As a result of a massive mosquito surveillance project conducted by the environmental health division at the Kent County Health Department (KCHD), this season’s first positive specimen of West Nile Virus (WNV) has been discovered. THIS IS NOT A HUMAN CASE. The positive sample was found in a pool of tested mosquitoes from the zip code 49504 in the city of Grand Rapids. The sample that yielded the positive result was collected between Tuesday July 28th and Thursday July 30, 2015. The Kent County Health Department has been capturing and testing mosquitoes in 11 traps strategically placed throughout the county since early June. The traps, known as a Gravid trap, were placed in the 49503, 49504, 49507 and 49519 zip codes. That work will continue until Labor Day. “This finding is significant because this is our first alert to the presence of West Nile as it begins to surface at this time of the year,” says Adam London, Administrative Health Officer with KCHD. “The fact that we have found West Nile in only one area does not mean that it is confined to that Zip Code. We expect West Nile to be present to some degree until the first frost. We want people to be aware that they can greatly reduce their own risks by taking some simple precautions.” Prevention is critical in the fight against WNV an illness that can be deadly in some people, especially those with weakened immune systems and the elderly. The Kent County Health Department recommends wearing a mosquito repellant that contains 10 – 35% DEET, wearing light colored clothing and staying indoors during dusk. You can help stop mosquitoes from breeding by removing any standing water in your yard and keeping your lawn and shrubs cut. West Nile Virus was first detected in the United States in 1999. Since the first case was diagnosed in Michigan in 2001 more than 1100 people have been diagnosed with the disease. 92 people have died. In 2001 and again in 2012, Kent County had the second highest number of West Nile cases in the state. More about West Nile Virus can be found here.
Kent County is now accepting bids via Requests for Proposals (RFP) for its building at 82 Ionia NW. The site is located in a desirable downtown Grand Rapids location, at the corner of Ionia and Fountain NW. Friend of the Court, Circuit Court Probation, the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and Community Housing and Development are currently housed in the building. (Earlier this year, Veterans Services moved from the site to a location at 836 Fuller Ave. NE, near I-196.) The County and Progressive A&E recently completed a 2015 Space Needs Study, the first done in more than a decade. The study looked at all of County-owned or leased property. Several buildings were not being used to their fullest potential, according to the research. Currently, just over half the space in 82 Ionia is occupied. “The study identified several buildings where the remaining departments can be housed, either on a permanent or temporary basis.” said Daryl Delabbio, County Administrator/Controller. “82 Ionia is in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids. We are that certain redevelopment of the building would contribute to the revitalization that’s been happening downtown.” The County initially leased the building beginning in 1998, and purchased it in 2005. Since that time the building has undergone several upgrades to its heating and cooling, fire monitoring, security and lighting systems, as well as skylight replacement. A few details about the property: Year of Original Construction: 1932 Site Acreage: 1.34 Building Square Feet: 108,000 Frontage on Fountain Street, Ionia Street and Division Avenue Proposals will be accepted until August 28, 2015. For more information on the RFP, go to www.accesskent.com/RFPPublishing/Request.jsp.
The Kent County Sheriff’s Department will be hosting the Fall Citizens Police Academy on Thursday, Sept. 20. Attendees will meet every Thursday for 11 consecutive weeks. Class will run from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. This interactive academy will give the citizens of Kent County the opportunity to experience all aspects of their sheriff’s department. Participants will get to go on patrol with a police officer, take a correctional facility tour, and go through some of the same split-second decision-making training that is a requirement of police officers. Crime scene technicians, detectives, the tactical team and marine unit will also be a part of the learning experience. For more information or to sign up for this academy, please visit www.accesskent.com, click on Courts & Law Enforcement, and then click on Sheriff Department. For additional questions, please contact Sandi Jones at the Kent County Sheriff’s Office (616) 632-6221 or e-mail her at email@example.com.
Townships consider cost agreements for sewer infrastructure by BETH ALTENA “What you see happening in 2012 is what we anticipated in 1997 and perhaps earlier.” During Plainfield Township’s Monday, July 2 board meeting, Plainfield Township Manager Robert Homan discussed a proposed agreement for the North Kent Sewer Authority (NKSA) management and staff replace the Kent County DPW in providing management and operational services for the North Kent Sewage Disposal System starting October 1 of this year. The board considered aspects of an agreement which will divide up how members of the NKSA will maintain the infrastructure—pipes, motors, lift stations, etc.—which takes wastewater from residential homes and businesses in each community to the wastewater treatment plant on Coit Avenue. The City of Rockford and the townships of Alpine, Cannon, Courtland and Plainfield make up the NKSA. Of the five communities that have been allied in the creation of NKSA, two, Courtland Township and the City of Rockford, would continue maintaining their individual collection systems under the terms of the agreement. Rockford has maintained its own sewer structure with their Department of Public Works for decades. Courtland Township a year ago hired a private company to maintain the sewer lines and take care of any failures of the system as they arise. However, both Rockford and Courtland Township will participate in the agreement as NKSA partners and co-owners of those portions of the North Kent system used by more than one community. An example of this is a large sewer main that runs down Belding Road, carrying wastewater from Courtland and Cannon townships. Homan refers to the document as an addition to the original agreement creating the NKSA. An agreement with Kent County for maintenance of the sewer lines expired in 2008, and was not renewed, but the county agreed to a five-year extension to give communities time to decide how and who would be responsible for the operation of the system in the future. NKSA’s solution is to do it themselves. With a competent staff of six now managing and operating NKSA’s PARCC Side Clean Water Plant and the addition of two former county employees plus one more person, members of NKSA believe by taking the job into their own hands they will maintain better control […]
Providing more with less, looking to the future a common thread by BETH ALTENA Representatives from the Rockford Chamber of Commerce, schools, City of Rockford, Kent County, the State House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate spoke Monday, Dec. 12, at Rockford High School, presenting a variety of opinions about the state of our community. A common theme of looking ahead to face challenges of our state and country as well as accomplishments achieved seemed to run through the discussions. Rockford’s Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Shibler spoke first, describing the district’s work on long- and short-term goals. He explained that in his early years with Rockford, he helped establish a Ram Action Model for Success (RAMS), now in its eighth cycle of three-year comprehensive plans. He said each RAMS plan takes into account the opinions of residents across the demographic spectrum—from empty-nesters, business people, seniors, parents of school-age children, etc.—who took surveys, including answering questions and providing narratives. Shibler said the district began the process in 1989 because the school leadership felt it was important for the community to decide what is important to the district. He said despite increasing financial challenges, the RAMS has helped the district complete 96 to 97 percent of the identified goals. He pointed out that Rockford Public Schools is a base-foundation district—among those schools in Michigan who receive the lowest level of funding per student. Today, he said, Rockford receives $7,046 per student, compared to $7,300 per student the district annually received in 2008. He said in 2012, cuts may bring the per-student funding for the district to $6,846. Despite continued lower finances, Shibler reported that Rockford is fortunate to have “a performance school district.” Rockford and East Grand Rapids are the only two districts in Kent County to have all schools receive As in state evaluation, and the only large district in the state of Michigan to receive the all-A recognition. In 1994 Rockford became the only school in the state to offer a guaranteed diploma—students who fail to be successful in jobs that require high-school level skills can return to receive additional education at no charge. This year, 50 juniors received a 30 or higher on their ACT tests, and the Rockford marching band earned the […]