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Large fire destroys barn near Saranac

SARANAC, Mich. (WZZM) -- Firefighters were called out to battle a large barn fire late Monday night in Ionia County.

It happened just after 11:30 Monday night on Sparks Road between Higgins and Lee Roads. That's just about five miles north of the Saranac town limts. When firefighters arrived on the scene they say the barn was fully engulfed.

The flames continued for hours and five departments were called out. Most of that mutual aid consisted of tanker trucks, which were necessary in an area where there are no fire hydrants. There's no word at this point about what caused the fire.

My Town: Congressional candidates to hold public forums

My Town: Congressional candidates to hold public forums

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—Two men running to represent West Michigan in Congress have agreed to hold public forums.

Congressman Justin Amash and his Democratic contender, businessman Bob Goodrich met over coffee in Eastown Aug. 15.  During the brief meeting, both candidates discussed ideas on how best to keep the race for the 3rd Congressional seat civil.

Amash beat East Grand Rapids businessman Brian Ellis by roughly a 14-percent margin during August’s primary. Voters will decide if Amash will continue to represent them during the general election Nov. 4.  The Third Congressional District of Michigan includes the areas of  Grand Rapids, Cascade Township, Alpine Township, East Grand Rapids, Belding, Lowell, Plainfield Township, Rockford and Sparta.

My Town Lowell: Final Sizzlin' Summer Concert Aug. 21

My Town Lowell: Final Sizzlin' Summer Concert Aug. 21

LOWELL, Mich.—The summer break from school is coming to an end, and so is Lowell’s Showboat Sizzlin’ Summer Concerts.

Enjoy the final free performance this Thursday, Aug. 21 at 7 p.m.  Nicholas James and the Bandwagon will take the stage at Riverwalk Plaza.  The band’s repertoire is inspired by American and alternative county artists like Neil Young, Bob Dylan, The Grateful Dead, The Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel.

Showboat Sizzlin’ Summer Concerts are wheelchair accessible.  Visitors can bring their own folding chairs or grab a seat on the Riverwalk Plaza’s bleachers.  Concessions, beer, wine and margaritas are available for purchase.  For more information, visit the Lowell Chamber of Commerce’s website.

My Town: Four fun ways to prepare for heading back to school

My Town: Four fun ways to prepare for heading back to school

The start of the 2014-15 schools year is just around the corner.

As a parent, don’t let the start of a new school year catch you off guard- start preparing your students now to hit the books this fall.  While some activities, like waking up early, may be met with less enthusiasm, back-to-school preparation can be fun. 

Educators at Michigan Connections Academy have developed four fun, yet educational, activities parents and students can do together to help prepare for a successful start to the new school year— and the best part is the students won’t even realize they are learning!

My Town Lowell: Backpack distribution Aug. 19

My Town Lowell: Backpack distribution Aug. 19

LOWELL, Mich. --  Flat River Outreach Ministries is helping children from struggling families head back to school with all the necessary tools.

The nonprofit organization will distribute backpacks to pre-registered children between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 19.  Those who register in advance can also sign up for a free haircut and eye exam, as well as glasses for $10, while appointments last. To schedule an appointment and request vouchers, call (616) 897-8260 ext. 26.

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.


Livestock sickened at fair; one animal dead

LOWELL, Mich. (WZZM) -- Police are investigating whether animals at the Kent County Youth Fair were poisoned over the weekend.

Saturday evening, nine rabbits were sickened and one began convulsing and died.

Initially, the rabbits' owners believed heat stroke may have been to blame, but a veterinarian determined the symptoms were more consistent with a chemical like antifreeze. Police believe the toxic substance may have been in the rabbits' water trough.

Three horses also seemed to have some symptoms in a separate barn but have all recovered.