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School rankings show districts' points of pride, areas for improvement


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- Michigan's annual school accountability scorecards are out.


The report ranks schools according to factors like attendance and how well they meet goals set by the state's education department.


Schools that fall in the bottom five percent of the rankings are considered "priority" schools and are placed under the supervision of Michigan's school reform officer. There are 138 schools identified as "priority" schools. Nearly half of them are on that list for the fist time.


At least two West Michigan districts with priority schools also have schools among the state's top performers: Grand Rapids Public Schools and Godwin Heights Public Schools.


One dead in motorcycle crash on 17 Mile Rd.

UPDATE (4:15 p.m.)-- Michigan State Police are releasing the name of the motorcyclist killed in an early morning crash in Tyrone Township.

Troppers say 56-year-old Thomas Clemens was traveling west on 17 Mile when a car turned into his pathway. Clemens was from the Rockford area.

Michigan State Police have finished their on scene investigation and the road has since reopened to traffic.

TYRONE TWP., Mich. (WZZM) -- 17 Mile Road between Sparta Avenue and Barber Creek Avenue has reopened after a fatal crash involving a motorcycle and a car.

The crash happened just before 6:00 a.m.

Michigan State Police say that Cody Jerls, 28, was driving east on 17 Mile in a Chevy Impala when he went to turn left into a private driveway. He turned into the path of a motorcycle that was traveling west on 17 Mile and the motorcyclist broadsided the car.

Inside the August Primary: The close calls and votes cast

Inside the August Primary: The close calls and votes cast

LANSING, Mich.-- Fewer voters cast their ballots Tuesday than when Governor Rick Snyder was elected.

That's according to Fred Woodhams, spokesman for the Secretary of State's Office.  Woodhams says 1.3 million Michiganders visited the polls during the primary, accounting for approximately 20.3 percent of active voters. Active voters are defined by the Secretary of State as people who have voted within the last six years. Woodhams says approximately 17.9 percent of registered Michigan voters cast a ballot Tuesday, but that number may be skewed because people who have moved out of the state may still be registered to vote in Michigan.

My Town: Voters to decide key issues during Aug. 5 election

My Town: Voters to decide key issues during Aug. 5 election

Voters across West Michigan are expected to head to the polls Tuesday, Aug. 5 to decide some key issues and races.

Proposal 1 would alter Michigan’s tax infrastructure by eliminating equipment taxes for businesses that already pay taxes every year.  A portion of sales tax revenue that goes to the state treasury would be reallocated to local governments to cover the tax revenue loss.  Plainfield Township Superintendent Cameron Van Wyngarden says the ballot measure would make Michigan more economically competitive with other states.

My Town: Farmers who lost 2012 crop during freeze now eligible for funding

My Town: Farmers who lost 2012 crop during freeze now eligible for funding

SPARTA, Mich.—Fruit farmers whose crops were devastated because of the unusual spring weather in 2012 are now eligible for federal funding.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will begin taking applications Tuesday for Michigan farmers who lost their fruit crops due to the freeze.  The funding is available through the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program,  which was authorized in this year’s Farm Bill.

 “After the 2014 Farm Bill was enacted into law, USDA expedited the restart of disaster assistance programs as a top priority,” said FSA Administrator Juan Garcia. “Fruit producers experienced significant financial losses from weather-related damage in 2012. NAP provides them with long-awaited disaster relief.”

Sparta Town & Country Days underway

SPARTA, Mich. (WZZM) -- The Sparta Town and Country Days fair continues through Sunday.

One of the festival's premiere events is the Art in Sparta Competition and Exhibit. Cash prizes will be awarded to the winners.

Friday is kids day. There are activites like kickball, a youth fitness challenge, and carnival rides. Friday evening, there's also a pedal tractor pull.

Saturday's events include a parade at noon and an arm wrestling competition at two o'clock.

Learn more at this link.

My Town Sparta: Growing business filing for additional tax breaks

My Town Sparta: Growing business filing for additional tax breaks

SPARTA TOWNSHIP, Mich.—  A company recently awarded a $275,000 grant toward expanding in Sparta and Gaines townships is expected to get additional support from Sparta village council members.

On Monday, July 14, the village council is expected to vote on a resolution approving the application by Cascade Die Casting Group Inc. for an industrial facilities exemption certificate.

Last month, Cascade Die Casting Group, Inc. accepted a $275,000 Michigan Strategic Fund grant toward growing its facilities and adding equipment.  The $5.3 million investment will go toward new construction and purchasing die casting machines, trim presses and other manufacturing equipment.  The expansion is expected to lead to 50 new jobs.