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UPDATED: Spencer Township home a total loss, pets perish in fire

Dennis Thomsen was on his way home with a truck full of hay, his mind on feeding his horses, when he saw black smoke billowing into the sky from a distance.

Jason Dillingham is the pastor in transition for First Congregational Church in Greenville. He has moved back to Greenville with his wife and four children three times since 2003 and is excited to be in a place his children call home. — Daily News/Emilee Nielsen

Greenville’s First Congregational Church welcomes new pastor

Pastor Jason Dillingham is the new kid on the block at First Congregational Church of Greenville. He came to the church to conduct some services in November 2016 and then began working as the pastor in transition for the church through Christmas. He is still technically considered in transition, but he has taken over the duties of the pastor position for the church and will work in coming months to have his ordination transferred to the church.

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DDA approves Flo’s brownfield grant

The Greenville Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has finally reached a decision regarding financial assistance for a downtown business. During a special meeting Jan. 24, the DDA unanimously voted to approve a brownfield grant for Flo’s Pizzeria Ristorante & Sports Bar. The decision came following the regular meeting on Jan. 10, in which the DDA asked for additional time to review the proposal.

Second-grade students present the story of “Mulan” Saturday evening through a performance they learned in the Walnut Hills Elementary School Chinese Immersion program during the Chinese New Year Gala at the Greenville High School Performing Arts Center. — Daily News/Cory Smith

Immersion students ring in the Chinese New Year (PHOTOS)

The year of the rooster is officially here and students at Walnut Hills Elementary School made sure to ring it in properly. Students in the Chinese immersion program took the stage at the Greenville High School Performing Arts Center Saturday evening to perform a program that showcased the language and culture they’ve been learning about in school.

Students in Katherine Hsieh’s second grade class at Walnut Hills Elementary School practice a stick dance set to the Chinese version of the song “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” from Disney’s “Mulan” to perform during the celebration for the Chinese New Year. The performance is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday in the Greenville High School Performing Arts Center. At top right, students in the Chinese immersion program made dragons to celebrate the Chinese New Year.  — Daily News/Emilee Nielsen

Students practice for Chinese New Year performance Saturday in Greenville

It’s the year of the rooster, the 10th year in the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac sign. Chinese folklore says the rooster is in charge of beginning the day and is a symbol of hard work and prosperity.

Art Green, a manager with the Michigan Department of Transportation, right, speaks to members of the Greater Greenville Transportation Committee on Wednesday evening about the potential of a project submitted to expand a two-mile stretch of roadway on M-57 in Courtland Township into a section of four-lane relief passing lanes. — Daily News/Cory Smith

MDOT looking at passing lanes for M-57

Traveling from Greenville to the U.S. 131 expressway, there are few who refrain from complaining about the long, sometimes arduous two-lane commute. The 16-mile stretch of state highway offers little passing relief for commuters, of which there are many who make the daily trip for work or recreation to the Grand Rapids area.

From left, Grace Jeffery, 12, Kayla Jeffery, 13, and Heidi Raih, 13, look over old issues of The Daily News Wednesday afternoon at a meeting of the Greenville Middle School newspaper club. The club’s goal is to write, edit, layout and print a student-run newspaper. — Daily News/Emilee Nielsen

Greenville Middle School newspaper club secures grant

America’s next generation of journalists are working their way through school right now, on a trajectory that will hopefully one day land them in a newsroom.

Some of the budding journalists of the next generation have been meeting after school at Greenville Middle School, brought together by a single purpose: To put together a student-run newspaper, print it and distribute it to their peers.

Matt Nielsen, the backup operator for the Greenville Water Department, shakes hands Tuesday with Greenville City Council member Sylvia Warner, after being recognized by the council for becoming state certified. — Daily News/Cory Smith

Greenville water department backup operator recognized

Matt Nielsen knows the ins and outs of this city’s water system — and based on recent test scores, he may know it better than anyone. During Tuesday’s Greenville City Council meeting, Nielsen was awarded a certificate of recognition from Public Services Department Superintendent Tom Pollock, based upon completing his qualifications to become the water department’s new backup operator.

Ken Dixon of Dixon Architecture presents designs for a proposed Brann’s Retail Center at 10990 W. Carson City Road (M-57), which would feature four retail locations, two of them offering drive-thru services. — Daily News/Cory Smith

Planning Commission OKs ‘conditional site plan’ for Brann’s Retail Center

Brann’s Retail Center is one step closer to bringing four new retail locations to town, but one key word still stands between now and any physical construction: “Conditional.” During Thursday’s Greenville Planning Commission meeting, members debated nearly an hour and half throughout a public hearing and meeting discussion on whether to approve a site plan for the site at 10990 W. Carson City Road (M-57), a 1-acre piece of property on the northeast corner of M-57 and Satterlee Roads in front of Walmart and directly west of Murphy Oil.

A Grand Rapids woman, Elizabeth Vanvels, 28, was involved in a one-car crash when she failed to negotiate a curve at Satterlee and Baldwin Roads Tuesday morning.

JUST IN: Grand Rapids woman involved in one-car crash

A Grand Rapids woman was involved in a one-car crash Tuesday morning while negotiating a curve on Satterlee and Baldwin Roads, according to the Montcalm County Sheriff’s Office.