News Briefs 8/21/17

| 8/20/17 9:53pm

Naming ceremony for new performing arts center announced

The new performing arts center has now been formally named the Thomas J. and Marcia J. Haas Center for Performing Arts in recognition of the endowments made by the Grand Valley State University president and his wife.

A ceremony to commemorate this naming will be held Friday, Aug. 25, in the Louis Armstrong Theatre on the Allendale Campus from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Remarks will be given at 2:15 p.m.

Smartburner being tested in GV living centers

A new stovetop burner is being tested in various living centers around Grand Valley State University’s Allendale Campus to prevent cooking fires.

The Smartburner, developed by Pioneering Technology, is a flat stovetop burner designed to replace the electric coil burners installed in many GVSU kitchenettes. The new burners are supposed to cook food “more evenly” and automatically shut off once a certain temperature is reached, reducing the amount of instances where fire alarms are set off because of burning food.

Six Smartburners were installed in the new Holton-Hooker Learning and Living Center in common area kitchenettes, and data shows a decrease in the amount of fire alarm related incidents because of it.

Now, 25 more Smartburners will be installed in other living centers for the 2017-18 school year on GVSU’s Allendale Campus to further test the effectiveness of the new burners.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, cooking is the number one cause of household fires and fire injuries.

John Ball Zoo adds new exhibit

Wyatt, the red panda, is the newest addition to Grand Rapid's John Ball Zoo.

The 5-year-old red panda is so popular, according to marketing manager Krys Bylund, that the viewing deck is not big enough to hold the crowds.

“Everybody loves him,” Bylund said. “He's running up trees, running all over the place. People stick around and watch him because he's so fun.”

Wyatt was brought over from the Chattanooga Zoo and is on the endangered species list under the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Red pandas are a part of a species survival plan by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. There are fewer than 10,000 red pandas left in the world. The program is designed to grow the captive population of red pandas in the hopes of someday releasing them into the wild.

Red pandas are native to the cool climate of the Himalayas, so Bylund said special accommodations have been made to make his exhibit climate controlled to deal with the Michigan heat.

Despite its name, the red panda is not in any way related to the giant panda. Red pandas are considered to be in a classification of their own. Its closest living relative is the American racoon, but according to Bylund, there is still no genetic relation.

GV alumnus retires from Grand Rapids city manager position

Greg Sundstrom, who has been working for the city of Grand Rapids since 1981, is retiring.

A Grand Valley State University graduate, he began his position as city manager for Grand Rapids in 2009 during the economic recession.

His recent heart valve replacement surgery is one of many factors contributing to his retirement. According to an MLive.com article, he has recovered well from the surgery but wants to make the most of his health while it lasts. Sundstrom is 60 years old.

In the same article, Sundstrom insisted his retirement is of his own volition and that he has not been pressured by anyone to leave his position.

Up-and-coming movie theater opening in downtown Grand Rapids

In a bid to attract more business to downtown Grand Rapids, the Downtown Development Authority has voted to approve a nine-screen Studio C Celebration! Cinema movie theater for construction. The Grand Rapids City Commission has voted to approve the bid as well.

The theater is part of a multi-faceted proposal designed to include housing, a hotel, parking, retail and office space in a lot south of the Van Andel Arena.

The proposal was announced by J.D. Loeks, president of Loeks Theatres. He is the grandchild of Jack Loeks, who acquired the Powers Theatre in 1944 on Pearl Street, which later became the Midtown Theatre. The Studio C theater will be the first downtown movie theater in Grand Rapids since the Midtown closed in the 1970s.

The company website says the theater “will continue the legacy of innovation by offering a theatre for the next generation of moviegoers.”

Celebration! Cinemas is the market leader in movie theaters in Western and Central Michigan. 

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