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News That Affects You Archives for 2016-06

Cost of learning in Michigan bench marked by new study

A new state-sponsored study says it costs nearly $9,000 per year to educate a student in Michigan’s public schools in accordance with state proficiency standards.


The Michigan Education Finance Study found a base cost of $8,667 per student noting that most Michigan school districts get between $7,300 and $8,000 in state per-pupil funding every year, though some districts get significantly more.


The report indicates Michigan needs to “work to create a more equitable funding system” by raising the base foundation allowance to the meet recommended standards and by creating a system that better tracks special education expenditures from all sources.




Local veteran's group brings the Declaration of Independence to life


Members of American Legion Post #473 in Barryton are honoring one of our nation's founding documents.


There will be a choral reading of the Declaration of Independence at noon on the 4th of July.


Ladies Auxiliary President Mary Heyart explains how a choral reading works.


A choral reading is simply a group reading and we take parts. There's going to be two groups that will alternately recite parts of the Declaration,” she says.


Heyart explains the group has done dramatics readings of the Declaration in 2012 and again in 2015, and they believe it should be established as an annual tradition.


We decided we're going to make it an annual event, part of the community outreach for our American Legion Post.”


As part of the American Legion's charter as a patriotic veteran's organization, Heyart says there needs to be more emphasis on the founding principles of the United States.


People really need to be reminded that American exceptionalism is due to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. There's so many people out there nowadays saying that there's nothing different or great or exceptional about the United States of America and the Declaration of Independence contradicts that greatly, because it was a unique document and unprecedented for its time.”


The American Legion was chartered and incorporated by Congress in 1919 and is committed to mentoring youth and sponsorship of wholesome programs in our communities, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting strong national security, and continued devotion to service members and veterans.




Reed City man dead after running stop sign in Newaygo County


Failure to obey a stop sign has proven fatal for a Reed City man.


Michigan State Police say Gregory Maddox was killed when he ran the stop sign and was hit by another driver in Norwich Township on Tuesday.


Both drivers were taken to the hospital where Maddox died from his injuries.


Police in Newaygo County say the crash is still under investigation.




Big Rapids Schools approve 2016-17 budget; hire 5 new teachers


After approving its 2016-17 school year budget, Big Rapids Public Schools is welcoming five new teachers to the district.


Director of Finance Tina Mills gave her presentation on the upcoming budget to administration and the school board during a special meeting Wednesday night.


The total fund balance for the district was just under $1.8 million dollars.


Superintendent Tim Haist is pleased with this year’s budget.


“I feel very good with the budget as we look forward to next year, we set a goal of getting to 10% of our fund balance and now we have been able to get back some of our programs that we feel are important for our students.” He said.


BRPS also hired five new teachers, Tim Klein Jr. for high school math or chemistry, Emily Feehery for high school English, Amy McGuire as high school art teacher, Devann Hattis as middle school English teacher and Danielle Breedlove as middle school math interventionist.  


Police looking for assault suspect in Isabella Co.


Police in Isabella County are on the lookout for a suspect they say was involved in a felonious assault with a gun.


On June 18th, Troopers say a Union Township man reported he had been assaulted by a man with a handgun.


State Police are asking for the public’s help in identifying the suspect.


The suspect is described as a white male approximately 5’10”, thin build with neck length brown hair and scruffy facial hair. He was wearing a black jacket and a dark colored baseball hat.


The suspect was driving a dark colored four door Chevrolet car.


Hersey resident sentenced on CSC charges


A man from Hersey is being sentenced to nine to 25 years in prison on CSC charges.


Court documents say 38-year-old Jermey David Burr was arrested in February on first-degree criminal sexual conduct charges and has agreed to a plea deal with the Osceola County Prosecutor’s Office.


Burr had sexual contact with an underage girl multiple times in Rose Lake Township.


Police say the incidents happened from September 2015 to January 2016.




New education budget will improve education for BRPS students

The state will be spending $16.1 billion on education this fiscal year, including an increase in per-student aid ranging from $60 to $120 to lower the gap between higher- and lower-funded school districts.


Governor Rick Snyder signed the budget into law earlier this week and Big Rapids Public Schools Board of Education President Pete Kent says it's a good thing.


It's going to be good for us because we get two times what the higher districts get – we're getting $120 (per-student) instead of $60.”


Kent says that will bring state education funding for the BRPS district to around $7,511 per student.


He adds that specific budget items have not yet been worked out, but there are plans for the funds.


Stuff that we can't use the sinking fund for. We can't use it right now for technology because it wasn't voted on that, but we can use it on technology, we can use it on teacher funding, we can use it on just different things.”


The legislation approved on Monday also has $2.5 million to reimburse private schools for the cost of meeting state requirements such as immunization reporting and safety drills, and public universities’ aid will rise 2.9 percent.


Everybody's going to benefit, but you know who's going to benefit the most for this funding? The kids. And that's what it's about. I think that's probably the best thing. The funding is even going to go to the private schools it's going to be for the kids, it's going to be betterment for the kids, it's going to be able to have our kids learn better,” says Kent. “It's just a super thing, I'm really excited about it.”




Mecosta Co. Sheriff: Make responsible decisions this holiday weekend


Police in Mecosta County will be on land and water making sure those who are celebrating the fourth of July is doing it responsibly.


Along with drunk drivers and other traffic violators, the Mecosta County Sheriff’s office will also be deploying 4 patrol boats out on lakes as well.


Sheriff Todd Purcell says residents and visitors need to be smart and make responsible choices this weekend.


”We want people to have fun but of course if they are drinking and away from home, please get a designated driver.” “ Also fireworks and alcohol don’t mix.” Purcell Said.   


State Police will also be patrolling highways looking for people not wearing seat belts and drunk drivers. 


Caution urged with fireworks, dry weather cited as extra hazard


It's fireworks season, and while they may be fun to light up and watch, there are dangers.


Michigan State Fire Marshal Julie Secontine says nationwide, 230 people go to the emergency room per day with fireworks injuries. There were 11 deaths in 2014.


Burns are the most frequent injury and most injuries occur to your eyes, hands, heads, or face. This is very interesting – most injuries are to bystanders and not the person igniting the fireworks.”


Secontine says there is also a huge concern about lighting fireworks this year because of the lack of rainfall in recent weeks.




Missing person found dead in Isabella County


A man originally reported as missing over the weekend in Isabella County is now being reported as dead.


Twenty-year-old Collin Jensen of Edmore had last been seen by family members at around 1:30 Saturday morning.


Deputies say they found him lying next to his motorcycle in a ditch near Guy Road in Rolland Township while responding to reports of a one vehicle motorcycle crash at around 10:30 Monday morning.


The accident remains under investigation.




State Police hope advancements in forensics will help solve 2004 murder of Osceola Co. woman


Michigan State Police are hoping advances in forensic sciences will help them solve a 2004 cold case in Osceola County.


A task force of investigators from the Michigan State Police, in conjunction with Osceola County Prosecutor Tyler Thompson, is focusing on the 2004 homicide of Tustin resident 80-year old Esther Gaffney, who lived alone at her home on Tustin Rd., north of the Village of Tustin.


On July 12th, 2004, Esther was found dead inside her residence.


An autopsy concluded that the manner of Esther’s death was homicide.


For the past 12 years, detectives have continued to investigate the case following up on numerous tips. Task force members are confident that advances in forensic science and information technology will generate new leads and aid investigators in bringing this case to a successful conclusion.


Cold cases are often solved because the passage of time allows witnesses and persons with information to come forward. Investigators feel that there are persons with information that will be pertinent to this case.


Detectives are asking anyone with information regarding the homicide of Esther Gaffney to contact the cold case tip line of the Michigan State Police Mt. Pleasant Post at (989) 775-9302.  


Mecosta Co. Sheriff wants those out on the water to take proper precautions


On the heels of two tragic drowning accidents on the Muskegon River over the weekend in Mecosta and Newaygo Counties, law enforcement wants to make sure you take the proper precautions when you go out on the river during this holiday weekend.


Mecosta County Sheriff Todd Purcell says those going out on the river this weekend need to know the conditions of the water and take precautions.


“Generally on holiday weekends there is an influx of boater traffic on the Muskegon River, some high speed boats and low speed boats and you have to be very cautious with the amount of traffic.” “With the recent heavy rain on the river, when that happens it dislodges items from each side of the river and they become floating debris and you have to be extremely cautious of that debris within the river.” Purcell said.    


The sheriff adds there will be stepped up patrols on the river this weekend to make sure people aren’t breaking the law and staying safe. 


Motorcycle accident sends man to hospital


A 28-year-old man is recovering after loosing control of his motorcycle in Mecosta Township.


The Mecosta County Sheriff's Office says the man was traveling south on Elder Drive near Buchanan Road at around 6 o'clock Sunday night when he left the roadway and flipped his bike.


He was airlifted to Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids.


Police say he was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident




Couple airlifted to hospital after ATV accident in Mecosta County


Two people on an ATV wound up in separate hospitals this weekend.


Mecosta County Deputy Victor Vandertol says a 52-year-old woman and her passenger, a 60-year-old man, sustained injuries after the woman lost control of the ATV they were on at around 7:00 pm Sunday.


The ATV left the roadway and struck several trees before turning over near 75th Avenue south of 24 Mile Road in Martiny Township.


The woman was airlifted to Spectrum Health Hospital in Big Rapids while the man was flown to Spectrum Health Hospital in Grand Rapids.


Both were reportedly wearing helmets.




UPDATE: Sheriff releases name of Big Rapids resident who drowned in Muskegon River


UPDATE: Sheriff Todd Purcell says 47-year old Lee Cooley died Sunday.  



A Big Rapids man is dead after falling into the Muskegon River during a storm.


The Mecosta County Sheriff's office says the man fell overboard when he and his daughter got caught in a storm near the Davis Bridge in Stanwood on Sunday.


The pair were thrown overboard after hitting some debris about a mile and a half north of the launch.


The daughter tried to help the man but he was unable stay above water.


Dive teams from Newaygo and Mecosta County as well as the Michigan Department of Natural Resources helped in the recovery.




Use of emergency alerts expanded in Michigan


Text messages for more than just Amber Alerts may be showing up on cell phones across Michigan after legislation was signed into law this week.


This in reaction to the random fatal shootings of six people in the Kalamazoo area in February.


Governor Rick Snyder says existing technology will help disseminate emergency information to television and radio stations, cellphones, and other wireless devices in the case of mass shootings, terrorist attacks, or other “public threats.”




New program for roadside drug tests


Police in Michigan will soon be using roadside saliva tests to determine if drivers are under the influence of drugs.


Governor Rick Snyder signed bills into law Friday creating a one-year pilot program to help determine the tests accuracy and reliability.


The Michigan State Police will select five counties to participate in the program.


Critics say the tests may not be effective on marijuana because it can be detected in the body long after its effects have dissipated.




Wolverine Worldwide hiring to fill immediate positions


Prostaff Employment Solutions held a hiring event on Saturday at Wolverine Worldwide in Big Rapids.


Prostaff's Ed Grube says they are interviewing to fill immediate openings.


There's a variety of positions in the factory – no experience necessary in the shoe manufacturing business and if you have any industrial experience, that's a plus.”


Grube adds that if anyone is unable to attend the job fair, but is still interested in a position, you can apply online at or call (231) 709-8002 to schedule an interview.




Big Rapids teen falls asleep behind wheel; gets into accident in Mecosta Twp.


A Big Rapids teen is recovering at a local hospital after falling asleep at wheel.


It happened last night on Northland Dr just north of 11 Mile Rd in Mecosta Twp.


Deputies say a 16-year old Big Rapids male went off the road into a steep ditch. After entering the ditch the teen driver struck multiple trees and a culvert before the vehicle came to rest.


The driver sustained non-life threatening injuries and was transported to Big Rapids Hospital for treatment.  


Fatigue is believed to be a factor in the accident.  


No charges to be pursued in reported assault & battery in Big Rapids involving teen girl


The Mecosta County Prosecutor will not levy charges in a reported case of assault and battery involving a 15-year old Big Rapids girl near the campus of Ferris State University.


Police say a 15-year-old Big Rapids girl reported being assaulted by multiple people and her and her friends were then threatened with the gun.


Detective Casey Nemeth of the sheriff’s office said in a press release, the injured teen and her friends were reported to a broken into an apartment at University Park suites and were confronted by a 20-year old tenant.


However, Prosecutor Brian Thiede says in his review of the case there is evidence of a physical altercation between the teen and tenant but there was insufficient evidence to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt the 20-year old woman’s conduct was criminal.


Also, Thiede says there was no credible evidence there was a male with a gun. 


Michigan Reunification Day


Friday is Michigan Reunification day and there will be a special celebration to honor Michigan parents who have successfully navigated the challenges that caused them to be separated from their children.


Michigan Trial Court Judge Timothy Connors explains that when a child is put into foster care it is a traumatic experience, and parents must work to ensure their children can return to a safe environment.


"Every time we take a child away. no matter what the underlying trauma or conflict is, we've added to it. So reunification, when we think about it, is really congratulating those parents. That's the most important connection, that's where well-being comes in for a child, that's where permanency comes in for a child."


Connors notes that the case workers, foster parents, and courts that support these families should also be celebrated.


Eight families who have been reunified will be celebrated at the Michigan Hall of Justice.




Newaygo County woman charged in murder-suicide attempt


An Ensley Township woman is being charged with murder in the death of her husband. Glenna Durham allegedly shot her husband five times before turning the gun on herself in an attempted murder-suicide at their home near Spring Lake in Newaygo County last year.


Investigators say financial problems, gambling problems and a troubled marriage, ending with the killing of Martin Duram with a gun he kept at his home.


Police say Glenna Duram left three suicide notes, one to her ex-husband and one to each of her children.


She later recovered from her injuries.




Mecosta woman sentenced on drug and child abuse charges


A woman from Mecosta will be spending a number of years in prison on drug and child abuse charges.


Forty-three-year old Tracie Lyn Thompson was sentenced after agreeing to a plea deal on one count of operating and maintaining a laboratory involving methamphetamine, and one count of second-degree child abuse.


She was sentenced to three to 20 years.


Thompson was arrested in January in Colfax Township.




Big Rapids DPS wants to make sure you're safe during Fourth of July fun


Fourth of July is right around the corner and the Big Rapids Department of Public Safety want to make sure you celebrate safely.


Deputy Director Steve Schroeder says if you are going to light off fireworks know your conditions and surroundings.


“I would just like to remind everyone to use caution and take the proper precautions.” “Make sure you look up what the rules and guidelines are which can be found on the state’s website.”


Schroeder added within the city limit it is prohibited to light off fireworks between the hours of 1am-8am.




If consumer fireworks are used at home, here are safety tips to protect lives and property.


·       Always purchase fireworks from an authorized retailer as evidenced by a displayed license and follow the manufacturer’s directions.

·       Never purchase fireworks packaged in brown paper.

·       Use of fireworks and sparklers should always be supervised by an adult.

·       Light fireworks one at a time, then immediately back away to a safe distance.

·       Always ensure that people and pets are out of range before lighting fireworks.

·       Light fireworks outdoors on a driveway or other paved surface at least 25 feet away from houses and     .       highly flammable materials such as dry grass or mulch.

·       Always keep a bucket of water or a running garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.

·       Douse spent fireworks and sparklers in a bucket of water before discarding them.




·       Allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks. Children under 15 years of age accounted for 35% of the estimated 2014 injuries.

·       Place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse.

·       Try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.

·       Point or throw fireworks at other people.

·       Carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.

·       Purchase or use unlabeled fireworks, experiment with or make your own fireworks.

·       Re-light “dud” fireworks that have not fully functioned; (instead, wait 15 to 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water).


Officials say leave the firewood at home


The Michigan departments of Agriculture and Rural Development and Natural Resources are once again asking vacationers to leave firewood at home to prevent the spread of invasive tree insects and diseases.


Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division director Gina Alessandri says the emerald ash borer has already wiped out millions of ash trees and now high-impact diseases, including oak wilt and beech bark disease, are making their way through Michigan.


She adds it is illegal to transport hardwood firewood in violation of state and federal quarantines. 


More information on invasive forest insects and tree diseases can be found at


Select the “take action” tab to learn more ways to avoid transporting invasive species during the recreation and travel season.




Operation Dry Water


Operation Dry Water is going into effect this weekend.


The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says it will increase enforcement patrols on the Great Lakes and inland lakes and rivers as part of a nationwide effort to reduce the number of boaters under the influence.


Officials say both operators and passengers need to be cautious when combining alcohol with boating as many accidents happen when drinking causes people to fall and be injured or even fall overboard.




Mecosta County ranks in lower quarter for child well being in Michigan


Mecosta County ranks among the lower 20th percentile among Michigan counties for child well being.


That according to the latest Kids Count report from the Michigan League for Public Policy.


In Mecosta County, 30.8 percent of children lived in poverty in 2014, a 31 percent increase from nine years ago.


Overall, Mecosta County ranks 65th for child well-being by county, with No.1 being the best in the state.


For child poverty, Mecosta County ranks 69th.


Child poverty has gone up in 80 of 82 Michigan counties since 2006.


Details on Mecosta County can be seen at the MLPP web site.




Mecosta Co. Chamber purchases property for new welcome center in Big Rapids


After nearly 30 years of space, location and parking problems, the Mecosta County Chamber of Commerce will be moving to a new location.


Chamber Director Jennifer Heinzman says they purchased a piece of property where resale shop “Twice as Nice” used to be and plans on building a 3,000 Sq Ft. building to hold the offices of the chamber and convention and visitors bureau.


She says there is tons of community support and are really thrilled.


“It’s time, we are really looking forward to having a welcome center here, where people can come to Mecosta County and feel welcomed and also anyone who is looking to move to the area or developers, we want them to see our best foot.” Heinzman said.


Chamber officials are in the process of looking at grants to help pay for the new $530,000 building and will begin a capital campaign in the next few weeks.


Heizman hopes to have the building move in ready by the holidays or by the latest next spring.  


Lawmakers call Lake Michigan water diversion a mistake


The city of Waukesha, Wisconsin is being given permission from the eight Great Lakes states to divert 8.2 million gallons of water per day from Lake Michigan.


Even though the city's water is contaminated with radium, U.S. Representatives Debbie Dingell and Candice Miller believe Great Lakes officials have made a mistake.

We think that by approving this request today that it has actually failed. We think it sets a very dangerous precedent that contradicts the compact's mission as well as undermines the water management progress made by the compact,” says Miller.

The city of 70,000 needed unanimous approval because of the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River Basin Resources Council, a regional compact designed to prevent water raids on the Great Lakes.



Michigan residents join in protest over VA hospital closures


Michigan protesters are joining those in over two dozen states this week to fight efforts to shutter some VA hospitals.


The VA Commission on Care will soon release a report suggesting major changes to the Veterans Administration health system, including privatizing some services.


National president for the American Federation of Government Employees, J. David Cox says as a leader in mental health care, prosthetics, and rehabilitation, the VA is best-equipped to address the unique health-care needs of veterans.


"It’s a system that deals with homelessness and veterans, works with veterans who end up with issues concerning law enforcement. VA health care is important, and we cannot privatize it or the men and women that serve this country will certainly be the losers."


According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, veterans make about 86,000 outpatient visits each year to VA health facilities, with more than 150,000 visits in Michigan in 2014.




Accused Evart child abuser withdraws plea


An Evart man who had pleaded no contest to child abuse is withdrawing his plea.


Twenty-year-old Marc Steven Harnett was arrested last year and charged with first-degree child abuse, torture, and assault with intent to murder.


He agreed to a plea deal with the Osceola County Prosecutor’s Office in May, but has now withdrawn the plea.


Police say Harnett inflicted life-threatening injuries on a 19-month-old boy while the child was in his care.


Harnett's trial is now scheduled to begin in September.




Local dealer says gun control debate is good for business


Political gridlock over gun control appears to be in full effect in Washington D.C.


Less than two weeks after a gunman killed 49 people and injured 53 others at an Orlando nightclub, the U.S. Senate, largely along party lines, rejected four pieces of legislation designed to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists and to close the so-called gun show loophole.


Local gun dealer Jason Donley, manager of Trigger Time Outfitters, says he's not generally in favor of gun control laws, but the political debate is good for business.


Every time the media screams about gun control or somebody political says it, it spikes gun sales. We sold a lot of guns last week.”


Donley says he agrees that people on terrorist watch lists should not be able to buy guns, but is wary of lawmakers attempts to deal with the problem.


The problem with it is that not that all their ideas are bad, but where do you draw the line? Basically it leaves the door open for them to impede on the rights of legal law abiding gun owners because if you let them have some, then where does that line stop?”


He goes on to explain that people should be able to defend themselves because the government won't do it for them and that he's not in favor of gun-free zones “because that's where all the shootings happen.”


There's also the bureaucracy that would accompany more gun control laws. As it is, Donley says he's personally experienced citizens who could legally buy guns being denied during the gun purchasing process because “it was simply someone at the ATF that decided to type it in wrong.”


People, especially here in Central Michigan, it's a rural community and people hold their guns very closely,” he says.


In the past five years, more than 100 gun control proposals have been introduced in Congress and none of them have passed.


On Tuesday Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would schedule a vote on a bill by fellow Republican Senator Susan Collins that would prevent about 109,000 people on "no-fly" and other surveillance lists from purchasing guns.


Collins said she expected a vote on the bill this week or next.




Big Rapids Commissioners receive final Baldwin Street Bridge update


In less than two weeks, the Baldwin Street Bridge will be fully accessible to Big Rapids residents. The bridge project has taken a year to be completed.


Public Works Deputy Director Roger Schneidt told City Commissioners the bridge was just a part of the construction project. 


“This project is the bridge, but we also have a half mile of road that we reconstructed from State Street to the north line near Catherine Street.” “We also installed a 12-inch water main on Maple Street just south of the bridge and tore down the old Hanchett building.”Schneidt said.


The project is expected to be completed by July 1st. A ribbon cutting ceremony will take place July 18th


News laws help domestic violence victims


Some new laws in Michigan offer more protection for victims of stalking an domestic violence.


It is now easier to process and serve notice of personal protection orders and judges are not allowed to consider actions taken by a parent to protect their children from possible violence from another parent in rulings on custody cases.


Judges can also prohibit custody or visitation for a parent who is the perpetrator when a child has been conceived through sexual assault.


The measures became part of Michigan's Compiled Laws during the latest legislative session.





Michigan kids' education declines, health improves


While the overall well-being of Michigan kids is improving, a new report says children are falling behind when it comes to education.


Michigan dropped to 10th worst nationally for education in the 2016 Kids Count Data Book released on Tuesday.


Kids Count Michigan Project Director Alicia Guevara Warren says state leaders are working to improve educational outcomes with initiatives like preschool for four-year-olds, but she contends more needs to be done – and at an earlier age.


And, she says, economic well-being is another concern, with 23-percent of Michigan kids living in poverty.


She explains that better opportunities for these children are possible when their parents' education and economic standing is improved.


"If we don’t start addressing things like strengthening our communities and reducing poverty, ensuring that parents have access to the types of jobs that are going to provide those family-supporting wages, then we aren’t necessarily going to see the outcomes we’re hoping, and we will continue to slide."


The bright spot in the report is improved health among children, with Michigan jumping to 14th nationally – from 23rd in 2015.




Big Rapids State of the City

Big Rapids is facing some issues in the coming year.


That's the message coming out of Mayor Mark Warba State of the City report.


Warba says challenges include a possible reduction in capacity for the city's wastewater treatment plant due to requirements under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, legacy costs associated with the city’s two pension plans, property taxes, and finding a replacement for City Manager Steve Sobers, who will retire at the end of this year.


Warba also outlined some goals for the city, including the redevelopment of the former Hanchett Manufacturing site, the creation of a Big Rapids Recreation Authority, incorporation of property purchased from the Borth family into the Clay Cliffs Nature Area, and cooperation with the Big Rapids Housing Commission.


Warba delivered the report at Monday night's City Commission.




City of Big Rapids amends city ordinance to allow for mobile food vendors


Food trucks could be coming to the City of Big Rapids in the future.


The Big Rapids City Commission approved a resolution to amend the city ordinance to allow mobile food vendors and to charge $100 for a license.


According to City Attorney Eric Williams, if a potential vendor would like a license, he/she would have to follow 20 different requirements.


Mayor Mark Warba thinks it could be another feather in Big Rapids’ cap to attract people.


In other news, the city commission approved a resolution extending services with auditing firm Gabridge & Company.  



Lakeview man airlifted to hospital after rollover accident in Mecosta Co.


A Lakeview man is recovering in a Grand Rapids hospital after being involved in a rollover accident in Mecosta County last night.


It happened on 110th Ave/4 Mile Rd in Hinton Twp.


Deputies say 25-year old Scott Davidson had driven off the roadway and rolled his vehicle into the ditch.


Davidson received non-life threatening injuries from the accident but was still airlifted by AeroMed to Grand Rapids for treatment. 


Police say alcohol was not a factor.  


Refugees help replace Michigan residents who leave the state


Despite the political rhetoric on the issue of refugees over the past year, many Michigan cities are welcoming those seeking safe haven.


Christine Sauve with the Michigan Immigrants Rights Center says there's always room for more as the state's foreign-born population is about half of the national average.


"When we in Michigan think, 'Can we welcome more immigrants and refugees?' we definitely say 'Yes.' And we were the only state to lose population in the last census, so it's a win-win situation."


Monday is World Refugee Day, which Sauve says is an opportunity to welcome refugees and celebrate their resiliency.


According to the Refugee Processing Center, from October through May, more than 18 hundred refugees arrived in Michigan.




Child Protection Registry helps keep kids safe on the internet


Secretary of State Ruth Johnson is reminding residents about the state's Child Protection Registry which allows parents to register cell phones and email addresses to keep kids from seeing ads aimed at adults.


With most kids out of school for the summer, many may be on their phones or the Internet more.


Johnson says the registry was set up to keep kids from seeing ads for alcohol, tobacco, gambling, and pornography.




Summer gets under way with new drunk driving enforcement effort


Monday is the first day of Summer and police departments across the state are kicking off a new campaign to keep the roads safe.


Michigan State Police and the director of the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning will be announcing the latest drunk driving enforcement effort as part of the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign.


Last year, the Fourth of July holiday period ended with 12 people dead as a result of traffic accidents and nearly 300 drivers were arrested for drunk driving.


The campaign will include local, county, and state cops.




Summit brings sharper focus to sexual assault on college campuses


As part of the continuing fight against sexual assault on Michigan’s college and university campuses, First Lady Sue Snyder is announcing a second summit scheduled for this fall entitled “Inform. Empower. Prevent. Let’s End Campus Sexual Assault.”

Ferris State Public Safety Director Bruce Borkovich says FSU may not have as many cases reported as some other colleges, but that doesn't mean it's not a problem.


We don't have a big number that have been reported. However, it's such a serious situation that if we have one, it's one too many.”


Borkovich notes that part of the problem in dealing with sexual assault is too often the crime goes unreported due to sociological, psychological, and traumatic reasons.


As a general rule, I think it's probably the most under-reported crime that there is,” he says.


Borkovich says he addresses the student body about the problem, particularly athletic teams, every year.


We talk as much, as often as we can about bystander intervention – about people getting involved whether it's after something happens or if they're observing that something is going on where someone looks especially vulnerable.”


And just because someone doesn't say no, that doesn't mean they've giving consent to a sexual encounter.


If a person does not consent, or cannot consent, it's a sexual assault.”


Borkovich also notes that more often than not, too much partying is involved.


The majority of cases that we find of sexual assault on campuses deal with either the victim or the perpetrator or sometimes both being highly intoxicated.”


According to a recent study by the Association of American Universities, 23% of female college students experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact while at school.




Residents and community leaders discuss Trail Towns in Big Rapids


More than 50 residents and community leaders converged into Big Rapids City Hall to listen and discuss how to best utilize Mecosta County’s trail systems and water ways.


Harry Burkholder, executive director of the Land Information Access Association presented the topic of Trail Towns to attendees.


According to Burkholder, a Trail Town is a community in which local officials have used their trail system as the focal point of a tourism-centered strategy for economic development and local revitalization.


A recent study by the Michigan Department of Transportation found the total economic impact of bicycle tourism across the state is $668 million annually.




Mecosta Co. Prosecutor to decide if charges will be brought in assault & battery case involving 15-year old girl


The Mecosta County prosecutor will decide if charges will be sought involving an assault and battery complaint that occurred near Ferris State University's campus nearly two weeks ago.


Police say a 15-year-old Big Rapids girl reported being assaulted by multiple people and her and her friends were then threatened with the gun.


Detective Casey Nemeth of the sheriff’s office says the injured teen and her friends were reported to a broken into an apartment at University Park suites and were confronted by the tenants.


One of those tenants, a 20-year-old Big Rapids woman reported being assaulted by the 15-year-old girl who reported the incident.


An investigation lead to no evidence or eye witness statements of any other assault except between the juvenile female and the 20-year old female tenant. 


There was no evidence or eye witness of a gun or any other weapon used during the incident. The evidence and statements from all parties involved including eye witnesses have been turned over to the prosecuting attorney to be reviewed for possible charges. 



Auto repair law vetoed, Snyder cites unfair competition


Legislation that critics say would have increased the cost of auto repairs in Michigan will not be put on the books.


Governor Rick Snyder vetoed the bill that would have mandated body shops to use only new or recertified original parts provided by car companies — unless the vehicle owner directed in writing to install an aftermarket part.


He says the bill artificially sought to limit competition.


Supporters of the bill, including General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., Auto Dealers of Michigan, and the Automotive Service Association of Michigan, say it would increase consumer safety.




Erroneous letter sent by MDHHS says Social Security checks reduced


About 12,000 seniors and people with disabilities in Michigan should be breathing a little easier after the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services admitted to an error in their system.


The MDHHS erroneously sent out letters stating their Social Security checks would be reduced but say they caught the mistake before any checks went out.


Deputy Director Chris Priest says the MDHHS understands the worries that the faulty information caused seniors and other residents and he apologizes for the confusion.




Mecosta County jury tampering case goes to trial


A man accused of jury tampering in Mecosta County will be going to trial despite a motion to dismiss the case.


Court officials say former pastor and activist Keith Wood will be tried on one count of attempting to influence jurors after he was arrested while distributing pamphlets discussing jury nullification outside the Mecosta County Courthouse last November.


A second charge of obstruction of justice was dismissed.


Wood's attorney argues his client’s First Amendment rights were violated, while the Mecosta County Prosecutor’s Office argues Wood was targeting and tampering with jurors for a specific case.




Mecosta County Sheriff warns residents of Consumers Energy phone scam


The Mecosta County Sheriff is warning residents of a phone scam. 


Todd Purcell says his office has received 5 calls in the last two days referencing someone posing as an official with Consumers Energy and saying they will shut off the owners power if they do not go to Rite Aid and buy two $500.00 pre-paid cards and call them back. 


This is a scam, according to the Sheriff and you should hang up the phone immediately. 




Audit report for Mecosta County comes back positive


Another year, another positive audit report for Mecosta County. 


An official from auditing firm Rehmann presented the county’s audit report to the board of commission Thursday.


Kristin Hoogerwerf told commissioners, the county did a great thorough job with its finances this past year.


She noted the county’s pension system being over 94% funded and not having a lot of debt.


“Mecosta County has been very proactive over the past several years in setting money aside for pension in anticipation whereas most of our other audit clients have not.” “The other thing we noticed when we come to Mecosta is how little debt you have.” Hoogerwerf said.


Mecosta County Finance Officer Mindy Taylor said she’s very pleased with the report especially after all her hard work.  


Third annual Big Rapids Irish Festival


The third annual Big Rapids Irish Festival gets under way this Friday.


Festival organizer Tyler Schuberg says there will be lots of Irish entertainment on hand.


We have two live bands. One is Moriath and they're a duet, a husband and wife, and they do a great job and we have Paddy's Cure. And we have the Arden Academy of Irish Dance coming and so we have a bunch of Irish step dancers.”


Schuberg adds there will also be plenty of Irish food...


We've got a full spread of Irish cuisine – corned beef cabbage, lamb kebobs, Irish bangers which are a sausage deal, and then our deserts are by Three Girls Bakery.”


And other activities...


We also have road bowling at the event, which is a fun Irish tradition. We also create a pub at the event called 'Patrick's Pub'.”


The festivities start at 6:30 pm on the grounds of St. Mary's Catholic School.




Michigan's kids missing out on summer meal programs


Nearly half a million Michigan children are missing out on summer meals, according to new data from the Food Research and Action Center.


The report, “Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation,” examined participation in the summer meal programs in July 2015 and found a slight increase in participation nationally compared to the prior year.


But Crystal Fitzsimons with the center says participation dropped about seven percent in Michigan, with about 70 thousand low income children served.


Fitzsimmons says it’s critical that children and families know summer food programs are available, and the community ensures there are enough sites serving meals.


She explains the programs often combine healthy meals with activities and educational enrichment.


"They help kids return to school healthier and also more ready to learn, 'cause lot of kids actually experience summer slide if they don’t have access to educational activities that keep them engaged and focused and learning."


Besides missed meals for children, Fitzsimons notes low participation also means missed funding for the state.


According to the report, if Michigan had reached 40 children with summer food for every 100 children who receive school lunch, 151,000 children would have been fed every day in July 2015, with nearly $12,000 more in federal funds made available to do so.




Michigan United Conservation Clubs Annual Convention in Big Rapids


This weekend will be Michigan United Conservation Clubs Annual Convention in Big Rapids.


Event host Sarah Topp says they'll start it out right on Friday at 10:00 a.m. with a habitat event at the Haymarsh Lake State Game Area near 21 Mile and 150th Avenue.


We will be restoring habitat in that area. There was a timber fell there many years ago so there are some areas that are left open and would benefit from having brush piles built for small game and cottontail rabbit species.”


She says lunch will be provided for volunteers followed by the start of the convention at the Holiday Inn in Big Rapids at 4:00 p.m.


That's going to be at the Holiday Inn in Big Rapids and registration for that will start Friday evening and it will go throughout Saturday and Sunday.”


Anyone wishing to help can register at




Quick-change con man hits local gas stations


A search is underway for a quick-change artist in Mecosta and Isabella Counties.


Police say a man got away with $20 from a gas station in Mount Pleasant and then one in Big Rapids earlier this week.


Investigators believe it may be the same person.


Quick change artists often try to confuse cashiers by paying for inexpensive items using large bills, then aggressively throw out small ones, taking all of their own bills plus their change from the cashier.


Anyone with information on the suspect should contact the police.




Spectrum Health Big Rapids and Reed City Hospitals recognized for being environmentally friendly



Two hospitals in the west central Michigan region are being recognized for being environmentally friendly.


Spectrum Health Big Rapids and Reed City Hospitals were both awarded the 2015 Greenhealth Partner for Change award by Practice Greenhealth, a health care community leading the global movement for environmental health.


President of Spectrum Health Big Rapids and Reed City Hospitals, Mary Kay VanDriel said of the awards. 


“We take pride in our sustainability efforts to lessen our impact on the environment and we plan to continue to reduce waste and find energy efficiencies.”She said.  


Facilities that receive the Partner for Change award must be recycling 15 percent of their total waste, have reduced regulated medical waste, be well along the way to mercury elimination and have developed other successful pollution prevention programs.


Recreation bill sponsored by local state lawmakers signed by the governor


Governor Rick Snyder is making a recreation bill sponsored by two local state lawmakers official.


Both State House Rep. Phil Potvin of Cadillac and State Senator Darwin Booher of Evart sponsored a bill that would allow school districts to join recreational partnerships.


Potvin says this is a great win for the city of Big Rapids.


"What this bill means is that we can work together just like schools and the city of Big Rapids." "I'm sure the first project will be a new senior center where Hillcrest Elementary used to be." He said. 


Last fall, Rep. Potvin welcomed Big Rapids City Manager Steven Sobers and Big Rapids Public Schools Superintendent Tim Haist to the House Committee on Local Government to testify in support of HB 4578.


The City of Big Rapids and Big Rapids Public Schools have been working together on ways to collaborate and expand recreational offerings in the greater Big Rapids area.


Fatal motorcycle accidents up 23 percent


Watch out for motorcycles!


AAA Michigan says new figures show a 23 percent increase in fatal accidents involving motorcycles this past year.


Secretary of State Ruth Johnson recently made a plea for riders to get their drivers license endorsements and training--


Can you imagine? It's such a small group – 16 percent, but they're responsible for half our accidents. Please tell people that don't have the endorsement, this is so very important,” she says.

Even though motorcycles make up only three percent of all registered vehicles in Michigan, they account for 14 percent of fatal crashes.




Higher standards for oil pipelines in the Great Lakes pass in U.S. Congress


The U.S. Congress says stronger safety measures for pipelines carrying oil and other fuels in the Great Lakes region are needed.


A bill reauthorizing a federal program that regulates 2.6 million miles of pipelines nationwide passed both chambers and is now headed to President Obama for his signature.


Sen. Gary Peters says it designates the Great Lakes as an "unusually sensitive area" where pipelines must meet tougher standards for safe operations.


It also requires regulators and pipeline operators to develop plans for dealing with oil spills affecting ice-covered waterways.




American Legion Post 98 in Big Rapids celebrates Flag Day



The Big Rapids American Legion paid their respects during a Flag Day ceremony Tuesday.  


Members of the legion conducted a dignified disposal of unserviceable flags in honor of Flag Day.


Bill Semar, American Legion Post 98 Commander believes this day is another way to honor those service men and women throughout history.


“It is everything that the U.S.. fought for in all wars, and a symbol that I carried in my bag in Vietnam.” He said.  


Jim Lindsey said Flag Day means a lot of things to him, especially being a veteran there’s a lot of remembrance.

to its students. 


State gets federal funds to help bees and butterflies, impact on food supply and economy called huge


Some federal dollars are flowing into Michigan to help bee and butterfly species struggling to thrive.


Michigan and Wisconsin have been awarded 500 thousand dollars from the U-S Fish and Wildlife Service to restore grassland habitats for pollinators.


Midwest region U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesperson Mara Koenig says they're still working out the details.


We don't know specifically the lands, we do know that that it's going to be 600 acres on private and public lands in Michigan.”


Koenig says bees and butterflies may not seem like a big issue, but they affect out daily lives.


One out of three foods that we eat on a daily basis is the results from pollinators, so it has a huge impact on agriculture and the economy.”


Koenig also notes the program will benefit more than just Michigan and Wisconsin.


Michigan and Wisconsin are going to be sharing this information with other conservation partners in the region so that we can implement very strong and fluid conservation management for pollinators.”


Targeted species include two bumblebee species, the petitioned monarch butterfly and the Endangered Karner blue butterfly.




Michigan terrorism expert urges intelligent discussion to resolve problems like Florida shooting


In the aftermath of the shootings in Orlando, a Grand Valley State University terrorism expert suggests toning down the rhetoric.


Homeland Defense Initiative director Jonathan White says issues get lost in the heated arguments of our divided political population .


Simple seven second rhetoric or dismissals of position, inane arguments aren't going to solve these problems.


We're involved in a war, in a conflict a new style of war, that takes deep intellect and both innate intelligence, and by that I mean individual intelligence, and national security intelligence.”


White expects heightened security in the U.S. in the wake of the shootings, but says terrorism has been around for centuries.



Michigan group says access to guns key in Orlando shooting

Calls to toughen gun laws in Michigan are being renewed in the wake of the Orlando mass shooting this weekend.


Linda Brundage with the Michigan Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence says a semiautomatic rifle and a handgun used by the shooter were linchpins for the tragedy.


It really doesn't matter if this shooter was a radical Islamic terrorist, homophobic maniac, or whatever else he might be labeled as. The bottom line is he walked into a gun shop and bought some guns.”


The FBI the shooter, 29-year-old Omar Mateen, was placed on a terror watch list and was looked into twice but agents found no reason to think he was a credible threat


The NRA has yet to issue a statement on the Orlando shooting.




SCOTUS rejects Schuette's air pollution lawsuit


Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette's court fight against new air pollution rules has come to an end.


The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear the case in which Schuette headed up a lawsuit by 22 states who wanted to stop the EPA's Mercury and Air Toxins Standards, which require power plants to reduce mercury emissions.


Officials for Consumers and DTE say they they are prepared to meet the EPA’s new rules and have already installed pollution control equipment to comply.




Camper assault suspect charged


The man accused of assaulting a fellow camper in Aetna Township is now facing felony charges.


77th District Court officials say 32-year-old Karreem Ismail is being charged with one count of felonious assault and one count of assaulting/resisting/obstructing an officer.


Ismail reportedly assaulted a fellow camper in Mecosta County on Saturday and then threatened police with a knife.


He faces up to four years in prison if convicted.




Big Rapids Public Schools to look at an opportunity to offer students health care services


Big Rapids Public Schools are looking at the potential of offering more services to its students.


During its school board meeting Monday night, administrators and board members listened to a presentation by Kathy Sather of School Based Health Center discussing the possibility of her organization coming into the school district to offer three services of family medicine, dental and behavioral health services.


Superintendent Tim Haist believes it would be a great chance to offer students these needed services.


"I believe this would be a great opportunity to fill in the gap to help provide health care, dental care and bring in a social worker to our district." He said.   


The health center would potentially be in the middle school.


According to Sather, a $750,000 grant application would be due by July 15th, if the district would like to pursue this opportunity. 


Local schools to see funding boost in $55 billion dollar state budget


State lawmakers are sending its finalized $55 billion dollar state budget to Governor Rick Snyder for his signature.


The budget includes $165 million dollars in more aid for the Flint water crisis and an almost two percent increase in K-12 education funding.


Republican State House lawmaker Phil Potvin says local school districts like Big Rapids will receive $120 more per student.  


“We put the 2X formula in, which means an additional $120 per student for our schools locally and throughout the 102nd District.” “It also takes the base dollar amount to over $7,500.” Potvin said.   


The budget also includes a 1.2% boost in revenue sharing for local governments. 


Accidental shooting in Morton Township


A 26-year-old man is recovering after shooting himself late Sunday night.


Police say the Grand Rapids resident was at a cottage in Morton Township and was cleaning and unloading his gun when he accidentally shot himself in the hand.


He was taken to Spectrum Health Hospital in Big Rapids for non-life threatening injuries.




Suspect in jail after assault and battery of fellow camper in Mecosta County


A suspect is in jail this morning after an alleged assault and battery of a fellow camper at an Aetna Township campground last night.


When Mecosta County Deputies arrived to the scene, the victim advised them that a neighboring camper had committed assault.


When deputies responded to the suspect’s camper, the suspect produced a knife in an aggressive manner.


Deputies were able to disarm and take the suspect into custody without incident.  


The suspects name is being witheld pending arraignement. 


Road work to begin Sunday on US-131 off ramp at 8 Mile Rd.


Beginning Sunday morning and continuing for the next week, the northbound US-131 exit off ramp at 8 Mile Road will be closed for road work.


Officials say it’s part of a repaving project on northbound US-131, the off-ramp will remain closed until 7 p.m. Thursday, June 16.


The work is weather-dependent.


The 8 Mile Road on-ramp for northbound US-131 is scheduled to close for road work on Sunday, June 19, through Thursday, June 23rd


Vehicle and boat fees waived this weekend at Mecosta County Parks during Community Open House event


In conjunction with this week’s DNR Free Fishing Weekend, Mecosta County Parks will be allowing free day use of its facilities and will be waiving daily vehicle and boat fees June 11th and 12th at each county park as part of its community open house event. 


Parks Superintendent Jeff Abel says this event will be an excellent way for guests to experience the fishing and water sport options available throughout the parks system. 


On Saturday, there will be a concert by the Stolen Horses Band at Brower Park from 6pm-10pm. Also action water sports will be in the park offering “on the water” demonstrations throughout the day.


For more information visit   


Scientists urge Michigan AG to stop fighting EPA Mercury and Air Toxins Standards, MDHC says local fish contaminated


Eating fish is the biggest source of mercury contamination for people, and as Michiganders gear up for the Free Fishing Weekend, more than 50 Michigan scientists are asking Attorney General Bill Schuette to drop his fight against the EPA’s federal Mercury and Air Toxins Standards, which require power plants to reduce mercury emissions.


University of Michigan Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences Joel Blum says there is strong support for the rule in the scientific community.


"Mercury is one of those toxins that we’re exposed to that we can actually do something about. And the costs of implementing these emissions controls on the power plants are well worth the savings that result from not exposing people to high levels of mercury in the fish that they eat."


Mercury is a neurotoxin that can cause damage to the heart, brain, and nervous system, and more than half the mercury deposited in Michigan comes from coal-plant emissions.


Consumers Energy has already closed seven aging coal-fired plants and is now operating a replacement gas-powered plant.


Although recommendations vary by size and type of fish, the Michigan Department of Community Health recommends not eating more than one to two servings of fish per month for most fish tested in Mecosta and Newaygo Counties due to mercury contamination. See the MDCH Eat Safe Fish Guide for more information.


Schuette contends the mercury rule is federal overreach that could result in higher electricity rates.


The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to announce on Monday if it will discuss or dismiss a challenge to the mercury rule brought by Michigan and several other states.




Widespread lead poisoning found in Michigan children, local health officials work to educate public


A new study by the Michigan Health Department says it found nearly 5,000 children with elevated blood lead levels in the state.


As a result, a new Child Lead Poisoning Elimination Board and Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley will be working to develop a long-term statewide plan to prevent children from being exposed to lead.


District 10 Health Department WIC Program Director Ann Bianchi says the board is aimed primarily at Grand Rapids, Flint, and Detroit


This is a brand new task force so we've not been invited to participate on this particular board.”


But, she says, that doesn't mean officials in the Health Department's District 10 aren't aware of the problem.


We do hold a 21 county grant through the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, it's through the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program. It's definitely community education and awareness, basically doing primary prevention.”


Bianchi notes that although lead water pipes have been in the news lately, very often it's lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust in deteriorating buildings that's a problem.


The big message is get your home tested if it's built before 1978 and get your children tested,” she says.


Information on child lead poisoning and lead testing can be found at the MDHHS web site.




FDA warns of new 'party drug'


The FDA is warning of a new party drug that you can buy right over the counter.


The agency has received 31 reports of people hospitalized due to heart problems, including 10 deaths due to overdoses of anti-diarrhea drugs like Immodium.


Emergency room Dr Steve McGraw says heroin is still the biggest problem in the Michigan.


There may be more access to heroin and other oral opiate medications – It doesn't mean that it's not a problem that's coming and I think it's good that the FDA lets us know that those problems are out there.”


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says high doses of drugs like Immodium can have an opiate-like effect.




Michigan auto insurers to lose $80M tax break, say premiums will go up


As part of a state budget deal that was approved on Wednesday, Michigan tax laws have been amended so auto insurers still qualify for a business tax credit for much of this year, but lose it going forward.


The credit, worth up to $80 million, was inadvertently given to auto insurers four years ago.


During the 2011-2012 legislative session the legislature approved an administrative change for the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan.


It was reassigned from the Secretary of State to the Michigan Automobile Insurance Placement Facility, opening up a tax credit for some insurance companies.


Supporters of the move in Lansing say drivers never got a break when the industry qualified for the tax credit in the first place.


Industry leaders reportedly admit the tax break was a mistake but say premiums for motorists will still go up as a result.




Big Rapids Public Schools offers free summer lunch program

Big Rapids Public Schools is offering free lunches this summer.


The program is open to youths up to 18 years of age from all areas and schools and will be available from June 13th through August 11th.


Lunches are served from 11:00am to 1:00pm at the Big Rapids Middle School.


More information is available at




Groundbreaking event held for Family Farm and Home in Big Rapids


Business and community leaders are excited for what’s to come now that Family Farm and Home is coming to Big Rapids.


A groundbreaking event was held Thursday at the future site of the retail store.


Mecosta County Chamber Director Jennifer Heinzman believes this is an exciting time for the area.


“It’s very exciting to finally fill this space because it has been vacant for way too long and we are very fortunate for a business like Family Farm and Home to come into the area.” She said.   


Family Farm and Home is expected to open in fall of 2016 and employ around 20 people.


Store Manager Bill Johnson can’t wait for the grand opening.


“There is nothing more exciting than opening the door of a new business for the first time.” “The buildup and hard work everyone puts in to get ready, there is no better feeling.” Johnson said.   


Along with a new paved parking lot, Real estate developer Patrick Bollman of PBE, hopes 1-2 more businesses join Family Farm and Home in the former Kmart building. 


BRHS school year comes to a close


Although commencement took place late last month, the Big Rapids High School year finally came to a conclusion this week with finals taking place on Monday and Tuesday.


Principle Ron Pincumbe reflects on the 2015 – 2016 academic year.


I think it was an awesome year – I think we had quite a few highlights. We had our band perform at the Michigan Music Conference in January and we were one of seven schools to be able to get to perform. It was awesome. We have golf right now that is going on to the state finals, it's not even over yet. We had our boys basketball program pushing all the way to the state quarter finals this winter, and our football team made it into the playoffs and won a playoff game all the way across the bridge in Escanaba. So, good things are happening both academically and extra curricular here for us.”


Looking forward to next year, Pincumbe notes that one of the advantages Big Rapids Public Schools have is a relatively low staff to student ratio, calling the schools the “right size.”


But he says, that doesn't mean there aren't challenges.


There's always challenges. Anytime you get into the scheduling process we get, 'How do we fit kids and their needs and their course requests into a schedule with the staff that we have?' In an ideal world, money not considered, we would add several staff members.”




Mecosta Co. residents learn about new telehealth program MedNow offered by Spectrum Health


Mecosta Co. residents came to Morton Township Library to get a firsthand look at a new telehealth program offered by Spectrum Health that allows a patient to see a doctor virtually.


Launched a few months ago, MedNow allows patients to virtually connect from home with a health care provider to diagnose anything to a common cold to speaking with someone in specialty behavioral health services.


Jeremy Bainbridge, Regional Director for MedNow believes this is the future of the health care industry.


“I absolutely believe this is where health care is going.” “You look at access issues we have and this is a way to better leverage and utilize our providers and get them to communities without having to drive a long distance.” He said.


For more information about MedNow, log on to



Marijuana advocates vow court fight to put question on ballot


Supporters of the drive to legalize marijuana in Michigan say they will take their case to court after the State Elections Bureau has rejected their petition.


The Bureau says many of the signatures turned in were gathered outside the 180-day window for collecting names of registered voters.


The group MiLegalize says they turned in 354,000 signatures to the Secretary of State by June 1st in order to put the issue on the 2016 ballot.


Governor Rick Snyder signed a bill making the 180-day requirement a state law last Tuesday.




DNR wants input on managing deer


Residents who have ideas on how the state should handle deer are getting an opportunity to let state officials know about them.


The Michigan DNR says it wants input on an update for their Deer Management Plan.


The original plan was created in 2010 and is updated periodically with the aim of maintaining a healthy white-tailed deer population, using scientific management and maximizing recreational opportunities while minimizing negative effects on other ecosystems and wildlife species.


Interested parties can review a draft of the plan until July 8th and any comments can be emailed to or sent to the DNR Wildlife Division in Lansing.




New rules for Michigan's courts may cause some changes in Mecosta and Osceola Counties


The Michigan Supreme Court is ordering the state’s first standards for court-appointed attorneys.


Judge Peter Jaklevic of Mecosta County's 77th District Court says the new rules will not be difficult to implement for his court.


A lot of the things identified as being problematic where not, in fact, here in Mecosta County or Osceola County.”


Although Jaklevic says one issue for all Michigan courts will be having an attorney present during arraignments.


We never, and no county ever, had defense attorneys at every single arraignment. This is not something required by the Sixth Amendment (the right to a speedy and public trial). They're trying to get the attorney involved there right away so that this person kind of knows where the case is going.”


Jaklevik says most attorneys don't attend arraignments because, at that time, they don't have any details about the case and cannot have any meaningful discussion with the defendant.


He also notes that arraignments can be at any time of day on any day of the week and getting a defense attorney on time may be difficult.


The new standards include:


  • Education and training of defense council including 12 hours continuing education a year.

  • A requirement that defense attorneys meet with client as soon as practical.

  • Provisions for investigation of the case by defense attorneys and a judge's approval to hire private investigators or independent expert witnesses.

  • A requirement that council be present at first appearance and other critical stages including arraignments.


The Supreme Court is making the new rules provisional contingent on the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission being put under the direction of the court rather than the legislature where it was created.


Jaklevic says the new rules will address problems across the state but his experience in the 77th District Court gives him confidence in the judicial system in Mecosta and Osceola Counties.


You have a strong prosecutor's office, a strong defense team, and the truth from that tug of war comes out. And people can be confident that they got a good verdict and a just result.”




Police investigating fatal ORV accident in Sears


Family and friends are grieving the death of a 19-year-old in Sears over the Memorial Day weekend.


Police say Joey Sholl was visiting his dad and brothers when he went for a ride on a dirt bike.


The Osceola County Sheriff's Office says Sholl ran into a cable that was hanging between two trees.


Sholl's family said they had no knowledge of the cable and police are trying to determine who put it there and whether it was on the family's property.




Osceola crash victims identified


The names of the victims of Monday's fatal car crash in Osceola County are being released.


Police say 18-year-old Daniel Bloss of Marion drove through a stop sign at 5th Avenue and 20 Mile in Marion Township Monday night hitting Brittany Mcleod.


Bloss was killed in the accident and Mcleod is currently hospitalized with serious injuries.


Both had recently graduated from Marion High School.


School officials say they have counseling ready for students for the rest of the week.




Big Rapids officials want to educate public on burn permit regulations


Big Rapids officials are hoping to clear up any confusion residents may have about fire permits within the city.


Big Rapids DPS Fire Chief Steve Schroeder recently prepared an information sheet for residents detailing what’s allowed and what’s not.


He told city commissioners the goal is to make the public more knowledgeable.


“Fires should be 25 feet away from any structure and precautions should be taken to prevent fire spread, the fire must be contained in a secure fire pit with a screen of no larger than 1/4” mesh, there must be someone present at all times with fire extinguishing equipment readily available.” He said.


If you would like more information on fire permits, call the Big Rapids DPS Fire Division at 231-527-0024. 


Big Rapids Township Fire Dept. receives $7,800 grant from TransCanada for drone


The Big Rapids Township Fire Department now has a drone for emergency purposes.


TransCanada representative Larry London presented a $7,800 check to members of the fire department Tuesday night at the township hall.


The fire department applied for the grant through the TransCanada Community Investment Program late last year.


London said he believes this will be very beneficial to the community.


“I was skeptical at first but then I was told all the uses for this piece of equipment, from evaluating a fire situation, to a search and rescue operation and evaluate and investigate motor vehicle accidents, I was sold.” He said.  


Township Supervisor Bill Stanek says this drone will not only be used in the area but regionally as well. 


Newaygo County Sheriff's Deputy suspended


A Newaygo County Sheriff's Deputy is in hot water after allegedly breaking department rules.


Sheriff Pat Hedlund says the deputy may have ignored election laws and policies regarding political activity and the release of departmental information.


The officer, who is not being named, has been suspended with pay pending the outcome of an investigation.




Teen killed in two-car accident in Osceola County


An 18-year old Marion man is dead following a two-car accident last night in Osceola County.


It happened at the intersection of 20 Mile Road and 5th Avenue in Marion Township.


Deputies say the Marion man was traveling northbound on 5th Avenue when he failed to yield at 20 Mile Road, colliding with an SUV driven by a 19-year old Marion woman.


The 18-year old man sustained fatal injuries from the accident, while the female driver sustained serious injuries.


She was taken to a Grand Rapids hospital for treatment.


The accident remains under investigation. 




Assault in Big Rapids parking lot


A 20-year-old man is under arrest following an incident in a public parking lot in Big Rapids.


Police say the suspect became angry after getting jostled while leaving a bar near Maple and State streets early Sunday morning.


He then pulled a butterfly knife and threatened two people.


No one was injured at the suspect was taken into custody.




Big Rapids business owner questions payday-lending rules


Measures to rein in the payday-lending industry are being called "long overdue" by supporters in Michigan.


Bishop Herman Starks of Christ TRUTH International Ministries of Deliverance says he has counseled many parishioners devastated by predatory lending including one that attempted suicide.


"She had got caught up in the debt trap and couldn’t deal with the pressures. I look forward to telling her that there are finally rules in place, that there’s some form of fairness that is coming into the land," he says.


But, Steve Leach, owner of Instant Cash Advance in Big Rapids, says proposed rules would harm an industry that fills a need for people that occasionally find themselves in a financial hard place.


If they were passed, it would decimate the industry. If it were passed as proposed it would eliminate 84 percent of the business.”


The current Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposal includes a full-payment test, principal payoff option for certain short-term loans, less risky longer-term lending options, and a debit attempt cutoff.


Leach believes the proposed rules won't pass as written and will be revised.


I believe the ability to pay aspect of it will pass, I think there will also be restrictions on the number of total loans in a given period.”


Leach also says he believes the proposed federal rules are being influenced by other other business interests and this could be a case of federal overreach.


Michigan is one of the most restrictive states already, and several state have gone back to the federal government asking them not to intervene, like Florida. Florida is completely satisfied with their existing law, they have no complaints, as does Michigan.”


An estimated 12 million Americans a year borrow from payday lenders.




New Big Rapids DPS Director Jim Eddinger sworn into office


The last three Big Rapids Department of Public Safety Directors came back to City Hall to celebrate with Jim Eddinger as he was sworn into office Monday night.


Kevin Courtney , Frank West and Andrea Nerbonne,all voiced their support for the newly appointed director of public safety.


Eddinger told attendees he was give it his all for the city of Big Rapids.


“I promise I will do my best, and I know that best will come from the people I work with.” He said.


New DPS officer Chad Kinsey was also sworn in last night as well. 


This week is Michigan Boating Week.


The Department of Natural Resources says the state has nearly 1 million registered boats and 300,000 non-registered canoes and kayaks as well as over 11,000 inland lakes and more than 36,000 miles of rivers and streams.


The DNR notes that boating brings $7.4 billion dollars into the state and is responsible for some 59,000 jobs.


Information on Michigan's waterways and boating opportunities can be found at,4570,7-153-10365_10884---,00.html.





Big Rapids' gas prices keep pace with state averages


Gas prices continue to creep higher.


AAA Michigan says the statewide average rose nine cents last week to about $2.60 per gallon.


That's still about 12 cents cheaper than this time last year.


The average price for a gallon of unleaded regular is $2.63 in the Big Rapids area according to


It's the fourth consecutive week of price hikes.


The auto club says Michigan is now sixth in the U-S for the most expensive average prices.




Late boxing great Muhammad Ali had ties to Michigan


The passing of boxing great Muhammad Ali late last week is bringing to light his ties to Michigan.


Ali and his family lived on a 85-acre estate along the St. Joseph River in Berrien Springs from 1975 to 2006.


Ali was a celebrity when he moved to Michigan and was noted in the area for his charitable activities with parks and sports facilities.


Because of his battle with Parkinson’s disease, Ali moved to Arizona in 2006 where he died last Friday.




AG says Enbridge Pipeline's days are numbered


State Attorney General Bill Schuette says the "days are numbered" for the oil pipeline which runs under the Straits of Mackinac.


Now what we're doing is trying to determine what options we can have to make sure the U.P., dependent on propane as warm in the winter and making sure that we also protect the environment. So, that's the future, the future is what options do we have to the pipeline in the deep waters of the Straits,” he says.


Members of the National Wildlife Federation are calling on oil giant Enbridge to shut down one of its aging pipelines under the Straits.


It pumps 23-million gallons of crude oil and other materials a day from the Upper Peninsula to the lower.


The line is 63 years old, and some say past its expiration date.




Employment reports confusing but local job markets look positive


Despite a recent report from the U.S. Labor Department showing the weakest monthly gain for the job market in five years, Ferris State University Career and Volunteer Center Coordinator Michele Albright says things are looking good for recent grads.


What we're seeing is employers are coming out of the woodwork.”


Albright says there are a lot of opportunities surfacing that, in the past, haven't been there and many economists caution not to overreact to a single bad jobs report.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics agrees saying hiring trends in seven of eight leading sectors are up markedly.


Albright notes employers are finding new expectations from prospective employees.


The students that are graduating now are looking for flexibility, they're looking for opportunities to make lateral moves and horizontal moves within the organization, new opportunities, flexible schedules, using technology much more efficiently than previous generations have.”

She adds that employers are most focused on critical thinking and leadership in prospective employees.




Snyder not backing Trump


Govenor Rick Snyder says he will not back Donald Trump as the Republican presidential candidate.


Snyder made the announcement during an interview with the Detroit News at the Mackinac Policy Conference earlier this week.


Snyder says he’s more focused on helping Republicans retain the majority in the Michigan House of Representatives.


He also called Trump's anti-Muslim comments “inappropriate.”




Flour recalled for E. coli, no one affected in Big Rapids area


Four people in Michigan and dozens nationwide are believed to affected by an E. coli outbreak linked to recalled flour according the the Centers for Disease Control.


However, District 10 Environmental Health Director Tom Reichard says people in Mecosta and surrounding counties shouldn't worry.


Fortunately we haven't had any up here in District 10 area.”


Reichard notes that although it is not usually fatal, E. coli can be serious.


You would know if you had it. It's primarily very serious diarrhea.”


E. coli can be fatal if a person's immune system is compromised, such as in the young, sick, or old.


Reichard says if you suspect you have been sickened by E. coli to contact your doctor.


A list of the recalled products can be found online at




Local lawmaker's bill allows schools to partner with municipalities for recreational purposes


State Rep. Phil Potvin’s bill allowing school districts to partner with other municipalities for recreational purposes has been unanimously approved by the Senate.


Current law allows municipalities to form partnerships in order to provide recreational opportunities to their residents.


Potvin's bill would allow school districts to be included in such an authority, if approved by a vote of the people.


He says local schools play an important role in our communities, and it’s common sense to allow them to participate in those partnerships.


The bill now heads to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature.





Big Rapids man faces CSC charges


A Big Rapids man is being charged with criminal sexual conduct involving a minor.


Authorities say 20-year-old William Nathan Clemons assaulted a female victim between the age of 13 and 15 in February of 2014.


Clemons was arraigned on one count of third-degree CSC earlier this week.


He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.




MAC Director visits Big Rapids; discusses dark store assessment ruling


On the heels of a Michigan Court of Appeals ruling in favor of the Upper Peninsula city of Escanaba in a case against Menards Inc., over tax assessments, critics say are in favor big-box stores, Michigan Association of Counties Director Tim McGuire says the ruling is a step in the right direction, while on a visit to Big Rapids.


“Now we have the Court of Appeals ruling on this and legislation that will soon codify this issue” “We are real hopeful that this is a positive step in preventing this from happening.” McGuire said.


The decision relates to the Michigan Tax Tribunal's practice referred to as "dark store assessing" to compare big-box stores to closed businesses from different regions of the state, to justify tax assessments.


Primary roads in Mecosta County to see increased funding this year


Primary roads in Mecosta County will soon see an influx of funding after County Commissioners approved a resolution that lets the Road Commission borrow up to four million dollars in anticipation of future revenue through a recently passed road funding bill by state lawmakers.


A recent asset management report on Mecosta County roads showed 11% were good, 26% were fair and 63% were in poor condition.


Road Commission member John Currie told commissioners they want to be proactive and resurface some of its roads especially before paving and material companies increase their prices with increased funding counties will receive in 2017.


“With the report, we need to get a head start to get the swing going into the other direction.” “We have good prices this year and if we wait until we get the funding in 2017, material costs will have risen by 20-30%.” He said.  


Commissioner Bill Routley agreed with Currie saying this needs to be done now.  


Supporters say pot issue will be on the ballot


More than 350,000 petition signatures supporting the legalization of marijuana are now in the hands of the Michigan Secretary of State's office.


The group MI Legalize dropped off the petitions this week just ahead of the June 1 deadline saying the roughly 354,000 signatures they collected are enough to put the issue on the November ballot.


They say everything has been done to adhere to Michigan's petition time limits and they will consider legal action if their petition is rejected by state officials.


A bill presented to Gov. Rick Snyder on Tuesday would stop such groups from counting signatures older than 180 days.


Current law allows signatures that are older than 180 days to be counted.


It's unclear whether the bill before Snyder would apply to the legalize marijuana group.





UPDATE: Boil water advisory now lifted, according to Big Rapids officials




UPDATE: the boil water advisory is now lifted according to Big Rapids offcials. 


A boil water advisory is still in effect for residents and businesses around Jackson Street to the north end of Fourth Avenue in Big Rapids due to a water line break Wednesday.


City officials say when construction crews were installing a storm drain as part of the Baldwin Street Bridge construction project a break in a water line occurred.


Public Works Director Mark Gifford tells Big Rapids Daily News that water quality tests should be completed by later this afternoon.


According to Department of Environmental Quality regulations, there must be a 24-hour period between a clean-water test and the end of a boil advisory. 


Higher speed limits okay'd by Michigan House


Higher speed limits are a little closer to reality in Michigan.


The state House has voted in favor of raising the limit to 75 miles per hour on rural highways and up to 80 miles per hour on other roads.


Those opposing the legislation say the higher limits will cause more traffic fatalities while those in favor emphasize safety requirements that would need to be met.


The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.




New grads start search for dream jobs


With their higher-education dreams now fulfilled, many Michigan college graduates are moving on to their next big step: finding their dream job.


Robin Ankton with the staffing firm Robert Half in Michigan says while there is a solid job market for the Class of 2016, the job search can be filled with many sticky situations graduates may not have anticipated.


One common predicament is receiving a job offer that isn’t necessarily what they'd hoped for.


Ankton's advice is to approach the job as a solid first step on a long career path, and keep an open mind.


"Maybe take a look at how stable is the organization? Is there room for growth, did they connect with the team if they were introduced – versus 'is it the perfect job?' Because chances are that won’t be the case. There’s got to be other great things in it for them,” she says.


Another common challenge for graduates entering the workforce is getting their parents' approval.


Ankton suggests balancing parents' input with that of a professional mentor who can examine career prospects through a more objective lens.


According to Robert Half, 86-percent of CFOs believe mentors are important for career development – but only 26 percent of workers have one.




Fracking opponents miss deadline for collecting petition signatures, want courts to extend it


Opponents of fracking in Michigan want more time to gather signatures for their campaign to put the issue before voters.


Campaign officials say they have fallen short in collecting enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot having collected just over 200,000 signatures so far.


The deadline for collecting signatures was Wednesday June 1.


The group Ban Michigan Fracking says 252,523 valid signature are needed to put the question on the ballot.


They cite the time limit imposed on the petition process as being a problem saying they want a court to extend the collection deadline.





HS students may skip foreign language classes, study more civics


In Lansing, the House has approved one bill that would let high school students skip out on foreign language classes, and another bill requiring stricter requirements for civics classes.


One measure approved Tuesday softens a foreign language requirement to graduate from high school, allowing students to take computer coding classes instead.


A second bill would require students to take a civics exam based on the U-S citizenship test.




New cars being sold with defective air bags, Ford recalls 1.9 million


A report by the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee says at least four automakers are selling new vehicles with defective Takata air bag inflators.


The list includes some 2016 and 2017 Fiat Chrysler, Mitsubishi, Toyota, and Volkswagen vehicles.


The new cars equipped with the inflators currently aren’t under recall and can be sold legally.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has said that its tests show it takes at least six years for the inflators to deteriorate and become dangerous.


Meanwhile, nearly 1.9 million vehicles in North America are being recalled by Ford Motor Company because of those same defective air bags.


The recall is part of a nationwide expansion of an ongoing Takata air bag recall, which is already the largest in history.


The recalls includes the 2007-2010 Ford Edge, 2006-2011 Ford Fusion, 2005-2011 Ford Mustang, 2007-2011 Ford Ranger, 2007-2010 Lincoln MKX and 2006-2011 Lincoln MKZ, Zephyr and Mercury Milan.


Ford says it will notify customers and replace the air bags for free.




Susan P. Wheatlake Cancer Center in Reed City holding open house to celebrate National Cancer Survivors Day


In honor of National Cancer Survivors Day, a cancer center in Osceola County will celebrate with an open house. 


The Susan P.Wheatlake Regional Cancer Center in Reed City is hosting a celebration open house next week.


Marissa Plouff, wellness coordinator at the Susan P. Wheatlake Regional Cancer Center says National Cancer Survivors Day is a day for cancer survivors, caregivers and friends to acknowledge the cancer journey and cherish life.


The celebration will be held on Monday, June 6 from 1 to 4 p.m.


All survivors, including those recently diagnosed and in treatment, friends and family are welcome. Hor d’oeuvres, cake and refreshments will be served.


Attendees can learn about the American Cancer Society and enjoy a photo booth and integrative services such as chair massages, acupressure and reflexology.


UPDATE: Inmate dies days after attempting suicide at Isabella Co. Jail


Isabella County Sheriff Michael Main says an inmate who attempted suicide in his jail last week, has succumbed to his self inflicted injuries.  


Main says 36-year old Corey Theis died Monday evening.


State Police are independently investigating the incident.  


Morel inspection law could be eliminated


Michiganders may soon be able to sell morel mushrooms without having them inspected by a mushroom expert.


The Michigan House has approved a bill that would eliminate the requirement.


Representative Triston Cole says the current law infringes “upon an individual’s livelihood” and gets in the way of wild mushroom hunters peddling their wares to local restaurants.


He believes chefs already know which mushrooms are safe.


Others are concerned that getting rid of the rule could expose people to unsafe food.




CPR training for Michigan's high schools


The Michigan Senate wants students in grades 7 to 12 to get CPR training.


The Senate unanimously approved a bill Tuesday that would require the state Education Department to have health education guidelines providing instruction in CPR and automatic external defibrillators.


The American Heart Association says likes the idea and that CPR can nearly triple survival rates for cardiac arrest.


A similar bill is pending in the House.


Thirty-two states have similar laws.




Michigan lawmaker reacts to Trump's contributions to veteran's charities


A strong reaction from Michigan Democratic Party Chair Brandon Dillon over remarks from Donald Trump regarding contributions made to veteran's charities.


Speaking at a press conference, Dillon said Trump's own words contradict himself.


Trump said that he's not releasing a check to one of the veteran's charities he's listed as supporting until they show him their IRS documents. That is pretty ironic considering that he himself refuses to release his own tax returns to the American people, breaking with four decades of precedence.”

Dillon says if character is supposed to be important in a President, then his actions are contemptible by trying to cheat veteran's groups out of promised money.


On Tuesday, Trump announced he had made good on his promise of last January to give 41 veterans groups millions of dollars from a highly publicized fundraiser that he held in Iowa.


Trump also said the media has been "unbelievably dishonest" for its treatment of the issue and stated many times that he didn't want credit for the fundraising.




AAA warns of deadly driving season for teens


AAA says that Memorial Day ushers in a sobering time of year on the roads—the 100 deadliest days of the year for teen drivers.


The auto club says that more than 5,000 people have died in teen-related crashes between Memorial Day and Labor Day.


The main distractions for teens, according to the study--cell phones, interacting with a passenger, and looking for something in the vehicle.




Evart robbery suspects charged


The couple who allegedly robbed a bank in Evart are now being formally charged.


Fifty-four-year-old David Raymond Dingee and 29-year-old Melissa Renee Nudd, both of Pompano Beach, Florida, were in the 77th District Court in Reed City earlier this week.


The pair face multiple charges including armed robbery, assault with a dangerous weapon, and fleeing a police officer.


If convicted, the two could spend the rest of their lives in prison.




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