Category Archives: Community News

Muskegon Area District Library eliminates fines for children

The Muskegon Area District Library (MADL) will now eliminate children’s overdue fines for juvenile materials. Beginning in September, children and teens materials will no longer accrue overdue fines at any of MADL’s ten community branches.


The Board of Trustees unanimously approved this new initiative at its July 15 meeting. “We are committed to the Muskegon County’s common goal to improve early literacy in our community,” says Kelly Richards, Director, Muskegon Area District Library. “As children are getting back to school, this will help encourage reading for our youngest population and will remove barriers to access the library.”


Michigan is taking steps to improve the reading scores of our children with the new Read by Grade Three Law which is effective beginning with the 2019-2020 school year. By removing this barrier, the library’s early literacy efforts and outreach to the youngest learners will help increase school readiness for children in the Muskegon area. Unfortunately, 62.3% of third graders are not proficient in reading at Muskegon public schools.


White Lake Community Library and Hackley Public Library are also implementing this change. This will make it easier for hundreds of young library users in Muskegon County.


About the Muskegon Area District Library – www.


The Muskegon Area District Library is Muskegon County’s largest public library system with ten branch locations. It serves 105,000 residents of 20 municipalities and is open six days a week. The Muskegon Area District Library offers programs and entertainment, library services, on-line resources 24/7, and life-long learning for local residents. For more specific information about events at any branch library please contact the branch library directly.

For more information contact, or 231 737-6248

Michigan Irish Music Festival Celebrates 20 Years: free summer concerts and new cultural offerings highlight anniversary festivities

4-Day Festival Returns Sept. 12-15

The Michigan Irish Music Festival celebrates their 20th anniversary at Heritage Landing in downtown Muskegon September 12-15, featuring 26 musical acts on seven covered stages. The festival kicks off Thursday, September 12 with its Pub Preview Party featuring food, beverages, and three bands in the pub tent only. The full festival begins Friday.


In honor of their 20th year, the festival has plenty in store to delight patrons. Here are just a few things to keep your eye on:



Get in the Irish spirit by attending free concerts leading up to the festival! These three acts are direct from Ireland and bring with them a vast array of talent and experience – from traditional Celtic songs we all know and love to fresh, new compositions sure to inspire patrons young and old. Check them out before they take the stages at the 20th Michigan Irish Music Festival.


Tuesday August 20, 7:00 PM Shane Hennessy at McGraft Park Muskegon, MI


Thursday August 22, 12:00 PM Connla at Rosa Parks Circle Grand Rapids, MI


Tuesday August 27, 7:00 PM

Aoife Scott at the Montague Band Shell Montague, MI



Featuring Ashley Davis and John Doyle, Songwriters in the Round is new this year in the festival’s cultural area. The brainchild of Davis, this program will bring your favorite performers from the festival to an intimate session on the Galway Stage as they discuss their process in writing some of their most loved songs, giving audiences an insightful peek behind the curtain. Songwriters In The Round will be featured Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.




On Sunday, the festival will feature a foot parade through the festival grounds. Starting at 1:30 pm by the Wee Ones’ Area, patrons will be led by the Muskegon Regional Police Pipe and Drum Band and joined by performers, Celtic Canines, and more as they march through the festival. Patrons of all ages are encouraged to join in.


In addition to the anniversary festivities, the Celtic Kitchen and beverage stations serve authentic Irish food and drinks, while the Tea Room has non-alcoholic choices and treats in a relaxed atmosphere. Other activities include the Irish Market and Irish Store, children’s activities, a cultural center, and a session tent. FEIS, an Irish dance competition, and the Highland Games are held on Saturday. Sunday, Catholic mass at 9 am will be followed by a traditional Irish breakfast.


Advance tickets and passes for this year’s Michigan Irish Music Festival are available online through August 28, 2019. The festival offers an Early-In Free promotion on Friday only from 5 to 6 pm, sponsored by Family Financial Credit Union. Other major sponsors of the festival include G&L, Van’s Car Wash and Budweiser. The Delta Hotels by Marriott and Shoreline Inn are host hotels for the festival. For complete festival information, visit


For media information, call 231.683.2065.

Michigan’s Adventure Introduces New “Camp Snoopy” Area

Reimagined area features family-friendly roller coaster, playground and four additional rides

Michigan’s Adventure will debut its new Peanuts® themed kids’ area, Camp Snoopy, for Spring of 2020.  Camp Snoopy will feature five family rides, including a family-friendly roller coaster and beautiful natural landscaping with plenty of shaded seating and pathways that offer something to explore around every corner.


For 2020, Camp Snoopy adds five new rides aimed to please families with kids from toddlers to tweens:


  • Woodstock Express: Little thrill seekers can join parents and grandparents on this family roller coaster with plenty of ups and downs, just like the flight of Snoopy’s best bird buddy.


  • Beagle Scout Lookout: Adventurers board a version of a colorful hot air balloon and float high in the sky.


  • Mud Buggies: Kids climb aboard their very own all-terrain vehicle for a bouncy ride.


  • Camp Bus: This fun family ride takes passengers soaring up and down and all around on a wacky bus with Snoopy in the driver’s seat.


  • Trail Blazers: Riders buckle in and zoom around a track, like an off-road expedition.


In addition, the new Beagle Scout Acres features a large climb-and-play structure with lots of interactive features and things to climb.


“The significant expansion and imaginative theming of our children’s attractions reinforces Michigan’s Adventure as one of the region’s top destinations for families,” said Camille Jourden-Mark, Vice President and General Manager at Michigan’s Adventure. “The new Camp Snoopy joins attractions such as the award-winning Shivering Timbers roller coaster and WildWater Adventure water park in providing our guests with unique opportunities for creating family memories for generations to come.”


Season passes for the 2020 season are currently on sale at the lowest price of the season.  Guests purchasing a 2020 season pass will receive unlimited visits during the 2019 season.  Michigan’s Adventure opens for the 2020 season in May.  For more details visit



Michigan’s Adventure is the largest amusement park and water park in Michigan, offering more than 60 rides and attractions for thrill seekers of all ages.  The park is owned and operated by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (NYSE: FUN), a publicly traded partnership and one of the largest regional amusement-resort operators in the world. The Company owns and operates 11 amusement parks, four outdoor water parks, an indoor water park and resort accommodations totaling more than 2,300 rooms and more than 600 luxury RV sites. For more information, see

Camp Snoopy

New Studio Invites the Artistically Curious to Create a Masterpiece

Just north of the coursing Muskegon River, and located conveniently close to the bustle of downtown, an inviting new art studio has opened, specializing in helping individuals, families and teams make memories while exploring their creative side and getting to make real art for themselves. Programs and events are available for youth and adult community members to explore painting, sculpture, drawing and mixed media projects.


Art Creation Station is uniquely focused on providing a range of services for locals in the Greater Muskegon area to get creative, whether by scheduled or private Paint Parties, Fundraisers for local Non-Profits, or Team-building events for corporate and small business groups. The studio has seating for groups up to 30 participants, and typical evens last between 2 – 3 hours, during which each guest has the opportunity to create their own unique masterpiece, all while being guided by an experienced artist.


While the studio soft-opened over the Summer, the impending start of the school year and return to ‘normal’ routine for families provides the backdrop to the free Grand Opening event, featuring a Ribbon Cutting by the Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, scheduled for Sunday, the 22nd of September from 4pm-7pm at the studio – 200 Holton Road, Suite C, North Muskegon, MI 49445. Free refreshments and hors d’ouvres will be served to guests. Call (231) 719-8222 or email for questions or more information

United Way of the Lakeshore Day of Caring to honor vets, remember fallen officer, & support local daycare providers

United Way of the Lakeshore will be bringing hundreds of volunteers across Muskegon, Oceana, & Newaygo counties for their long-time tradition Day of Caring. On September 6th, 2019 over 400 volunteers are expected to be scattered across Muskegon County. These volunteers will be working in teams at 17 different projects throughout the community.


Last year, United Way paid a special tribute to local veterans who needed repairs and landscaping. This year they have expanded their scopes and will be working on veteran homes, early childhood centers, Johnny O Harris Park, Ryerson Creek, sending out hundreds of Thank You cards to those who serve and sorting school supplies to every public school district in Muskegon County & Muskegon Heights Academy.


“This Day of Service brings together representatives and teams from every community in the county,” says UWL Community Engagement Manager, Dominique Bunker. “We are working with our local businesses, nonprofits, club organizations, churches, politicians, schools, senior living facilities, and municipalities to coordinate the success of these projects. We also would like to thank Cannon Muskegon for their gracious support on being our lead sponsor, as well as Arconic and Consumers Energy. Without them, we would not be able to have the materials needed to make this possible.”


One of the biggest projects this year is the restoration of Johnny O. Harris Park, a memorial park in Muskegon Heights for fallen Police Officer Johnny O. Harris who passed away in the line of duty in 1975. Repainting the basketball courts, replacing swings, and clearing hundreds of feet of pathways are on the agenda for this project.


Another project called “Operation Gratitude” will be taking place with the community’s senior volunteers. Schools, churches, senior living facilities and more have pledged to write Thank You Cards for our local veterans, deployed troops, new recruits, and first responders. If you have a family member or loved one that you would like one of these thank you cards, please contact the United Way today at or call 231-332-4006.


The United Way of the Lakeshore is looking for more volunteers to make this day possible! The event will run 8:00 AM – 1:00 PM  on September 6th with a kickoff at the United Way of the Lakeshore’s office (31 E Clay Ave), and includes a free breakfast provided by the Lions Club and lunch brought to the volunteer sites. Oceana’s Day of Caring will be taking place on September 7th and Newaygo’s Day of Caring will be held October 4th. If you are interested in volunteering, or looking for more information about the different volunteer sites please visit or contact Dominique Bunker at or call 231-332-4006.


United Way of the Lakeshore is uniting to inspire change and build thriving communities. Our Bold Goal – 10,000 more working families meet their basic needs by 2025. For more information, contact United Way of the Lakeshore at 231-332-4047 or visit


Chiropractic center dedicates a day of proceeds to 12-year-old battling cancer

The office encouraged community members to follow #FightLikeBerks to keep up with Berkley’s progress.


SPRING LAKE, Mich. — It’s a day of giving for Weiss Chiropractic Wellness Center. The organization donated 100% of its proceeds Tuesday to Berkley Samdal, a 12-year-old girl battling Leukemia.


Dr. Mike Weiss, owner of Weiss Chiropractic, said the gift came as a result of his mother Lois, commonly referred to as Bubba, who died six years ago and her dedication to children and family in need. His organization, We Fight for Bubba, financially aids one family each year whose child is battling cancer.


Read more at 13 On Your Side.

3rd Annual Play with Purpose Charity Hockey Game put on by Muskegon Lumberjacks owner Bob Kaiser

The third annual Gallagher-Kaiser (GK) Play With Purpose Charity Hockey Game presented by Hockey Has Heart, will be held on Friday, August 16th at USA Hockey Arena. The game will feature many top name hockey players from the NHL, NCAA, and USHL.


This year, the charity hockey game will be presented by Hockey Has Heart, with a portion of the proceeds used to support distracted driving awareness initiatives led by the PEERS Foundation, #HandsFreeMichigan, and B.R.A.K.E.S. The sponsors who are joining us this year will help put together a memorable event that increases awareness of the consequences that come from using a cell phone behind the wheel.


Today, with the help from local government leaders and USA Hockey, the annual event continues to grow, elevating support for distracted driving awareness to a national level. If this event can prevent a family from losing a loved one, or remind someone to put down their phone when behind the wheel, then it’s a success. This is a game that we all win.


“We are excited to once again be part of such a meaningful event,” said Bob Kaiser, owner and CEO of Gallagher-Kaiser. “As a company with a strong commitment to safety, we have continuously supported organizations dedicated to keeping our communities safe, with a primary focus on eliminating distracted driving. The Play With Purpose game provides an opportunity to have a great time with family and friends, while simultaneously raising awareness for a meaningful cause.”


The game continues to bring forth top talent from the hockey community, and this year is no exception. Notable players participating include current and former NHL players such as Zach Werenski, Danny DeKeyser, Steve Oleksy, Austin Czarnik, Kris Draper, Mickey Redmond, Joe Kocur, Dave Legwand, Darren McCarty, and Tie Domi. Play-by-Play Announcer for the Detroit Red Wings, Ken Daniels, will be our guest announcer.


Advanced tickets can be downloaded at, by calling (734) 453-8400 or by visiting the USA Hockey Arena Box Office located at 14900 Beck Road, Plymouth, MI, 48170. Tickets are available at the door on the day of the event on a first come, first served basis.


For more information regarding this event please contact Emily Bahr ( / 313.820.4922).

The second annual Great Lakes Surf Festival to be held on Saturday August 17th at Pere Marquette Beach in Muskegon

The second annual Great Lakes Surf Festival to be held on Saturday August 17th at Pere Marquette Beach in Muskegon, Michigan promises to utilize one of Michigan’s great natural resources: WAVES.


Imagine an event where people can go to dip their toes in incredible white sand, obtain a beginner board sport lesson, such as learning to surf, SUP, or kayak, enjoy yoga, art, and music and also camp a few steps away from the water? If you are thinking California or Florida then you are wrong. This is what the second annual Great Lakes Surf Festival has in store for thousands of Great Lakes of boardheads, artists, and yogis. The one day event is scheduled to be help on Saturday August 17th at Pere Marquette Beach in Muskegon, Michigan.


While this event promises to be a board rider’s nirvana, one of the most appealing aspects of participating in this festival will be the opportunity to camp directly on the beach, just a few steps from the water. Tent camping, at a specified section of Pere Marquette Beach, will be available for the nights of Friday, August 16th and Saturday August 17th.


Event Co-Founder Joe Bidawid is excited about what’s on slate for this second year; “We are excited to see the Great Lakes Surf Festival grow and to have the support from our sponsors and from the surf and paddleboard industry. We have one of the most beautiful venue locations on the Great Lakes, in Pere Marquette Beach, and we encourage anyone interested in a fun and family friendly beach day to come out and join us.”

Groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate new playground at John Ball Zoo

John Ball Zoo LogoJohn Ball Zoo continues to move forward with its comprehensive plans to enhance not only the Zoo itself but also the surrounding park with the announcement of a new playground.


The playground project will begin with a groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday, August 14th with planned guests, including; Father Robert Sirico of Sacred Heart Academy & Parish, Peter D’Arienzo, CEO of John Ball Zoo, along with leaders from Kent County, the City of Grand Rapids, and the John Ball Area Neighborhood.


The universally designed playground will allow all guests to access the playground to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. It also includes sensory features for the visually impaired. The location of the playground will be at the southeast side of John Ball Zoo’s park near Sacred Heart Academy.


Inclusiveness is an important component in both the design and also the planning of the playground. John Ball Zoo has been working closely with Sacred Heart Academy and the west side neighborhood to build a playground that is for the community with input by the community.


“It is touching to see the broad level of collaboration we’ve enjoyed from the community as we designed and get ready to build a playground by and for all. The love of community that has consistently been demonstrated through this work is the result of genuine engagement by numerous stakeholders,” said Peter D’Arienzo, CEO of John Ball Zoo.


John Ball Zoo did this by meeting with Sacred Heart and the west side community multiple times to not only announce their plan for a new playground but also to gain feedback on the design and location.


“It has been a privilege to work with Peter D’Arienzo and the entire team at John Ball Zoo in partnership to bring a new playground to our west side neighborhood,” said Father Robert Sirico of Sacred Heart Academy and Catholic Parish.


“The Sacred Heart Academy students are extremely excited about this new play structure and look forward to breaking it in this fall. Our Sacred Heart community is very fortunate to have such great neighbors,” added Father Sirico.


“We are thankful for the partnership with Sacred Heart Academy as the lead donor for this new community playground,” stated Michael Lomonaco, Chief Development and Community Engagement Officer at John Ball Zoo. “Their commitment to the community and supporting John Ball Zoo’s vision for creating a ‘Zoo for All’ is inspiring.”


The lead funding for the project came from a variety of sources including John Ball Zoo donors and Sacred Heart Academy. Zoo officials plan for the playground to be completed in September of 2019.


The groundbreaking ceremony will begin on Wednesday, August 14th at 10:00 a.m. with remarks beginning at 10:30 a.m. It will take place at the site of the new playground on park grounds at 1300 W. Fulton St., Grand Rapids. Additional information on John Ball Zoo can be found online at

Van’s Car Wash & Quick Lube Announces Winner of Jeep Giveaway

Van’s Car Wash & Quick Lube has been locally owned and managed, serving the community since it opened its first car wash on Sherman Blvd. in 1969. To celebrate 50 years of serving West Michigan, Van’s gave away a 2-year lease on a Jeep Compass with 100 free car washes, valued at $10,000.


Driving home with the prize is Judy Deur of Fremont. “I was really surprised. I didn’t believe him [Vanderstelt] when he first called because I didn’t enter the contest.” Judy’s husband, Phil Deur, had entered the contest online unbeknownst to Judy. “Phil laughed when I called him, and he said, ‘You won?! You really won?’ It’s not something you really expect to win.” Judy plans to use the Jeep to take several road trips in Michigan.


Van’s teamed up with Preferred Jeep/Chrysler of Muskegon for the contest. Over 2,400 people entered the drawing through Van’s website,, at all seven Van’s locations, as well as Taste of Muskegon and Muskegon’s 150th Celebration.


“I’m grateful for all who entered our contest. It was an incredible experience to call and tell someone that they were taking home a brand new Jeep,” said Jerry Vanderstelt. “It has been a wonderful way to celebrate 50 years of serving West Michigan, and we will continue to celebrate with monthly events through December.”


Van’s story began on October 15, 1930, when Gerritt Vanderstelt and his son Henry opened Van’s full-service gas station at 1087 W. Laketon Ave. in Muskegon. Their franchise would eventually expand to five locations. Henry Vanderstelt took over the company after his father’s passing. In 1979, Henry retired and his sons, Gary and John, took over the reins of the family business, which included a car wash and gas station on Sherman Blvd. In 1987, Gary decided to retire from the company and sold the original location on Laketon Ave., while his brother John continued to own and operate the full-service Sherman location. Two of their sons, Mike and Jerry, remained as the co-owners and operators of the company. Today, the family legacy continues under the current owner, Jerry Vanderstelt.


Currently, Jerry owns and manages seven locations in the Muskegon, Fruitport, and Fremont areas. Van’s Car Wash & Quick Lube are one of the few locations that prep and spot clean your car before the automated wash. Also, with each oil change or auto service purchased, customers receive a free car wash. Core services remain car washes and quick lube/oil change services. The Sherman location offers repairs and other maintenance. For a list of all locations and contest details, please visit