that we help Michiganders improve their skills, explore in-demand career opportunities, and jumpstart educational opportunities," said LEO Director Jeff Donofrio.

"These online resources continue to expand opportunities for residents to connect with and succeed in high-demand, high-wage careers of the future."

Included in the site is a "Return-to-Work Playbook," which outlines available career and job-readiness resources for those reentering the work force after COVID-induced layoffs. Among these resources are step-by-step instructions for developing resumes, preparing for interviews, exploring new career paths, and finding free or inexpensive job training opportunities.

LEO's new site supports Michigan’s goal to increase the number of working-age adults with a skill certificate or college degree from 45% today to 60% by 2030. Details about the goal are available at


Grand Rapids Symphony launches Sidewalk Serenades concert program

The Grand Rapids Symphony (GRS) announced Wednesday its launch of a new outdoor, traveling concert program for residents interested in bringing a live symphony just outside their doorsteps.

Called Sidewalk Serenades, the new program offers area residents the chance to book 30-minute performances by GRS musicians for outdoor areas around their homes for up to 10 people. The cost per performance is $300.

"Enjoy a cozy concert just for you, in an intimate gathering of family and friends, as West Michigan’s finest musicians perform for you in the privacy of your own driveway," the GRS said in a Wednesday statement.

Availability for the outdoor performances are August 20-22 at either 6:30pm or 8pm and August 27-29 at the same times.

To ensure the safety of attendees and musicians, face coverings are required upon arrival and during the performances, and no food or drink will be allowed when musicians are present.

During August, many GRS musicians are also performing in their neighborhoods as part of the symphony's "From our Porch to Yours" series, available on Facebook and YouTube. As well, the symphony is partnering with select neighborhood associations to perform short "Pop Up in the Park" concerts in several locations.

More details about GRS' Sidewalk Serenades, including how to book a performance, are available on its website.


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