Thousands of volunteers are fanning out along Great Lakes beaches Saturday for an annual trash pickup. An environmental group called the Alliance for the Great Lakes sponsors the Adopt-a-Beach program every September, as summer tourist season winds down. Teams target beaches and shorelines along all five of the lakes. It's part of a larger initiative called the International Coastal Cleanup, which draws millions of participants worldwide. 

Winnie Brinks Facebook

Michigan State Representative Winnie Brinks is looking to extend her career in politics, officially announcing her run for the State Senate in the 29th district Thursday afternoon in East Grand Rapids. Rep. Brinks, a Democrat, is running for the seat currently occupied by Republican State Senator David Hildenbrand.

“I’m just really gratified by all of the support that I have gotten," Rep. Brinks said. There are a lot of great folks here today, and feel like we have got a great chance with these folks behind me.”

Michigan board may declare LGBT discrimination unlawful

Sep 18, 2017

A long-stalled movement to make it illegal to discriminate against LGBT people may gain traction - not in the Legislature but with a Michigan board that is being asked to declare that such discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations is already unlawful under state law. The Michigan Civil Rights Commission will meet Monday to consider the request after two months of receiving public feedback. 

Heart of West Michigan. Used with permission

Over a thousand local volunteers came out Friday to take part in Heart of West Michigan United Way’s annual Day of Caring. With the goal of assisting local non-profits, the Day of Caring is the largest corporate volunteer event in West Michigan. 

“It never gets old to see people who are willing to give back,” Michelle Van Dyke, the president and CEO of Heart of West Michigan United Way said. “It’s just palpable. So it’s fun to see, but it’s not surprising, because this is West Michigan.” '

Downtown Grand Rapids

The Grand Rapids organization responsible for the development of Van Andel Arena, DeVos Place Convention Center, Downtown Market and the renovation and expansion of the Civic Theatre’s Meijer Majestic Theatre, just to name a few, is putting its mission on hold.

Pixabay | CC BY 2.0 /

One of nine Michigan insurers planning to sell health insurance on the federal marketplace in 2018 no longer will do so.

Health Alliance Plan said Friday the move affects about 9,100 people. It says it's leaving because of uncertainties related to premium stabilization programs, enforcement of the requirement to have insurance and not knowing if the Trump administration will continue funding cost-sharing subsidies.

The insurer says it's prepared to re-enter the government market "if and when the individual market stabilizes."

An expert who two years ago warned about dangerous lead levels in Flint, Michigan's drinking water has declared a qualified end to the crisis.

Virginia Tech researcher Marc Edwards said Friday that, after several rounds of testing, lead levels are back to normal - for a city with old lead pipes. He recommends the continued use of filters and warns of a "crisis of confidence" among residents who blame government for the water problems.

Edwards' team has collected samples from 138 Flint homes, with the fifth and likely final round last month.

Lake Michigan
3bylunch via Wikimedia | CC BY 2.0 /

Members of Congress are pushing federal agencies to update maps that provide information about potential environmental risks to the Great Lakes. T

he "Environmental Sensitivity Index" maps are maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Some haven't been revised in more than 20 years. The maps are detailed guides highlighting vulnerable locations, structures and natural resources near the lakeshores. They're used during emergencies to protect wildlife habitat, species and structures most likely to be affected by an oil spill or other disaster.

Michigan governor asks flags lowered for Marine's funeral

Sep 15, 2017

Michigan's governor is asking that flags around the state be lowered to half-staff Friday in honor of a Marine from southeastern Michigan who died during training. Gov. Rick Snyder's office says flags will be lowered at all state buildings and within the state Capitol complex in Lansing on the day of the funeral for Marine Pfc. Michael Giannattasio. 

Michigan capitol building
Michigan Senate /

Political candidates could solicit unlimited contributions for independent committees supporting them under Republican-sponsored bills advancing in Michigan's Legislature. Supporters of the legislation approved 23-12 Thursday by a divided Senate say it would codify into Michigan law unfettered political spending by independent committees that's legal under the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision and other rulings.