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News That Affects You

Ferris State students giving back during 2017 BIG Event

 

Thousands of Ferris State University students will be giving back to the Big Rapids Community today as part of the 2017 BIG Event.

 

Students will be raking, picking up trash and cleaning the outsides of area homes from 10am-3pm today.

 

Event officials are hoping to help 315 homes.   

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Advocates use Earth Day to promote science

 

Saturday is Earth Day, and thousands are expected to take to the streets in Washington, DC, and other cities across the US and around the world. But instead of celebrating the natural environment – the People's Climate March will happen a week later – Cornell University biologist Sarah Evanega says Saturday's events are an opportunity for people of all political stripes to stand up in support of science.

 

"And without it, we would have no cure for polio, no microchips, no cell phones, no artificial hearts, no treatment for diabetes. This is not a partisan issue. We all benefit from the products of science."

 

One of America's most famous scientists – Bill Nye – is co-chairing the event alongside Dr. Hanna-Attisha, who discovered dangerous lead levels in kids living in Flint. Michiganders can join events in more than a dozen cities including Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Lansing. More than 500 are planned across the globe.

 

 

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Rep. Michele Hoitenga holding listening sessions on Monday

 

A reminder that State Representative Michele Hoitenga is holding two listening sessions on Monday.

 

She'll be at Williams Cafe, 19636 30th Ave in Barryton from 8 to 9 am and then at the Moe-Z-Inn, 249 N. Cass St. in Morley from 11 am to noon.

 

Hoitenga is encouraging residents to come and let her know about their ideas and concerns because, she says, it makes her a more effective representative.

 

 

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Stamp out Hunger Food Drive starts next month

 

Local mail carriers are making preparations for one of the largest one-day food drives in the country.

 

On May 13th, while out on their mail route, carriers will be picking up cans of food that is set out by donors next to their mailbox.

 

It's all part of the 25th annual Stamp out Hunger Food Drive.

 

Last year,  the Big Rapids, Paris and Rodney post offices brought in 7,500 pounds of food.

 

Donations collected on that day will be given to local food banks.

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Mecosta Co. woman sentenced to jail on drug charge

 

A Mecosta County woman is heading to jail after being sentenced on drug charges.

 

41-year old Jennifer Mae Hulbert of Stanwood is going to jail for at least two years.

 

She was one of three people arrested last May as part of a Central Michigan Enforcement Team investigation involving methamphetamine.

 

Hulbert was charged with operating/maintaining a meth lab, one count of possession of methamphetamine and one count of possession of hydromorphone.

 

As part of a plea deal, the Stanwood woman pleaded guilty to possession of hydromorphone, the two other charges were dismissed. 

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Moolenaar faces packed house during district wide listening session

 

A lot of residents from Michigan's Fourth Congressional District are still mulling over the exchange of ideas during Congressman John Moolenaar's town hall style listening session Thursday night. Moolenaar faced a packed house at CMU's Plachta Auditorium in Mt. Pleasant which he described as “an earnest conversation about the issues facing our nation.”

 

The crowd asked questions about a broad range of issues from the repeal of the Affordable Care Act to gun rights, the fate of the EPA, social security, and the role of President Trump as a world leader.

 

On an international front, I'd say he's been an effective, strong leader,” said Moolenaar.

 

Health care and the environment dominated as issues of concern and while Moolenaar was often jeered when he reiterated his support for repealing and replacing the ACA, he went on to explain that he does agree with having a heath care plan that covers those with preexisting conditions and lets young adults stay on their parents’ health insurance. One resident also called the Congressman on his voting record.

 

I'd like to note that you've voted with the president 100 percent of the time thus far, and I would like to see a time when you vote when it seems more like it's in alignment with the views of the people that are your constituency,” he said.

 

Many in the crowd became frustrated when they felt the Congressman was side-stepping an issue. Often, during his response, he was greeted with chants of “Answer the question!” or “Health care is a right!”

 

However, he did received thunderous applause when he pledged to support a continuation of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

 

I'm part of the President's caucus, I am absolutely supporting it.”

 

Moolenaar concluded by saying, “I will continue to fight for the policies that benefit the hardworking residents of the district.”

 

 

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Paris man arrested on marijuana charges

 

An investigation by the Central Michigan Enforcement Team led to the arrest of a Mecosta County man on drug charges.

 

36-year old Brandon Michael Drier of Paris was arrested Tuesday by police.

 

He was arraigned on a host of charges including maintaining a drug house, manufacturing marijuana and delivery of marijuana.

 

The charges are connected to alleged incidents that occurred in Mecosta and Green Townships. 

 

His bond was set at $100,000.

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Big Rapids and Big Rapids Township considering how medical marijuana laws will affect the community

 

A new bureau has been developed to centralize all facets of the medical marijuana industry in the state. The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs says the bureau will include new statutory requirements for licensing along with maintaining existing oversight responsibilities.

 

Big Rapids Mayor Mark Warba says they are already looking into how the new laws will affect Big Rapids.

 

Mr. Gifford and Mrs. Gillis and I had talked about maybe having a retreat to hear from pros and cons as it relates to medical marijuana in light of the recent change to state law.”

 

Warba says Big Rapids Township has already been approached by two medical marijuana providers and would like to work with the city on how to approach the medical marijuana issue.

 

Supervisor Stanek also wondered if the City Commission would be interested in a meeting with the Township Board, combine it and use that opportunity to hear from presenters on both sides of the fence.”

 

They hope to set up a combined meeting for sometime next month. Warba also suggested inviting City Attorney Eric Williams, Public Safety Director Jim Eddinger, County Prosecutor Brian Thiede, Mecosta County Sheriff Todd Purcell, and Ferris University Director of Public Safety Bruce Borkovich to the meeting.

 

The new state bureau plans to make licensing applications available by December 15.

 

 

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Nestle Waters plans for pumping station denied by Osceola Twp. Planning Commission

 

The plan by Nestle Waters North America to build a new pumping station has been denied by the Osceola Township Planning Commission.

 

Nestle wants the station to draw about 400 gallons of groundwater per minute and increase production at its Ice Mountain bottled water plant.

 

Many in the community and environmentalists had opposed the move. Nestle can appeal the decision.  

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Mecosta County Parks gearing up for summer, wants more input

 

The Mecosta County Park Commission is gearing up for the upcoming camping season and part of that effort is getting input on improvements for the park system. An online survey is available at mecostacountyparks.com and Superintendent Jeff Abel says so far, so good.

 

We kicked off about a month ago now – the survey's going very well, we're very excited with the responses that we've gotten and we're encouraging everyone to continue to give us feedback.”

 

Abel says they want input from both park users and non-users both in and out of the county because all of the data gathered will be used to create a master plan for the parks that will affect rule changes and everything moving forward.

 

We'd like everyone to take part in that survey and tell us if you don't use the parks, what can we do to get you to use the parks.”

 

Abel doesn't want to reveal all the survey results until all the data is in, but he does note some unexpected results.

 

That's been a surprise for us so far that one of the top items that people are requesting that we start having in our parks is a farmer's market, so that's something that definitely we'll look in to,” he says.

 

And, even though the park system currently supports itself through camping fees, vehicle fees, fire wood and ice sales, the majority of the respondents so far say they would support the parks through a tax appropriation.

 

The survey runs though the end of April.

 

 

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More criminal activity being seen on social media

 

Social Media is becoming a crime scene. Police had been searching for Steve Stephens, an Ohio man who posted a murder on Facebook this weekend. Stephans killed himself after police spotted him in Pennsylvania on Tuesday. Meanwhile Detroit police are looking for suspects in a mass brawl in Greektown that was captured on Facebook early Sunday morning. Why is this phenomenon becoming more prevalent?
 

It's hard to understand why they would broadcast it to the general public unless they want to taunt people and make people feel powerless because they've seen what they've done but they can't find them. And that would probably be the best explanation,” says Michigan based psychiatrist Dr. Gerald Scheiner.

 

Scheiner adds people who feel insignificant might be the ones to post these crimes to social media to get their 15 minutes of fame. He says it is up to the people who run the sites to start monitoring for criminal activity before legislators start doing it for them.

 

 

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New report says the number of Michigan children living in poverty is rising

 

The Kids Count in Michigan Data Book, released Tuesday by the Michigan League for Public Policy, says 22 percent of Michigan children lived in poverty in 2015, a 15% increase since the end of the recession in 2008. However, project Director, Alicia Guevara Warren, says there was some good news.

 

We're seeing a reduction in the number of students who are not graduating on time, so we're seeing more kids graduating from high school. We're seeing fewer teens who are experiencing birth at a young age, so there are some good things going on.”

She notes that the numbers of those living in poverty are still way too high, along with a disparity of poverty among children of color.

 

 

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Shelby man arraigned on charges connected to sex crimes in Mecosta County

 

A Shelby man faces 15 years behind bars after he was arraigned on felony charges connected to sex crimes in Mecosta County.

 

49-year old Paul Arnold Spedowski is charged with second degree criminal sexual conduct involving a minor following an investigation by the Michigan State Police. 

 

Its alleged, Spedowski sexually assaulted a girl under the age of 13, according to court documents. 

 

Spedowski's bond was set at $150,000. 

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Big Rapids carries on a long tradition of 'green'

 

Arbor Day is a holiday in which individuals and groups are encouraged to plant and care for trees. The first American Arbor Day was originated in Nebraska City, Nebraska, by J. Sterling Morton and on April 10, 1872, an estimated one million trees were planted in Nebraska.

 

At Monday's City Commission meeting, Mayor Mark Warba carried on the tradition by declaring April 28, 2017 as Arbor Day in Big Rapids. He notes that trees do a lot that many people take for granted.

 

Trees reduce the erosion of our precious topsoil by wind and water, cut heating and cooling costs, moderate the temperature, clean the air, produce oxygen, and provide habitat for wildlife.”

 

Trees are a renewable resource providing fuel, wood, and paper products and, although they can sometimes be troublesome in an urban setting, Warba says they do a lot for the city as well.

 

Trees in our city increase property values, enhance the economic vitality of business areas, and beautify our community.”

 

Big Rapids Park and Recreation Board member Karen Simmon was on hand to accept the proclamation and she noted that the city has a long tradition of being tree friendly.

 

The City of Big Rapids was just informed that we were successful for 39 years participating with Tree City USA.”

 

The decorative leaves received from Tree City USA by Big Rapids for all 39 years have been mounted on a new sign that will be displayed in the City Hall lobby.

 

Arbor Day has been traced back to the Spanish village of Mondoñedo when the first documented arbor plantation festival in the world was organized by its mayor in 1594.

 


 

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New map for mushroom hunters includes Mecosta County

 

Morel hunters are getting some help from the Michigan DNR.

 

An updated online map showing prescribed burn locations across the state is now available.

 

Morel mushrooms commonly sprout in locations burned by fire with a forested cover type, including several in Mecosta County.

 

The DNR says morel mushrooms are more likely to grow in burned areas where jack, white, or red pine once grew.

 

You can view the interactive map here.

 

 

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Free admission to national parks this weekend

 

This week is National Park Week – which means admission is free to all 417 parks and cultural sites this weekend. Alan Spears with the National Parks Conservation Association says the parks need to roll into their second century in the best shape possible and proposed cuts to to the National Park Service aren't a good idea.

 

"Well, I mean those cuts would be extreme, very extreme. And they would have an adverse impact on all operations for the Department of the Interior, and it would have an adverse impact on national parks,” he says.

 

The President has called protecting America’s national parks a “priority” for his administration but wants to cut funding for the National Parks Service by $1.6 billion. However, Congress will determine the final budget this fall.

 

 

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Local pharmacist holds presentations on prescription questions

 

There are many questions we may never think to ask our pharmacist and there are many misconceptions about common drugs.

 

To help, Spectrum Health is holding two presentations where you can ask pharmacist Jamie Hulliberger about the complexities of prescription medications.

 

The first session will be Tuesday, April 18 at noon at the Big Rapids Department of Public Safety, and the second Thursday, April 20 at noon at the Reed City Fire Department.

 

Both presentations are free and food will be provided. You can register online at spectrumhealth.org/htwy or by calling 231.592.4207.

 

 

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Road crews begin repairs to portion of 19 Mile Rd. after culvert washes away

 

Road crews in Mecosta County are underway repairing a portion of 19 Mile Rd. after a culvert washed out.

 

Officials say it happened Friday.

 

The road is now closed between 60th and 65th Avenue near Barryton.

 

Mecosta Co. Road Commission Manager Joyce Randall says road crews are on scene assessing the situation and are in the process of creating a detor for motorists.

 

No word yet on when the road will be reopened. 

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Big Rapids City Commission to take up a number of resolutions tonight

 

The Big Rapids City Commission has a full agenda as they meet tonight at City Hall.

 

Mayor Mark Warba will make a Arbor Day proclamation.

 

Public Works Director Heather Bowman will give a presentation on service line warranties, then commissioners will award bids for projects at the wastewater treatment plant and take action on a resolution creating a Street Administrator position for the city.

 

The meeting starts at 6:30pm at City Hall.

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Commission to consider pay raises for Michigan lawmakers

 

Michigan lawmakers and other elected officials will not be getting a pay raise any time soon.

 

The State Officers Compensation Commission won't be meeting until next month when they will analyze the state's economy and budget outlook before making a decision.

 

The last pay hike in 2002 saw double-digit increases and were automatically approved by the Legislature under the Michigan constitution.

 

The constitution has since been changed requiring a vote by the lawmakers.

 

State lawmakers receive nearly $72,000 a year in salary, with a $10,800 expense allowance.

 

 

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Spectrum Big Rapids Hospital gets 'A' grade

 

Hospital treatment in Michigan is being rated as the 25th best in the country according to pubic health watchdog group Leapfrog.

 

The spring 2017 Leapfrog Hospital Safety report says Michigan has dropped six spots since its last report in 2016.

 

Spectrum Health Big Rapids Hospital received an overall “A” grade, but the report did show the facility with some problem areas such as patients falls and not having enough qualified nurses.

 

You can see the ratings of Spectrum Big Rapids and other Michigan hospitals here.

 


 

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Easter toy recall

 

A number of potentially dangerous Easter toys are being recalled by Target.

 

Store officials say the Hatch & Grow Easter Eggs, Easter Grow Toys, and Hatch Your Own Dino toys were included in the nationwide recall.

 

If ingested, they can expand inside a child's body and cause life-threatening intestinal obstructions.

 

Customers are encouraged to keep the toys away from small children, and they can return them to any Target store for a full refund.

 

 

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Missing horseback rider found safe

 

A horseback rider in Wexford County is now safe after being stranded overnight in the woods.

 

Deputies say the woman was riding in the woods in Slagle Township when she was thrown from her horse then the horse fled.

 

They say the woman suffered a head injury and hypothermia.

 

She was taken to a hospital in traverse city where her condition is unknown at this time. 

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Congressman Dan Kildee opposes Nestle Waters Evart well permit

 

Congressman Dan Kildee of Flint sent a strongly worded letter to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Thursday, opposing Nestle Ice Mountain's request to pump more groundwater out of a well near Evart.

 

He says his constituents have urged him to oppose the company's permit request to increase its groundwater pumping from its White Pine Springs well which is located between two coldwater trout stream tributaries of the Muskegon River.

 

Kildee said scientific experts have shown allowing Nestle to increase its withdrawal from the well would result in damaging impacts to the environment and to wildlife. 

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Snyder ranked as very unpopular

 

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is among the most unpopular governors in the U.S. according to a study done by a Washington D.C. based digital media and research company.

 

The latest Morning Consult Governor Approval rankings list Snyder just two spots from the bottom, ahead of only Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, and Dan Malloy of Connecticut.

 

The rankings are based on job performance ratings over the past three months.

 

Snyder had a 32 percent approval rating.

 

The most popular governor in the U-S right now is Charlie Baker of Massachusetts.

 

 

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Lansing is no longer a sanctuary city

 

Lansing City Council is flipping its stance on being a "sanctuary city."

 

Wednesday evening's 5-2 vote overturns last week's unanimous vote which declared Michigan's capital a sanctuary that would protect immigrants.

 

The turn around follows pressure from the Chamber of Commerce.

 

Lansing is among the first to step back from the designation, which has no legal definition and varies in application.

 

 

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Moolenaar to hold district-wide listening session

 

If you want to let your congressman know how you feel about what's going on in Washington D.C., you'll have the opportunity next week.

 

On Thursday, April 20, Congressman John Moolenaar will be hosting a district-wide listening session at Central Michigan University.

 

Moolenaar says it fulfills the commitment he made to host a formal, district-wide listening session at a large, centrally located venue in the Fourth District, choosing the CMU Plachta Auditorium, 1200 South Franklin Street, Mount Pleasant, MI 48848.

 

The event, which starts at 7:30 pm, is open to all residents of Michigan's Fourth Congressional District, which covers 15 counties including Mecosta, Osceola, Montcalm, Isabella, Wexford, and Clare. Attendees can register for the event online at moolenaar.house.gov/listeningsession.

 

 

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Howard City man charged with torturing a relative

 

A Howard City man is facing serious charges after being accused of torturing a relative in Wexford County.

 

Police say the incidents took place in Cadillac between 2004 and 2006 then again in Selma Township between 2007 and 2011.

 

Allen Pattee faces three felony charges of torture. 

 

If convicted, Pattee faces life in prison

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DEQ hearing on Nestle's water request draws large crowd

 

A large and vocal crowd of people are concerned about Nestle Waters' request to increase its water pumping capacity near Evart. They showed up at FSU's University Center on Wednesday night to participate in the Department of Environmental Quality's public hearing on the matter. The hearing was expected to end around 9:00 pm but went well beyond.

 

A number of people, most of them Nestle employees, spoke in favor of granting the permit, but the majority voiced opposition to it. It was pointed out that the DEQ may be basing their decision on information from Nestle which, they say, depends on computer modeling, rather than real-time measurements in the field. Nestle has been pumping water from the Evart well for about 12 years. Maryanne Borden, who has lived on or around Twin Creek (which runs through Evart) for some 70 years, says something has happened.

 

There hasn't been any significant change in that creek in all those decades. Today, that creek struggles to get around huge mud flats in the middle of the creek. I don't know what kind of science you could tell me that would explain what's happened there. Something drastic has happened there,” she says.

 

A lot of the comments voiced maintained that water is a human right and should not be sold as a commodity for corporate profit. Many said they didn't understand why Nestle should be allowed to take millions of gallons of water from Michigan for a $200 DEQ fee while many residents are charged thousands of dollars each year for a small fraction of that amount.

 

Many also believe the DEQ is failing to protect Michigan's natural resources for the people both in Mecosta County and across the state, such as Sylvia Orduño of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization.

 

And when I'm talking to people out in the hallway they're [DEQ officials] telling me, 'Well this isn't our responsibility, you've got to go to your elected officials.' No! You have been entrusted with this responsibility from the federal government and you need to do your job.”

 

Those who came to the hearing were from across the state and some were from out of state. Big Rapids Mayor Mark Warba was there as was State Representative Michele Hoitenga. Hoitenga said she was still unsure of her stance on the issue but planned to make a decision after the hearing. Michigan gubernatorial candidate Bill Cobbs also made an appearance and spoke against the permit as well.

 

Nestle Natural Resource Manager Arlene Anderson-Vincent says they need the increased capacity because of the market.

 

Bottled water sales in the mid-west and across the nation are growing so we're applying for an increase to help us support our future growth and our customer demand,” she says.

 

Although the hearing was the only pubic hearing the DEQ has had on the Nestle request, DEQ Public Information Officer Melody Kindraka says it's obvious it's caught the attention of a lot of people.

 

We've received nearly 50,000 comments about the particular permit application so far. The majority of those comments have expressed some concerns about the environmental impact and also some water use rights and the quality of the water,” she says.

 

The DEQ says all public comments received will be given equal attention and will be answered. A report on their response will be made available on the MDEQ web site. The public comment period is open until 5:00 pm on April 21st and comments and may be emailed to deq-eh@michigan.gov or sent by regular mail to:

 

MDEQ, Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance Division

Environmental Health Section

P.O Box 30421

Lansing, MI 48909-7741

 

 

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Big Rapids moves to protect itself from telecommunications right-of-way scam

 

The City of Big Rapids is moving to protect itself from a public right-of-way scam that is happening across the country and in Big Rapids. Private real estate development companies portraying themselves as public utilities are approaching municipalities with thinly disguised permit applications to put facilities in the right-of-way. They then build a facility, and lease or sell it to telecommunications companies. City Attorney Eric Williams says this sometimes ends up with 120 foot towers in a city's right-of-way.

 

This is basically a private land grab under the guise of going in as a public utility when they're not public utilities.”

 

Some companies are saying it is much cheaper for the telecommunications companies to put their towers in the public right-of-way at little or no charge rather than lease space on private water towers or buildings. However, Williams notes the Michigan Constitution says use of rights-of-way must be obtained through consent and a franchise with the local municipality.

 

What going on now is companies who suggest they're public utilities but really aren't are trying to do this without a franchise and without really getting consent.”

 

So far, two letters have been sent to the City of Big Rapids by companies wanting to put 120 foot towers in the city's right-of-way. They've been told no and, Williams notes, telecommunications providers can use space on city water towers, but they would have to lease it rather than claiming to be a public utility and basically getting to use the city streets and other rights-of-way for free.

 

For city staff I think it would help if I were to give you [the City Commission] some proposed code language, city code language, that says point blank, similar to what's in the constitution, no you can't just build in the city right-of-way, you have to get a permit, you have to get a franchise.”

 

He says that would make it easier to respond to requests similar to one the city has gotten that basically said:

 

Looks like there's no permit requirements for regulation so we've just asked for one and if we're right we're going to build it and if we're wrong it's up to you to tell us not to.”

 

City Commission has asked Williams to draft an amendment for the city building code that reflects the stance of the Michigan Consitution.

 

 

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Michigan Attorney General being sued over use of private emails

 

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is being sued for using private emails for state business. Progress Michigan has filed the lawsuit against the AG and his staff. Executive director Lonnie Scott says even though it is not illegal to conduct business through private email, their requests to receive all of the emails through the Freedom of Information Act has been denied twice.

“When you are using a personal email, even if it's personal email that does not exempt you from the Freedom of Information Act if you're conducting state business. The Freedom of Information Act in Michigan, it has a lot of flaws, but it's very clear that you have created a public record even if you're using a private email address there's no exemption for private email,” he says.

 

Scott adds the public is entitled to a transparent an accountable government. The lawsuit asks the court of Claims to say private emails used by public officials to conduct public business should be subject to open records laws.

 

 

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Public hearing on Nestle Waters increased withdrawal request at FSU

 

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is hosting a information session and public hearing tonight regarding Nestlé Waters application to increase water withdrawal from its well in Evart.

 

An information session runs from 4 pm to 6 pm and the public hearing will begin at 7 p.m.

 

Both sessions are at the University Center on FSU's campus.

 

 

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Mecosta Co. man faces new felony charges in connection to sex crimes

 

A new victim has come forward accusing a Mecosta County man of sexual assault.

 

39-year old Paul Alexander Smith of Barryton was arraigned on two felony counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct involving a minor.

 

According to court documents, the alleged incidents took place between 2007-2013 in Big Rapids.

 

Smith was charged in a separate case last week with sex crimes involving a minor. Those alleged incidents took place between 2015-2017 in Sheridan Township.

 

Smith faces up to life in prison, if convicted on the charges. His bond was set at $1-million dollars.

 

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City of Big Rapids named 'Pet Friendly City" according to report

 

The City of Big Rapids has been named one of the top 500 pet friendly places in the country according to a new report by website Millennial Personal Finance.

 

According to the report titled Most Pet Friendly Cities, Big Rapids ranks 165th in the country.

 

The rankings were based on three parameters, pet services like , the number of veterinary clinics and the number of parks, food retail stores, and pet shops.

 

Michigan had 17 towns and cities in the top 500. 

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Spectrum Health Big Rapids Hospital receives an 'A' grade for hospital safety

 

For a fourth year in a row, Spectrum Health Big Rapids Hospital received an “A” rating from The Leapfrog Group for hospital safety.

 

Spectrum Health Big Rapids Hospital President Mary Kay VanDriel is honored to receive this award.

 

Receiving an ‘A’ rating year after year is an outstanding accomplishment. Our team at Big

Rapids Hospital is dedicated to patient safety, and we’re very proud to accept the Leapfrog

Award,” VanDriel said. “It proves that each of our employees is an incredible asset in providing trusted, exceptional health care to the communities we serve.”

 

To see Big Rapids Hospital’s full grade, and to access consumer-friendly patient tips for staying safe in the hospital, visit www.hospitalsafetygrade.org. Reed City Hospital received a Top Hospital award from The Leapfrog Group in 2016, but does not qualify for a grade rating because it is a Critical Access Hospital.

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Repairs under way on old US-131 in Wexford County

 

Construction crews have started rebuilding nearly six miles of the road between Cadillac and Manton in Wexford County.

 

The rebuild of old US-131 is part of a $5.5 million project to repair the road that dates back to the 1930s.

 

Part of the project is to transfer the road from state control to Wexford County.

 

Crews hope to finish the project by October.

 

 

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Reed City woman faces drug charges for the second time

 

A second drug offense may be sending a 51-year-old Reed City woman to prison.

 

Amy Jo Smith is being charged with possession of marijuana or synthetic equivalent for a second time following an incident last month in Clam Lake Township.

 

Smith could spend the next two years in prison if convicted.

 

 

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CMU Student pleads not guilty to hazing charges

 

20-year old Dale Merza, a Central Michigan University student, is facing hazing charges for allegedly smearing peanut butter on the face of a classmate with a severe peanut allergy.

 

The student's mother said her son passed out at a fraternity house when peanut butter was rubbed on his face back in October.

 

Merza has pleaded not guilty but his attorney says his client will be found innocent once the facts come out. 

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BRPS looking to finance improvements by selling bonds, wants community input

 

The Big Rapids Board of Education is considering a bond proposal for the November 2017 election. Superintendent Tim Haist says they've been thinking about it for a while.

 

It's something that we've been looking at for the past couple years, ever since our strategic planning sessions a couple years ago. We knew that there were a lot of great things that we're doing, but we also know that there are some areas that we need to continue to improve.”

 

However, Haist says community feedback is important and they want to hear from the Big Rapids school community before deciding what to include in the proposal. He encourages everyone who is interested to share their thoughts and opinions at one of a series of community listening sessions on:

 

  • April 18 at 6:00 pm at Brookside Elementary

  • April 18 at 7:30 pm at Riverside Elementary

  • April 26 at 6:00 pm at the Big Rapids Middle School

  • April 26 at 7:30 pm at the Big Rapids High School

 

For those who cannot attend, Haist says you can go online to brps.org and select the Community Input link to provide feedback or you can call the Superintendent's Office at 231-796-2627.

 

 

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Chambers of Commerce upset over Lansing's sanctuary city status

 

Last week Lansing declared itself a sanctuary city despite threats from the Trump administration that it could cost them federal dollars.

 

Now the Michigan and Lansing Chambers of Commerce want Lansing City Council to rescind the resolution. They say it sends the wrong message to businesses, residents, and potential investors.

 

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions says the Justice Department plans to follow through on the threat of cutting federal funds to sanctuary cities.

 

 

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Where do your federal tax dollars go?

 

Tax Day is April 18 and the National Priorities Project has released its annual breakdown on where your tax dollars go. They say 29 percent goes to healthcare, 23 percent goes to the military, and 13 percent pays down interest on the national debt. But what about education? Spokesperson Lindsay Kosharian says that part of the federal budget is relatively tiny.

 

"And then, when you see that 3 cents of every federal dollar is being spent on education – and that includes everything, from kindergarten up through college – you can easily ask questions about whether the way that we’re using our tax dollars matches what Americans say they want the government to be doing."

 

President Trump’s proposed budget for discretionary spending includes a big increase for defensea nd he has asked for a $2 billion down-payment on a new border wall, which is expected to cost $25 billion total.

 

Koshgarian notes the President wants to slash funding in a number of areas.

 

"For instance he proposed cutting the Department of Education by 14 percent. And he proposed cutting the Department of the Interior, which includes the National Park Service, by 12 percent."

 

Last year, the entire federal budget was about $4 trillion and it's expected to be similar for next year. Congress will take up President Trump’s proposed budget over the next few months and craft a final budget by the fall.

 

 

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Professional fundraisers kept over 60% of Michigan charitable donations in 2016

 

Fund raising is big business and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says less than half of the funds raised by professionals in Michigan go to the charities they're meant for.

 

Schuette's annual Professional Fundraising Charitable Solicitation Report says that in 2016, 61 percent of funds raised by professional fundraisers in Michigan went to the fundraisers themselves.

 

While hiring professional fundraisers and fundraising counsel may benefit certain charities, some professional fundraisers leave little of the donations for the intended charity, with some telemarketers pocketing 85 to 90 percent of the donated funds.

 

Schuette notes most fundraising is done over the phone and residents should ask if the caller works directly for the charity or is a professional fundraiser, ask how much of the donation actually goes to the charity, don’t feel pressured to make an immediate donation, and remember you can always hang up.

 

 

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Grand Rapids area man pleads 'no contest' in fatal car accident involving Morley teen

 

A Grand Rapids area man is pleading no contest to a drunk driving accident that killed a Mecosta County teen last November.

 

This morning in Kent County Circuit Court, 40-year old Ted Vandenbrink pleaded no contest to a felony charge of operating while intoxicated in connection to a three car accident that killed a 17-year old Morley girl.

 

Police say on November 13th,  Vandenbrink was traveling west on 6 Mile Rd NW when he went through a stop sign and struck a mini van which then collided with another pickup truck.

 

The driver of the mini van, 49-year old Beth Cook and her passengers 53-year old Randell Cook received minor injuries while 17-year old Meghan Cook died at the scene from her injuries.

 

Vandenbrink faces up to 15 years in prison when he's sentenced next month.   

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Osceola Township to review zoning requirements for Nestle Water's water pumping station

 

As the permit process continues for Nestle Waters to increase pumping capacity from a well near Evart, the Osceola Township Board will meet to see if the bottle water company's pumping station will meet zoning requirements.

 

Nestle wants to increase its water pumping capacity to 400 gallons per minute at a well near Evart.  

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IRS extends customer service hours

 

To help meet the high demand to its toll-free call center that typically comes as the tax deadline nears, the Internal Revenue Service is extending its customer service hours.

 

The first two weeks of April are typically some of the busiest times of the year for IRS telephone assistors, as they field thousands of calls per hour. The IRS reminds taxpayers that most questions can be answered online by using the numerous tools available at IRS.gov.

 

The IRS toll-free telephone lines will be available Saturday, April 8, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (callers’ local time) and Saturday, April 15, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (callers’ local time). The toll-free line is 800-829-1040.

 

Please remember that all IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers now require an appointment for most services. Instead of going directly to a local IRS office with a tax issue, taxpayers should call 844-545-5640 to reach an IRS representative, who is trained to either help them resolve it or schedule an appointment to get them the help they need.

 

The tax deadline of Tuesday, April 18, is later this year due to several factors. The usual April 15 deadline falls on Saturday this year, which would give taxpayers until the following Monday to file. However, Emancipation Day, a holiday in the District of Columbia, is observed on Monday, April 17, giving taxpayers nationwide an additional day to file. By law, District of Columbia holidays impact tax deadlines for everyone in the same way federal holidays do. Taxpayers requesting an automatic six-month extension will have until Monday, Oct. 16, 2017, to file.

 

 

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Honda recall

 

Another recall involving Takata air bags, this time from Honda.

 

The automaker is recalling 37,000 2003 two-door Accords to check if replacement air bags contain the recalled Takata inflators that may have been installed prior to the massive Takata recalls last year.

 

The inflators made by Takata are blamed in at least 16 deaths and more than 180 injuries worldwide.

 

 

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Mecosta County Park Commission wants your opinion

 

The Mecosta County Park Commission is seeking public input regarding current park operations and future improvements.

 

County residents and non-resident visitors are being encourage to participate in the 2017 Parks Improvement Survey.

 

Superintendent Jeff Abel says the survey helps ensure that the priorities of the Park Commission are in line with the priorities of the community members.

 

The survey is available at www.MecostaCountyParks.com.

 

 

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Mecosta County property owners 'outraged' over possible tax increase

 

Residents around Pickerel Lake in Mecosta County are upset over a possible tax increase on their property. At issue is an uncertain upgrade and required inspections of a lake level control dam. The county wants to impose a special assessment district for property owners around the lake but Grant Township Supervisor Randy Vetter says they don't like it.

 

The residents are outraged. There's no estimate on cost for engineering or construction of an upgrade, they're not interested. The simple structure that is there has worked fine since 1974.”

 

Vetter brought the issue to the attention of the Mecosta County Board of Commissioners at Thursday's regular meeting. He adds that a petition drive has been started to abolish the assessment district or the dam since the DNR has in their own flood control gate upstream from the lake.

 

However, the dam is used to enforce a court ordered one foot differential in the lake level from April to November of each year and Mecosta County Drain Commissioner Jackie Fitzgerald says the dam requires periodic inspections.

 

All dams, all county lake level control structures – and we have seven of them – have to have an inspection by a registered engineer every three years. The Pickerel Lake dam is the last lake level control structure that doesn't have a special assessment district around it to pay for maintenance and repair and inspections of it.”

 

She also believes the dam is unsafe because it consists of a series of wooden planks that have to be manually lifted in and out by people who wade out into the lake.

 

A thought of mine is to have a crank system from the top because it's dangerous – you have to have waders, you have to get in there and pry the boards up and knock them down in some way.”

 

Any improvement project for the dam has not yet reached the planning stage because that would require an engineering study for the dam and a nearby roadway.

 

That would be a project with the road commission and I don't have anything right now. So it stays as it is, but costs do incur for the inspection,” says Fitzgerald.

 

Ironically, Fitzgerald says the dam was originally requested by property owners around the lake.

 

The structure itself is a court ordered lake level [dam] petitioned by property owners back in the early '70s to be created.”

 

In 2012, the County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution granting the Drain Commission the right to petition for special assessment districts to help pay for dam upgrades and maintenance. Fitzgerald is currently working on a way to fairly assess the property owners, However, she says, a big problem is the Department of Natural Resources which owns much of the lake property.

 

 

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Cuts to Public Broadcasting may be a safety issue

 

The future of public broadcasting is in question under President Trump's proposed federal budget. PBS spokesperson Joyce Slocum says federal funding makes up as much as 40 or 50-percent of the budget for rural stations.

 

"Those stations are really critical to the system because frequently they're in areas where there may not be another source of news that's free on air. They are sometimes in areas where people don't have other methods to handle emergency situations."

 

Slocum shared a story of how a station in Texas, was used by first responders to communicate with residents about a dangerous wildfire when the phone system failed.

 

Broken out per citizen in the U.S., funding for public broadcasting costs each person $1.35 a year.

 

 

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Cadillac couple accused of CSC with mentally disabled girl

 

A Cadillac couple is being accused of sexually abusing a teenage girl with mental disabilities.

 

Wexford County Prosecutor Jason Elmore says Alton Graham is accused of having sex with the 17-year-old girl, while Shauna Graham faces charges of 3rd degree criminal sexual conduct and giving the teen alcohol.

 

If convicted, Alton Graham could face life in prison for being a four-time habitual offender. Shauna Graham faces two years two years in jail.

 

 

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Mecosta County jury tampering case goes to trial

 

A Mecosta County man will be going to trial on jury tampering and obstruction of justice charges.

 

Keith Wood had appealed his case all the way to the Michigan Supreme Court, but but earlier this week the Court declined to hear Wood’s argument.

 

Wood was arrested in 2015 after distributing material about jury nullification outside the Mecosta County Courthouse.

 

The case is expected to go to trial in Mecosta County’s 77th District Court next month.

 

 

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Jaws of life used to free driver in Mecosta County car accident

 

The “jaws of life” were used to free an Edmore woman who was trapped in her SUV following an accident in Mecosta County Thursday.

 

Deputies say the 21-year old driver was traveling on Jackson Rd east of 30th Ave in Millbrook Twp; that's where she lost control on the slushy road, left the road and struck a tree.

 

Emergency crews freed the Edmore woman from her vehicle and took her to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries. 

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Mackinaw Trail in Osceola County to get fixed up

 

Beginning next week, a stretch of Mackinaw Trail in Osceola County between 11 mile and 14 mile will be getting reconstructed.

 

Officials say once the project starts, the road will be closed to traffic.

 

A detour will be set up using US-131 between 11 and 14 Mile Roads.

 

Officials hope to finish the project by May 15.

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Winter storm advisory canceled; River Flood Advisory in effect for Mecosta & Osceola Counties

 

It looks like old man winter is not rearing his head one final time.

 

The National Weather Service in Grand Rapids has canceled the winter storm watch for Mecosta County and the entire west central michigan area.

 

However,  a river flood warning is still in affect for Mecosta and Osceola Counties until 2pm Saturday. 

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Payless closings update, Big Rapids store shutting down

 

In a follow up to Tuesday's story about Payless ShoeSource filing for bankruptcy, the company has confirmed 10 stores in Michigan will be shutting down, including one in Big Rapids and one in Cadillac.

 

Officials say the announced closure of 400 stores in the U.S. And Puerto Rico could affect as many as 2,000 employees.

 

Payless has 4,400 stores in 30 countries that employ nearly 22,000 people.

 

 

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Payless shoes closing 400 stores

 

Shoe chain Payless ShoeSource is filing for bankruptcy.

 

Officials say it will immediately close nearly 400 stores in an effort to reduce its debt by almost 50 percent.

 

CEO Paul Jones blames an increasing shift by shoppers to buy online or at discount stores like T.J. Maxx.

 

It's unclear if the Big Rapids store will be one of those shutting its doors.

 

 

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Rep. Michele Hoitenga wants to hear from Mecosta, Osceola, and Wexford residents

 

State Rep. Michele Hoitenga is inviting residents of Wexford, Mecosta and Osceola counties to her office hours for the month of April.

 

Hoitenga says she wants everyone to come and share their concerns and ideas because it makes her a more effective representative.

 

You can come and talk with her on:

 

  • Friday, April 7 at Jennifer’s Roundabout Restaurant, 4642 N. M 37 in Mesick, from 8 to 9 a.m.;

  • Friday, April 7 at Lisa’s Grille, 112 E. Church St. in Tustin, from 11 a.m. to noon.

  • Monday, April 24 at William’s Café, 19636 N. 30th Ave. in Barryton, from 8 to 9 a.m.; and

  • Monday, April 24 at Moe-Z-Inn, 249 N. Cass St. in Morley, from 11 a.m. to noon.

 

If you can't meet up with her, she encourages people to call her at (517) 373-1747, or email her at MicheleHoitenga@house.mi.gov.

 

 

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New taxes and fees not enough to fix Michigan's roads

 

The National Transportation Research Group, or TRIP, says despite increasing fuel taxes and registration fees in Michigan, it's still not enough to fix all the roads in the state.

 

TRIP Director of Policy and Research Rocky Moretti says although many road projects can be completed under the current $1.2 billion plan, some $200 million dollars more would be needed to address what he calls one of the largest pavement challenges in the nation.

 

The Michigan Department of Transportation says 20 percent of the most critical roadways in the state are in poor condition.

 

 

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Ferris State University ranks high in best value college study

 

According to SmartAsset, Ferris State University in Big Rapids ranks sixth in its “Best value college study” in the state of Michigan.

 

According to the study, Ferris State university has a student retention rate of 80%, yearly tuition of $10,952 and student living costs of $11,412.

 

The study adds the average starting salary of a FSU graduate is just under $48,000.

 

University of Michigan in Ann Arbor topped this years list. For a complete rankings, click here.  

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Mecosta Co. ranks 57th in 2017 county health rankings

 

Mecosta County ranks 57th overall in the 2017 annual County Health Rankings report, which arranges Michigan’s counties on health based on a number of factors.

 

According to the report, researchers had a number of concerns for Mecosta County including the high school graduation rate at 79%, 30% of children are in poverty, 35% of residents are obese and 20% of county adults smoke.

 

There were positives in the report, where Mecosta County's teen birth rate was low, a low uninsured rate and no drinking water violations. 

 

To view the entire rankings click here

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Lansing declares itself a sanctuary city for immigrants

 

Lansing is declaring itself a sanctuary city in defiance of the Trump administration.

 

Lansing City Council made the move Monday night by passing a resolution that advocates for undocumented immigrants.

 

This after Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero issued an executive order saying Lansing police officers will treat suspected undocumented immigrants just like anyone else.

 

The Trump Administration says the Immigration and Nationality Act bars state and local governments from prohibiting, or in any way restricting the sharing of immigration information with federal officials.

 

 

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Medication take back event a success

 

Spectrum Health Big Rapids, Reed City Hospitals, and Ten16 Recovery Network say their recent Medication Needle Take Back event was one of the most successful to date.

 

This spring’s program yielded a collection of 156 pounds of medication and 91.5 pounds of needles in Mecosta and Osceola counties.

 

The next program is scheduled for July 25 at Reed City Hospital and July 27 at Big Rapids Hospital.

 

 

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VA crisis hot line puts callers on hold

 

The Department of Veterans Affairs says problems with its Veterans Crisis Line are fixed, but as of two weeks ago, the VA inspector general had found that nearly a third of calls to the hot line were bounced to back-up centers run by an outside contractor.

 

The rollover calls happen when phone lines are busy, leading to waits of 30 minutes or more.

 

Approximately 20 veterans take their lives each day and Rep. Phil Roe, a physician who chairs the House committee on Veterans Affairs, questions whether the VA intends to fully implement needed reforms.

 

 

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Big Rapids looking for nearly $2 million from the state for infrastructure improvements

 

Big Rapids is hoping to get some big bucks from the State of Michigan. The City Commission authorized a grant application to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation for an Infrastructure Capacity Enhancement, or ICE, grant at Monday's meeting.

 

We are applying for over $1.9 million,” says City Manager Mark Gifford. And what will the city do with all that money if they get the grant?

 

A brand new water main, new roadway, and there will be some additional work in terms of sidewalks and trees, maybe some bike lanes in certain spots,” he says.

 

Gifford notes the water main is the main issue behind the grant application, but there will be other improvements and the project will cover a wide area.

 

It's our only ten inch water main, it's made of cast iron so it's brittle – we've had many, many breaks. So it's a reliability enhancer for the university, for that area of town, and connecting the whole system. It's going to go from Oak Street all the way to State Street [along] Ives Avenue, one block of Magnolia and then there will be two blocks on Clark Street the other side of State behind Wendy's and Taco Bell.”

 

Although the grant requires $346,000 in matching funds from the city, Gifford says that money has already been set aside in the city's budget, and Ferris State has committed to contributing $30,000 to the project.

 

The city expects to hear from the state on whether they will be awarded the grant sometime next month. If they get the grant, Gifford expects construction to start sometime in 2018.

 

 

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Ford recalls 2017 F-250's

 

Ford Motor company is recalling 53,000 F-250 trucks.

 

Officials say a manufacturing error can allow the trucks to roll away even when they are parked.

 

The recall affects F-250's from the 2017 model year and Ford says owners should take their vehicle to their local dealership.

 

They also say drivers should use the parking brake to make sure their parked trucks don't move.

 

Ford says they will fix the trucks for free but they are still waiting on replacement parts.

 

 

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Possible raids at schools concern state officials

 

Michigan's departments of education and civil rights want school officials to be prepared if and when officers from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, department show up at their door.

 

Concerns over the enforcement of new immigration rules caused Michigan officials to send a letter to schools saying they should know their rights and responsibilities and be prepared to answer parents' questions.

 

Michigan Department of Civil Rights Director Agustin Arblu says all kids in Michigan have a right to an education, but he’s concerned some parents may keep their children out of school out of fear for their immigration status.

 

 

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Push to legalize marijuana starts next month

 

Supporters of an effort to legalize marijuana say they are planning to start gathering petition signatures in May for a ballot proposal.

 

Several speakers at this weekend's Hash Bash in Ann Arbor told the crowd, estimated at 10,000, to rest up for the May push.

 

Organizers want to make marijuana legal for those 21 years old and up, similar to alcohol.

 

They say the sales tax on marijuana will bring in more money for schools and roads.

 

The hope is to put a ballot proposal before voters in November 2018.
 

 

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Proposed Medicaid changes could affect seniors in nursing homes

 

A proposed Medicaid change could be a threat to long-term care for millions of seniors. House Speaker Paul Ryan says he still plans to turn Medicaid over to the states in block grants with fewer guidelines. Carol Regan with Community Catalyst points out that Medicaid funds two-thirds of all nursing-home and long-term care. She says making it into a block-grant program would force states to cut services – just when more are needed.

 

As the population ages, particularly the over-80, with a per-capita cap or a block grant, there’s no way you can adapt to the need of the growing aging population,” she says.

 

Medicaid covers healthcare for low-income Americans, but the majority of funding goes to provide long-term care for seven million seniors. Speaker Ryan's latest proposal would have cut Medicaid by $880-billion.

 

 

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Two Michigan lawmakers to write resolution against Nestle Waters Evart well application

 

Ahead of a public hearing on Nestle Waters' request to pump more water out of the Great Lakes, two state lawmakers are expected to introduce resolutions urging the state to reject the request.

 

Nestle wants to increase pumping operations at its well near Evart in Osceola Coutny.

 

Muskegon democrat Terry Sabo says there isn't enough information at this time to understand the potential impact of increase pumping.

 

Nestle wants to double the amount of water for its Ice Mountain brand.

 

A public hearing is planned for April 12th at Ferris State University in Big Rapids. Comments on the application can be submitted until April 21st. 

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FSU hosts Lunch and Learn programs during National Public Health Week

Ferris State University’s Public Health programs will be active during the first full week of April, which is designated by the American Public Health Association as National Public Health Week. With a goal to promote prevention of illnesses and injuries, the program’s administration and faculty will welcome the Mecosta County community to four campus events, which will feature experts in their respective subjects.

 

College of Health Professions Dean Matthew Adeyanju said Public Health Week has been celebrated globally for more than 20 years, and these free events are intended to help county residents lead a healthier and safer life.

 

"Prevention of illnesses and injuries is a part of every person's daily life," Adeyanju says. "By hosting National Public Health Week events, and providing educational resources, we hope to help build a healthy community in Mecosta County and beyond."

 

The following Lunch and Learn events will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the West Campus Community Center on Ferris’ Big Rapids campus:

 

  • Monday, April 3 – “The Dangers of Distracted Driving and The Dangers of Social Media” presented by Victor Vandertol, deputy, Mecosta County Sheriff’s Office

  • Tuesday, April 4 – “It’s Summer, and It’s Hot!” presented by Tim Kearney, certified safety professional, 3M Personal Safety Division

  • Wednesday, April 5 – “How Much is Enough – or Excessive?” presented by Dave Greydanus, assistant professor, Ferris State University School of Criminal Justice

 

Lunch will be provided and pre-registration is required. More event information is available at online. Those interested are asked to contact Public Health Assistant Professor Margaret Wan at 231-591-3131 by Saturday, April 1.

 

In addition, on Tuesday, April 4, the documentary, “A Day’s Work,” will be shown starting at 5 p.m., in room 120 of the Interdisciplinary Resource Center. The 2015 film, which is focused on the health risks of temporary workers across the U.S., will be presented by producer Dave DeSario, a founding member of TemporaryEmployees.org. This documentary has been screened at more than 75 locations across the nation, and program organizers with the university are pleased to host the event.

 

 

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Michigan congressman proposes 'Medicare for All'

 

A Michigan congressman is proposing a solution to the healthcare debate that some physicians believe is a better alternative than the failed GOP proposal, and would fix the shortcomings of Obamacare. Representative John Conyers introduced the Medicare for All Act, which would extend and expand the popular single-payer program already in place for those over age 65.

 

Glenn Pearson, former president of Physicians for a National Health Program, says a single-payer option would allow President Trump to make good on campaign promises for more coverage and better benefits.

 

"America is the only wealthy country in the world that has a free market, for-profit system. It treats health care as a commodity, like buying a TV. In every other country, health care is a human right,” he says.

 

Critics have say the move would be too costly for insurance and healthcare companies, but independent analysis of similar legislation found that 95 percent of American households would pay less than with the current system of insurance premiums, deductibles, and co-pays.

 

Pearson, while not a fan of the Trumpcare proposal, notes the Affordable Care Act still leaves many without coverage and channels billions of taxpayer dollars to private insurance companies. He says a majority of Americans, including Republicans, support a system where money currently going to administrative overhead and private profits is spent on patient care instead.

 

"There would be no deductibles, no co-insurance, there would be very small co-pays. And so nobody would ever go bankrupt because they became ill."

 

He says even though more people have insurance since the rollout of the ACA, nearly two million Americans go bankrupt each year because of healthcare expenses. A National Day of Action calling for universal guaranteed health care is set for April 8th, the first day of the congressional recess.

 

 

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Spectrum Health Big Rapids and Reed City Hospitals to offer free cancer screenings for eligible residents

 

Spectrum Health Big Rapids and Reed City Hospitals will again be offering free cancer screenings for eligible residents.

 

The eligibility requirements are those 64 or under, who do not have health insurance or coverage for screenings and who have not had a cancer screening in at least one year.

 

Screenings include skin cancer, colorectal, mammogram, pelvic exam with pap smear and prostate screening.

 

The screenings are available on Friday, April 14, 2017.

 

Appointments are required and walk-ins will not be accepted.

 

To make an appointment or more information call 231.305.8650. 

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Online privacy landscape changing with new FCC rules

 

While privacy advocates say overturning FCC rules on Internet privacy will put all consumers’ personal information at risk, it raises added concerns for the immigrant community. Current rules require Internet Service Providers to get permission before sharing “sensitive” information, like Social Security numbers or health records.

 

Alex Nogales, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, points out that without those rules, ISPs will be allowed to sell customer information, including immigration status, to anyone. Nogales notes that regulations do serve a purpose.

 

"They keep everybody safe, they keep everybody in check. Now, we're losing the rules and regulations that the FCC has put down, so that business can make more money,” he says.

 

ISPs lobbied heavily against the rules and in favor of overturning them. Under the new Congressional Review Act, the FCC will also be prohibited from adopting similar rules protecting privacy in the future.

 

Opponents of the new rule say they will buy the internet data of Congressional members and display it online. President Trump is expected to sign the bill.

 

 

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More business tax breaks being considered in Lansing

 

New legislation approved by the Michigan Senate would provide tax incentives for business expansions. Senator Jim Stamas sponsored the "Good Jobs for Michigan bill package".

“This package is specific to look at bringing 250 plus jobs, or 500 plus jobs to a community. They must be new and they must meet a regional average wage or better,” he says.

 

Stamas says the package also states a company will not get a single dime until they can prove those jobs were created. However, some lawmakers say the state should not be giving more tax breaks to big business when they haven't been giving out similar incentives to smaller businesses.

 

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Sanctuary cities in Michigan could lose federal funding

 

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he will cut billions in federal funding from so-called sanctuary cities, some of which are in Michigan, that choose to help undocumented immigrants. Some members of Congress, like Representative Pramila Jayapal, say Sessions is trying to make local municipalities enforce federal immigration laws.

 

"The vast majority of sanctuary policies across the country do not violate the Constitution; and you could even argue to force jurisdictions to implement federal immigration laws would, in fact, be a violation of the Constitution."

 

Sessions says, "Countless Americans would be alive today and countless loved ones would not be grieving today if these policies of sanctuary cities were ended." However, federal government data shows crime rates are lower in sanctuary jurisdictions than their non-sanctuary counterparts.

 

 

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