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Can 3D-printing Homes Make Them Affordable?




BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — As housing prices across the country continue to skyrocket, an Iowa-based company, Alquist 3D, is looking to combat the crisis by 3D-printing homes.

Alquist, one of a few U.S. companies that 3D-prints houses, is looking to build 200 of these homes in Virginia starting this summer.

The process is somewhat simple. First, a person designs what they want the frame of the house to look like by using a computer program. Then, a file is transmitted to a machine, which tells it what to do and how to move.

The 26 US counties where homeownership is now unaffordable: report

On-site workers pour in cement material, then the concrete is pumped through the tubes and dispersed in layers.

Aiman Hussein and Aaron Hackett of Alquist 3D level one of the pillars that will hold the concrete printer being used to construct a Habitat for Humanity home in Williamsburg Tuesday August 3, 2021. (Photo courtesy: Habitat for Humanity)The first layer of cement is laid down at the Habitat for Humanity 3D printed home in Williamsburg Tuesday August 17, 2021. (Photo courtesy: Habitat for Humanity)

“We believe in creating a community. That is our goal as a company, and it’s pretty hard to have a community if you don’t have anywhere to live,” said Zachary Mannheimer, founder and CEO of Alquist 3D.

According to Mannheimer, the area of southwest Virginia the company is targeting struggles with affordable housing.

“Buying anything under $200,000 in the entire New River Valley is kind of hard to do,” said Scott Bunn, a Realtor with Remax 8.

The printer head of a giant 3D printer begins laying down layers of cement for the foundation of a Habitat for Humanity home in Williamsburg Tuesday August 17, 2021. (Photo courtesy: Habitat for Humanity) Habitat for Humanity 3D printed house ground breaking July 12, 2021. (Photo courtesy: Habitat for Humanity) The first layer of cement is laid down at the Habitat for Humanity 3D printed home in Williamsburg Tuesday August 17, 2021. (Photo courtesy: Habitat for Humanity)

Organizations like Habitat for Humanity help people in need find homes. In December 2021, the organization’s Peninsula & Greater Williamsburg chapter got the chance to place single mother April Stringfield in the first-ever owner-occupied 3D-printed house.

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“When they said they can print the home this way … and said it should be faster, cheaper and safer, we got very excited,” said Janet V. Green, CEO of Habitat for Humanity’s local chapter.

Green says with the help of Virginia Housing, Virginia Tech, and Alquist 3D they built Stringfield’s 167-layer home. Green said the walls of the three-bedroom were constructed in less than 30 hours.

Habitat for Humanity CEO Janet V. Green at the site of the 3D cement printed house Thursday August 26, 2021. (Photo courtesy: Habitat for Humanity) Habitat for Humanity 3D printed house ground breaking July 12, 2021. (Photo courtesy: Habitat for Humanity)

“April will have a 30-year mortgage. The only difference between that and other mortgages is that hers is interest-free. It is more than half of what she was paying in rent, and that includes her real estate taxes and insurance,” said Green.

Mannheimer believes 3D-printing is a game changer because it cuts costs up to 15% by scaling back labor, materials and time. He does understand that there are concerns about displacing traditional construction jobs, and some environmental impacts of this method, but he says he is working to attack those issues.

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New GR Pharmacy to Serve Spanish-speaking Patients




GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — By the end of the year, Grand Rapids’ Roosevelt Park neighborhood will have a new pharmacy.

Trinity Health Clinica Santa Maria began construction Monday morning on the $1.5 million project. The new pharmacy will include both walk-up and drive-thru services.

Trinity Health Clinica Santa Maria practice leader Kameron Selleck it will offer convenience in a neighborhood that doesn’t have a pharmacy close in proximity, making it challenging for patients to get their prescriptions in a timely manner.

“A lot of our patients do encounter a lot of social barriers in their lives,” Selleck said.

He added that a language barrier can make it difficult patients to get their prescriptions. He said nearly every employee at Clinica Santa Maria is bilingual in Spanish and the plan is for that trend to carry over to new pharmacy and pharmacy tech hires.

“I think this project was announced almost five years ago, so it’s here,” Selleck said. “I just really encourage the community to be as excited as we are.

The pharmacy is at 730 Cesar E. Chavez Ave. SW (formerly Grandville Avenue) at Martin Luther King Jr. Street (formerly Franklin Street) in Grand Rapids. It will be the seventh Trinity Health pharmacy in the Grand Rapids area, with the other locations being Cathedral Square, the Wege Building at Trinity Heath Saint Mary’s, Hudsonville, Rockford, Byron Center and Southeast Grand Rapids.

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Tulip Time Crowds Encouraging for Returning Festivals




HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Tulip Time saw big crowds this year as it returned to a more regular schedule.

The event was cancelled in 2020 and scaled back last year because of the pandemic.

Hot temperatures caused damage to some of Holland’s tulips, Tulip Time organizers say.

The heat caused challenges for the 2022 festival. The Tulip Immersion Garden, a new attraction, had to close early because the hot temperatures caused too much damage to the flowers, Tulip Time Executive Director Gwen Auwerda said.

“They don’t like 80 degree, 90 degree weather. Tulips prefer it to be about 40 at night, 60 to 70, maybe 80 during the day,” Auwerda said.

Heat closes down Tulip Time Immersion Garden early

The organization is working on final numbers but saw attendance return to pre-pandemic levels.

“I do know that the carnival exceeded 2019 by 25 to 30%, so that was fabulous for them and it was packed everywhere in town,” Auwerda said.

Kevin Knight, the owner of Market Zero, said the festival definitely provided a boost as they worked to keep up with demand. 

“It’s a huge kick off to your summer season,” Knight said. “Our fridges were completely full and got completely empty and completely full and completely empty, so it was about everything we could handle.”

Market Zero in downtown Holland on May 16, 2022. Inside Market Zero in downtown Holland on May 16, 2022.

The return of crowds could be good sign for other events coming back this summer, like the Festival of the Arts in Grand Rapids. Mark Azkoul, an organizer for the event that began in 1970, sees the success of Tulip Time as encouraging.

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“We’ve been out for two years so this is a big thing for us and for the city to get Festival back up and going,” Azkoul said.

Organizers created the Plein Air event for 2021, which combined outdoor art and music.

The 2022 event runs June 3 through June 5. After taking a break because of the pandemic the festival needs extra help.    

“A lot of people still don’t know yet festival is coming back, so we really want to get the word out. We need more volunteers,” Azkoul said.

People interested in volunteering can sign up on the Festival of the Arts website.


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Mom Does ‘small Part’ to Help Parents Who Need Formula




HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Though there appears to an end of the baby formula shortage in sight, it’s still causing problems for parents, so a mother in Holland did what she could to help.

Abbott Nutrition has announced its entered into an agreement with the federal Food and Drug Administration to restart its Sturgis plant within two weeks. The closure of that plant has been a huge contributing factor to the shortage. The company expects its products to ship to stores eight weeks after production resumes.

But for now, many parents can’t find the formula they need. The low supply has some stores limiting the number of formulas customers can purchase, adding that they are in “extraordinary high” demand.

The baby formula shelves at a Meijer in Holland.

So Caitlin Dampier, a mother of two whose youngest is a 3-month-old girl, stepped up to help where she could.

“I really wish I could help out more, but this is just my small part,” Dampier said.

She got a box of Enfamil formulas that she’s not using because she’s breastfeeding.

“When you’re pregnant, you get free samples and so I thought I would just offer mine for free for mothers who need them,” Dampier said. “I kept it around in case I wasn’t able to breastfeed.”

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Dampier made a post on Facebook this week directed at parents who can’t find formula. The box she received included three cans of Enfamil formulas and two ready-made formulas.

Two mothers reached out to her, including Kourtney Hann, another Holland resident. She’s one of thousands of mothers across the country who have had to go to great lengths to find food for their baby.

“I have had to go to stores maybe 45 minutes away just to even try to get formula,” she said. “It’s very hard to find them where I’m at right now. I went to Walmart yesterday and all they had was Similac and my daughter has a really bad reaction to Similac.”

Hann was able to connect with Dampier and picked up a can of Enfamil. Dampier left the box on her front porch with the message, “Please take only the formula you chose and tear out some coupons for yourself. My prayers are with you during this difficult time.”

The box of Enfamil products Caitlin Dampier left at her door for mothers to pick up.

Hann said she was down to her last can of baby formula which lasts her about five days. Now that she has received another can from Dampier, she’ll be able to feed her 9-month-old for the next two weeks.

“Being a mom is hard enough as it is. You have so many other struggles and to be afraid to know if you’re going to be able to feed your baby or not is a struggle,” Dampier said. “You want to do everything for your kids so when you’re not able to it’s hard. It’s just the worst feeling in the world.”


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