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My Town Lowell: Store closing after nearly 30 years of business

My Town Lowell: Store closing after nearly 30 years of business

LOWELL, Mich. – A Lowell store that’s been in business for 29 years is getting ready to close its doors for good. 

Cousins’ Hallmark is winding down operations now.  The owner, Karen Hale, is retiring to spend more time with her family.  Feb. 28 will be the last day the store will accept Gold Grown gift cards and loyalty cards, but its last day of sales depends on when all inventory is gone.  The store is currently offering 40 percent off or more on all items storewide.

Hale opened Cousins’ Hallmark in December 1984.  Some of the store’s five employees also plan to retire, while others will look for new jobs. Hale also hopes to line up a potential buyer for the building soon.

Hale says she plans to hold a community celebration sometime in March, as a way to thank everyone.

Entries sought for West Michigan Regional Art Competition

Entries sought for West Michigan Regional Art Competition

LOWELL, Mich.—LowellArts is looking for entries for its 28th annual West Michigan Regional Art Competition.

Entries can be dropped off anytime between Feb.20 and Feb. 22 for judging by Henry Matthews, director of galleries and collections at Grand Valley State University.  Matthews previously served as director of the Muskegon Museum of Art and was a staff member of the Detroit Institute of Arts.  The Austrian native has conducted dozens of worldwide tours over the past 25 years.

The West Michigan Regional Art Competition is open to artists 18 years and older who reside in one of 15 West Michigan counties.  Only original artwork completed with the past two years is eligible.

The West Michigan Regional Art Competition runs from Feb. 26- April 10.  The top five entries announced Feb. 25 will receive a total of $2,000 in cash prizes. 

Former Lowell High School counselor releasing new book

Former Lowell High School counselor releasing new book

LOWELL, Mich.—Lowell High School’s first director of guidance and counseling has released a new book.

Hans Andrews’ new book, "Recognition vs. Merit Pay For Our Best Teachers"  focuses on why recognition programs are more meaningful and accepted by excellent teachers over merit pay plans.  According to Andrews, research finds merit pay plans fail and only 50 percent of K-12 schools in the U.S.

Kent County Commissioner stepping down Feb. 1

Kent County Commissioner stepping down Feb. 1

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—The search is about to begin to replace another Kent County commissioner.

Sandi Frost Steensma will officially resign from her post on Saturday, Feb. 1.  Steensma began serving on the Board of Commissioners seven years ago.  She was re-elected three times to represent District 5, which covers Bowne Township, Cascade Township, Lowell Township and a part of Caledonia Township.

“Commissioner Steensma has operated in a bi-partisan manner in the commission chambers,

while working to maintain the county’s balanced budgets and AAA Credit Rating,” said commission chairman Dan Koorndyk of the Kent County Board of Commissioners. “She has shown a passion for the parks and other programs that make Kent County a quality community, and has worked diligently to create a new entity to oversee John Ball Zoo.”

Steensma was recently appointed by Governor Rick Snyder to serve on the Board of Trustees for Lake Superior State University.

Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce announces award winners

Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce announces award winners

LOWELL, Mich.—Five community leaders and businesses are being recognized by the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber recently announced the recipients of its 2014 annual awards.    They include Greg Canfield (Person of the Year), Laurels of Kent (Business Appreciation Award), Ella’s (Best Business to Watch), Lowell Rotary (Non-Profit Spotlight) and Builders Fireplace Co. and Vergennes Broadband (Brick Awards). 

Each winner will be recognized during the 2014 Annual Winter Gathering, which will be held Feb. 20 at the Grand Volute Ballrooms.  The ceremony begins at 6 p.m.  Tickets are $40 per person.  To make a reservation, call the Chamber at (616) 897-9161 before Feb. 13.

Kent County begins search for comissioner replacement

Kent County begins search for comissioner replacement

LOWELL, Mich.—The search is on to find someone to replace a Kent County Commissioner accused of sexually assaulting an underage girl.

Gary Rolls submitted his resignation from his District 4 seat Dec. 12. In a statement released that day, Rolls said he would use his time to prepare for trial to “prove my absolute and complete innocence.”

Rolls’ resignation officially takes effect Jan. 1. The county is looking for someone to finish out his term, which ends Dec. 31, 2014. District 4 represents Lowell, Cannon Township, Grattan Township, Oakfield Township and Vergennes Township. Eligible candidates must be from one of those communities.

The person elected to Rolls’ seat should expect to attend four meetings a month. The position is part time with an annual salary of $20,500 and benefits. The deadline to apply is Monday, Jan. 6. Those interested in applying should submit a resume and cover letter to:

Office of the Board of Commissioners

Visit Santa on the Showboat Dec. 18 and Dec. 21

Visit Santa on the Showboat Dec. 18 and Dec. 21

LOWELL, Mich.-- Santa is off his sleigh and on Lowell’s historic showboat, which is all decked out for the occasion.

Visitors are invited to meet Santa in the Santa Room and enjoy hot cocoa and cookies in the Cookie Room Wednesday, Dec. 18, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.  Santa will also be available for digital photos Saturday, Dec. 21.  Photos are free but a donation of $1 is encouraged.  Visitors are asked to dress for the weather, as the line to see Santa starts outside the Showboat.

Santa’s visits are funded by the City of Lowell Downtown Development Authority and presented by the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce.