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Community Updates: Friday, July 1

Together West Michigan rallies the city for change; the City of Grand Rapids reminds citizens of holiday closings and firework safety; and more
The lights of downtown Grand Rapids at night

The lights of downtown Grand Rapids at night /Antonia Enos Burrows

Together West Michigan Rallies the City for Change

On Thursday, June 30, hundreds of people marched to, and gathered within, Westminster Presbyterian Church -- hoping to bring significant change to Grand Rapids and amplify the community's voice. The gathering was hosted by Together West Michigan (TWM), an organization focused on establishing "relationships across lines that tend to divide our community" and making West Michigan a more inclusive place to call home. One of the co-chairs of Thursday's event, Reverend Lynette Sparks, had this to say about the organization:

"We began building Together West Michigan to empower those who feel they have no voice. To date, Together West Michigan represents and serves over 18,000 people from 20 member congregations and organizations who don't normally have a seat at the table of power. And we have only just begun!"

Members of multiple local nonprofits/community organizations attended the event, as did leaders/congregants of various religious institutions and government representatives (such as U.S. Representative Peter Meijer and multiple Kent County and Grand Rapids City Commissioners). This event was also the first time that TWM shared the issues it plans to face with the community, the list of which had been established in response to feedback from approximately 1,300 people over the course of three months. These issues include adequate access to transportation and housing, mental health services, resources and aid for immigrants, increased public safety, and affordable childcare. According to a media release, around 500 people pledged their support these issues on Thursday, including numerous elected officials. 

The event was recorded and posted on Westminster Presbyterian's YouTube channel. It can also be viewed below:


The City of Grand Rapids Reminds Citizens of Holiday Closings and Firework Safety

As the Independence Day holiday grows increasingly closer, the City of Grand Rapids has put out a couple of statements reminding citizens of upcoming closings and service delays. As usual, in observance of Independence Day, city offices will be closed on July 4. This includes all branches of the Grand Rapids Public Library and City Hall. However, these closures will not extend to any emergency departments (such as the Grand Rapids Police Department/Grand Rapids Fire Department) or city-owned pools/splash pads. Additionally, refuse (garbage/recycling) collection will experience a one-day delay.

Kent County has announced that all county offices will be closed for the holiday as well, excluding the Kent County Correctional Facility.   

The City of Grand Rapids is also reminding citizens that city ordinance contains rules about the use of consumer-grade fireworks (per Michigan law) and dictates that they may only be set off between the hours of 11:00am to 11:45pm on June 29 through July 4. Violations of these ordinances can result in "a civil fine of $1,000 for each violation." In addition, the Grand Rapids Fire Department is asking people to take precautionary measures when lighting fireworks, especially due to the recent dry conditions/lack of rain in Grand Rapids. Here are some helpful safety tips that GRFD shared in a Wednesday press release:

  • Practice proper distancing (make sure any spectators are a safe distance away and that the individual doing the igniting does not have any part of their body over the firework)
  • Make sure to read any and all firework instructions carefully and thoroughly
  • Make sure that children are supervised at all times and that they are not putting themselves at risk of injury
  • Do not use any homemade or illegal fireworks
  • Do not ignite fireworks while under the influence of drugs or alcohol


Also in the News:

  • The City of Grand Rapids and Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort have announced that this year's community celebration and fireworks show will take place on Saturday, July 2 at Ah-Nab-Awen Park. The fireworks display itself will start at 10:30pm, but will be preceded by live music, family activities, food, and other vendors beginning at 6:00pm. For more information about the 2022 Independence Day Celebration, visit the Grand Rapids Fireworks website here.


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