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Big Rapids Daily News
News That Affects You Archives for 2015-08

Welcome Weekend parties at CMU result in hundreds being ticketed


Central Michigan University students partied a little too hard as they arrived on campus for the school’s Welcome Weekend.


Mount Pleasant police say they took nearly 600 calls between Thursday and Sunday, and gave out around 200 tickets over the time frame.


Those numbers represent a 30 percent increase from last year’s Welcome Weekend at CMU.


Local residents say that over the years they’ve been forced to upgrade their properties to ward off potential partiers, including everything from alarm systems to motion-activated lights.


The campus Greek community helped clean up the area after Welcome Weekend, picking up almost 70 trash bags worth of litter.


Mount Pleasant police expect the excessive partying to die down, now that Welcome Weekend is over.



Person who stole from several storage units still on the loose


Police are searching for the person responsible for stealing from several storage units over the past week.


The Missaukee County Sheriff’s Office has released surveillance photos of the vehicle found at the scene of several reported larcenies at storage units.


The photos picture a red Pontiac Grand Am, with a model year between 1998 and 2004.


Anyone with information on the larcenies, the Grand Am or its owner should contact the Missaukee County Sheriff’s Office.



Report: Courser & Gamrat guilty of misuse of taxpayer resources

State House Reps Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat' offices “misused” taxpayer resources to cover up the two lawmakers affair, according to a 40-page investigation summary by the House Business Office.


The report said “Representative Courser and Representative Gamrat are not credible witnesses” because their comments conflicted with documented evidence and audios presented by their three former staff members that were deemed to be more accurate.


The business office cited testimony and documentation from Courser and Gamrat’s former aides Keith Allard, Ben Graham and Joshua Cline as evidence of the representatives’ misconduct in office.


The House Business Office concluded there is “insufficient evidence to support a claim of wrongful termination” of Allard and Graham since both were at-will employees. Lawmakers are free to hire and fire staff without questions from the business office.  


Police searching for suspects responsible for meth lab dump

Police up in Wexford County are on the lookout for two men they believe are responsible for dumping a one-pot meth lab.


Officers were called for a suspicious situation in the area of E. 18 Rd. near N. 37 Rd. in Cedar Creek Township. The caller told police of a maroon passenger vehicle occupied by two men in their early 20's who were taking items out of the trunk of the car. When deputies arrived to the scene, they discovered the suspects had dumped chemicals, components and other items to manufacture methamphetamine.


If you have any information about this situation, contact TNT at 1-(866)638-4847. Callers can remain anonymous.   


Lake Co. names New Hampshire native Administrator

Lake County has selected a new Administrator.


New Hampshire native, Kris Tucker accepted the position last week. Tucker is the first County administrator for Lake in nearly 20 years, the duties were previously handled by the County's Chief Financial Officer Shelly Meyers.


Tucker previously worked in finances, along with real estate and environmental protection.   


Pure Michigan says the fall travel season is just beginning


Soon the temps will drop and tree colors will change and a Michigan is launching an ad campaign to promote those things.

The Pure Michigan $2.4 million fall campaign gets underway Monday with plans to run ads across

the Midwest and other regions.

Michelle Grinnell of Travel Michigan says the goal is to let people know that Michigan’s travel season doesn’t end on Labor Day.

She says there lots to do in Michigan in the fall, like take a fall color tour, go hiking or visit one of the state’s many cider mills.

The fall campaign runs through October 1st.




Victim hospitalized in Mt. Pleasant hit-and-run, police searching for suspect


Police in Mount Pleasant are looking for a suspect in a hit and run incident.


Authorities say a 22-year-old Flint man was hit by a black sedan while crossing South Washington Street early Saturday morning.


The driver of the sedan fled the scene northbound on Washington Street. The victim is hospitalized.


Anyone with information is asked to called the Mount Pleasant Police Department at 989-779-9111.




Police seeking person of interest in Big Rapids


Mecosta County Sheriff's Deputies are asking the public's help in identifying a man involved in an incident at the Oakwood Townhouses in Big Rapids.


Spokesperson Todd Tanner says the incident occurred Saturday night during a large party.


Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Mecosta County Sheriff's office at 231-592-0150.


Man involved in two-county police chase crashes stolen car


A man is in custody after leading deputies on a multi-county police chase.


A 42-year-old Grand Rapids man was speeding in Wexford County when an officer attempted to pull him over.


The man then fled down M-115, crossing into Osceola County.


He then crashed his vehicle into a creek, and attempted to run away before he was caught by a K9 unit.


The man is now in Wexford County Prison.


He faces charges of third degree fleeing and eluding resulting in a collision, possession of a stolen vehicle, obstructing police and second degree driving while license is suspended. 



Report on specific allegations of wrongdoing against Gamrat and Courser to be released


The press secretary for House Speaker Kevin Cotter says a report outlining allegations against Representative Cindy Gamrat and Todd Courser is expected to be released Monday.


Our report is focused on violations of house rules and the misuse of taxpayer funds,” says Gideon D'Assandro. “If we find anything that looks criminal, we'll refer it to the appropriate law enforcement agency.”


Gamrat and Courser are implicated in a scheme to cover up their extramarital affair. A preliminary report indicated the pair misused taxpayer resources in the scheme.


Specific allegations of wrongdoing will be coming out soon,” says D'Assandro.


Gamrat had hired the company, Near Perfect Media, to handle crisis communication for her, but company President Justin Near confirms that he resigned last Wednesday. Gamrat has not commented on Near's resignation.


Courser has admitted he orchestrated a smear campaign against himself in which he had an email sent to Republican supporters from an anonymous account accusing him of paying for sex with a male prostitute. Courser says he did this to distract attention from the actual affair, which he feared was about to become public due to a series of text messages sent from a anonymous cell phone number demanding his resignation in exchange for silence on the matter.


Fatal pedestrian-car accident in Mecosta County


A 27-year-old Newaygo man is dead after being struck by a car while walking on Northland Drive. Police say the victim was in the roadway just south of Pierce Road in Stanwood at about 2:00 AM on Sunday when he was struck by a 26-year-old Rodney man driving southbound on Northland Drive.


The victim was pronounced dead at the scene and the driver of the vehicle was arrested for OWI. The identities of both subjects are not being released at this time.


Ferris State U. Non-Tenured faculty reaches new contract agreement just before school begins

Ferris State University and the Ferris Nontenure-Track Faculty Organization have reached a tentative agreement on a new five-year contract as the result of bargaining that took place on Thursday, Aug. 27. When ratified, the pact would replace the previous contract between non-tenure faculty and the university.


“We are thrilled to start school with a mutually beneficial five-year contract. We now look forward to bringing our professionalism and experience back into the classroom and helping our students reach their career and educational goals,” said Linda Sherwood, lead bargaining negotiator for the FNTFO.


“I want to express my gratitude to the negotiators for both the Ferris Nontenure-Track Faculty Organization and the university for the time they put in to reach this agreement,” said Ferris President David Eisler. “We are deeply appreciative of the work of our faculty. This agreement is good news for our non-tenure faculty, the University, and most importantly our students.”


Details of the contract will be released pending its ratification. The FNTFO has a general membership meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 8.                                                                                                                                                                             


Classes begin at the university on Monday, Aug. 31.


Rep. Moolenaar to speak in Reed City


Congressman John Moolenaar will hold a listening session in Reed City next week.


Moolenaar, a Representative from Michigan’s 4th District, will be speaking in Reed City at 11:30 a.m. this Monday.


Listening sessions are constituents’ opportunities to ask their Representatives about any issue that concerns them.


At a recent listening session in Mount Pleasant, Moolenaar talked about everything from the Iran-Contra deal to GMOs and veterans affairs.


The session will take place at the Osceola County Building at 301 West Upton Avenue in Reed City, running from 11:30 to 12:30 on Monday.


For your convenience, we've provided the following information below:


For directions to the Osceola County Building from our radio station, click here.


For a street view of the building, click here.


To see what Moolenaar discussed at a listening session on August 21, read our stories here and here.


To subscribe to Moolenaar's mailing list, visit his website here.



Cardinals win double overtime thriller in Cadillac to kick off season

The Big Rapids High School Cardinals football team eked out a win 17-14 in a double overtime thriller at Cadillac H.S. last night to start their season.


The Cards were led by the running attack of RB Desean Griffin who rushed for 106 yards on 24 carries and one touchdown and Wyatt Bowen who had a TD and 25 total yards. Kicker Dakota Sanders hit the 21-yard game winning field goal in double overtime.


The Cardinals (1-0) will host the Lions of Newaygo High School (0-1) for their home opener at Top Taggart Field in Big Rapids Sept.3rd at 7pm.    


Big Rapids ranked fifth least expensive college town in America


Big Rapids is the fifth least expensive college town in the U.S., according to a ranking done by


The realty site based its rankings off of each city’s median home price, using towns with over 20 percent of their residents being college students to populate their study.


Big Rapids’ median home price of under $115,000 was cheaper than all but four of the over 300 towns included in the rankings.


Kalamazoo was not far behind, ranking as the sixth least expensive college town with a median home price $4,000 more expensive than in Big Rapids.


Both cities are barely half as expensive as America’s average median home price, which was $228,000 in the second quarter of 2015.



Medical marijuana use for severe autism rejected by state


Michiganders with severe autism will not be able to receive medical marijuana as part of their treatment.


This is the result of a ruling by state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs head Mike Zimmer, who rejected a recommendation to add autism to the list of conditions for which medical marijuana can be used.


While supporters of medical marijuana for severe autism say it has shown to be effective in reducing extreme physical behavior, Zimmer says there’s still a lack of evidence to back it up.


Zimmer also says the forms of medical cannabis required to treat severe autism may not be legal in Michigan.


If Zimmer had accepted the recommendation, Michigan would have been the first state to allow people with severe autism to receive medical marijuana.



Confidence in state leadership declining


A public policy survey of local leaders across Michigan shows less than half feel the state is headed in the right direction


Program coordinator for the Center for Local, State and Urban Policy at the University of Michigan Tom Ivacko says the results were unexpected.

“The thing we were most surprised about in this report was that support for the direction in which Michigan is heading fell most precipitously among Republican local leaders.”


Ivacko says their support fell the most compared to last year.

As a whole, Governor Rick Snyder’s approval rating held steady from last year but the legislature’s approval rating dipped.

Of those surveyed, 38 percent say lawmakers are doing a poor job.

Recent tax policy decisions and the ongoing road funding debate are cited as reasons respondents don’t think Michigan is headed in the right direction.



New twist in legislator sex scandal


There's a new twist in the sex scandal involving two state lawmakers.

MLive reports the person who bought a throw away phone that sent text messages to State Representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat is named Todd Courser.

He denies buying the phone.

MLive, who hired a private investigator to find the owner of the phone, notes a person doesn’t have to show an ID when buying a throw away phone so someone could have given Coursers name.

Last week Gamrat spokespers Justin Near she hired a private investigator to find out who bought the phone.

Near says it wasn’t Courser or Gamrat or any of their former staffers.

He pledged to release the name once they were able verify it through a second investigator however her camp has been quiet since.




Big Rapids landlord in hot water with police


A Big Rapids landlord is in some hot water with police after being accused of allegedly propositioning a woman for sexual favors.


49-year old Craig David Chapman has been charged in Mecosta Co. District Court with a misdemeanor count of accosting or soliciting prostitution. The alleged incident occurred in Big Rapids on July 16th, according to court documents.


Chapman faces up to three months in jail and fines of up to $500, if convicted.  


Law enforcement emphasizes keeping kids safe at the start of the school year


The start of a new school year brings a lot of changes for everyone and law enforcement officials are especially aware of safety for everyone on the road.


State Police Commander Lawrence Schloegl says children going to and from classes means motorists need to refocus on common sense procedures.


We've got kids out there at the bus stops, we've got school buses that are going to be on the road. A reminder to share the road, obey the traffic laws, and watch out for kids.”


Schloegl notes that we are creatures of habit and shifting from summer to fall takes some adjusting.


Yeah, your going to come right off the last summer holiday weekend and the very next day kids are going to be at school,” he says.


A key component of safety around school buses is to watch the lights. And, there are specific rules regarding those lights.


Motorists on the road, they need to be prepared to stop when a slowing bus has its overhead yellow lights flashing,” says Schloegl. “They should come to a complete stop at least 20 feet away from the bus when its overhead red lights are flashing and not proceed until the bus either resumes motion or they're signaled to do so by the bus driver. They also need to proceed with caution when the hazard warning lights located near the headlights are flashing.”


And, there seems to be a common misunderstanding about stopping for school buses among motorists.


I think a lot of people are of the impression that if the bus is in the northbound lane and they're traveling southbound that they don't need to stop. Well, that's not true, they do need to stop. The only time that they're not, if it's a divided highway. Then the opposing traffic in the opposite direction that the bus is facing is not required to stop.”


Schloegl emphasizes that the safety of our school children is a team effort and it's not just the motorists who have a roll to play.


We've been in contact with many of the bus barns here and the bus drivers have been going through the preparations to be prepared out there for those first days,” he says. “Parents need to actually sit down and have that conversation with their children and remind them of the safety procedures that they need to take when they're going to be entering and exiting the bus.”


And, despite the excitement or disappointment of coming off summer vacation and starting back to school, students need to keep their role in mind as well.


Before they just run around the front of the bus or something, they need to make sure that they proceed slowly with caution, that the walk away from the bus making sure that the bus driver can see them. They should never cross in front of the bus to cross the road without at least having eye contact with the bus driver and the bus driver signaling for them that it's safe to go ahead and cross the road.”


Scloegl notes other transportation related safety tips for students include:


  • Having a safe place to wait for the bus, away from traffic and the street.

  • Do not run or play while waiting for the bus.

  • Make sure to always remain in clear view of the bus driver. Never go behind the bus.

  • Stay away from the bus until it comes to a complete stop and the driver signals you to enter.

  • Walk to the bus stop with a buddy.

  • Mind all traffic signals and/or the crossing guard. Never cross the street against a light, even if you do not see traffic coming.

  • Do not talk to strangers. Tell your parents if a stranger tries to talk to you.

  • Never leave with a stranger or get into a stranger's vehicle.




Manistee park remains closed due to arsenic scare


A popular Manistee park is staying closed due to high levels of arsenic.


Lighthouse Park in Manistee had been closed earlier this month to test for arsenic, and results from the test have shown that there are elevated levels of arsenic at the park.


Arsenic is known to cause cancer after prolonged exposure to it.


Lighthouse Park is a community playground that was built by locals 20 years ago, using wood that was treated with arsenic.


More results from the test will come back next week, after which the city will determine what’s next for Lighthouse Park.



Woman in critical condition after go-cart accident


A woman is fighting for her life after a freak go-cart accident.


Kent County police say 40-year-old Rachel Gibbs was driving a go-cart at AJ’s Family Fun Center in Comstock Park on Tuesday when her scarf got caught in the go-cart’s tire, choking her.


Gibbs, who was having trouble breathing, was transported to a Grand Rapids hospital with life-threatening injuries.


As of this morning, Gibbs remains in critical condition.


Gibbs, who is from the United Kingdom, was in the area visiting family when the accident happened.



Study: Car owners not using new vehicle technology

Despite billions of dollars being spent by automakers to add advanced technology in their new vehicles, a new J-D Power and Associates study shows much of that technology going unused.

The study surveyed 4,200 new vehicle owners and lessees. It found that just one of five owners has never used half of the 33 technology features in their new vehicles, Those include safety devices to seamless connectivity of smartphones and iPods to semi-autonomous driving with sensors and controllers in driver-assist technologies that steer, brake and accelerate to avoid a collision if the driver fails to act.


Other services going unused include mobile routers, automatic parking systems, head-up displays and built-in apps.


Indiana car accident claims the life of Big Rapids man

A Big Rapids man died in a car accident in Indiana.


Deputies from the Tipton County Sheriff’s Department say the accident happened early Monday morning on U.S.-31 just south of county road 550 North. When police arrived to the scene they found a vehicle a half mile into a cornfield on the west side of U.S. 31, and the driver, 63-year old Clifford F. Williams, unconscious and unresponsive. Williams was taken to Community Howard Regional Health and later pronounced dead.


Autopsy results are pending.  


Michigan doctor says opting out of vaccinating schools kids is risky for everyone


A Michigan doctor is launching a website making it easier for people to voice opposition to the state’s policy that allows parents to opt-out of immunizations for their kids attending schools or daycares.

Grand Rapids-area doctor, Michelle Davis, says she launched the website after learning some schools only have a 90 percent vaccination rate.

“Our lawmakers need to know that this is a very very important public health issues and that the large majority in Michigan believe in vaccines.”

She says unvaccinated kids are putting other kids at risk for vaccine-preventable illnesses.

Her website,, can click a link that sends an email to state lawmakers with information about the risks of not immunizing children.




Gas prices heading down


The decline in the price of gas in Michigan that began last week should continue for a few more weeks now that BP’s Whiting, Indiana refinery is back online.


Patrick DeHaan of Gas Buddy-dot-com predicts gas prices could dip to under $2 a gallon by the end of the year. He says the problems at Whiting shows how volatile the industry can be.

“When demand is so high you have very little spare capacity for additional gasoline supply. And then, when you have the largest refinery in the midwest going down it certainly adds insult to injury and that's what we saw here. But now with that refinery coming back up, certainly an undoing of the price spokes that we saw earlier.”

DeHaan expects gas prices in Michigan to drop another 25-cents to 50-cents over the next few weeks.




Paris man taken to jail for drunk driving accident and several outstanding warrants

A Paris man lands behind bars after hitting a tree with his car in Mecosta Co.


The accident happened on Alma Lake Rd. near Sumac, That's where deputies found the 35-year old Paris man who had ran of the road and struck a tree. Alcohol is believed to be a factor in the accident.


The Paris man was taken to an area hospital before being sent to jail for multiple offenses and several outstanding warrants  


Mecosta man suffers life threatening injuries after rollover accident

A Mecosta man is fighting for his life following a rollover accident last night in Mecosta Co. 


It happened on 11 Mile Rd just west of 90th Ave., Deputies say that's where the 31-year old Mecosta man was traveling at a high rate of speed when he lost control while going around a curve. When the vehicle ran off the road and overturned, the driver was thrown from the car.


He was flown by AeroMed to a Grand Rapids hospital for treatment of life threatening injuries.  


Hesperia woman facing charges for meth crimes


A Hesperia woman is in jail facing methamphetamine charges.


35-year-old Ricky Hall has been charged with making meth, operating a meth lab in the presence of a minor and maintaining a meth lab.


Hall could spend up to 20 years in prison if she’s convicted.


The charges stem from a police investigation that began in Oceana County in March.


Police searched a building on Loop Road in Newfield Township, finding several items used to produce meth.


Hall is currently in Newaygo County Jail.




State Representative pushes for mandatory minimums for heroin possession


One state lawmaker is looking to crack down on heroin possession.


State Representative Scott Dianda, an Upper Peninsula Democrat, says the influx of heroin from Wisconsin has been a major issue in his district.


 “We have a lot of problems with heroin crossing the Wisconsin border, and we’re gonna have to start taking a look at the penalties for heroin possession,” Dianda says.


“That’s something I’ve done a lot of research on, because I think that we need to come up with harsher penalties and have a mandatory sentencing guideline on that possession of heroin."


Dianda, who plans on introducing a bill this fall, says people possessing the drug should serve at least three years in prison.




Mt. Pleasant woman still hospitalized following double fatal accident

State Police in Mount Pleasant have released new details and the names of those involved in a deadly accident in Isabella County last week. 


The crash occurred on Airport Road near Summerton Road in Union Township. 


When troopers arrived to the scene, they confirmed two young men, 19-year old Joel Wood and a 16-year old man both of Mt. Pleasant were deceased. 27-year old Shadow Harris also of Mt. Pleasant was seriously injured and trapped inside her vehicle. Emergency crews freed Harris from her vehicle and flown to a Grand Rapids hospital for treatment.


Alcohol is believed to be a factor in the crash.  Additional factors in the crash are still under investigation.


Republican Presidential hopefuls gear up for weekend in Mackinac Island

There are now six Republican presidential hopefuls scheduled to speak at a Republican conference on Mackinac Island next month.


Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is the latest to confirm for the 31st Biennial Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference. Already scheduled are former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Ohio Governor John Kasich and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.


The conference is set for the weekend of September 18.  


Consumers Energy to test its emergency warning siren system in Newaygo Co.

This is a test, this is only a test, that's what officials at Consumers Energy want to remind residents in Newaygo Co. who live near the Rogers, Croton and Hardy Hydroelectric generating plants on the Muskegon River, when it tests its emergency public warning siren systems Wednesday at 10am.


The test will include a voice message, a 30-second siren and a second voice message. The public does not need to take any action during the tests. The siren systems are tested each August and December.



Courser and Gamrat used taxpayer funds to cover affair


An internal investigation by the Michigan House finds State Representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat are guilty of misconduct and misused taxpayer resources.


House spokesperson Gideon D’Assandro says a full report should be released soon.

“The details on that will be coming out in the next couple of days once we've made sure that we can protect confidentiality and make sure that we follow every HR policy on the books for state employees,” he says.

He says a special committee approved by lawmakers last week could continue the investigation.




Newaygo County man sentenced in baby death case


The man accused of concealing the death of a four-month old girl is heading to prison.


Matthew Bradley was sentenced to more than two years for hiding the body of baby Natallya Rich earlier this year.


Investigators say Rich was found in a car seat, in a basement cabinet of Bradley's home.


Bradley told police he found the baby dead when he woke up.




County Administrator leaves office after DUI


Newaygo County's Administrator is calling it quits after being arrested on a DUI charge.


Tobi Lake's resignation has been accepted by the County Board of Comissioners.


Lake was formally charged on one count of drunken disorderly person which stems from an arrest made June 12.


Lake has another court case for a charge of operating while intoxicated with a high blood alcohol content from July 14.




Seven businesses caught selling alcohol to minors in Mecosta County


A number of Mecosta County stores could be facing big penalties after they were caught selling alcohol to minors.


The Mecosta County Sheriff’s Office led alcohol compliance checks at 18 businesses in the county, finding that seven of them willingly sold alcohol to minors.


The clerks who sold the alcohol were cited by police, and the Sheriff’s Office filed reports on all businesses acting illegally.


The names of the businesses who sold the drinks illegally have not yet been released.


According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, around 5,000 minors die each year due to underage drinking.


Meijer Mania aims to help college students start on the right foot

More than 3,000 incoming freshmen students at Ferris State University will be kicking off their first semester of college at Big Rapids' Meijer store this Saturday for the retailer's annual back to college party "Meijer Mania". 


The party will feature a live remote from Big Rapids radio station Y-102 WYBR,  a DJ, photo booth, fashion show, games and contests, food sampling, coupons, and giveaways.


The event starts at 7pm and continues until 10pm. 


Reed City man killed in rollover accident

Deputies in Osceola County say a rollover accident has claimed the life of a Reed City man. 


Under Sheriff Justin Halladay say deputies were dispatched to 1 Mile Rd near Old US-131 Hwy. in Richmond Township for a one car rollover accident Saturday. 


Upon arrival, deputies found a heavily damaged red Ford pickup  located approximately 30 yards off the roadway.  The driver, 63-year old Joseph R. Engle of Reed City, was found inside the truck.  He had received serious injuries and was unresponsive. 


Engle was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency crews.


The accident remains under investigation.  


Update: Baldwin Street Bridge in Big Rapids closing for construction Aug. 25th

Starting Tuesday, Baldwin Street Bridge in Big Rapids will be shut down until Aug. 31st.  


Those traveling on Baldwin Street Bridge to and from work/home will need to seek the alternate route of Maple Street to 4th Ave. to Baldwin Street.  


The bridge will reopen a week later on Monday, Aug. 31st and remain open until Sept. 14th. On Monday, Sept. 14th the bridge is expected to close until July 1st, 2016.


City officials say however, the timeline is not set in stone due to unexpected factors like weather.   


Evart woman killed in ATV accident in Osceola Co.

An ATV accident in Osceola County has killed an Evart woman. 


It happened Saturday on private property near 90th Ave and 1 Mile Rd in Evart Township. State Police say the driver and witnesses reported that an ATV rolled over while riding near a sand pit with driver and back seat passenger still seated.  The backseat passenger sustained multiple injuries and was airlifted to Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids. While en route, the passenger died from her injuries.  The driver sustained no injuries.


The driver was identified as 30-year old Richelle Lynn Root, of Fallbrok, CA.  The deceased was identified as 45-year old Chastity Nandine Naranjo, of Evart. 


Troopers believe alcohol was a factor, and neither the driver nor the passenger was wearing a helmet.



State Police continue to investigate double fatal car accident in Isabella Co.

Alcohol is linked to a two car crash in Isabella County which killed two people.


It happened Thursday night on Airport Road near Summerton Road in Union Township.  Upon arrival, troopers confirmed two young men were deceased, and one seriously injured woman was entrapped in a vehicle. The two deceased men were identified as a 20-year old man and a 16-year old boy, both from Mt. Pleasant .  


A third victim, a 27-year old woman from Mt. Pleasant, was trapped in the second vehicle.  She was freed by members of the Mount Pleasant Fire Department and airlifted to an area hospital by Lifenet. 


Additional factors in the crash are still under investigation.





State Rep. proposes bill making it illegal to stay in left lane


Do you drive in the left lane on the highway?


If so, a new bill in the Michigan House would give officers the right to ticket you.


State Representative Robert Kosowski introduced the bill after one of his constituents told him how unsafe he thinks driving in the left lane for more than just passing cars could potentially be.


"If I'm in the left lane, I'm using it to pass," says Kosowski. "I'm never driving down the left lane the whole time. So when I see people just going 65 [along] the left lane...


"After this guy brought it up to me, I'm starting to think, this guy has a good point. The right lane's wide open. Get over there!"


The bill still awaits a hearing in a House committee.


Man struck by car, killed on busy street


A Grand Rapids man is dead after being hit by a car yesterday.


52-year-old Jimmie Lee Walker was standing along 28th Street in Grand Rapids when he stepped off of the curb and into the road.


The driver was unable to avoid Walker, striking him.


Walker was taken to St. Mary’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.


The driver was uninjured, and deputies say speed and alcohol didn’t play a role in the crash.


The incident is still under investigation.






Feds extend Michigan's waiver for No Child Left Behind


The federal government is granting Michigan a No Child Left Behind waiver. Department spokesman Bill DiSessa says they wanted more time to collect data from their newly implemented assessment test, the M-STEP. But, he says, the waiver doesn't mean the state will stop efforts to help struggling schools.


“We're going to continue working with schools to increase student achievement, hold them accountable when they don't, and reward them when they sustain student academic growth,” he says.


The waiver gives the state until 2017 to identify low performing schools.


Major motocross race held in Missaukee County


Local motocross is back in full force after riders competed in an enduro race in Missaukee County on Sunday.


Hundreds of racers took part in the Jack Pine Enduro Cowbell Classic in Moorestown as part of the AMA National Enduro Series, one of the largest enduro series in America.


Enduro races see riders tear through dozens of miles of heavy woods and rocky terrain, as they race to get the fastest time possible.


Kailub Russell ended up winning the event, which went on despite Sunday’s heavy rainfall.




Metron Health Systems given high quality rating


A local health care organization is receiving a top honors from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.


The CMS says Metron of Big Rapids is rated five out of five stars for quality.


Metron Integrated Health Systems is family owned and provides West Michigan with short-term sub-acute rehabilitation services and post-acute skilled nursing care in six facilities.


Rep. Moolenaar says GMOs are safe, should not be labeled


Congressman John Moolenaar is facing backlash for his stance on GMOs, or genetically modified organisms.


Moolenaar, a representative from Michigan’s 4th District, helped pass a bill that makes it illegal for companies to be forced to label their GMO-laden products.


Instead, companies with products free of GMOs would have to be cleared by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to change their own labeling.


Concerning GMOs, Moolenaar says “I’m confident that it’s safe,” although scientists are still worried about potential side effects, such as their effect on the environment.


At a listening session in Mount Pleasant on Friday, multiple people felt that Moolenaar was more receptive to corporations such as Monsanto than he was to his constituents.




Storm causes pile-up with over 20 people


Over 20 people are mostly unharmed after being involved in a large crash in Grand Traverse County.


The crash took place around 1 p.m. yesterday at the intersection of US 31 South and South Airport Road.


According to deputies, a pick-up truck pulling a camper slid into the vehicle in front of them as a result of rain, causing a chain reaction.


Two of the vehicles in the crash were full of children, but they’re all unharmed.


The only person hurt in the accident was an elderly woman who received minor injuries.




Michigan lawmakers seek changes to adoption laws they call discriminatory


Michigan democrats want to make major changes to what they see as adoption discrimination laws.


The laws they’re looking to amend allow faith-based adoption agencies to turn down requests from same-sex and unmarried couples.


State Representative Sam Singh thinks it was illegal for those laws to have been passed in the first place.


"The fact that the state allows tax dollars to go to religious organizations who can then choose which families they want to serve and which families they can say no to doesn't make a lot sense to me," he says. "I think it's unconstitutional to begin with."


One possible change Democrats have proposed would cut off funding to faith-based adoption agencies.




Police investigating break-in at Cheboygan County store


Police are currently investigating a robbery in Cheboygan County.


The incident took place at Blaskowski’s Feed and Seed in Inverness Township on Friday morning.


The suspect broke into the building through the front door, taking only cash before fleeing the scene.


Last November, a large-scale robbery took place at the same store, with nine suspects eventually being arrested for the incident.


Deputies are currently inspecting surveillance video, and anyone with information on the current break-in is asked to call the Cheboygan County Sheriff Department.




Search halted for man overboard in Lake Michigan


The U.S. Coast Guard is suspending their search for a man who fell overboard in Lake Michigan over the weekend.


Officials say they called off the search Sunday evening after making 11 search-and-rescue formation patterns around the area where he went missing.


Another search won’t be started unless more information on a potential survivor surfaces.


The man fell from a freighter a few miles away from Big Sable Point, north of Ludington.




Rep. Moolenaar takes stand against Iran nuclear deal


Congressman John Moolenaar is heavily opposed to the United States’ nuclear deal with Iran.


Moolenaar, a Representative from Michigan’s 4th District, passionately stated his opinion during a listening session in Mount Pleasant on Friday.


“This may be the most important vote we take in this session and maybe in this decade,” he says.


Moolenaar criticized the removal of sanctions on Iran, as well as the country doing its own investigations on its nuclear sites.


Congress will vote on the nuclear deal once they return to session next month, and while Moolenaar’s skeptical of the deal being overturned, he hopes it’ll spur a bigger conversation.


“My hope is that the American people and Congress can bring the administration to its senses, and if we can reject this deal it then forces a reengagement on this issue,” he says.


In order for the deal to be overturned, Congress would have to reach a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate after the President vetoes the measure.


Lawmakers get ready to cash in on pot


A bill to force the medical marijuana industry to be licensed and taxed by the state awaits a vote in a Michigan House committee.


Representative Klint Kesto says the state’s medical marijuana industry should have a framework and regulations.


But Representative Jeff Irwin fears adding more red tape will backfire, fueling a black market.


The legislation would also create a tracking system to keep tabs on medical marijuana from the time it leaves a grower until it’s sold at a dispensary.



GOP hopeful Marco Rubio visits Michigan, Democrats not impressed


The head of Michigan’s Democratic Party says if Florida Senator Marco Rubio had his way there wouldn’t be an auto industry in Michigan. Brandon Dillon’s comment comes on the heels of Rubio’s appearance at the Detroit Economic Club…

“He portrays himself as the young energetic candidate, but just look at his ideas. They're old and tired and failed,” he says.

Rubio is vying for the GOP nomination for president and has stated he doesn't think the auto industry bailout was the right thing to do.




Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Campaign starts this weekend


Michigan State Police are starting a Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign this weekend.


The campaign cracks down on drunk and impaired drivers, which were responsible for five of six fatal crashes during last year’s Labor Day weekend.


Mt. Pleasant Post Commander Lt. Lawrence Schloegl says there will be more officers patrolling during the campaign.


I’m gonna have several officers out in the Big Rapids area, especially with the [Ferris State University] Welcome Back weekend during this time frame, we’re going to be stepping up our patrols in the area,” he says.


Shloegal has advice for those not wanting to get pulled over during the initiative.


The best way to avoid an arrest and a potential tragedy is to plan before your party by designating a sober driver, taking a cab or spending the night,” he says.


The campaign begins August 21st and will run through September 7th.




Kingsley man arrested on CSC charges in Big Rapids


A 27-year-old man from Kingsley is behind bars in Big Rapids on first-degree criminal sexual conduct and other charges .


Authorities say Justin Paul Gomez undressed and took pictures of a woman while she was incapacitated last Wednesday.


The 22-year-old victim stated she woke up to find she had been undressed and Gomez was touching her.


Gomez is being held on $1 million bond and faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.




Mecosta Co. Commission approves funding for consulting firm to help county parks

Mecosta County Parks is hiring a consulting firm to seek input on ways to improve the existing and future parks system.


The Mecosta Co. Board of Commission approved on a 5-2 vote, the funding of up to $35,000 for Lapham Associates out of Clare Co.


Commissioner Bill Routley believes it is a good investment for the parks especially with the needed renovations of park bathrooms, fixing of roofs, and problems with septic systems at its parks.


Mecosta Co. Parks Superintendent Jeff Abel says this consulting firm will hopefully bring the parks system as a whole to the next level.  


Paris Park sees revenue increase with implementation of visitor day passes

Mecosta Co. Parks are seeing a revenue boost two weeks following implementing visitor day passes at Paris Park.


With no state or federal funding, park officials made the move to close off the front parking area at Paris Park, and charge $6.00 per vehicle for those who are not camping to have access to the park for the day. Park Commission board member Eric O'Neil said in the first 16 days of August of 2014 Paris Park made $1,666, fast forward to this year and the park as made $4,105. Parks Superintendent Jeff Abel says the move to charge day passes has been a great decision.


For more info on the parks visit  


Michigan catches up with nation's unemployment rate


Michigan's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 5.3 percent in July, down two-tenths of a percentage point from June.


The rate is the lowest it's been in 14 years and now matches the national unemployment rate. The overall labor force and the number of unemployed people also went down.

Governor Rick Snyder says while more than 420,000 private sector jobs have been created since the end of 2010, the state shouldn’t be satisfied.



Fatal truck rollover in Alpena County


A 36-year-old man from Akron is dead following a rollover accident in Alpena Township.


Police say Charles Prill was pronounced dead at the scene.


The crash happened around 6:00 AM on Wednesday when Prill's semi tractor-trailer rolled over on Hamilton Road.


Troopers say Prill likely did not slow down at a sharp curve in the road.




Lawmakers leave town again with no plan to fund roads



Lawmakers still don't have a plan to fix Michigan’s roads after their latest effort seemed to collapse under its own weight Wednesday.


For starters, the governor didn’t like the idea of pulling $600 million out of the general fund and House Minority Leader Tim Greimel didn’t like not knowing what agencies it would come from.

“If we're going to divert general fund money to fix the roads, let's be grown-ups and make difficult decisions now about where those cuts are going to come from rather than kicking the can down the road,” he says.

Another wrinkle was added by Detroit Democrats, who want a ballot initiative to repeal the state’s prevailing wage law to go away before they’ll vote for road funding.


Legislators won’t return to Lansing until after Labor Day.



Police search for vandals at Chippewa Hills High School


Police and school officials are searching for those responsible for damaging the athletic field at Chippewa Hills High School.


Authorities say skid marks were left on the parking lot's pavement and trenches from tires in the school's practice field.


Security camera footage showed only a light by the field area late Saturday.


District Superintendent Bob Grover says maintenance staff has been working on leveling the trenches and that they are relying on the community for any tips to find out who caused them.




3-year-old Alpena County boy sighted, Amber Alert lifted


An Amber Alert for a 3-year-old Alpena County boy is now inactive after he and his mother were found in Indiana.


Keegan Waterman and his mother, Christina Waterman, were seen in Muncie, Indiana, by a postal worker Wednesday.


The Amber Alert for Keegan was then removed shortly after 2:15 p.m.


While police don’t know exactly where the Watermans are located, they lifted the Amber Alert because they think Keegan is no longer in danger.


According to police, Keegan had previously last been seen at the home of his father, Cliff Lamay, before Christina took the child away.


Residents throughout west and central Michigan received cell phone notifications of the Amber Alert on Monday evening by Michigan State Police through new mobile Amber Alert technology.


Police are still trying to locate the Watermans, and anyone with information is asked to call the Michigan State Police Alpena Post at 989-354-4101 or Michigan State Police Operations at 517-241-8000.




State Police utilizing Amber Alert mobile technology

Michigan State Police hope utilizing new mobile amber alert technology, will help bring a missing three year old Alpena boy home.


On Monday evening, residents all over the the West-Central Michigan region received an Amber Alert notification about the Alpena boy on their cell phone, however some were confused about the alert.


Sargent Kim Vetter says MSP started using mobile alerts in 2013 with hopes of reaching a broader amount of people that could potentially help with finding a missing child. She says Amber Alerts are issued when a child under the age of 17 goes missing, has mental or physical disabilities or is taken by a parent whose parental rights have been terminated. Police use the mobile alerts if they feel the child is already out of the local area or heading out of state. 


A cell phone equipped with the Wireless Emergency Alert is already enrolled in the program. Users will automatically receive Amber as well as natural disaster alerts and a presidential alert.



Snyder administration's handling of private contracts questioned


A liberal advocacy group says government documents show the state failed to address almost half the reported 3,707 issues with Michigan's outgoing prison food vendor, Aramark Correctional Services.

Lonnie Scott of Progress Michigan says state Department of Corrections documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request show nearly 1,800 reported issues with Aramark went unresolved.


He says the report calls into question Governor Rick Snyder’s administration's oversight of any private contracts.


But Chris Gautz of the MDOC says the 25,000 documents Progress Michigan reviewed are a testament to the work of state monitors. He says if the state didn't monitor Aramark, there would have been no material for Progress Michigan to base its report.

Progress Michigan is calling for the attorney general to investigate Aramark and the state's monitoring of the contract to make sure no civil violations exist.



Lawmakers say they will try again to solve Michigan's road problems


A legislative conference committee is meeting Wednesday to hash out a compromise funding plan to fix Michigan’s crumbling roads. House Speaker Kevin Cotter says both sides have come to the table with ideas and concessions…

“I think there's been speculation as to the seriousness, maybe on both sides. But, I am convinced now more than ever that there is a seriousness on both sides to solve the problem.”

A gas tax increase, diesel tax increase and registration fee increases are on the table – as is a plan to pull money from the general fund, which could force some state agency’s to cut their budgets.




Mt. Pleasant Native Americans open new farmers market


A brand new farmer’s market is open after a ribbon-cutting ceremony yesterday in Mt. Pleasant.


The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan was able to open the farmer’s market after receiving a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


The grant was awarded for diabetes prevention, as the condition’s known to be a problem within the Native American community.


Thirteen vendors set up shop at the new market’s first day, selling everything from crafts to fresh produce.


The market, located next to the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resorts, saw over 200 visitors during yesterday’s opening. That’s twice as many as a previous market, which was located down the street, would have on one of its busiest days.


The farmer’s market will be open on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through mid-October, with plans to also open later in the day in the near future.




Ford Motor Co. issues seat belt recall in heavy-duty trucks while being investigated due to complaints in older sedan models

The federal government is investigating reports of headlight failure in older Ford and Mercury sedans.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says Ford has received more than three-thousand complaints of headlight failure on Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis sedans from the 2003-2005 model years. The government has also received 605 complaints of headlight failure in those vehicles. Fifteen crashes and one injury related to the problem have been reported to Ford and to the government. In one case, a driver reportedly struck a deer after the headlights went off without warning. The government started investigating after receiving a petition from the North Carolina Consumers Council. .Ford says it's cooperating with the investigation.


Meanwhile, Ford Motor Company is recalling more than 26,000 heavy duty F-650 and F-750 trucks in North America because the seat belts may not be anchored in the correct position.


The Dearborn automaker said the recall covers the 2011-2013 and 2015 model year trucks that don’t comply with a federal safety standard. It says the front passenger and center seat belts might not be anchored in the correct position relative to the seat, increasing the risk of injury in a crash.  


Car crash kills Mt. Pleasant senior citizen

A car crash in Isabella County this morning took the life of an 86-year old Mt. Pleasant man in Chippewa Township.


Deputies say it happened at the intersection of E. River Rd. and S. Shepherd Rd., that's where a pickup truck driven by 86-year old Mitchell Jacque was traveling south on Shepherd Rd. When Jacque stopped at the intersection and proceeded into the intersection his truck was broadsided by another pickup truck driven by a 27-year old Mt. Pleasant man. The 86-year old Mt. Pleasant man died at the scene.


Police say heavy rain at the time of the accident may have attributed to the crash.



Embattled Representatives Courser and Gamrat return to the state capitol


State Representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat are finally back to work.


The two troubled Representatives both returned to the Capitol on Tuesday for the first time since their affair became public.


Courser and Gamrat kept their distance; while Gamrat stayed on the House floor for most of the day, Courser spent his time in the House gallery.


Both politicians have said that, in Courser’s own words, “I’m not resigning,” because they feel that they’re still the best for their job in Michigan.


“When you have a situation when we’re moving forward with more taxes, more spending, more government… you need people who are willing to stand and be able to do that,” Courser says. “Even though I’m having personal situations, it’s important to just take those steps and do the things I’m responsible to do.”


While talking to reporters yesterday, Courser said that his affair wasn’t illegal, as he didn’t use taxpayer money and it only took place on private property after hours.


The House Businesses Office is still investigating whether Courser and Gamrat used taxpayer dollars and resources to cover up their affair.




Big Rapids Fire Department part of select group with 4/4 ISO rating

Firefighters in Big Rapids are proud of their house and now they have a 4/4 rating from ISO to show for it.


Fire Chief Steve Schroeder says ISO is a leading source of information about property/casualty insurance risk. The Big Rapids Fire Department was rated based on several factors including response time, training levels, personnel and water. Schroeder is proud of the rating but believes his department can improve their score in the future if they increase the amount of personnel at the scene of an emergency, how they respond on those calls and how they work and respond during emergencies in other townships that have mutual aid agreements.


Big Rapids' ISO rating puts them in a group of 6,115 other fire houses across the nation with the same score. 


Spectrum Health B.R. President addresses Big Rapids Commission regarding AeroMed

The President of Spectrum Health Hospital in Big Rapids says right now AeroMed has given no notice about leaving area.


Mary Kay VanDriel says beginning in January when AeroMed's joint venture starts with Munson Medical's North Flight, the Big Rapids location will be used for other AeroMed services like training and strategic planning. VanDriel believes this new partnership between the two critical emergency services in Grand Rapids and Traverse City will benefit not only Mecosta and Osceola Counties but north west region of Michigan.


When the partnership begins, She says an evaluation period will be conducted to look at whether or not response times are better or worse, if patient care is better or worse and so on.  


Police issue AMBER Alert for 3-year-old Alpena boy


An AMBER Alert is in effect for a missing 3-year-old boy from the Alpena area.


State Police say Keegan Waterman was reported missing from his home in the 2600 block of East Grant Street on Monday. Investigators describe him as black, 55 lbs., with black hair and brown eyes.


The boy's mother, Christina Waterman is suspected in the disappearance. Police say she may be driving him to Tennessee in her tan, 2000 Chevrolet Tahoe, which has the Tennessee plate U4758V. Christina Waterman, 38, is described as white, 5'7", 195 lbs., with blonde hair and blue eyes.


Anyone who knows where either Kegan Waterman or Christine Waterman is should call the Michigan State Police Alpena Post at 989-354-4104 or MSP Operations at 517-241-8000.




State Police release new details about murder/suicide of family in Grand Traverse Co.

According to a report from the Michigan State Police, 34-year old Tamisha Mendenhall was the last person to see her family alive last week. 


Troopers believe all four family members had been deceased inside the home in Garfield Twp. for at least two days before police had found them.


When police conducted a welfare check on the family, they discovered the two children in their bedroom, posed holding stuffed animals and flowers.

Police then found the father, Jeffery lying in the hallway just outside of the bedroom, holding flowers as well. The mother, Tamisha was found a few feet away from her husband.


Police say Tamisha stabbed herself with a knife. The other family members did not have any other physical wounds on them. Detectives believe Tamisha was the last person to see her family alive.


Detectives say they found several empty bottles of benzodiazepine, a drug used for inducing sleep, all dating back to August 11th.


Investigators also found a helium tank inside the home, along with vinyl tubing and a valve for the tank.



Enbridge working to be proactive on Mackinac Straits pipeline


The oil company that has a pipeline running under the Straits of Mackinac is sponsoring an effort to put a weather and wave monitoring buoy into the water. Enbridge Energy spokesperson Michael Barnes says the buoy should help allay fears of an oil spill under the straits.


It will also help us know where to add supports to make sure that the pipeline, line five, is stable and reliable and safe.”


Enbridge is working with researchers at Michigan Technological University on the project. Barnes says data from the buoy will be available to the public online.




Legislators may have to expel Courser and Gamrat


Former Republican leader Dennis Cawthorn says if two state lawmakers who are being pressured to resign face expulsion, it will not be an easy time for anyone. Cawthorne was leader in 1978 when Representative Monte Geralds was expelled after being convicted for embezzlement.


He was urged to step down, and he was told in advance of the vote, 'Look Representative Geralds, you are going to be expelled, the votes are clearly there.' He would not accept that and it was traumatic,” he says.

Geralds is so far the only House member to ever be expelled from that chamber. Cawthorne says if allegations of an attempted misuse of resources to cover-up of an affair between Reps. Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat are true, the house has a duty to expel the legislators.




Girl nearly drowns in Pickerel Lake


A 10-year-old girl is safe after almost drowning Sunday afternoon.


The girl was swimming in Pickerel Lake in Garfield Township, north of Newaygo, when she got caught in something underwater and couldn’t reach the surface.


Others in the lake noticed her struggling and were able to pull her out before emergency crews arrived at just after 3 p.m., and proceeded to lead the recovery effort.


Aero Med had been called to the scene, but was unable to arrive quickly because it had to refuel.


As a result, the girl had to be transported by ambulance to Gerber Memorial Hospital in Fremont before she could be airlifted to Helen Devos Children’s Hospital, where she’s currently being treated.


The girl's identity and condition are unknown at this time.




Investigation continues in Traverse City murder-suicide case


Police are calling it a murder suicide after four bodies, including two children, were found dead in a home just south of Traverse City late last week.


A coworker of one of the victims tipped police to that fact that something might be fishy after Jeffery Mendenhall hadn’t been to work in a few days.


Police found his body, along with his wife Tamisha’s, and their two kids in the home.


Investigators are now trying to figure out which one shot the other and the two children before turning the gun on themselves.




Police bust Wexford Co. heroin operation

Two Wexford County men are facing charges for their alleged roles in possessing and dealing heroin.


If convicted, both men could face up to 40 years in prison and $70,000 in fines.


30-year old Robert Edwards of Mesick was charged Thursday in Wexford County court with possession with intent to deliver heroin less than 50 grams, among other crimes.


In July, 28-year-old Paul Wentworth of Harrietta was charged with the same crimes, including conspiracy to possess with intent to deliver heroin.


Both men face four charges in total: possession with intent to deliver heroin less than 50 grams, conspiracy to possess with intent to deliver heroin less than 50 grams, possession of heroin less than 25 grams and maintaining a drug vehicle.


It’s suspected that the two men were part of the same drug-dealing operation.


NWS issues severe thunderstorm warning









Gamrat apologizes, says she's done nothing wrong


State Representative Cindy Gamrat says she's sorry to her constituents and her family for having an affair with a fellow state representative but she won't resign.


I know that I have made some poor decisions as they relate to my personal life, but they do not line up with who I am or what I believe,” she said during a news conference on Friday.


Gamrat says she strongly considered resigning but hasn't done anything wrong so she isn't stepping down.


I respect the opinion of those that would like me to resign. For now I believe that the best path is for me to move forward and I intend to continue to represent my district to the best of my ability.”


Gamrat also said she had nothing to do with an email State Representative Todd Courser allegedly had sent to Republicans in May outing him as a hard partying bisexual. Courser has stated he hoped the email would distract from the extra-marital relationship he was having with Gamrat once it became public.


Gamrat stated she has not heard audio tapes that were key to exposing the cover up.


She plans to return to Lansing on Tuesday when the House comes back from summer break.


Audio of a conversation between former House aide Ben Graham and Representative Todd Courser discussing plans for a cover up of Courser's affair with Gamrat.



Officer charged with having sex with probationer


A former corrections officer in Newaygo County is facing criminal sexual conduct charges after being accused of having sex with a woman on probation.


30-year-old Zachary Clark was in a two-month relationship over the winter with a woman on probation while employed by the sheriff’s department, according to authorities.


The former jail guard, from Big Prairie Township, resigned from his job last month.


Clark was arraigned yesterday on six counts of second-degree criminal conduct and a misdemeanor account of assault and battery, based on an incident with an inmate.




Newaygo County Commissioner charged with obstruction


A Newaygo County commissioner is facing a felony charge after allegedly obstructing a court officer.


58-year-old Christian Ortwein of Newaygo was arraigned Thursday.


The charge stems from a June 18th meeting where Ortwein allegedly threatened a court officer.


While the Michigan State Police haven’t released details, a source told a local TV station that Ortwein pulled a gun on the officer as he was trying to serve legal documents.


Ortwein, who could face up to five years in prison if convicted, will have his case heard later this month.




Help with student debt may be coming, federal government makes $40B in profit


U.S. Congressman Dan Kildee plans to introduce legislation that would help people pay off their student debt.


Kildee, a Democrat from Flint, says this is an issue that Congressmen from both sides of the aisle should be working to solve.


So much of what we do in Washington ends up being divided on partisan lines, but the notion of creating a better path forward for students to afford a college education should not be a partisan question,” he says.


One of Kildee’s bills would allow people to lose their student loan debt after filing for bankruptcy, while another would prevent scholarships and grants from being taxed.


The federal government made over 40 billion dollars in profit off of student loan debt two years ago, enough money to provide Pell grants to seven million college students.




Aviation history comes to west Michigan


The Experimental Aircraft Association is making the Sparta Airport one of the stops for its Ford Tri-Motor Tour. EAA Chapter President Paul Kovalak says it's important to remember the roots of today's commercial aviation industry.


Airline travel has become essentially riding a bus, mass transit. This thing brings us back to 1928, 1930 and you get to see how air travel used to be.”


Kovalak says the 4-AT-E was restored to near original condition, even down to the mahogany cabin interior. Rides in the airplane and other events are scheduled through Sunday. Details are at their website




Newaygo Co. Jail Administrator charged with drunk driving

The Newaygo Co. Jail Administrator is behind bars, charged with drunk driving Friday morning.


Police say they were called to a one car crash on Dickinson Ave. near 16 Mile rd., that's where they found a vehicle rolled over in a ditch. Deputies identified the driver as Lieutenant Matthew Froehle. He was arrested on scene for operating while intoxicated.


He's currently being held at the Oceana County Jail.


Froehle has been suspended as an internal investigation is conducted.  


Cadillac men arraigned on charges connected to a host of break-ins around area


Two men are now facing charges connected to at least 33 break-ins through out a six county area including Mecosta and Osceola Counties.


Cadillac residents 22-year old Nicholas John Bailey and 31-year old Dickie Lee Goodwin, are both charged with one count of breaking and entering into a building with intent and one count of conspiracy to commit breaking and entering into a building with intent.


A break in the case occurred on Monday morning when Under Sheriff Justin Halladay say officers were called to the scene of a break-in at Hoagland Hardware in Tustin after the owner noticed two men leaving the business. Bailey was arrested behind a nearby business a short time later.


Through interviews during the investigation, it's believed both Bailey and Goodwin are connected to over 33 break-ins.


Bond for Bailey and Goodwin is set at $1 million each.  


Family of 4 found dead in Grand Traverse Co. home

 A family of four found dead inside a Grand Traverse County home.

MIchigan State Police say they responded to a home in Garfield Township for a welfare check of a person that had been missing from work for a couple of days.

When no one responded, troopers forced their way into the home and found two adults and two small children dead inside. The two adults have been identified as 54-year old Jeffrey and 34-year old Tamisha Mendenhall. And, the two children were 6-year old Thomas and 3-year old Olivia Mendenhall.

An exact cause of death is still under investigation, pending the outcome of a forensic autopsy. Police say currently, there is no evidence to suggest there is any concern for the public’s safety.


Second suspect accused of more than 33 break-ins behind bars

Police in Osceola County have in custody, a second man they believe is part of a string of 33 break-ins throughout a six county area.


A break in the case occurred on Monday morning when Under Sheriff Justin Halladay say officers were called to the scene of a break-in at Hoagland Hardware in Tustin after the owner noticed two men leaving the business. One of those men, a 22-year old, was arrested behind a nearby business.


Halladay says every B&E has been of a business in the area with no home invasions but area agencies are asking for any further information that citizens may have through something that have seen or have yet to report. Osceola County Sheriff’s Office 231-832-2288




UPDATE: Missing Rogers Heights woman found


UPDATE: the Family of Amy Chrzanowski says she has been located. 


Friends and family look for answers as they continue to search for a 29-year old Rogers Heights woman who has been missing for over a day now. 


Family of Amy Chrzanowski say she was last seen at a trailer park in Rogers Heights walking up and down a road between 11am-12pm. 


Amy's sister, Melissa, says she last saw her sister before she left for work at 8am Wednesday. Melissa says her sister's stuff is gone from her home and she's worried for Amy's safety because she is Mentally handicapped. 


A missing persons report has been filed with the Mecosta Co. Sheriff's office.


Amy is described as a white female, between 5'0-5'1 tall, 150lbs, brown hair, hazel eyes.


If you have seen Amy or know of her whereabouts contact the Sheriff's office. 



Couple arrested after being pursued on horseback in Clare County


Two people are in custody following a chase on horseback in Clare County.


Police say a car crashed through a Clare County Fairground fence and two people then fled the scene.


29-year-old Taylor Jakubczak ran off into the fairgrounds but was later apprehended.


29-year-old Charles Girardin took off running through a nearby wooded area and The Clare County Mounted Division, which was at the fair, chased him by horseback.


One of the deputies found and arrested him by a school about a mile into the chase.


Both face multiple charges including Police Officer – Assault / Resist / Obstruct.




Morley man ordered to pay restitution to convenience store in Stanwood

A Mecosta County Judge is ordering a Morley man to re-pay more than $38,000 to a local business he's accused of stealing from as an employee.


23-year old Joshua Gordon Smith was charged last September with embezzling between $1,000 and $20,000 as an employee of the Copper Top Convenience Store. Smith plead no contest to the charge as part of a plea agreement with prosecution, according to court documents.


Smith is expected to be sentenced next month.  


Major drug dealer arrested in Wexford County


A man believed to be a major heroin dealer in northwestern Michigan is off the streets.


Police say they arrested Marcus McCall and another man at a home in Buckley where they found $75,000 worth of heroin.


McCall is facing multiple drug charges and is said to have connections to Detroit.




UPDATE: Fmr. Cran-Hill Ranch Counselor arraigned on charges connected to sex crimes

A former camp counselor at Cran-Hill Ranch in Mecosta County accused of misconduct involving a young camper is officially be charged with crimes.


Sheriff Todd Purcell says 24-year old William Joseph Nealy of Muncie, Indiana has been charged with one count of Second Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct involving a minor and and one count of Assault to Commit Sexual Penetration. 


The charges stem from an incident that surfaced on July 10th at the christian camp in Rodney.


Cran-Hill Executive Director Scott Barger says the man was fired with in an hour of learning of the allegations and that the camp is fully cooperating with authorities.    


Nealy is being held at the Mecosta Co. jail on $75,000 surety bond.  


Teen killed near fairgrounds in Grand Traverse County


One person is dead and two others hospitalized following a two car crash in Grand Traverse County.


Police say a 16-year-old boy from St. Ignace was trying to cross an intersection near the main entrance of the Northwestern Michigan Fairgrounds when he pulled into the path of a northbound van, driven by a 61-year-old Traverse City man.


A passenger in the teen's car, 17-year-old Kelsey Purchase of Beulah, was killed. The drivers of both vehicles were taken to the hospital with minor injuries.




UPDATE: White Cloud man arraigned on charges connected to gas station robbery in Morley

A 20-year old White Cloud man now is facing charges for crimes he's accused of committing Thursday morning in Morley. 


Travis Albaugh has been charged with felony breaking & entering as well as felony violation of a controlled substance. 


Deputies say they responded to the Citgo gas station at 2:30am Thursday for an alarm and glass breakage. Money and cigarettes were taken.


Police found and arrested Albaugh at a home in Morley. His bond has been set at $70,000. 


Michigan worst in the country for distressed home sales



Michigan tops the nation in the number of distressed home sales, according to a new report.

Data from the research firm CoreLogic shows 21.4 percent of home sales in Michigan in May were distressed sales, which are transactions involving lender-owned property or a short sale.

That's well above the national average of 9.9 percent.

CoreLogic economist Molly Boesil says the reason distressed sales numbers are important is their impact on home prices.

She says when distressed sales numbers come down, home prices tend to increase.

Rounding out the top five states with the largest percentage of distressed home sales are: Florida, Maryland, Illinois and Connecticut.





Gas price hike attributed to refinery problems


Refinery problems at a BP facility in Indiana are already resulting in higher gas prices in Michigan.'s Patrick Dehann says because of the refinery issue, prices are starting to rise, and could go up as much as 30 cents per gallon in the short term.

“We're going to have to deal with this at the gas pump for the next week or two. The good news still is that expecting this fall still to fall under $2.00 a gallon,” he says.

The BP refinery is the seventh largest in the country and the largest in the Midwest.




Alleged local marijuana manufacturer arrested


A Hart man is in jail after authorities uncovered almost 200 marijuana plants on his property.


Joseph Kokx has been placed in Oceana County Jail and been charged with manufacturing marijuana.


The stash was found last Friday by the State, Sheriffs, Chiefs Enforcement Narcotics Team and the Oceana County Sheriff’s Department.


Authorities searched a building in the 2000 block of Madison Road, where they confiscated 190 marijuana plants, nine pounds of processed marijuana and two firearms.


Additional arrests are pending.




Trump's visit to Michigan leads to protests


Holding signs reading “We shall overcomb” and chanting “Dump Trump,” dozens of protesters greeted the 2,000 or so people who came to Birch Run for presidential candidate Donald Trump’s appearance on Tuesday.


State Democratic Party Chair Brandon Dillion still doesn’t get the draw…

“There seems to be something that he's talking about that a significant portion of the Republican base is responding to. I don't understand it that anybody would respond to his hateful, empty rhetoric, but they seem to be doing it and we want to let people know that on our side of the presidential race it's a campaign of ideas and Michiganders are better than this,” he says.

Most people driving past the protesters honked while a few shouted Trump’s catchphrase “you’re fired” at the group.




Update: Police find Montcalm Co. man



UPDATE: Ronald Hohenstein has been located by police in Montcalm Co. They say he was found in a barn not far from where he was last seen. Hohenstein has been taken to a hospital to be evaluated. 




Police in Montcalm County are looking for a 75-year-old man with Alzheimer's disease.


Ronald Hohenstein was last seen leaving a house on Pine Trail Drive in Crooked Lake Evergreen Township. He was wearing tan pants and white shirt and walking a dog.


Anyone with information should contact Montcalm County Central Dispatch at 989-831-3500.


Cadillac meth lab shut down, police ask for help in finding the suspects


There’s now one less meth lab in Cadillac, although the people who ran it are still on the loose.


Cadillac police found the meth lab during an investigation over the weekend.


Officers had been called to the 400 block of East Nelson Street after receiving a breaking and entering complaint.


However, they ended up finding meth-making materials in the building’s garage.


The Traverse Narcotics Team arrived on the scene shortly afterwards.


Authorities believe the suspects, who are unknown at this time, fled the garage just before officers arrived.


Anyone with information on the suspects is asked to call the Traverse Narcotics Team at (231) 779-6005 or the Cadillac Police Department at (231) 775-3491.




Police connect pair to 33 break-ins, One suspect arrested; Police searching for second man

Police in Osceola Co. have arrested one man and still on the lookout for his partner they believe are connected to 33 break-ins throughout a six county area.


Under Sheriff Justin Halladay say officers were called to a break-in of Hoagland Hardware in Tustin Monday morning after the owner noticed two men leaving the business. An initial investigation confirmed that the business had been broken into with money being stolen. A short time later, officers located a male subject lying in vehicle parked behind a nearby business. The suspect disclosed information about the hardware store break-in and previous break-ins to investigators.


Warrants are being sought for the subject in custody and his partner. Hallady says every B&E has been of a business in the area with no home invasions but area agencies are asking for any further information that citizens may have through something that have seen or have yet to report.


Osceola County Sheriff’s Office 231-832-2288


Big Rapids woman & grandson suffer injuries following car accident in Mecosta Co.

A Big Rapids woman and her 15-year old grandson are being treated for injuries following an accident in Big Rapids Twp. 


Deputies say Cheryl Chrisensen was traveling on Northland Dr. near 19 Mile Rd. when she felt something going on with her steering wheel. She ran off the road and crashed into a fence and a tractor. 


Both her and her 15-year old grandson were taken to Spectrum Health Big Rapids Hospital for non-life threatening injuries.  




Trump not welcome by some in Michigan


Polarizing presidential candidate Donald Trump is making an appearance at the Genesee County and Saginaw County Republican Party’s annual fundraiser Tuesday night. State Representative Tim Kelly knows some people in the state don’t want Trump in Birch Run.

“They're not involved in our politics and we're not going to listen to them to dictate who and who we will not invite. I could care less what they think,” he says.

Kelly notes the draw for Trump is that he shoots from the hip – which he also says could doom his campaign if Trump takes his comments too far.




TV actress running for congress from Michigan


Actress Melissa Gilbert is running for congress.

The former "Little House on the Prairie" star announced Monday she's running as a Democrat against Republican incumbent Mike Bishop.

Gilbert moved to Howell in 2014 with her husband, and fellow actor, Timothy Busfield.

Over the summer it was revealed the Internal Revenue Service filed a $360,550.72 tax lien against her for failing to pay federal taxes.

She blamed it on a perfect storm of financial difficulty.

A spokesperson for Congressman Bishop says the lien shows her priorities are not in line with people living in the 8th congressional district claiming she chooses taking her dog to a stylist over paying the backed taxes.



Court ruling allows guns in school



A judge says it's OK to bring guns to school in one Michigan county


The Genesee County judge’s ruling allows people to open carry firearms in the county’s public schools in spite of the weapon-free status of any of those facilities.


Kenneth Herman had sued the Clio Area School District after he was prevented from entering Edgerton Elementary to pick up his daughter because he was open-carrying a pistol.


The school district had declared all of its properties weapon-free zones and banned those with weapons from entering its buildings.


The judge’s ruling enforces a law that allows people with concealed carry licenses to openly carry guns in Michigan schools.


A similar ruling is expected on a lawsuit against the Ann Arbor school district, which also banned firearms on their property.




Warrant issued against Fmr. Cran-Hill Ranch camp counselor accused of misconduct

A warrant is being issued for a former camp counselor accused of sexual misconduct against a young camper at Cran-Hill Ranch in Mecosta Co.


Allegations of inappropriate behavior by the male counselor surfaced on July 10th.


Cran-Hill Ranch Executive Director Scott Barger issued a statement to the Big Rapids Daily News saying the camp cooperating fully with law enforcement adding that its number one priority is the safety of its young campers noting the camps impeccable 47 year history.


The suspect is expected to turn himself into authorities.   


Lake man arrested for breaking into barn at Chip. Hills HS

Police in Mecosta Co. believe they have the man who broke into a barn at Chippewa High School.


36-year old Howard Albert Cyphert II from Lake was arrested Sunday at Chippewa Hills High School.


He's been charged with one felony count of breaking and entering into a building with intent.


Cyphert faces up to 10 years in jail if convicted.  


Officials call for independent investigation into cover up


The top Democrat in the Michigan House thinks the attorney general’s office, not a wing of the Michigan House, should handle the investigation into whether State Representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat used taxpayer dollars and resources to cover up their affair…

“We feel very strongly that given the serious and criminal nature of these allegations, we need an independent outside agency with the training and experience of handling criminal matters to get involved,” says House Minority Leader Tim Greimel.


The Attorney General's office has not yet been formally asked to get involved, but Griemel may make that call later this week.



Gas prices continue to fall, but is that a good thing?


Motorists in Michigan have been all smiles recently because of the price of gas. But a downside could be looming.'s Patrick DeHaan says if the per barrel price continues to drop, it could mean less exploration causing a shortage and higher gas prices.

“We're getting to that danger zone. Under $40 a barrel, it's not very lucrative for oil companies to be spending billions of dollars. In fact, we're starting to see oil companies report earnings that are very weak,” he says.

DeHaan adds some oil companies are already cutting capital investment and expenditures.




Clean Power Plan could save state millions in health care costs


This year's "State of the Air" report from the American Lung Association finds nearly 138-million Americans, including tens of thousands in Michigan, live where air pollution can make it too dangerous to breathe. But advocates of the EPA's Clean Power Plan say it will bring much-needed relief.


"MI Air MI Health Coalition" spokesperson Rory Neuner calls the plan to cut carbon emissions from existing power plants "one of the most significant public health initiatives in decades."


We spend in Michigan, just in our state budget alone, between $80,000,000 and $90,000,000 a year on asthma related claims for the Medicaid program. And so, better air means fewer people going to the emergency room for a very preventable chronic disease like asthma,” she says.


Neuner adds the state's adult asthma rate is 25-percent higher than the national average, and the lung cancer rate is higher than in 33 other states.




Meth lab in Manistee County under investigation


Two men are in custody after police found what they believe is a meth lab in Manistee County.


The Sheriff's Department reports they received a call about a chemical odor coming from a house on 4th Avenue in Onekama this weekend.


Deputies found paraphernalia that leads them to believe it was an active meth lab.


The situation is still being investigated.




UPDATE: State Rep. Courser says he's being blackmailed

A state lawmaker, under fire for attempting to cover up an extramarital affair, says he was blackmailed.


Audio was released last week of state Representative Todd Courser discussing a plan designed to distract attention from his relationship with fellow House Republican Cindy Gamrat. 



The plan involved putting out a fake email claiming Courser was caught having sex with a gay prostitute. Courser has now released a recorded statement saying his actions were in response to a blackmail scheme.


The representative also blamed former staffers for conspiring with the Lansing establishment in an attempt to "bring him down." 


Fatal shooting on Grand Rapids street corner


Grand Rapids Police aren't saying if they have a suspect yet in a fatal shooting this weekend.


The Grand Rapids Police Department says the victim was shot in his vehicle in Grand Rapids at around 7:30 Sunday morning.


The 24-year-old man was at the corner of Franklin Street and Eastern Avenue when he was shot and was transported to a local hospital where he died from his injuries.


Information on both the victim and the potential shooters has not yet been released.


Anyone with information is asked to call Grand Rapids police at 616.456.3400 or Silent Observer at 616.774.2345.




Police in Osceola Co. investigating complaint of alleged break-in at hardware store

Officials with the Osceola County Sheriff's Department are confirming they took a complaint of a break-in at Hoaglund Hardware in Tustin this morning.


However, the investigation by detectives and deputies is in its early stages, Under sheriff Justin Halladay could not comment further.    


Tea Party lawmakers asked to resign amid allegations of cover up


Calls for the resignation of two state representatives involved in a reported extramarital affair cover up, are coming from their own party and a liberal advocacy group.

Tea Party Republicans Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat are alleged to have used state resources to cover up their affair.

Gene Clem of the 1st Michigan Tea Party Alliance says the lawmakers should step aside because, as they put their family lives back together, they won't be able to properly represent their constituents.

And Lonnie Scott, executive director of advocacy group, Progress Michigan, says if the allegations are true, both lawmakers should resign.

The speaker of the Michigan House has called for an investigation into whether state resources were used in the cover up.



Tribal chairman and son in custody on drug charges


The former Chairman of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa and his son are in custody on drug charges.


Straits Area Narcotics Enforcement team Lieutenant Ken Mills says both men turned themselves in late last week.


Ken Harrington is facing marijuana and cocaine possession charges while his son Jonathan is being charged with possession with intent to deliver LSD and other narcotics.


The charges stem from a raid on their home in April.




Pair pleads guilty in attempted murder at hospital case


Two people accused of attempted murder at Munson Medical Center are pleading guilty to lesser drug charges.


35-year-old Renee Huckle-John and 32-year-old Steven Sulz pleaded guilty to possession and conspiracy to deliver fentanyl and fourth-time habitual offender charges.


Police say the pair brought the drug to a patient at Munson in an attempt to kill the 27-year-old woman patient. The woman was investigated by police when she overdosed while at the facility.


As part of a plea deal, conspiracy and attempted murder charges were dropped. Both face life in prison.




Infant's mother killed in rollover accident


The mother of a newborn is dead following an accident in Antrim County.


Police say 20-year-old Kayla Wagner of Gaylord crossed the center line on Alba Highway into the path of a propane truck. Wagner then swerved, drove off the road and rolled over.


Deputies say the car was also carrying Kayla’s six-week-old baby and her mother. All three were airlifted to the hospital where Kayla died of her injuries.


The propane truck was driven by a 46-year-old man from Gaylord who received minor injuries and was treated and released.




Isabella County man pleads no contest to animal abuse


An Isabella County man will be sentenced next month after pleading no contest to animal abuse and improper burial.


Police found over 50 dead animals on Russell Bennett’s property in Blanchard last January.


Bennett says that he didn’t have time to properly dispose of the dozens of dogs, sheep, chickens and pigs.


While Bennett does not admit guilt for abusing the dead animals, the Isabella County sheriff says he can’t imagine an innocent person having so many of them on their property.


Bennett’s sentencing is scheduled for mid-September.




Proposed state energy policy could cost solar users


One of the state's largest utilities and those in the solar industry disagree on the impact of legislation to overhaul the state's energy policy.


The Alliance for Solar Choice spokesperson Amy Heart says the bill would effectively kill Michigan's net metering program where solar panel users give their excess electricity to their utility in return for a credit. Heart says, under the proposed changes, solar users would have to sell their power to the utility at wholesale prices.

“However, the utility gets to sell those kilowatt hours at retail rates to their neighbor,” she says.

DTE Energy says solar users still use the power grid and these program changes would ensure they pay their share to maintain it.




Mecosta Co. Commissioners to write letter discussing Aero Med concerns

Concerns with the potential relocation of Aero Med services from Big Rapids to Traverse City are being addressed by the Mecosta Co. Board of Commission. Big Rapids Mayor Mark Warba told Commissioners of his concerns with the potential transition with Areo Med if it goes through like longer wait times for those in Mecosta County involved in traumatic life threatening events.


County Administrator Paul Bullock said hearing about the potential move by Spectrum Health came as a surprise.


“I sat in on a lot of discussions about the transition to Spectrum for our hospital,” Bullock said. “Aero Med was never discussed in any meeting I was in, ever. It was not a part of the hospital, it is a separate corporation. There was never any discussion that I was privy to regarding the future of Aero Med in the city of Big Rapids being any part of the hospital transition.”


The commission agreed, they will be writing a letter to Spectrum Health addressing their concerns and how this could negatively affect residents in Mecosta County if the move to relocate is made.



Police investigating sexual misconduct allegations involving fmr. counselor at Cran-Hill Ranch.

Police in Mecosta County are investigating allegations of sexual misconduct involving a former male counselor and young camper on July 9th at christian summer camp Cran-Hill Ranch in Rodney. 


Mecosta Co. Sheriff Todd Purcell said due to the nature of this being a current investigation, he would not be able to comment further. 


Cran-Hill Ranch Camp Director Scott Barger issued a statement to Big Rapids Daily News via email: 

At this time, because our priority at Cran-Hill Ranch is always focused on kids safety first, and have an impeccable 47 year history of caring for kids in the Christian Camp environment, we continue to do all we can to working with local authorities, parents and state agencies the process began (and continues) to identify, isolate, protect, record, and investigate any and all allegations in this case. In order to not inhibit an ongoing investigation and in the interest of child protection and privacy no further specific information can be provided by Cran-Hill Ranch regarding the case. Both Cran-Hill Ranch and the family is disappointed and saddened by the allegations of this case, we are grateful that Cran-Hill Ranch continues to be affirmed by the family involved in the case as well as the authorities and state agencies.  We will continue to work alongside and support the family in the on-going investigation.
Update: Cran-Hill has now issued a press release here


Big Rapids teen pleads guilty to 2nd degree CSC in plea deal with prosecutors

A Big Rapids teen accused of assaulting multiple women on Riverwalk is taking a plea deal with Mecosta Co. Prosecutors.


According to court documents, 17- year old Daniel Kuhns is pleading guilty to one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. In exchange, prosecutors will be dropping all other charges in his case. The plea deal also specifies that Mecosta Co. prosecutors will dismiss another case involving Kuhns.


The Big Rapids teen faces 15 years in jail when he's sentenced on the second degree criminal sexual conduct charge.



ACS wants to increase Michigan's tobacco tax


An anti-smoking group is resuming a push to increase taxes on tobacco in Michigan, including a cigarette tax increase of up to a dollar-fifty-per pack. That would bring the per-pack tax in Michigan to $3.50.

The American Cancer Society also wants lawmakers to significantly increase taxes on other tobacco products, including more than doubling the tax on tobacco that for example, is offered in hookah bars.

ACS lobbyist Andrew Schepers says increasing tobacco taxes goes a long way in discouraging tobacco sales and consumption.

The ACS has issued a report that says Michigan is falling short when it comes to public policies designed to reduce tobacco use. According to the report, Michigan currently allocates $1.5 million for tobacco prevention services, which is less than two percent of the Centers for Disease Control’s recommended funding level.



Reward offered for information on Cadillac robbery


Police are looking for information on a robbery in Cadillac.


Authorities say at least two people broke into RJ Grants in downtown Cadillac early this year taking a prom dress, high heel shoes, baseball cards, and home antiques.


Worse yet, the robbers damaged almost the entire inventory of the store estimated at around 65-thousand dollars.


Police say a 500-dollar reward is being offered.




Wexford County teen dead of heart attack


A Wexford County teenager is dead following a heart attack.


The Cadillac Fire Department says they were called to Temple Hill Baptist Church on Wednesday and found 13-year-old Aidan Ransom unresponsive but still breathing.


Officials say Ransom was taking part in a basketball event when he went into cardiac arrest.


He was transported to Munson Hospital but emergency medical personnel were unable to revive him.




Grand Rapids pair arrested on felony drug charges in Mecosta Twp.

A man and woman from Grand Rapids are behind bars in Mecosta County on felony drug charges.


Police arrested the pair Tuesday in Mecosta Township. 36-year old Charles Evans-Tiran Holliman and 31-year old Mikeya Sheniece Day, are both charged with two counts of delivering/manufacturing of heroin and one count of delivering/manufacturing cocaine.


Bond for Day is set at $325,000, while Holliman’s bond is set at $400,000.   


Big Rapids Secretary of State Office closing Aug. 17-21 for remodel

The Secretary of State Mecosta County PLUS Office will close Aug. 17-21 while remodeling takes place to better serve customers, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson announced today.

The office at 206 N. Michigan Ave. in Big Rapids will resume normal service at 9 a.m. Monday, Aug. 24. The remodeling will update aging carpet and countertops.

Johnson reminded citizens that they may be able to skip their annual trip to the Secretary of State’s Office by using alternative ways to renew driver’s licenses and license plates.

“Area residents now can do many transactions with us online at, but when they do visit, we want them to have the best experience possible,” Johnson said.

The most convenient offices for services during the closure are:

Reed City
21719 Howard St.
Open Mondays and Fridays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed from 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.) and Wednesdays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (closed 2:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m.)

Mount Pleasant
1245 N. Mission St.
Open Mon., Tues., Thur. & Fri., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Wednesdays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

There are also offices in Baldwin (open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays only, with 12:30-1:30 lunch hour) and Fremont and Clare (both of which have the same hours as the Mount Pleasant office).


Northern Michigan fruit farms reeling from last weeks storms


This year's apple and cherry harvest in northern Michigan is not looking good.


Many apple and cherry crops are decimated after last weekend’s heavy storms.


Wind gusts of over 100 miles per hour, along with large hail, caused extensive damage to farmers’ fruit.


Michigan State University Extension educator Nikki Rothwell says it will be difficult for farmers to recover.


We’re two months out of apple harvest, and to prune and spray and nurture all these crops thus far and to have those beaten up by hail… I feel like that’s what’s so heartbreaking.”


Rothwell says while some of the fruit can be salvaged for juice, most are damaged beyond repair.




Police searching for missing teen


Police are asking for help in locating a missing teenager.


Fourteen-year-old Taylor Haslip left her home in Grand Traverse County sometime earlier this week.


The Grand Traverse County Sheriff's Office is asking anyone with information on Haslip's whereabouts to contact them at  231-922-4550.




Manistee County man hospitalized after bicycle collides with boat


A 22-year-old man from Copemish is hospitalized following an accident in Wexford County.


Police say the man was riding his bicycle east bound on West 14 Road and collided with a boat trailer towed by an SUV when he was unable to stop at an intersection.


He was taken to Munson Hospital in Traverse City. The two occupants of the SUV were uninjured.




Alcohol and speed factors in Isabella County accident


A Mount Pleasant man is hospitalized after he crashed his car in Rolland Township.


Isabella County Sheriff Leo Mioduszewski says 32-year-old Robert Glenn Dean was traveling west on Blanchard Road at about 2:00PM Wednesday when he lost control of his vehicle while entering the curves just west of Guy Rd.


Dean went off the road on the right shoulder, began to slide sideways across the other side of the road, struck a “Curve” sign and, then hit a tree.


Emergency crews had to extricate Dean from his car and he was flown by Aero Med to Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids.


Mioduszewski says alcohol and speed were factors in the crash.




Michigan gets poor student debt ranking, FSU has highest average


Michigan is being ranked poorly among states when it comes to student debt.


A survey by says Michigan is 39th when it comes to student debt relative to the strength of the state's economy.


The survey is titled "2015's Best and Worst States for Student Debt” and rates Utah as the best state and Mississippi as the worst.


Ferris State University spokeperson Sandy Gholston says FSU has the highest average debt among the state's public universities: $37,325 for the 2012-2013 school year.




Lawmaker wants more flexibility in one-with-a-gun law


A decision last month by the Michigan Supreme Court to strike down some of the state’s mandatory minimum sentences could provide a boost to a bill awaiting a vote in the Michigan House.


State Representative Kurt Heise says it would do away with one mandatory minimum sentence.

“Right now, it is an automatic two year prison term on top of what you've already received if you have a gun in your possession in the commission of a felony.”

Heise believes judges should have more flexibility in sentencing when the punishment doesn’t




Michigan abortion law called unfair


A bill is being introduced to repeal a law enacted last year requiring women to have additional insurance coverage if they want to get an abortion.


State Representative Sarah Roberts believes it’s not right to require extra coverage if a woman is told her baby won’t survive after birth.

“The technical term for the procedure is 'inevitable abortion,' and when it's billed as an inevitable abortion, it's not covered under insurance unless a separate rider has been purchased,” she says.

Roberts is hopeful the legislation can get a hearing this fall when lawmakers return to Lansing from summer break.




Spectrum Health Big Rapids Hospital receives honor

Spectrum Health Big Rapids Hospital has earned a high honor, The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for hospital accreditation by demonstrating continuous compliance with its performance standards.
Big Rapids Hospital underwent a rigorous, unannounced on-site survey in May 2015.  During the review, a team of expert surveyors from The Joint Commission evaluated compliance with hospital standards related to several areas, including emergency management, environment of care, infection prevention and control, leadership and medication management. Surveyors also conducted on-site observations and interviews. 
“Big Rapids Hospital is pleased to receive accreditation from The Joint Commission,” said Caroline Ring, vice president of patient services and chief nursing officer at Big Rapids and Reed City Hospitals. “Staff from across the organization continue to work hard to maintain high standards of care for patients in our community, and this accreditation reflects that hard work.”
The Joint Commission has accredited hospitals for more than 60 years. More than 4,000 general, children’s, long-term acute, psychiatric, rehabilitation and specialty hospitals currently maintain accreditation from The Joint Commission, awarded for a three-year period.



Clare County man heading to prison


A Clare County man will be spending the next few years behind bars.


Thirty-eight-year-old Timothy Lyon of Harrison was sentenced to 18 to 60 years in prison for assault with intent to murder.


Lyon was with his roommate near Lake George when he stabbed him more than 15 times earlier this year.


Lyon then fled into the woods, but caught by police 12 hours later.


The roommate has since fully recovered.





Drug overdose deaths on the rise


More people are dying of drug overdoses in Michigan. The Department of Health and Human Services says more than 15-hundred people died of drug overdoses in 2013, up 18 percent from the year before.


Sparrow Hospital Mental Health Therapist Steve Cottrell says there are signs when someone is abusing drugs.

“Social withdrawal, reduced performance in school or work, not being as socially acceptable as they normally are to family members.”

Cottrell explains, in his experience, drug abuse often begins with opioid pain relievers like Vicodin or Norco and escalates to more serious drugs.


There were 255 heroin drug deaths in 2013, five times more than in 2002.




New lead in Isabella County missing person cold case


The FBI says it has a new lead on an man who's been missing from Isabella County for eight years.


Augustine “Auggie” Floyd went to a concert to meet a girl he met on MySpace in 2007. He was last seen at a party following that concert. Authorities now plan to drain a lake behind a Baseline Road home sometime next week after they received new information about Flloyd's disappearance.


Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Police say this is still a missing persons investigation and it will stay open until it is solved.




UPDATE: Suspects arraigned on charges connected to Big Rapids home invasion

Two men and a juvenile are behind bars facing home invasion charges connected to an alleged break-in of a Big Rapids residence.


18-year old Triston Sheehan Wilkes of White Cloud and 23-year old Terrance Eugene Prince-Fowlkes of Detroit are each charged with one count of first-degree home invasion and one count of assaulting/resisting/obstructing a police officer. The third suspect a juvenile from White Cloud will likely be charged in Probate Court.


Police say they received a call from a homeowner Monday about the suspects running through his yard on Olaf Street stealing property. When the suspects fled the scene, Police caught Triston Wilkes running to a nearby business, then apprehended the two other suspects, Terrance Prince-Fowlkes and a juvenile from White Cloud at an apartment on Morrison Avenue.


Bond for Wilkes is set at $100,000, while bond for Prince-Fowlkes is set at $150,000.


Alcohol a factor in fatal Isabella County accident

Police believe alcohol is a factor in a fatal car accident in Isabella County.  


Deputies say it happened shortly before midnight on S. Wyman Rd. near S. County Line Rd. in Rolland Twp. That's where, a Suzuki Forenza driven by 44-year old Nicole Sue Ballinger of Mt. Pleasant, was traveling north on Wyman Rd. when she failed to negotiate the curve at S. County Line Rd., ran off the road and hit a large tree.


Ballinger died at the scene. 


The accident remains under investigation .


Trio arrested following home invasion in Big Rapids

Two men and a juvenile sit in jail on charges of breaking and entering connected to an alleged home invasion in Big Rapids.


Police say they received a call from a homeowner Monday about the suspects running through his yard on Olaf Street stealing property. When the suspects fled the scene, Police caught the first 18-year old suspect from White Cloud running to a business, then apprehended the other two suspects, a 23-year old Detroit man and a juvenile from White Cloud at an apartment on Morrison Avenue.


The trio's identity is being withheld pending arraignment.   


Mecosta County deputies remain vigilant in fight against drugs

As neighboring counties see rising problems of heroin and methamphetamine use among residents, Mecosta County has not fallen victim to increase usage of hardcore narcotics according to Sheriff Todd Purcell. 

Purcell says his department along with the Central Michigan Enforcement Team (CMET) have taken down only two meth labs this year.


The sheriff says his officers make more arrests in cases connected to marijuana than any other drug. He says when the medical marijuana law came out it was tough to enforce but now with Supreme Court rulings clarifying the law, it's much easier for his deputies to contain the drug. 

With more cases of heroin being reported in counties south of Mecosta, deputies along with CMET remain vigilant in tackling new drugs as they come into the area.


Teen assaults deputy with a skateboard


A 16-year-old Grand Traverse County youth is under arrest facing multiple charges after police received reports of a teenager jumping in front of traffic on US 31.


Deputies traced the boy to his home where he allegedly assaulted a deputy with his skateboard. He was reportedly under the influence of alcohol and medications.


Deputies say they found property stolen from vehicles that had been broken into along US 31 including medications, $250 in cash, fishing equipment and gold coins.




Friends and neighbors in Hudsonville mourn the death of 13-year-old boy


A 13-year-old boy from Hudsonville is dead following crash caused by a distracted driver.


Police say David Talsma was in the family minivan on I-196 near Hudsonville when they came up on traffic.


A man behind them, eating a sandwich and looking at his GPS, failed to notice the traffic ahead of him.


He was unable to stop, crashing into the boy’s minivan.


Nine others were taken to the hospital following the crash, but all are expected to survive.




UPDATE: Police release names of those involved in deadly Amish buggy/ car accident in Osceola Co.

State Police are releasing the names of those involved in the fatal buggy/car accident in Highland Township. 


Troopers say 19-year old Andrew Beachy of Marion was traveling southbound on 80th Avenue when he was struck from behind by a car driven by 25-year old William Evans of Evart. Beachy died at the scene. There were no other occupants in Beachy's buggy at the time of the accident. Evans was not injured.


Police say alcohol was not a factor in the accident.


An investigation into the crash is ongoing. 


Clean Power Plan restricting carbon emissions on the way


The Environmental Protection Agency is poised to roll out a final "Clean Power Plan" rule that puts new mandates on states to cut carbon emissions.

Governor Snyder is already mapping out a plan for energy, which includes cutting energy waste and using more renewable energy and natural gas.

Depending heavily on natural gas has raised some questions, as gas prices can -- and have -- fluctuated wildly and there are criticisms about its extraction and they recently point to potential pollution issues and even earthquakes.

However former Michigan house member Dan Scripps, who now heads the Institute for Energy Innovation notes the governor's plan to include waste reduction and renewable fuels can help control the effects of fluctuating natural gas prices.



Meth labs in Wexford County busted



Two more meth labs, this time in Wexford County, are out of commission.


The Traverse Narcotics Team says they uncovered a one-pot meth lab and meth-making materials at two separate locations Thursday and Friday.


Search warrants executed at a residence on Maurer Street in Cadillac and a property on Works Avenue in Haring Township revealed the drug making operations.


Police say the investigation is ongoing and criminal charges are expected.




911 service goes out in several northwest Michigan counties


Sunday's severe weather is causing concern about more than just power outages for some Michigan residents. 911 stopped working in counties all across northwest Michigan during the big storms.


The emergency service was out in Benzie, Grand Traverse, Leelanau and Manistee Counties, among others.


The Kalkaska County Sheriff’s Dispatch also went down, forcing residents of Kalkaska County to call the Benzie County Central Dispatch yesterday evening.


This is the first time local 911 providers have had a problem since Antrim County’s service went down in March.




Big Rapids man and four others busted for LSD


Four men are looking forward to a court date after police arrested them for delivering LSD.


20-year-old Todd Charles Gillespie II of Big Rapids, 23-year-old Jacob Nathaniel Graham of Howard City, 19-year-old Alex Michael Johnson of Cedar Springs, and 19-year-old Dakota James Edmonds of Mecosta were taken into custody late last week in Morton Township.


All are being charged with possession and intent to deliver LSD which carries a possible 7 year prison sentence.




Crews work to restore power following severe weather


Crews from Consumers and Great Lakes Energy are working to restore power to thousands of customers that are without electricity.


Severe thunderstorms that rolled through the state Sunday night left many people in the dark, mostly north and northwest of Big Rapids.


Consumers reports over 80,000 customers affected and some in the hardest hit areas may not have electricity until later Wednesday. Great Lakes Energy is reporting over 13-thousand customers without power.


Both utilities remind customers to stay at least 25 feet away from downed power lines and anything they are touching and to immediately call 911 or their respective utility.




UPDATE: Severe thunderstorm watch extended



The National Weather Service has extended a severe thunderstorm watch until 2:00AM for the following counties:











































The National Weather Service has issued a Severe Thunderstorm Watch for Mecosta County until 11 p.m.


A squall line of storms, some severe, will move Southeast through Michigan this evening bringing the threat of damaging winds, hail and heavy rain. There is is slight risk of some tornados with this system. The greatest risk time frame for Mecosta County is about 7 p.m to 10 p.m.


Monitor weather sources to keep track of storm development and possible Severe Storm/Tornado Warnings. Be prepared to seek shelter and plan for the possibility of power outages.



Original story:


A line of strong to severe thunderstorms entering the northern Lower Peninsula is expected to bring damaging winds and frequent lightning as it moves south throughout the day Sunday.


The National Weather Service has issued the following advisory for Mason, Lake, Osceola, Clare, Oceana, Newaygo, Mecosta, Isbella, Musdegon, Montcalm, Gratiot, Ottowa, Kent, Ionia, Clinton, Allegan, Barry, Eaton, Ingham, VanBuren Kalamazoo, Calhoun, and Jackson Counties:











Both Consumers Energy and Great Lakes Energy encourage the public to report and check the status of any power outages at their respective web sites, and




Rosebush man struck and killed by car in Isabella Co.

Police in Isabella County are investigating a deadly car/pedestrian accident.


Deputies say it happened on N. Mission Rd. in Isabella Township, that's where a car driven by a 32-year-old Rosebush woman struck and killed 62-year-old Lloyd Ciszewski also of Rosebush. Police say Ciszewski was wearing dark clothing at the time of the accident.


The driver told police she didn't see the victim when she hit him.


The incident remains under investigation. 


Two charges dropped against former CMU football player

A former Central Michigan University football player is no longer facing charges of criminal sexual conduct and attempted kidnapping after they were dropped.


An Isabella County judge said in a written opinion filed yesterday that there was not enough evidence presented for the charges against 21-year-old Brandon Greer.


According to court documents, Greer had approached a woman walking her dog, made comments towards her that made her feel uncomfortable and pulled her towards his vehicle.


However, court documents indicate that Greer was trying to become more outspoken, and had been influenced to approach strangers by his coach.


Greer is still in jail, facing charges of assault and disturbing the peace.


Amish teen killed in Osceola co. car/buggy accident

A car/buggy accident in Osceola County has taken the life of a Marion teen.


State Police say it happened Thursday night  in the area of 80th Ave. near 19 mile Road in Highland Township. They say a southbound vehicle being driven by a 26-year old Evart man struck a southbound Amish buggy being operated by a 19-year old Marion man.  The Marion man was pronounced dead at the scene.  He was the only occupant of the buggy.  


The Evart man was not injured and alcohol was not a factor in the crash.


Volunteer watch program helps reduce illegal activity on Muskegon River

Things are quieter this year on the Muskegon River in Newaygo County since police launched a task force to report illegal activity from those floating down the river. 


Chris Arthur lives near the river and is part of the volunteers who make up the Muskegon River Watch Program. She says as many as ten people would trespass on her property every Saturday. The other day she had one.


Reports of drunken behavior, trespassing, assaults and more are down across the board. Newaygo County Sheriff Pat Hedlund says that's a credit to the volunteers. He says arrests have fallen sharply from last year, when 136 people were arrested in just 14 weeks.  


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