Gaines Township

Trial ordered for man charged in death of 4-year-old boy

Aug 9, 2017
Judge with gavel

A 25-year-old western Michigan man has been ordered to stand trial in the beating death of his girlfriend's 4-year-old son. A Grand Rapids judge found enough evidence Tuesday to order trial for Elis Nelson Ortiz-Nieves. He's charged with felony murder and first-degree child abuse in the June death of Giovanni Mejias in Gaines Township.


Dubbed the largest, most advanced data center campus in the eastern United States, the former Gaines Township Steelcase Pyramid has been transformed into the Switch Pyramid data center and it’s now open for business.

The first phase of the renovation is complete at the Switch Pyramid in Gaines Township providing 225,000 square feet of data center space. Over the next 10 years the build out will deliver a 1.8 million-square-foot data center campus.

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Authorities say two people say they dumped the body of a woman along a western Michigan road last week.

The Kent County sheriff's department says the body of 35-year-old April Renee Keenan, who lived in Grand Rapids and Jenison, was found Friday in Gaines Township by a woman who was walking.

Investigators say there were no external signs of trauma.

The sheriff's department says Tuesday that cause of death hasn't been determined, pending the results of toxicology tests.

The department says the two suspects are cooperating with investigators.

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Authorities in western Michigan say a 10-year-old girl made up a story about being abducted by a stranger before escaping.

The Kent County sheriff's office says the girl told investigators she was waiting for a school bus Tuesday morning near her home in Gaines Township when she decided to play in a nearby creek.

Sheriff's officials say the girl admitted she fabricated the story because she didn't want to get in trouble for missing the bus.

Switch | courtesy The Right Place

Construction is taking place at the site of a tech company's expansion into western Michigan and the data center is on track to open this year.

Roger Martin, a spokesman for the project by Nevada-based Switch, says in an email late Thursday that more than 70 workers from a number of western Michigan companies are working at the site in Kent County's Gaines Township.

Martin says the initial construction budget remains $400 million.

The data center will be based in a pyramid-shaped building that once housed office furniture maker Steelcase's research facility.

Switch | courtesy The Right Place

A proposed $5 billion investment in western Michigan spurred a flurry of recent legislative activity related to data center tax exemptions. 

That legislation passed both the state house and senate this week, clearing the way for data services provider Switch to begin construction at the former Steelcase pyramid building in Gaines Township.

"I believe that the ripple effect of this company coming here will be felt throughout the region," says Birgit Klohs, president and CEO of regional economic development agency The Right Place.

Existing data centers in Michigan want guarantees that they’ll get the same tax treatment as a proposed project near Grand Rapids.

Lawmakers could move as soon as this week on bills meant to lure Nevada-based company Switch to Michigan with big tax incentives.

The legislation includes breaks for all data centers, including existing ones.

But those companies worry it could still give Switch an unfair advantage.

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Skeletal remains found in Gaines Township over the weekend have been identified as Walter Garcia-Lopez, a 37-year-old male from Kent County.

The Kent County Sheriff’s Department says the remains were positively identified by dental records this week.

The Kent County Medical Examiner’s office attributed the cause of death to chronic alcohol abuse.

Authorities say Garcia-Lopez was born in Texas and had been living in Kent County. 

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Wikimedia | Matty Ring | CC BY 2.0 /

Authorities say a tip led investigators to skeletal remains in a wooded area near a roadway in western Michigan.
The Kent County sheriff's department says the call came in Sunday afternoon.

Deputies soon found the remains in Gaines Township just north of Michigan Highway 6.

In a statement, the department says no cause of death has been determined and no identification has been made.

An autopsy is planned Monday.