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My Town: New study debunks myths about those in need in West Michigan

My Town: New study debunks myths about those in need in West Michigan

COMSTOCK PARK, Mich.—An estimated 492,100 people rely on Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank to fill their plates and feed their families.

That’s according to a newly-released study, titled “Hunger in American 2014.”  The study found 46 million people nationwide count on Feeding America food banks each year.  In West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, the need includes 58,200 seniors and at least 119,400 children.

“This study shows us that the face of hunger looks a lot like the one we see in the mirror,” said Ken Estelle, CEO of Feeding America West Michigan. “Most of us are one or two catastrophic events away from being in the same position.”

The study shows in roughly one-third of client households, at least one adult had worked for pay in the last four weeks.  Additionally, 40 percent had some education beyond high school.

Returning Army sergeant surprises girlfriend at Whitecaps game

COMSTOCK PARK, Mich. (WZZM) -- An Army sergeant, home early from his third tour in the Middle East, decided to surprise his girlfriend Monday night at the Whitecaps game.

"I'm either expecting a slap or a kiss, so hopefully I get the later of the two -- or earlier. Maybe both. Who knows," said Sgt. Anthony Connell.

With some help from his friends, Sgt. Connell arranged for his girlfriend, Amber, to be called out onto the field for a contest at Fifth Third Ballpark.

Amber was given the choice of picking a small box with goodies inside or the big box with Anthony hiding inside.

She picked the big box, and once she saw him inside, she screamed and ran to hug him.

"I had no clue" something was up, she says.

After the surprise, the two settled in to watch the game.

My Town: New school proposed for Alpine Township

My Town: New school proposed for Alpine Township

ALPINE TOWNSHIP, Mich.—A new private school may soon open in Alpine Township.

Family of Christ Lutheran Church is asking the township planning commissioners to approve its plans to add a parochial school within its existing facility. The school would serve grades 2-12 to start, with kindergarten and first grades added as demand grows.  Planning Director Sue Becker says under the church’s proposal, the only addition to its existing location at 1100 Henze Drive would be an outdoor playground at a later date.

The church tells Becker they would like to start classes this September.  Private schools and churches are both zoned for special land use, so no rezoning is necessary.  However, developers are required to gain approval from the township before opening any private school.

Man sentenced for upskirting at Walmart

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- A Comstock Park man who took photos up shoppers' skirts at a Walmart was sentenced Wednesday.

Richard Taylor, 34, was intoxicated when he snapped the cell phone pictures at the Alpine Avenue Walmart back in May.

A shopper says she figured out Taylor was taking pictures after he stood too close to her in the store.

In court, Taylor said he continues to struggle against his demons.

"No excuses, I am a perverted person. From my past it is clear that this has affected my life since I was a child," he said.

Taylor was sentenced to between two and 14 years in prison.

School rankings show districts' points of pride, areas for improvement


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- Michigan's annual school accountability scorecards are out.


The report ranks schools according to factors like attendance and how well they meet goals set by the state's education department.


Schools that fall in the bottom five percent of the rankings are considered "priority" schools and are placed under the supervision of Michigan's school reform officer. There are 138 schools identified as "priority" schools. Nearly half of them are on that list for the fist time.


At least two West Michigan districts with priority schools also have schools among the state's top performers: Grand Rapids Public Schools and Godwin Heights Public Schools.


Hundreds of athletes begin 200 mile race across Michigan

COMSTOCK PARK, Mich. (WZZM)-- Hundreds of people toed the line Friday morning for a race honoring West Michigan's own Fred Meijer.

The Fred Meijer White Pine Trail Relay Race kicked off in Comstock Park around 6:30 a.m. Approximately 50 teams are taking part in this year's event, running the White Pine Trail to Cadillac and back. Some will run a total of 200 miles over the next two days.

The race is known as "The Fred," in memory of Fred Meijer, who was a major contributor to the White Pine Trail. This is the fourth year for the race, which is a fundraiser for the trail. Organizers added a new event this year- a 100 mile relay which will begin in Cadillac Friday night.

"We have 49 teams actually participating this year so we have more than 500 runners. That's not including drivers and their support crew... and all of our amazing volunteers," says one organizer.

Inside the August Primary: The close calls and votes cast

Inside the August Primary: The close calls and votes cast

LANSING, Mich.-- Fewer voters cast their ballots Tuesday than when Governor Rick Snyder was elected.

That's according to Fred Woodhams, spokesman for the Secretary of State's Office.  Woodhams says 1.3 million Michiganders visited the polls during the primary, accounting for approximately 20.3 percent of active voters. Active voters are defined by the Secretary of State as people who have voted within the last six years. Woodhams says approximately 17.9 percent of registered Michigan voters cast a ballot Tuesday, but that number may be skewed because people who have moved out of the state may still be registered to vote in Michigan.