The Rapidian Home

Community Updates: Friday, January 6

New and incumbent Kent County Commissioners take oaths of office on Tuesday; Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. reminds Grand Rapidians that World of Winter will return to downtown on Friday; and more
The buildings of downtown Grand Rapids (including McKay Tower, Amway Grand, & Bridgewater Place) as seen from a distance

The buildings of downtown Grand Rapids (including McKay Tower, Amway Grand, & Bridgewater Place) as seen from a distance /John Rothwell

New and Incumbent Kent County Commissioners Take Oaths of Office on Tuesday

Kent County has announced that, at its meeting on January 3, twenty-one County Commissioners (eight new members and thirteen incumbents) officially took their oaths of office for the 2023-2024 term.

The representatives for two new districts, District 20 & District 21, were elected in 2022.  According to Tuesday's press release, "as a result of redistricting, the Board of Commissioners was enlarged from nineteen to twenty-one Commissioners." This change was adopted in 2021, though it was met with some resistance in the form of a lawsuit filed by the League of Women Voters of Michigan and accusations of partisan gerrymandering. District 3, District 4, District 5, District 15, District 17, and District 19 also elected new Commissioners in 2022 -- three Republicans and three Democrats.

The full Commission roster provided by Kent County can be found below:

Ben Greene 1 Republican
Tom Antor 2 Republican
Jennifer Merchant 3 Republican
Katie DeBoer 4 Republican
Dave Hildenbrand 5 Republican
Stan Stek 6 Republican
Stan Ponstein 7 Republican
Dan Burrill 8 Republican
Matt Kallman 9 Republican
Emily Brieve 10 Republican
Lindsey Thiel 11 Republican
Monica Sparks 12 Democrat
Michelle McCloud 13 Democrat
Carol Hennessy 14 Democrat
Lisa Oliver-King 15 Democrat
Melissa LaGrand 16 Democrat
Tony Baker 17 Democrat
Stephen Wooden 18 Democrat
Kris Pachla 19 Democrat
Ivan Diaz 20 Democrat
Walter Bujak 21 Republican

Several Commissioners were also chosen to serve in various leadership roles at Tuesday's meeting. Commissioner Stan Stek of District 6 was reselected as Chair of the Board while Commissioner Emily Brieve of District 10 was reselected as Vice-Chair of the Board. Commissioner Brieve will also serve as Chair of the Finance and Physical Resources Committee alongside Commissioner Stephen Wooden of District 18, Vice-Chair of the Finance and Physical Resources Committee and Minority Vice-Chair. Commissioner Dan Burrill of District 8 and Commissioner Lindsey Thiel of District 11 were chosen to be Chair and Vice-Chair of the Legislative and Human Resources Committee, respectively.

To learn more about the Kent County Commissioners, visit Kent County's website here. To see a calendar of upcoming County meetings, click here. To watch Tuesday's County Commission meeting (during which the Commissioners took their oaths of office), visit Kent County's YouTube channel or watch below:


Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. Reminds Grand Rapidians That World of Winter Will Return to Downtown on Friday

On Monday, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. (DGRI) made a Facebook post to remind the community that "The Midwest's Largest Winter Festival," World of Winter, is set to return to downtown Grand Rapids on Friday, January 6. The opening event, called "Glow It Up," will take place at 6:00pm on Friday at Ah-Nab-Awen Park and feature a luminary walk, a performance by DJ AB, food trucks, firepits, and balloon baskets.

The opening "Glow It Up" event will kick-off two-months worth of winter activities and events in downtown Grand Rapids, including various walking tours, story times, and musical performances. To see a full list of scheduled events, click here.

World of Winter also includes numerous outdoor art installations that attendees can enjoy -- either on their own or on one of the scheduled walking tours. For a full list of this year's World of Winter art installations, click here

World of Winter will continue in downtown Grand Rapids through Sunday, March 5.


Also in the News:

  • The Kent County Health Department (KCHD) has announced that it will be providing interested residents with free radon test kits to use in their homes in observance of National Radon Action Month. For more information, visit Kent County's website here.


Sharing Your Stories

The Rapidian encourages local residents to share their own stories related to civic, economic, and public health developments in the Grand Rapids area on The Rapidian’s platform. To get started as a community reporter, visit

The Rapidian, a program of the 501(c)3 nonprofit Community Media Center, relies on the community’s support to help cover the cost of training reporters and publishing content.

We need your help.

If each of our readers and content creators who values this community platform help support its creation and maintenance, The Rapidian can continue to educate and facilitate a conversation around issues for years to come.

Please support The Rapidian and make a contribution today.

Comments, like all content, are held to The Rapidian standards of civility and open identity as outlined in our Terms of Use and Values Statement. We reserve the right to remove any content that does not hold to these standards.