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My Town: Johnny Appleseed helps kick off Harvest on the Ridge Sept. 20

My Town: Johnny Appleseed helps kick off Harvest on the Ridge Sept. 20

SPARTA, Mich.—Johnny Appleseed is on his way to Sparta to share his story of how “The Ridge” became filled with apple orchards.

Johnny will bring his trusted donkey, Levi for rides while entertaining children with his story and song.    His tale helps kick off this year’s Harvest on the Ridge festival in Sparta on Sept. 20.  This year’s event will include a couch racing fundraiser, the Dirty Apple Obstacle Run, a cupcake baking contest, an apple pie eating contest, hay rides, corn mazes, kids’ activities and a farmers’ market, all located in Rogers Park.

My Town: Start of school filled with photos and well-wishes

My Town: Start of school filled with photos and well-wishes

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- The 2014-2015 school year is officially underway for West Michigan students.

On Sept. 2, which was the official start of classes for most schools, State Superintendent Mike Flanagan released this statement: 

"It’s a great day to be Back to School in Michigan !

Let me take a moment to wish everyone a positive and successful school year.

Our team here at the Michigan Department of Education, the State Board of Education, and I appreciate the hard work and daily dedication teachers, administrators, school board members, and other school staff devote to our children in Michigan.

My Town Sparta: GriefShare support ministry welcomes all to free program

My Town Sparta: GriefShare support ministry welcomes all to free program

SPARTA, Mich.-- GriefShare Support Group is for anyone  who has lost a friend or family member from an accident, illness, suicide or cancer.

Sparta United Methodist Church hosts this free 13-week course two times a year. The next GriefShare course begins on Sept. 9 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and anyone interested is invited to come. The evening consists of watching a 30 minute DVD on different grief topics and situations. The remaining 30 to 60 minutes is spent sharing whatever is on the hearts of those attending. A participant can come to any or all of the meetings.

My Town Sparta: Movies in The Park kicks off Aug. 1 with 'The Nut Job'

My Town Sparta: Movies in The Park kicks off Aug. 1 with 'The Nut Job'

SPARTA, Mich.—Movies in the Park returns to Sparta this Friday with "The Nut Job".

The movie will air on a big screen in Roger’s Park starting at 8:30 p.m. Aug. 1. According to the Chamber’s Facebook page,  “The Nut Job” is about Surly,  a curmudgeon, independent squirrel that is banished from his park and forced to survive in the city. As winter approaches, he stumbles upon the one thing that may save his life- Maury's Nut Store.

On Aug. 22, Roger’s Park will welcome the Oscar Award winning feature film, "Frozen".  In this family-friendly film, the kingdom of Arendelle is cast into eternal winter by the powerful Snow Queen Elsa.  To break the icy spell, the queen’s sister teams up with a mountaineer and his trusty reindeer.

Movies in the Park runs until 10 p.m. in Roger’s Park, located at 75 N. Union in Sparta.

My Town: Rogue River Expedition deemed a success

My Town: Rogue River Expedition deemed a success

ROCKFORD, Mich.—Organizers of the inaugural Rogue River Expedition are calling the event a success.

More than 50 people participated in the three-day paddling and land tour of the river and its watershed.  The idea for the expedition originated from the 2010 Grand River Expedition, which involved hundreds of boaters who explored more than 250 miles of water over 12 days.  Because the Grand River Expedition is held only once a decade, its organizers decided to hold similar events on the Grand River’s larger tributaries.

The Rogue River Expedition kicked off in June with a land tour at Howard Christensen Nature Center and the Fruit Ridge Area, which is considered one of the best fruit-growing regions in the world.  The exploration also included trips to Rogers Park in Sparta, Nash Creek and Camp Rockford.

My Town: Heart of West Michigan United Way awards $3.3 million in community grants

My Town: Heart of West Michigan United Way awards $3.3 million in community grants

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—More than three dozen organizations and agencies helping people get back on their feet are getting millions of dollars in support.

The Heart of West Michigan United Way awarded $3.3 million in grants to 39 agencies that reach out to the community-from offering home-delivered meals to senior to after school care.

 “We value our partnership and believe a community that takes care of its friends and neighbors is a good place to live. By investing in the basic needs of the community, we are working together to help the people that are the most in need,” says Maureen Noe, president and CEO of Heart of West Michigan United Way.  “If people have their basic needs met, such as food, shelter and a safe home situation, they are able to focus on the future and take the next steps to improving their lives. “

This year’s grant recipients are: