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Two arrested after series of break-ins in Sparta

SPARTA, Mich. (WZZM) -- Police have arrested two people they believe are linked to a recent string of break-ins in Sparta.

An 18-year-old man faces charges of breaking and entering with intent to commit larceny at three separate locations. The second suspect, a 15-year-old was involved in one of those three crimes.

According to police, both confessed after being arrested on Monday, Oct. 5.

Since Sept. 22, the field house concession stand by the high school football field, Sundaes at the Park and a third business have been broken into. Cash, candy and electronics were stolen.

Both suspects have court dates set for Tuesday.

Check back for updates.

Larger-than-average yield expected for this year's apple crop

SPARTA, Mich. (WZZM) -- This year's apple crop is expected to produce at least one million more bushels than average.

This week is prime picking time for honey crisps.

Local growers say 2015 will be one of our state's vintage crops: about 110 percent of a normal season.

A lot of that is thanks to our cool weather, according to Phil Schwallier of Schwallier's Country Basket.

"Apples are a northern crop; they like cool weather so they like these nights. It got down to the 50s, so they really perform well for us," he said. "So we're gonna have a big crop this year, and they're really high quality they're nice large fruits, and right now they look like wonderful color as well."

Michigan is number three in the country in apple production, behind New York and Washington.

Military Wall Of Honor at Coopersville High School

Military Wall Of Honor at Coopersville High School

Warren Warber, a recently retired teacher from Coopersville High School, has started a project of remembrance. Warren was the industrial arts teacher for many, many years at the school. Although he was never able to enter any of the military branches because of a broken back, he  wants to have members of the military who graduated from Coopersville,  remembered on a wall near the high school’s west entrance where students getting on and off the buses each day are made aware of the sacrifices of war.

The Coopersville Rotary along with several other veterans groups are working with Mr. Warber on this project. The wall has been erected and now it is just a matter of people submitting their photo and military records to be posted on the wall. Several veterans from World War II have already sent their information along. Information and photos should be sent to: Wall of Honor, Coopersville Area Public Schools, 198 East St., Coopersville, MI. 49404

Grandfather gets prison for sexual assault of girl, 6

SPARTA, Mich. (WZZM) -- A 71-year-old Sparta grandfather who sexually assaulted a young girl apologized for the "mental pain and suffering'' he inflicted on the child; a final act of contrition before he was led away to prison for a minimum of 10 years.

"All I can say is I make a humble apology,'' Lawrence Norman Gibbons said. "I'm sorry for the mental pain and suffering I put her through and the mental anguish she'll have for the rest of her life.''

Gibbons in August pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct for having sex with the six-year-old girl, whom he knew, at his Sparta home last summer.

The victim's stepmother told Kent County Circuit Court Judge George Buth the girl, now 7, "is scarred for life.''

Sparta event offers chance to fly on historic Ford Tri-Motor airplane

SPARTA, Mich. (WZZM) - People in West Michigan are getting a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fly in a historic Ford Tri-Motor airplane. The Experimental Aircraft Association has brought its famous tour to the Sparta airport for this weekend's Great Lakes Aviators event.

"This is a very big deal for us," said Paul Kovalak, the chapter president for the organization. "We have an annual event, and we have been trying to get this thing for two years. We had to prove that we could handle it. We had to prove the airport could handle it. And, here it is."

Kovalak describes the four-day event as a car show for airplanes, and the Tri-Motor is the star attraction. The plane is also known as "The Tin Goose" because it is the first all-metal airplane ever built. Pilot John Maxfield gets the honor of flying it.

Sparta man to compete for World Statue Title

SPARTA, Mich. (WZZM) - An artist seen at ArtPrize is heading overseas to a world championship competition. Robert Shangle of Sparta, will represent the United States in the "World Living Statue Championships" on September 27th in the Netherlands.

Shangle won the time-based category in ArtPrize 2014. He participated in the 2009 world statue championships.


Celtic Festival in Sparta on Saturday, August 8th

Celtic Festival in Sparta on Saturday, August 8th

Whether you are Irish or not, Sparta, MI is the place to be on Saturday, August 8th for their Celtic Festival. The party begins at 10:45am at Rogers Park with the blessing of the Bagpipes!

The Festival will feature 5 Irish Bands, one of them being Pet in the Creel with Toby Bresnahan, five Dance Troupes, Celtic Food & Craft Vendors and a children’s area from noon until 5pm. At 9pm, Paddy’s Road takes the stage to close the festival.

Rogers Park is located at 75 N. Union St. Events will also take place at Balyeat Park, located at 208 Olmstead St.