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Ottawa Co. distributing 17,000 free sandbags

GRAND HAVEN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WZZM) -- Concerns are growing by the minute in Ottawa County, along with the rising waters of the Grand River. The county is distributing 17,000 sandbags and many people have already taken advantage.

Chuck Larsen's backyard has become a battleground between him and nature. "Hopefully we can last out the crest and won't get flooded out," says Larsen as he places sandbags on the ground.

Larsen is one of several residents that WZZM 13 found picking up sandbags at the Grand Haven Township Fire Department.

"Water's coming up fast," said one man collecting free sandbags.

The fire department is just one hub in charge of distributing some of the county's 17,000 sandbags. They're going to other local governments and residents in need.

"We've delivered 2,500 just today and several hundred yesterday as well," says Tom Gerencer, Grand Haven Township Fire Chief.

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Holland Mayor: Projects paying off during flooding

HOLLAND, Mich. (WZZM) -- Holland's mayor says a number of city improvement projects over the summer are paying off during the recent flooding.

Mayor Kurt Dykstra says one of the most important projects was at the wastewater treatment plant. He says the updated system makes it easier to filter out the largest debris before the wastewater is treated.

The mayor says the updated system, along with other street improvements, kept flooding under control.

"I know for a fact that we would have seen overflowing of the sewage treatment plant, and in places like the Windmill Island area, we would have seen it flooded out like we did three or four years ago," says Mayor Dykstra.

The mayor says the city will review areas that were hit by the flooding this week and then decide if additional studies or improvements are needed.

Free sandbags available to Ottawa Co. residents

OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich. (WZZM) -- The Ottawa County Emergency Management office is making sandbags available to residents. Officials say they have distributed 17,000 sandbags to communities around the county.

More information from the county about obtaining sandbags and road closures is below: 

With the Grand River expected to crest on Sunday in Ottawa County at a record 18.4 inches, citizens are urged to prepare for the weekend. Residents should contact their local township or city office to obtain bags and check for "after-hours" dissemination. Sand can be purchased through several suppliers. (Listed below)

It is important to only fill sandbags just over half full allowing the sand can settle to fill voids in the wall once it is built. Along with placing sandbags where water is expected to rise quickly, residents are advised to take precautionary measures such as raising items off of the ground level.

Western Michigan University singer wins opera competition

Western Michigan University singer wins opera competition

GRAND RAPIDS (Opera Grand Rapids & WZZM 13) – A record number of students entered Opera Grand Rapids’ annual Collegiate Vocal Competition, but only nine though made it to the competition’s Final Round Concert on Sunday, April 14.

At the end of the parade of opera arias, Chelsea Helm, a soprano from Western Michigan University, took first place.   Andrea Fleming of Grand Valley State University claimed second place, and Hope College’s Jenna Buck took home third place.

Nearly 200 people turned out for the free final round concert at the Betty Van Andel Opera Center. Divided into two divisions, the annual competition provides an opportunity for regional vocal students to compete in a professional atmosphere, while gaining valuable feedback from the judges. This was the first year Western Michigan University was eligible for the regional competition.

Final round judges:

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Spartan Stores named one of America's most trustworthy companies

Spartan Stores named one of America's most trustworthy companies

(Spartan Stores) –  Spartan Stores, Inc., a leading regional grocery distributor and retailer, was recently recognized by Forbes Magazine in their annual "America’s 100 Most Trustworthy Companies" list.  

“We are pleased to receive this distinction by Forbes as one of America’s Most Trustworthy Companies,” stated Dennis Eidson, Spartan’s President and Chief Executive Officer.  “We are committed to being transparent with all of our customers, shareholders, and business partners while continuing to operate the business based on our core principles of honesty and integrity.”

Forbes turned to GMI Ratings, a pioneer in the application of non-traditional risk measures for financial analysis, to identify the most transparent and trustworthy businesses that trade on American exchanges.

Family members step up efforts to find missing man

BIG RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) -- Family members of a Michigan man whose car was found in a remote area of Mark Twain National Forest in southern Missouri are stepping up efforts to find him.

The Holland Sentinel reports Fred Byrne's brother-in-law compiled a list of more than 70 counties between Holland, Mich., and Carter County, Mo., where his car was found. Family members plan to call law enforcement agencies.

The 49-year-old Big Rapids man has been missing since Feb. 12, when he dropped his son at Hope College in Holland and visited his mother.

Byrne's Chevy Malibu was found along a forest service road near Van Buren, Mo., about 160 miles southwest of St. Louis and roughly 560 miles from where he was last seen.

The car might have passed through Indiana and Illinois.

Boston Marathon: At least 97 from West Mich.

BOSTON, Mass. (WZZM) - According to the Boston Marathon's website, at least 97 runners from West Michigan registered for Monday's race; however at least 19 local entrants were not listed on the race results page.

Organizers stopped the race shortly after two explosions erupted around 2:45 p.m. near the finish line. Not every entrant had finished the race at that time.

This year, 26 people from Grand Rapids registered for the Boston Marathon, but two men, 29-year-old Chad Yerrick and 65-year-old John Campbell, were not listed on the race results page.

From Holland, 14 people entered the Boston Marathon, but six were not listed on the race results page. Their names include 35-year-old Virginia Beard, 49-year-old Rick Ganzi, 60-year-old Lin Light, 56-year-old Carol Neckel, 61-year-old Dave Willard and 46-year-old Nancy Wooley.