The Rapidian Home

Community updates: Thursday, Sept. 24

Grand Rapids Public Library reopening in Oct. with limited services; Kent County Sheriff’s Office gets $2.2 million in funding for new body, in-car cameras; and fifth annual Mayor’s Greening Initiative bringing 500 new trees to Garfield Park neighborhood.
Garfield Park during 2019's fall season.

Garfield Park during 2019's fall season. /Garfield Park Neighborhoods Association

Grand Rapids Public Library reopening in Oct. with limited services

The Grand Rapids Public Library (GRPL) is reopening all eight of its branches on Oct. 12 with limited services, it announced Wednesday.

The library’s branches closed in March due to the pandemic, with a phased reopening that saw curbside pickup services start in June and now access indoors for patrons next month.

Part of Phase III in its reopening plan, the return of indoor library access brings a limit of 30 minutes for patron visits, reduced capacity limits, closure of children’s play areas, meeting rooms, and study spaces, and more adjustments. COVID-19 safety measures will be in place, such as a face covering requirement and installed plexiglass shields at its service desks and self-check kiosks.

“Our facilities staff have modified our buildings and developed procedures that ensure the health and safety of everyone who walks through our doors,” said GRPL Director John McNaughton. “We took our time to get it right, and now we are ready to welcome our community back into our buildings.”

Among the many services available upon reopening are library account assistance, public computers and W-Fi, holds pickup, and free printing. Material browsing in the stacks will be available at all branches, except the Main Library, which will offer a retrieval service.

The GRPL to Go curbside pickup service at several of the GRPL’s branches will remain. Other physically-distanced services it began offering over the last six months, like ramped-up virtual programming, will also continue.

“Since we closed our doors in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, GRPL staff has been working behind the scenes to create safe and innovative ways for patrons to use their library,” McNaughton continued. “In the past six months we have launched virtual programs, a curbside pick up service, online library card registrations, virtual reference services, family-focused outdoor events, collaborative outreach initiatives, and much more.”

More details about the GRPL’s reopening plan are available on its website.


Kent County Sheriff’s Office gets $2.2 million in funding for new body, in-car cameras

The Kent County Sheriff’s Office is getting $2.2 million for new body cameras, in-car cameras, and tasers after receiving unanimous approval for the funding from the Kent County Board of Commissioners.

Requested by Kent County Sheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young, the funding will equip all 200 officers in the Sheriff’s Office with body-worn cameras and tasers, and replace in-car cameras for all 83 police cruisers.

According to a Thursday statement from Kent County’s Administrator’s Office, the new cameras are intended to bolster public accountability, and be combined with training and clearly-defined protocols for their use and for public access to video footage.

“This investment will allow for greater transparency for the residents in our community,” Sheriff LaJoye-Young said. “Body cameras offer real-time information about what happened on a call for service or with any public contact.”

“Plus, the footage from these calls can be used in training and monitoring exercises to strengthen the performance of our law enforcement officers in the field,” she added. “We’re very pleased that the Board of Commissioners agrees this is a valuable investment in strong and accountable law enforcement.”

Access to the Sheriff’s Office’s body-worn and in-car camera footage can be requested through the Freedom of Information Act Request page on Kent County’s website.


Fifth annual Mayor’s Greening Initiative bringing 500 new trees to Garfield Park neighborhood

The volunteer-led Mayor’s Greening Initiative in Grand Rapids will take place for its fifth year this Oct., with 500 new trees ready to be planted in the Garfield Park neighborhood.

The initiative brings community members together to plant trees in areas of Grand Rapids with low tree canopy cover and aims to help the City of Grand Rapids reach its goal of a 40 percent tree canopy across the city. Tree canopy refers to areas shaded by trees.

Hosted by Mayor Rosalynn Bliss, this year’s Greening Initiative will happen Friday, Oct. 9 from 9am-7pm and Saturday, Oct. 10 from 9am-3pm. The trees will be planted in the Garfield Park neighborhood on the city’s southeast side.

Trees play a critical role in cleaning our air, reducing stormwater runoff, beautifying our neighborhoods, and lowering stress,” said Bliss. “I hope community members will join me again this year in making our city a greener, more sustainable community.”

The annual event usually takes place around Arbor Day, which occurs on the last Friday in April. Arbor Day is an international holiday encouraging the planting of trees. Due to the pandemic, the event was postponed until given its Oct. dates.

Volunteers may register for the Mayor’s Greening Initiative on Friends of Grand Rapids Parks’ (FGRP) website. COVID-19 safety measures will be maintained, such sanitizing tools, six-feet distancing, and multiple volunteer shifts, each with a limited number of volunteers.

FGRP partners with the mayor for the annual event, along with the city’s Forestry division, local neighborhood associations, and various community sponsors. More details about the event are also available on FGRP’s website.


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.