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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.


Sparta Town & Country Days this weekend

SPARTA, Mich. (WZZM) -- The Sparta Town & Country Days, a summer tradition in Kent County, are going on right now. The festivities started on Wednesday and run through the weekend.

Friday is kid's day, featuring all kinds of fun for the little ones -- including pony rides, a stay and play kid zone, and a "kidsgroove" dance party.

Organizers say a key to Town & Country Days is the community's involvement.

"We have lots of events spread out throughout downtown Sparta," said volunteer Kristi Caine. "We just like to bring the community out for a great big party and have a good time."

One of the main events for the weekend is the run through Sparta Saturday morning.

The annual fireworks display at Balyeat Field has been rescheduled to Saturday, July 25 due to weather.

Learn more at this link.

MSP: Driver killed after losing control, hitting ambulance

SPARTA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WZZM) -- One person has died in multi-vehicle accident on M-37 involving a Life EMS ambulance, Michigan State Police said.

The crash happened around 12 p.m. Wednesday near 15 Mile Road.

Michigan State Police said the man who died is Douglas Lee Westra, 63 of Newaygo. Westra had been driving north on M-37 as traffic ahead of him was slowing down for the approaching, southbound ambulance, which had its lights and siren on. Westra went off the road to try avoiding traffic and lost control on the gravel shoulder. His vehicle then entered the lane and hit the ambulance. The collision pushed his vehicle into a third vehicle that had been following, MSP said. Westra was pronounced dead at the scene.

Sparta PD investigating business break-ins, seeks tips

SPARTA, Mich. (WZZM) -- The Sparta Police Department is asking for assistance from the public on identifying a suspect in several business break-ins.

The incidents happened last summer, in July and August, at Hickory's Auto Body, Maxine's Family Restaurant (the location of the surveillance video), Jacobsen's Floral & Greenhouse, Studio G Hair Salon and Tanning, and Superior International. All the incidents occurred well after dark.

The suspect is described as a white man in his late 20's to mid-30's, 5'10" to 6', with a medium build. He rode a bicycle, and investigators believe he lived in the Sparta area at the time of the crimes.

Anyone who may recognize this subject should call the Sparta Police Department at 616-887-7331 or Silent Observer at 616-454-9110.

Freedom Cruise Honor Ride remembers Navy SEAL David Warsen

SPARTA, Mich. (WZZM) -- Dozens of motorcycles and classic cars traveled from north and south to downtown Sparta Thursday evening for the Freedom Cruise Honor Ride remembering fallen Navy SEAL David Warsen.

One group of riders came from Davenport University south of Grand Rapids. The other came from Newaygo.

Warsen, from Kentwood, died in the line of duty in 2012. He and 10 others were killed when their helicopter was shot down over Afghanistan.

His family participated in events in Sparta Thursday evening. They were presented with a special flag.

In addition to the ceremony, there were bands, food, and family entertainment.

Freedom Cruise events last all weekend, including a Saturday night concert at the new amphitheater at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans. Warsen was honored again before the concert, when a portrait of him was unveiled.

Man killed in Algoma Twp. crash identified

ALGOMA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WZZM) --Algoma Township, Mich. (WZZM) - Neighbors say drivers frequently disobey the stop sign on Indian Lakes Road at Pine Island Drive in Algoma Township.

Thursday afternoon 39 year old Terrance Gage of Cedar Springs was killed when deputies say he sped through the stop sign and his jeep collided with a car headed north on Pine Island.

Charges dismissed in 2012 Sparta workplace fatality

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) - The Michigan Attorney General's office today said it is "exploring options'' after a Kent County judge on Monday dismissed criminal charges against the owner of a construction company for violating safety rules that led to a worker's 2012 death in Sparta.

Joe Novak, owner of Black River Builders in Zeeland, was charged with MIOSHA violations causing death for a July, 2012 accident that killed 38-year-old Brian Tarachanowicz. The case was dismissed Monday.

"We are still considering our options in terms of an appeal,'' spokeswoman Andrea Bitely said today.

The AG's office also has the option of taking the case to the Michigan Court of Appeals or authorizing a new warrant naming the company - and not its owner - as the defendant.