GRPD: Crimes involving guns on the rise in 2019

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids police are ramping up efforts to prevent gun violence in the city, after a rash of shootings across the city in just a matter of days.

“We are definitely seeing an uptick,” said Sgt. Dan Adams, with the Grand Rapids Police Department, after 8 different shootings across the city in three days.

Interim Chief Kiddle has been keeping tabs on crime throughout the city and says so far in 2019, the department has seen a 49% increase of reckless discharge of firearms into homes compared to last year.

There is also a small 8% increase in firearms being used in assaults and a 39% increase in robberies involving firearms this year, compared to 2018.

“There are too many guns out there and they are not being used responsibly,” Adams said. “We need to take care of that.”

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Wise Men Distillery opens in Kentwood

KENTWOOD, Mich. — With an award-winning label, Wise Men Distillery has opened its new distillery and tasting room at 4717 Broadmoor Ave. SE, in Kentwood.

The business was founded by three friends – Tom Borisch, Jason Post and Zack Van Dyke – with a dream and a passion for quality spirits.

Wise Men Distillery uses ingredients are locally sourced when possible, and include pure Lake Michigan water, tart apples from Northern Michigan, corn from West Michigan farms and rich maple syrup tapped from our state’s maple trees.

The distillery’s tasting room features a rustic bar hewn from California Red Wood and a gift shop featuring the distillery’s unique brand of drinking glasses, T-shirts and hats.

“Our tasting room is a unique environment where liquor aficionados and thirsty patrons can kick back, sample our hand-crafted spirits, take a tour and learn about the art and science behind our craft,” said Borisch, general manager of Wise Men Distillery. “We’re excited to invite our customers to come in and taste our spirits and enjoy their experience.”

The distillery’s products have already garnered global recognition by the spirits trade industry, winning Michigan Rum Distillery of the Year, a silver medal for its Red Tape series rum and a bronze for its vodka at the prestigious 2019 New York International Spirits Competition.

The tasting room will be open Thursday and Friday from 2 p.m. until 9 p.m. and Saturday from noon until 10 p.m., and will offer small batches of its products vodka, rum, gin, white whiskey and Apple Pie Moonshine, in tasting flights, on the rocks or in one of its signature, hand-crafted cocktails.

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Health department urges testing as STD rates increase

IONIA COUNTY, Mich. — A warning from a local health department as sexually transmitted infections and diseases are on the rise nationwide. While some are easily treatable many people aren’t even aware that anything is wrong with them.

“STDs are on the rise nationwide, in Michigan, in Ionia County, pretty much everywhere,” said Ken Bowen, health officer with the Ionia County Health Department.

The diseases can cause serious health problems, especially if they aren’t caught early on and many people won’t experience any symptoms at all until it’s too late.

“The only way to know your status for sure is to get tested,” Bowen said.

So far this year, the department has seen 60 cases of Chlamydia in the first half of the year but that’s not all.

“We’ve had ten of Syphilis and seventeen of Gonorrhea, that’s also something that people really aren’t aware of is that syphilis cases are on the rise nationwide.”

The CDC says those three STDs – Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Syphilis – are among the most easily treated and cured but only if diagnosed early.

If left untreated, you could be looking at some more serious problems, such as chronic pelvic pain, genital warts or even cervical cancer.

“We just want to remind people that they should know their std status,” he said. “They should know the STD status of their partners and the only way to know that is to get tested.”

The Ionia County health department offers free confidential testing along with several other area health departments.

The CDC estimates 19-million new STDs popping up in the United States each year roughly half of those affecting people ages 15 to 24.

“We do see more cases in the younger age groups but we’re seeing more cases than ever before in the older age groups, too,” he said.

Bowen says practicing safe sex is equally important.

“Condom use is actually on the decline and we want people to know that they should be using condoms,” he said.

Abstaining from sex altogether is, of course, the easiest way to avoid contracting an STD but the CDC says keeping sexual partners to a minimum and getting the HPV vaccine before age 26 are also helpful strategies.