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Big Rapids Daily News
News That Affects You Archives for 2016-01

Payday lenders under fire in Michigan


Consumer groups in Michigan want payday-lending regulations to have more bite, and are asking federal regulators to rein in the damage done by the industry.


The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is writing new rules to prevent consumers from falling into a so-called "debt trap."


Michigan United spokesperson Debbi Adams says new regulations should require lenders to ensure that customers are able to repay a loan, instead of the lender simply focusing on their own ability to collect.


"They lure them in with 'OK, you can get this, pay it back, no problem.' But they take so much of their money that when they try to pay it back they'll have nothing to live on 'til the next payday unless they take out another loan. That's how they get caught into this cycle of debt."


According to the C-F-P-B, four out of five payday loans are renewed within two weeks.


The bureau is proposing rules to prevent borrowers from taking out more than one loan at a time and that cap payday-lending interest rates.


Some in the industry argue the new regulations will be expensive, with additional costs being passed on to borrowers or putting some lenders out of business.




Unemployment rate goes up in Osceola Co. stays the same in Mecosta Co.


Seasonally unadjusted unemployment rates went up for Osceola County but stayed the same for Mecosta County in the month of December.


State Officials say Osceola County’s jobless rate only went up by one-tenth of a percent last month to 5.0% overall. Mecosta County’s unemployment rate stayed the same in December at 4.6%.


In the West-Central Michigan Region, jobless rates increased two-tenths of a percent to an overall 5.1%  


Big Rapids City Commission to decide on real estate broker for Hanchett site


Big Rapids City Commissioners will have some issues on their plate when they conduct their first meeting of February, Monday night.


Tentatively, commissioners are set to receive an update on the Roben Hood Airport, then City Manager Steve Sobers, Public Works Director Mark Gifford give a presentation and answer questions regarding a DEQ review of the city’s Water Plant.


In general business, commissioners will take action of whether or not to approve the Bonner Group as the city’s real estate broker for the former Hanchett site.


The meeting will take place at City Hall and will start at 6:30pm.  


Head on accident in Mecosta Co. sends two drivers to the hospital

Two men were sent to the hospital after a head on car accident in Mecosta County this morning.


Deputies say the accident occurred, when a White Cloud man was traveling northbound on Newcosta Ave near 7 mile road and lost control, crossing the center line and struck a southbound vehicle driven by a man from Laingsburg. 


Both men were taken to Spectrum Health Big Rapids for non-life threatening injuries.


Police say weather conditions and speed are factors in the accident.  


The Mecosta County Sheriff's Office asks citizens to reduce speed and allow extra time for travel during periods of inclement weather. 


FBI investigating hate crime in Mecosta County


A three year old hate crime in Mecosta County is now the subject of an FBI investigation.


Investigators say they are trying to track down whoever burned down a number of sheds next to a home in Sheridan Township in 2013.


Racial slurs had also been spray painted on the home.


A person of interest has been identified and a reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of the suspect.


Information on how to offer tips on the case can be found online at




Howard City B&E leads to meth lab


A Howard City homeowner is glad he got a call from the Michigan State Police this week.


Officers say they were responding to a reported break-in at a residence and contacted the home owner, who was out of state.


They found a man and a woman in the house and evidence of meth use.


The man then admitted to having one pot lab in his car.


The suspect is under arrest on a charge of unlawful entry and an outstanding warrant.




UPDATE: School closings and delays for Thursday, January 28, 2016


The following schools are closed or delayed this morning.




















Check back as your school closing list is updated and be sure to call ahead to be sure your destination or event hasn't been canceled for today because of the weather.


Osceola Co. teens charged with B&E


A pair of Osceola Co. teenagers are behind bars, accused of breaking into a former gas station building in Marion.


Police say the incident happened last week at the former Marion Jiffy Mart building.


19-year old Brandon Norris and 17-year old Jarrod Case, both of Marion, are each charged with one count of breaking and entering with intent.


The charge carries a ten year maximum prison sentence, if convicted. The Marion teens bond was set at $150,000 each. 


Online scam targets young men in Michigan


Michigan State Police say a new social media scam targeting young men is cropping up in the state.


The scammers, who claim to be women, establish an online relationship with their victims and send sexually explicit pictures and videos.


The scammer's so-called dad then becomes involved, telling the victim he is a police officer and will go to a judge because his so-called daughter is under age, unless the victim coughs up some money.


Officials say this is extortion and if you think you are being scammed to contact the police.




Mecosta County man busted for meth identified


The identity of a Mecosta County man busted for having a mobile meth lab last week is being released.


Police say Roy Rabbit was arrested last Thursday near the intersection of 30th Avenue and Garfield Road in Sheridan Township.


They say the meth lab was discovered after officers noticed a strong odor of marijuana coming his vehicle.


Rabbit is being charged with possessing meth and several misdemeanors.




More snow heading for Big Rapids


The National Weather Service is issuing a winter weather advisory for Big Rapids, Reed City, and surrounding areas starting at 7 o'clock Wednesday night.


They say snow will develop with accumulations of two to four inches with blowing snow expected due to gusty southwest winds.


Visibilities will decrease to less than a mile due to blowing and drifting.


The advisory is in effect until 7 o'clock Thursday morning.




UPDATE: Hemlock Park Ice Rink in Big Rapids set to officially open Wednesday


The opening event for the Hemlock Park Ice Rink scheduled for Wednesday has been canceled due to weather conditions.




A grand opening event for Big  Rapids' Hemlock Park ice rink is set for Wednesday. 


City officials say there will be hot cocoa offered to attendees and giveaways as well. Mayor Mark Warba will also be in attendance to open the rink.


The event will take place from 5:30pm-6:30pm.  Normal rink hours are from 8am-10pm.  


Supreme Court ruling means hope for some Michigan prisoners


There’s new hope for some Michigan offenders who were sentenced as juveniles to die in prison.


On Monday, the U-S Supreme Court held that a decision outlawing mandatory life without parole for child offenders applies retroactively.


Michigan is one of the few states that uses life without parole for juveniles.


Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency spokesperson Kristen Staley says the high court recognizes kids lack the impulse control and judgment of adults and have greater capacity for reform.


"The court even goes to say that it’s always unconstitutional for a juvenile to be serving life without a chance of parole, unless he or she is found to be so irreparably corrupt or some sort of permanently incorrigible status. Frankly, it’s a rare circumstance and we should not be using it."


There are about 360 people serving life sentences in Michigan for crimes committed prior to age 18.


Michigan is also one a few states where 17-year-olds are automatically tried as adults.




UPDATE: School closings for Tuesday, January 26, 2016


A number of schools closings on Tuesday, January 26, 2016 due to the weather.























Check back for more school closings as they become available.


Also, the Mecosta County Commission on Aging's meals program has cancelled all meals for today. There will be no home delivered meals or congregate site meals and all Mecosta County Senior Center's activities are cancelled for today.




Firefighters battle weekend house fire in Big Rapids


A family dog is dead after firefighters in Big Rapids battled a house fire for nearly 4 hours Saturday.


The blaze broke out around 1pm on Saturday at a home on Finley Street.


Big Rapids DPS Fire Chief Steve Schroeder says they requested assistance of three other fire departments to help them control the blaze.


“We requested the assistance of Big Rapids Township, Colfax Township and Mecosta/Austin Township fire for extra man power.” Schroeder said.  


No one was in the home at the time of the fire, however the family dog did perish. 


Schroeder says so far the cause of the blaze is unknown but investigators have confirmed it started in the kitchen. 


State Police release identity of body found in Remus

State Police are now releasing the identity of the body found in front of St. Michael’s Church in Remus Friday.


Troopers say the body of 30-year old Daniel Joseph Cory was discovered around 8am after a driver noticed his body in a ditch near 9 Mile Rd and 50th Ave.


Police say Cory died of hypothermia/exposure to the elements.


A toxicology report will be conducted to see if Cory was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of his death. Police don't consider the Remus man's death a homicide. 



Michigan congressman says liberal-conservative rift causing problems for the nation


Congressman Bill Huizenga believes many of the problems facing our country can be traced to the split between liberals and conservatives in both congress and the general population.


I get chastised for even bringing up a Democrat's name whom I'm talking to. We've seen an entrenchment, in many ways, and whether it's Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders, you've got some folks out there saying, 'Uh-uh. We don't want you communicating,'” he says.


Huizenga made the comments during a recent town hall meeting in Newaygo and, he says, too many people don't want to even look at differing point of view.


He adds many of the issues that are currently in gridlock in Washington D.C. may be resolved with the election of a new president in November.




Open enrollment for health insurance ends this month


The deadline is looming for uninsured Michigan residents to enroll in the Health Insurance Marketplace.


January 31st is the last day of the 2016 open enrollment period.


But as the Michigan director of Enroll America, Erin Knott says folks don’t have to go it alone.


Trained navigators are available in every community who can guide people through their coverage options.


"There's in-person assistance and events going on across the state. We encourage everybody to take a look, to shop the plans, and to hook up with an expert who can walk them through the process,” she says.


Nearly eight out of ten people who apply for insurance through the marketplace will qualify for financial assistance to help pay the monthly premium.


Those who do not have health coverage this year will face a federal penalty of either 2.5 percent of their income or $695, whichever is higher.




School closings for Monday, January 25, 2016


On Monday's school closing list, Cadillac Public Schools Pine River Area Schools are canceling classes.


As always, call ahead to see if your destination or event is closed before heading out.




Listeria outbreak leaves one person dead in Michigan, nearly a dozen sick in six states


One person from Michigan is dead and nearly a dozen more have been hospitalized due to a multi-state Listeria outbreak.


The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are conducting an ongoing investigation and it has recently been determined that the likely source of the outbreak is packaged salads produced at a Dole processing facility in Springfield, Ohio.


The salads have been sold under various brand names, including Fresh Selections, Simple Truth, Marketside, The Little Salad Bar, and President's Choice.


The packaged salads can be identified by the letter “A” at the beginning of the manufacturing code found on the package.


Other states affected include Indiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.




UPDATE: Body of man found near Remus

UPDATE: State Police say the body discovered today is that of a 30 year old, white male from the Rumus area. 


Police are investigating the case as a suspcious death. 




Michigan State Police are investigating after a body of a man was found on the property of St. Michael’s Church near Remus this morning.


According to police, a passerby noticed a body lying on the ground and called 911 around 8am.


The MSP Crime Lab has been called to investigate the scene. The identity of the man is not yet known and an autopsy will be conducted to determine a cause of death.


State Police are asking if anyone has information about what happened to contact law enforcement immediately. 


Woman mistaken for dead in Newaygo Co murder case


A murder case in Newaygo County is taking a new turn.


Police reports indicate one of two gunshot victims was assumed dead and wasn't checked for nearly an hour before first responders noticed the woman still had a pulse.


State troopers found Martin and Glenna Duram with several gunshot wounds at a home in Sand Lake last May.


Glenna was then taken to the hospital with serious injuries while Martin was pronounced dead at the scene.


No charges have yet been filed in the case.




Mobile meth lab busted in Mecosta County


A man from Remus is in custody after police say they found a one-pot meth lab in the back of his car.


Mecosta County Deputies arrested the man on Thursday near the intersection of 30th Avenue and Garfield Road in Sheridan Township.


They say the meth lab was discovered after officers noticed a strong odor of marijuana coming the the suspects vehicle.




EPA holds public hearing regarding potential class II injection well in Mecosta Co.


Concerned residents in Mecosta County want to make sure their health and the area they live in will be safe if a class two injection well is approved by the Environmental Protection agency.


A public hearing was held by the EPA last night at Chippewa Hills High School.


Ross Micham a Geologist and permit writer with the EPA gave a presentation about how the injection well in Fork Township would be set up and what would be injected into that well.


“Brine is salty water that is mixed with different minerals like hydro carbons when injected into the ground to find oil and gas” Micham said.   


The well would allow W.B. Osborn Oil and Gas Operations out of Texas, to hydraulically inject the brine several thousand feet underground.  


If you would like to make a recorded comment to the EPA about the well, the agency will be taking them until Jan. 28th


Congressman from West Michigan meets with citizens, outlines foreign policy


U.S. Congressman Bill Huizenga, who represents nine counties in Western Michigan including Newaygo and Lake Counties, says he's very concerned with the United States' position in the world.


During a town hall meeting in Newaygo on Wednesday, Huizenga mentioned ISIS, Iran's taking U.S. Naval personnel into custody, Kim Jung Un throwing a “nuclear temper tantrum,” and Russia in the Ukrain among his worries.


As we've been seeing foreign policy foisted to the front again, there's a lot of serious question marks surrounding what's happening in the world and we've got to get very serious about it,” he says.


But he disagrees with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's call to bar all Muslims from entering the U.S.


I don't believe just banning a group of people because of their religion is the right way to go,”


Huizenga says additional scrutiny for people coming from certain regions of the world is warranted, but he wants all people from those regions subjected to additional investigation before being allowed into the United States.




Colfax Twp. drug bust nets two arrests on meth charges


A Rodney woman and a man from Lansing are behind bars on methamphetamine charges.


Members of the Central Michigan Enforcement Team and Mecosta CountySheriff's Department conducted an investigation, after receiving information about the pair cooking meth at a home in Rodney.


A search warrant was executed by police; there they found a one-pot meth lab and components to make the drug.  


Subsequently, a 42-year old woman and 48-year old man were taken into custody on meth charges. Their names are being withheld pending arraignment. 


Mecosta Co. Sheriff warns residents of IRS scam

The Sheriff in Mecosta County is warning residents of an IRS scam making its rounds in the area.

In the last week, Sheriff Todd Purcell says his office has been receiving calls from residents who have been targeted by the scammers.

Purcell wants to remind residents that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will never call your home regarding collections of taxes. He is asking residents to not to respond to the scammers phone messages and not to give out personal information. 


City of Big Rapids offers new smartphone app to report issues to city

Starting next month, Big Rapids city officials will officially roll out a new smartphone app called “See Click Fix”.

The app allows anyone to take a video or picture of an issue that needs the city’s attention like blight, pot holes or graffiti. Once reported, the issue will be addressed and fixed in a timely manner, according to City Manager Steve Sobers.

The app is functional right now but will officially be launched February first.  You can download the app on any Android or iPhone device.     


Icy roads put Big Rapids woman in the hospital


A Big Rapids woman is recovering following an accident in Mecosta County.


The Mecosta County Sheriff's Office says Chelsea Kryger ran into a tree after she lost control of her car on 205th Avenue and 13 Mile Road.


Kryger was hospitalized for non life-threatening injuries.




Real estate broker selected by Big Rapids Commissioners to sell former Hanchett property

The City of Big Rapids is moving forward with its intent to sell the former Hanchett manufacturing site.

Commissioners approved a resolution accepting the recommendation by the city’s Brownfield Authority to select the Bonner Group as its real estate broker. City Manager Steve Sobers told commissioners, with their qualifications, the Bonner Group is a great selection for the city.

Mayor Mark Warba agreed. “Due diligence is needed for a piece of property like this, and by not reaching out to a company like Bonner Group would be doing a disservice to the city.” Warba said.  

In other news, commissioners also approved a resolution to select Gallager Benefits for its health care agent services. 


EPA to host meeting regarding Class II injection well in Fork Twp.

Concerned residents in Mecosta County are asked to attend a meeting at Chippewa Hills High School Thursday regarding a class two injection well in Fork Township.

The meeting will be hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency who will answer questions regarding the well and how it could potentially impact them and their property. The well would allow W.B. Osborn Oil and Gas Operations out of Texas, to hydraulically inject brine several thousand feet underground.  

The meeting will start at 6pm and go until 7:30pm. 


Research says gratitude increases happiness


There is scientific research that can point anyone in the direction of a happier life.


Some of the tips are common sense – getting enough sleep, exercise and outdoor time, and making time to help others.


But psychology professor Tim Bono at Washington University says people who take just a few minutes a week to acknowledge the good in their lives and the things they're grateful for tend to see significant increases in their happiness.


"It’s also one of the easiest behaviors for us to incorporate into our daily lives. And it really doesn’t even involve changing anything about our lives – rather, it’s taking just a few minutes to shift the focus of our attention to those things that are going well for us."


Bono studies happiness and says New Year's resolutions work best when they are aimed at incorporating healthy, long-term habits into your life, and research shows that adding gratitude is one of the most effective.




UPDATE: School closings for Tuesday, January 19, 2016


The following schools are closed today due to the bitterly cold weather.







In addition, the Mecosta County Commission on Aging's meals program has canceled all meals and all activities for today.


As always, call ahead to your destination or event to be sure it hasn't been canceled during inclement weather.




Gov. Snyder to deliver State of the State Address Tuesday

Governor Rick Snyder will be delivering his State of the State address Tuesday night from Lansing at 7pm.

Snyder is expected to discuss the struggling Detroit Public Schools district and the future of the auto industry, but the focus most likely will be on the water crisis in Flint and the investigation opened by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette.

Local State Representative Phil Potvin, who will be attending his last SOS address due to term limits, is excited to hear from the governor tonight.

“The governor will outline his objectives for the upcoming legislative year during his speech” Potvin said. “I’m looking forward to listening what Gov. Snyder has to say about education and funding for it.”

Snyder is also is expected to talk about the state finishing its budget, balanced and on-time, for the 5th year in a row. 


NWS predicts hazardous weather for the next week


A hazardous weather outlook has been issued by the National Weather Service for portions of Southwest Lower Michigan including Mecosta and Newaygo Counties.


For Monday night, snow showers will be locally heavy at times especially west of u.s.-131. Roads will become snow covered and slick as cold temperatures will limit the effectiveness of salt. Some blowing and drifting snow will be possible...mainly near open fields. Wind chills of zero to around 10 below can be expected through Monday night.


For the rest of the week, snow showers will continue to create hazardous travel with snow covered and slick roads...including the monday morning commute. The worst conditions will be closer to the lakeshore.




UPDATE: School closings for Monday, January 18, 2016


The following schools are closed for Monday, January 18, 2016
















Check back for updates as more school closings may become available.


As always, call ahead to your destination or event to be sure it hasn't been canceled during inclement weather.




Missing Newaygo man found in Grand Rapids

We have an update to a story we reported Friday regarding a Newaygo man who had been missing since Sunday.


Police say Mark Kuprel has been found in Grand Rapids.


They say he was found Friday afternoon and has been taken to a area hospital for an evaluation. 


Grand Rapids man sentenced in assault case

A Grand Rapids man is going to jail for at least two years after being sentenced in Mecosta County Circuit Court.


Last November, 35-year old Donnie Anthony Ingram was arrested after being accused of strangling a woman at a home in Big Rapids then trying to interfere when the victim was trying to dial 911.


The Grand Rapids man pleaded “no contest” to a charge of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less then murder as part of a plea deal from prosecutors.  


Michigan expert helps people get organized


Getting organized is the second most common New Year’s resolution, but it can be a hard goal to meet in a house full of clutter.


Professional organizer Betty Houtari with Logical Placement of Michigan says when trying to de-clutter, do a clean sweep of rooms – either in a clockwise or counter-clockwise fashion – instead of just digging in, in different areas.


And she recommends pausing to consider which items are really needed.


"Closets are a great place to start and declutter. So, making decisions – a lot of us have extra items in our closets that one day we’ll 'fit into' (laughs). And so, it’s just being realistic,” she says.


Houtari suggests items that are not being worn but you may want to keep be put in a bin to be stored elsewhere. And while clothing can be sold when it's no longer needed, she says it's a lot easier to donate it.


Charities do have different guidelines for donations, so she recommends calling a donation center if there are questions about an item’s condition.




Police search for missing Newaygo man

The Newaygo County Sheriff's Department says they're looking for a missing person.


Mark Kuprel from Newaygo was last seen on Sunday in Grand Rapids. Kuprel is 27 years old, weighs 200 pounds and is 5’11” tall.


He had a large green Marine duffle bag and a bright orange backpack.


Kuprel was wearing a red and black coat. His family believes he is depressed and is worried for his well-being.


Anyone with information on Kuprel is asked to call the sheriff’s office at (231) 689-5288.




Former Christian camp counselor in Mecosta County takes plea deal


A former Christian camp counselor in Mecosta County faces up to 15 years in jail, after taking a plea deal from prosecutors.  


24-year old William Nealy of Muncie, Indiana is pleading “no contest” to a felony charge of second degree criminal sexual conduct. In exchange, prosecutors will dismiss the rest of the charges against him, according to court documents.


Nealy was accused on two separate occasions, of inappropriately touching two separate campers while in their bunks at Cran-Hill Ranch in Rodney.  He was fired from his position as counselor after allegations surfaced in July.


Nealy will also have to register as a sex offender for the next 25 years, according to the plea deal.     


Five people in Michigan hit lottery for $1M


There are five new millionaires thanks to the Michigan Lottery’s Powerball game.


Five lucky players matched the first five numbers in Wednesday night’s drawing to win a $1 million prize.


The winning tickets were bought in Grand Rapids, Cadillac, Holly, Iron Mountain, and Horton.


At least three winning tickets were sold in the record $1.5 billion Powerball drawing, including one in Florida, one in Tennessee and one in suburban Los Angeles according to lottery officials.




Michigan auto insurance rates high and climbing


The Insurance Institute of Michigan says Michigan’s average auto insurance premiums rose 8 percent from 2012 to 2013.


That compares to an increase of 3 percent for average countrywide premiums.


Michigan drivers on average spent $1,264 in 2013 on auto insurance, according to the recent report by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.


In 2012, the average auto insurance premium in Michigan was $1,171.


Meanwhile Michigan is currently ranked last in offering the biggest car insurance savings for drivers who opt for larger deductibles, according to a new report by


Michigan drivers can expect to save, on average, only 4% on car insurance when deductibles are increased.


The national savings average at 9%.




UPDATE: School closings for Thursday, January 14, 2016


Four school districts are closed due to the weather on Thursday.


Big Jackson Public Schools, Freemont Public Shools, Newaygo Public Schools, and White Cloud Public Schools all are canceling classes for today.




Local officials react to Gov. Snyder's


Local officials in Mecosta County are reacting to a bill Governor Rick Snyder signed into law prohibiting them from publicly discussing ballot proposals or millage issues in the 60 days leading up to an election. 


Mecosta County Administrator Paul Bullock calls the bill a violation of the first amendment.


“If a Mecosta County resident comes up to me and asks me a factual question about a ballot proposal, I am prohibited within 60 days of the election of giving them the facts” bullock said. “I have no idea what the legislature was thinking about when they put such a system of censorship in place on public officials”


Also in the bill was a provision that allows candidates to shift campaign money from one election cycle to another to pay off debt from a previous election cycle.


Children's cough medicine recalled


A popular children’s cough medicine is being voluntarily recalled by its producer.


Pharmaceutical company Perrigo says two batches of its children's guaifenesin grape liquid medicine and 3 batches of its children's guaifenesin DM cherry liquid medicine sold in 4 oz. bottles.


The recall was announced due to potential overdose risk because there are incorrect dosage markings on its oral cup.


According to a press release, Perrigo officials said:


The use of these products according to labeled instructions with an affected dosing cup is unlikely to result in serious side effects, and no reports related to overdose have been received to date. Consumers should be aware that an overdose of Guaifenesin DM may cause hyper excitability, rapid eye movements, changes in muscle reflexes, ataxia, dystonia, hallucinations, stupor, and coma. Other effects have included nausea, vomiting, tachycardia, irregular heartbeat, seizures, respiratory depression, and death.


To see the recalled product numbers click here


Marion man faces charges in Reed City


A 31-year-old man is facing charges in Reed City after leading police on a brief chase.


Aaron Brooks Hesselink of Marion is being charged with police officer fleeing, third degree; police officer assaulting, resisting, obstructing; operating while intoxicated, second offense; operation of a motor vehicle without insurance; operating a motor vehicle while license suspended, revoked or denied; and open container of alcohol in a vehicle.


Hesselink led police on a chase through Marion Township last week when Michigan State Police attempted to stop him for driving after dark with no headlights.




Congressman Huizenga reacts to SOTU


During his final State of the Union speech, President Barak Obama knocked Republican presidential candidates for anti-Muslim rhetoric and said it is fiction to declare the United States in economic decline or getting weaker on the international stage.


However, U.S. Congressman Bill Huizenga, who represents a large portion of west Michigan, including Newago county, says Obama missed an important opportunity to lay out a comprehensive plan to restore American leadership across the globe.


Huizenga says there are clear and present dangers required leadership from the Oval Office and the President should worry less about his legacy and focus on the safety and security of the American people.




School closings for Wednesday, Januay 13, 2016


Most schools are holding class today following bad weather over the past couple of days.


However, Baldwin Community Schools report they will be closed today because of the weather and the Mecosta County Senior Center also says they are canceling their morning activities today.


As always, call ahead to make sure your destination or activity is taking place during bad weather.




Big Rapids Township holds state of the township address


Fire hall expansion, installing a sidewalk on Perry Street and more funding for the Big Rapids Community Library are issues of importance according to Big Rapids Township Supervisor Bill Stanek during his first ‘State of the Township” address.


During his speech last night, Stanek highlighted the past three years on the job, what should be a focus of township trustees this year, which included installing a sidewalk on the north side of Perry Street from the Venlo Apartments to Walmart and moving forward on putting an addition on the Fire Hall.


Township Resident Dan Tuuri believes this event was a great way to get residents engaged with their community.


“It’s really exciting to see this many people out here, I felt this was a good balance, people were engaged and giving their feedback and township officials were listening” Tuuri said.


Stanek hope to make the “State of the Township” address an annual event.    


Mecosta Co. Parks and Board of Commmision hold joint meeting discuss future of Parks


Renovations and improvements are on the horizon for parks in Mecosta County but it may cost its residents in a few bucks.


Representatives from the Mecosta County Parks and commissioners from the county board held a joint meeting to discuss what’s in store for the parks future.


During his presentation, Parks Superintendent Jeff Abel noted 5 to 10 improvements/renovations for each park from 2016-2021 but said replacing the roof on the Paris Park Hatchery Building is needed now.


“The roof on the hatchery building is in dire need of replacement and every day that goes by is a day we may not be able to do those improvements to that facility.”Abel said.


Parks officials also spoke about putting a millage proposal on the August ballot to ask residents for a half mill over a five year period, which would raise $630,000.     


Michigan groups call Obama's refugee raids 'immoral'


Ahead of his final State of the Union address, some Michigan groups are calling on President Obama to end immigration raids of Central American refugee families.


The demand comes from 40 organizations representing faith, labor, and civil rights organizations in the state.


The raids, described by the groups as “immoral,” are targeted at families who entered the country from Central America after May first, 2014.


Sociology professor at Michigan State University Ruben Martinez explains the families faced poverty and violence in war-torn countries.


"Children fleeing these countries are regularly subjected to gang violence and sexual assault. The children are ordered to join the gangs as young as 10 years of age, and if they don’t comply, they will be beaten and sometimes killed."


The Department of Homeland Security has defended the raids as necessary to secure the U-S border. More than 120 people have been apprehended so far in raids in several states – none yet in Michigan.




New finance director approved by BRPS BOE


The Big Rapids Public School district has a new finance director.


Tina Mills was unanimously approved by the Board of Education at Monday's meeting replacing Nick Schieble who stepped down last year.


Mill's has experience in several Michigan school districts, most recently at Gaylord Community Schools.




Hazardous weather ahead for Big Rapids area


The National Weather Service is issuing a hazardous weather outlook for portions of Southwest Lower Michigan.


Snow showers will continue through Monday with the greatest accumulations of up to an inch west of US-131.


Snow shower activity and the wind will increase significantly Monday night..


Areas west of US-131 may see 4 to 6 inches of snow with some blowing and drifting.


Wind chills will be near zero. The combination of snow, blowing snow, and low wind chills will make for hazardous travel conditions.




Second accident on US-131 injures Newaygo woman


Early Monday morning, the Mecosta County Sheriff's Office responded to a two vehicle accident on US 131 just south of Jefferson Rd.


The accident occurred when a 19-year-old Chippewa Lake man rear ended a 41-year-old woman from Newaygo after she just merged onto the highway and was not up to speed yet.


The woman was taken to the hospital for possible neck or back injuries from the crash.




Accident on US 131 puts Big Rapids woman in hospital


A woman from Big Rapids is recovering following one vehicle accident on US-131.


The Mecosta County Sheriff's office says the woman was a passenger in a vehicle being driven by a man northbound on the freeway just south of Jefferson road on Friday.


He apparently lost control, went off the road, and rolled his car.


The 53-year-old female passenger was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.




Accused Reed City drug dealer identified


A 44-year-old Reed City man who was arrested last week on drug charges is now being identified.


Todd Michael Postema is being charged with one count of using a computer to commit a crime, three counts of delivery or manufacture of marijuana, one count of maintaining a drug house, and one count of felony firearm possession.


If convicted, he faces up to seven years and as much as $500,000 in fines.


Postema is also suspected of selling pot to high school students, but police say no transactions took place on any school campuses.




UPDATE: School closings for Monday, January 11, 2016


The following schools are closed on Monday, January 11, 2016 due to inclement weather.


  • Big Jackson Public Schools

  • Barryton Head Start

  • Big Rapids Head Start #1

  • Big Rapids Head Start #2

  • Big Rapids Head Start #3

  • Big Rapids Head Start #4

  • Big Rapids Public Schools

  • Chippewa Hills School District

  • Crossroads Charter Academy

  • Evart Public Schools

  • Lakeview Community Schools

  • Mecosta-Osceola Blend Classroom

  • Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School District

  • Mecosta-Remus Head Start

  • Morley-Stanwood Community Schools

  • St. Mary Catholic School

  • St. Michael's Catholic School

  • Trinity Lutheran School in Reed City


Check back for updates as more school closings may become available.




Winter storm heading for Mecosta County


The National Weather Service says a winter storm warning is in effect for Mecosta and Newaygo counties as well as much of western Michigan.


Starting at 7:00 pm Saturday, expect rapidly falling temperatures that could lead to a quick freeze of the roads.


Four to eight inches of snow are possible with northwest winds gusting to 35 to 40 miles an hour.


The storm watch remains in effect until 7:00 pm on Sunday.




Two-year-old boy needs bone marrow transplant


The parents of a 2-year-old boy in Lake County are looking for a bone marrow donor for their son.


Gage Wilkins of Baldwin suffers from Chronic Granulomatous disease which greatly compromises the immune system.


The boy's mother, Jessica Wilkins, says only one in about 250-thousand people get the condition and a bone marrow transplant is the only cure.


A GoFundMe page has been set up and the community has put on fundraisers to help the family with expenses, but, Gage's parents say they still have a long road ahead.




Body found in Muskegon River


Police are working on identifying the body of a man found in the Muskegon River in Croton Township.


The Newaygo County Sheriff’s Office says fishermen spotted a vehicle about 150 yards downstream of the Croton Dam Thursday morning.


Divers discovered the body of a white male inside the red SUV.


An autopsy is being performed to determine the cause of death.




State Representative coming to Big Rapids and Reed City


State Representative Phil Potvin is coming to Big Rapids and Reed City to speak with residents on how Michigan state government is affecting their lives.


Potvin will be in town on Monday at Currie's BP on Maple Street in Big Rapids from 11:00 am to noon.


He'll then head north to Pere Marquette Catering on Upton Avenue in Reed City from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm.


He's encouraging residents to come talk with him and says if anyone is unable to attend the events they can contact his Lansing office at (517) 373-1747.


He can also be contacted by email at; or by mail at S-1386 House Office Building, P.O. Box 30014, Lansing, MI 48909.




Ferris State Officials very pleased with ranking as one of the high-value universities


Hard work is paying off on the campus of Ferris State University, as it’s been named one of the top 14 “Most Rapidly Improving, High –Value Universities” in the country.  


FSU ranked 11th in the poll by Money Magazine.  Sandy Gholston, News Services Manager for Ferris said they are very pleased by the ranking. 


“The ranking reaffirms all the hard work put in by Ferris faculty and staff but also shows how students know the value of a Ferris degree” Gholston said. He added “We have quality students that want to maximize their opportunities and get their degree that’s going to help them be successful in their career.”  


Money magazine rated the colleges based on factors such as affordability, educational quality, and the financial success of graduates.


Mecosta Co. Commissioners hold first meeting of 2016


The Mecosta County Board of Commission is getting right now to business in 2016.


Commissioners voted Eric O’Neil, Chair of the board while Marilynn Vargo was named Vice-Chair.


As for Business, commissioners approved to increase the wage for a work study position for the Friend of the Court, which partners with Ferris State University. The increase will be .35 cents above minimum wage to $8.85. Commissioner Bill Routley noted that FSU reimburses the county 75% of the wages for the off campus student position.  


Finally, commissioners approved to lower its mileage reimbursement rates to .54 cents a mile, which is in line with 2016 IRS rates; it was .57.5 cents last year. 


Reed City man accused of selling drugs to high school students

An Osceola County man is behind bars accused of growing marijuana and selling it to high school students.


Officials from the Traverse Narcotics Team say after they concluded a three month investigation they executed a search warrant at a home in Reed City. Police found an illegal marijuana grow operation consisting of 21 plants , a firearm and already packaged marijuana.


The suspect, a 44-year old man was arrested on nine charges including, delivery of marijuana, using a computer to commit a crime and maintaining a drug house.


The suspect's name is being withheld pending arraignment. 


Free tax preparation help available in Mecosta County

AARP is once again sponsoring free tax preparation in Mecosta County for residents with low or moderate incomes.


The program starts on February 1st and will be run in Big Rapids, Mecosta, and Remus.


Appointments can be scheduled by calling the the Retired Senior Volunteer Program at (231) 796-4848.




Mecosta Co. Clerk reacts to straight ticket voting check box ban on ballots


The straight ticket voting checkbox on the corner of a ballot is gone, now that Governor Rick Snyder signed a bill into law eliminating it.


Majority republicans backed the measure saying it would allow the voting public to fully engage in the democratic process by choosing candidates based on their merit and not on party affiliation. 


However, Mecosta Co. Clerk Marcee Purcell believes this law creates more hurdles in the voting process for her and voters.  


“I think it will create longer lines at the polls, it will also increase the chances of “spoiled ballots” which creates frustration amongst voters.” Purcell said. She added “ It would have been nice if lawmakers passed “no reason” absentee voting because then it would have given  voters the option to go on their computer  take their time and research their candidates.”


The legislation also includes a $5 million appropriation for implementing the change.


FSU ranks among top colleges


Ferris State University is ranked eleventh among the nation's 14 most-rapidly improving high-value public colleges.


That according to Money magazine.


The listing is based on a study by the Education Trust, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.


Money magazine rated the colleges based on factors such as affordability, educational quality, and the financial success of graduates.




Big Rapids couple share Alzheimer's experience online


A Big Rapids couple is gaining notoriety because of their message about Alzheimer's disease.


Alan Beamer was diagnosed with Alzheimer's two years ago and his wife, Mary Beth, recently posted a video of him discussing the disease and how it has affected their lives.


Alan's diagnosis is known as visual variance, meaning he often can't find where things are because his brain doesn't register where he is or what he's looking at.


The video currently has more than 50,000 views and can be seen on Mary Beth Beamer's Face Book page.




Michiganders react to President Obama's executive orders on guns


Michiganders working to end gun violence are commending President Barack Obama for taking steps to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.


The president on Tuesday announced several executive actions on guns, in response to a series of mass shootings in recent years.


Linda Brundage with the Michigan Coalition Against Gun Violence says one measure would expand mandatory background checks for some private gun-sellers, including those online and at gun shows.


"There are people who do do the selling of guns without a license, and this will tighten up that procedure so that fewer felons, domestic abusers and mentally ill have access to guns."


Brundage says polling shows 90 percent of Americans want all background checks on all guns sales. According to new F-B-I data, gun sales in 2015 were the highest ever recorded.




Big Rapids Township to host State of the Township Address Jan. 12th

Big Rapids Township officials will be kicking off 2016 in a different way.


Supervisor Bill Stanek says the township will be hosting its first annual “State of the Township” address Tuesday, Jan.12th.


He hopes to speak about his vision for the township for the upcoming year, which includes being more transparent for residents and also hopes to hear the public's feedback.


The address will start at 7pm at the Big Rapids Township Fire Hall.  



Big Rapids Township hoping to increase its financial support to the Big Rapids Library


With the anticipation of penal fines decreasing in 2016, Big Rapids Township officials are looking at another way to increase its financial support to the Big Rapids Community Library.


Board members approved a resolution to move forward with a plan to ask residents for two-tenths of a mill for 6 years starting next December.


Supervisor Bill Stanek says the plan would mean residents with a home valued at $150,000 would pay $15.00.  


Stanek says the vote for the millage could go either way but now is the time to inform the public.


Officials will take the next month or so to write up language of the proposed millage and look to have it on the August ballot.


Evart Public Schools seeks public input on new superintendent

Evart Public Schools is looking for a new superintendent and the Board of Education wants the public's input.


A public forum will be held today (Tuesday) at 5:00 p.m. at the Evart Middle School auditorium where information on the formation of a job description as well as candidate's goals and priorities will be discussed.


Chippewa Hills School District superintendent Shirley Howard is acting as interim superintendent through the end of the school year.


A survey is also available online at the Evart Public Schools website,




Local post office could be your next bank branch


Most people don't think of the Post Office as a place to cash a paycheck, but a coalition of national consumer, labor and civic organizations wants to change that.


The group has delivered petitions with more than 150-thousand signatures urging Postmaster General Megan Brennan to roll out basic banking services.


Katherine Isaac with the Campaign for Postal Banking says low-income families who depend on expensive payday lenders and check-cashing outlets could see immediate benefits.


"Including cashing checks to cashing payroll checks, we want them to provide bill-pay and electronic funds transfers, and we want them to have surcharge-free ATMs in every post office across the country," she says.


Isaac says the U-S Postal Service is already the biggest seller of money orders in the nation, and banking would be in sync with its mission of providing universal service.


She adds it would also strengthen the agency, which was forced to cut operating hours and jobs after Congress required that it pre-pay retiree health benefits.




Woman charged in theft from Big Rapids Meijer


A woman from Bitely is facing unarmed robbery charges in Mecosta County.


Court records show 39-year-old Elisa Rene Geiser was arraigned on one count of unarmed robbery and one count of first-degree retail fraud following a weekend theft at the Big Rapids Meijer.


Gieser has prior retail fraud convictions and is being held on $100,000 bond.




Big Rapids Landlord sentenced to 30 days in Jail


A Big Rapids Landlord is going to jail for 30 days and will serve one year probation after being found guilty of accosting and soliciting prostitution.


50- year old Craig David Chapman owner of Chapman Housing was sentenced Monday in Mecosta County.


He was accused of offering reduced rent to a 26- year old female would-be tenant, if he saw the woman naked during an incident on July 16th.   


Chapman must also pay $72.00 in restitution as well as fines and court costs. 


Big Rapids DPS Fire Captain Randy Bell Retires

Big Rapids Department of Public Safety Fire Captain Randy Bell is calling it a career after 36 years on the job.


In her four years of leading the city's public safety, Director Andrea Nerbonne says Bell has always been a consument professional and will be missed.


"When I first got to Big Rapids four years ago, Randy was one of the first people to come up to me and say if I needed any help not to be afraid to ask him." Nerbonne said. "His knowledge of firefighting and of the department will be greatly missed." she said.


Nerbonne hopes to have a new firefighter in place by February or March. 


Staying safe and comfortable in winter driving conditions


Now that we're back to work or back to school following the holidays, Mt. Pleasant Belle Tire store manager Brian Ambs has some tips for helping your car get through the cold weather weeks ahead.


Number one, of course, is safety, so making sure your windshield is clear before heading out on the road is a good idea. Ambs has a word of caution however.


Other than your own comfort factor, the only thing that you really want to watch out for in this time of year with the weather is chips in your windshield. If they are heated rapidly and there's moisture filling them, they could crack,” he says.


And, he adds, getting into a warm car is not only better for you, it's also better for your car.


You usually should start your car four to five minutes before you drive. One reason, because the oil in this time of year is a little bit thicker so you want to give it a little bit of time to warm up and move freely. The other, like I say, is making sure the windshield is clear of any frost or anything like that.”


Other things that can help during cold weather are keeping your gas tank at least half full. In case of an emergency like a flat tire, you want to be able to pull into a safe place and stay warm and safe inside your vehicle until assistance arrives.


Also, you can extend your battery life by turning off all of your vehicle’s accessories at night like the radio and lights so you don’t drain your battery.




Experts say start organizing for tax season now


Now that the holiday season is over, attention will soon shift to the much less jolly income tax-filing season.


The I-R-S begins processing returns on January 19th, and Luis Garcia with the I-R-S in Michigan suggests getting a head start now by organizing bank statements, donation receipts and other important paperwork.


For those using a professional tax service, he recommends conducting a background check to ensure the preparer is certified. Also, Garcia says make sure everything is accurate before signing the bottom line.


"You should always review what you sign before it's sent, and you want to make sure that you always keep in mind that no matter who prepares your taxes, you are responsible for what’s on that return. And you want to make sure it's all legitimate."


Commercial software filing options also are available that are approved by the I-R-S, as well as the agency's "I-R-S Free File" system for people with annual incomes under 60-thousand dollars.


Due to a holiday, the deadline to submit both state and federal 2015 tax returns this year is pushed back a couple of days – to Monday, April 18th.




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