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Poor harvest leads to layoffs at Sparta Schools

Poor harvest leads to layoffs at Sparta Schools

SPARTA, Mich.—More than two dozen teachers and staff at Sparta Area Schools may not return next year, because of budget cuts.

On May 13, the Sparta Board of Education approved layoff notices for 29 teachers and staff. By contract, all members of the Sparta Education Association must be notified of their possible layoff for the next school year by May 15. However, Superintendent Kent Swinson remains hopeful some of the teachers will be called back before the next academic year begins.

Swinson says the district is facing a $2.3 million deficit, and is running out of people and programs to cut. The district has had to make cuts for nine consecutive years, but Swinson says in all his years as superintendent of Sparta Schools, this is the first time he’s had to lay off a teacher.

Swinson says last year’s poor harvest may be partly to blame for an enrollment decline at Sparta Schools and the subsequent deficit.

Stabenow's farm bill makes progress in Senate

SPARTA, Mich. (WZZM) -- The Federal Farm Bill is closer to a vote by the full Senate, now that it has passed the Senate Agricultural Committee.

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, the committee's chairwoman, was in Sparta Tuesday, championing the five-year farm bill that she helped write.

The measure will cut spending by $24 billion and creates crop insurance programs to help farmers, instead of direct assistance.

Stabenow says the farm bill has far-reaching effects.

"It relates to whether or not the farm will even exist, how high prices will be, whether they can get help for research for pests and disease," said Sen . Stabenow. "It really does relate to what foods will be available, what the prices will be-- all those things together are very important from a consumer's stand point."

This is the third attempt to get a five-year farm bill passed, but Stabenow is hopeful to get something on the president's desk soon.

Fish for free June 8 & 9

Fish for free June 8 & 9

All anglers can fish for free June 8 and 9.

As part of Free Fishing Weekend, the state is waiving all fishing license fees for residents and out-of-state visitors. Free Fishing Weekend applies to all species of fish in inland waters and Michigan’s Great Lakes.  All other fishing regulations still apply.

Michigan is home to more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, over 11,037 inland lakes and 36,350 miles of rivers and streams.  To find inland lakes in your area, click here.

Sparta Alternative School, "Englishville" hosts last Open House

Sparta Alternative School, "Englishville" hosts last Open House

Englishville Alternative High School in Sparta will be closing its’ doors at the end of the current school year after a 30 year history. But, before it closes for good, the school is inviting all students throughout the years to join in at an Open House from 2-5pm on Sunday, June 2nd at the school, located at 8285 Vinton Ave. in Sparta.

This High School was established to serve students from Sparta, Grant, Grand Rapids, Kenowa Hills, Comstock Park, Rockford and Cedar Springs. The school served students who struggled with required courses and feel behind in school credits.

Senator Stabenow to visit Sparta May 28 to push farm bill

Senator Stabenow to visit Sparta May 28 to push farm bill

SPARTA, Mich.—Senator Debbie Stabenow will join agricultural leaders in Sparta Tuesday to call for the approval of her  2013 farm bill.

Stabenow will visit May Farms Tuesday afternoon to discuss the bill, which includes $24 billion in agricultural program reforms.  The bill also cracks down on food assistance abuse.  For a summary of the 2013 farm bill, click here.

 The Senate Agriculture Committee passed the farm bill on May 14 by a 15-5 vote. The full Senate is expected to cast its final vote on the measure next week.  If the farm bill fails to pass by September 30, the U.S. will revert back to an agriculture policy put in place in the 1940s.

'Son Surf' Vacation Bible School begins June 17

'Son Surf' Vacation Bible School begins June 17

SPRING LAKE, Mich.―St. Mary’s Church in Spring Lake will host Vacation Bible School June 17 to June 21.

VBS is a week long summer camp for children that runs from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.  Children in entering kindergarten through sixth grade are invited to attend. 

Each morning, students and facilitators will meet together in the church gym to sing, pray and watch a skit before going into a series of break-out sessions.The final day of VBS culminates in the students celebrating mass together, followed by a short program and lunch for families. 

Parents interested in sending their children to VBS at St. Mary’s Church should print a registration form from the Parish website.

For further information, contact St. Mary’s Faith Formation office at (616) 842-2480.  St.

Downtown Sparta Farmers Market returns June 13

Downtown Sparta Farmers Market returns June 13

SPARTA, Mich.—If you’re craving fresh local produce, the wait is almost over!

The Downtown Sparta Farmers Market opens for the season June 13.

The market will be open on Wednesdays from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. through September 26.  It will take place in the ChoiceOne Bank parking lot, located at 72 N. Union.