A bill that would enable law-abiding citizens to carry concealed pistols without obtaining a government-issued permit is making its way through the legislature.
The legislation sponsored by republican State House Representative Michele Hoitenga of Manton was approved by the House Judiciary Committee.
“The current rules are unnecessarily complicated,” said Hoitenga. “Right now, anyone can openly carry a gun without getting a license. It only becomes illegal if they put on a jacket without getting a concealed pistol license. Good, honest people are getting criminal records because they are so confused by the current law. They’re inadvertently covering their firearms, and they don’t realize it makes a difference.”
Hoitenga’s legislation is part of a four-bill package that removes the penalties for carrying a concealed pistol without first obtaining a license.
Hoitenga said her legislation would not give criminals more access to pistols. A background check would still be required when purchasing a handgun.
A couple from White Cloud is in jail after trying to allegedly cash stolen checks in the Big Rapids area from a closed bank account totaling $9,000.
According to Big Rapids Department of Public Safety officials, 24-year old Christopher Rager was arraigned on eight charges related to felony uttering and publishing.
His partner, a White Cloud woman, was also arrested but hasn't been arraigned.
The pair is accused of passing stolen checks at a local financial institution on March 2.
Both Rager and the woman have also been arrested and charged in Newaygo County for similar activity.
Police in Osceola County believe alcohol was a factor in a quad runner motorcycle accident over the weekend.
It happened in Cedar Township, deputies say a Jackson man who was found unresponsive was operating the quad when he fell off.
They say the man was not wearing a helmet.
The Jackson man was airlifted to a Grand Rapids area hospital for treatment.
The accident remains under investigation.
The Reed City Public School District in Osceola County is looking for a new leader.
Current Superintendent Tim Webster announced his retirement effective June 30th during a special school board meeting May 18th.
The school board held a special meeting on Thursday to discuss what they want and are looking for in a candidate.
Officials hope to have a new superintendent in place by July 1st.
The start of the memorial day weekend is here and local veteran organizations are gearing up to celebrate and remember their fallen brothers and sisters of the armed services.
Jean Bennett of the AMVETS Big Rapids Post 1941 says this day is special to her.
“This is a day where we reflect on the loss of our fallen comrades over the years that helped keep our country safe and also celebrate those who are currently serving our country,” Bennett said.
On Monday, May 29th the AMVETS 1941 Post will be conducting a Memorial Day Ceremony at the Mecosta County Courthouse Building in Big Rapids beginning at 9:45am. Activities continue with a ceremony by DAV Chapter 18 at Mitchell Creek Park then holding a closing ceremony at Highland View Cemetery.
There will also be a chicken BBQ hosted by the Ladies Auxiliary at noon on 320 4th street.
The city of Big Rapids is offering free flats of zinnias to city residents and businesses.
According to city officials the flowers must be planted in a location within the city limits where they can be viewed by the general public.
Coupons for the flowers are available on a first-come, first-serve basis and may be picked up at the clerk’s office in City Hall from May 30th- June 1st.
There is a limit of one coupon per address or land parcel.
Flowers can be picked up on Friday, June 2nd from 8am-2pm and coupons must be presented to receive the flowers.
Next week, Spectrum Health in Reed City will open Convenient Care Walk-in Clinic where people who feel ill or have minor injuries — but don’t require emergency care — can get immediate attention without an appointment.
The Convenient Care Walk-In Clinic will be located within the Spectrum Health Reed City Hospital campus at 300 N. Patterson in Reed City
The clinic will officially open on May 30.
The clinic will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.
More information about the Convenient Care Walk-In Clinic is available online at spectrumhealth.org/convenientcare.
No one was injured. after a school bus accident in Mecosta County Monday afternoon.
Police say as the Chippewa Hills School bus was heading eastbound when the driver was distracted by a couple of students.
The bus driven by a 49-year-old Stanwood man rear ended another vehicle driven by a 31-year old Remus woman.
Some people in Osceola County could be in trouble with police in the near future.
According to Detectives with the Traverse Narcotics Team they received a tip from the Osceola County Sheriff's Office about a potential meth lab at a home in Highland Township.
Law enforcement officials executed a search warrant for the residence and found components of a meth lab.
The investigation will continue and police say charges will be sought.
A Barryton man accused of multiple home break-ins is heading to jail for at least the next two years after being sentenced in Mecosta County.
As part of a plea deal with prosecutors, 50-year old Anthony Edward Hustin pleaded guilty to conducting a criminal enterprise.In exchange, a charge of first degree home invasion was dismissed.
According to court documents the criminal enterprise charge is in connection to multiple home invasions in Sheridan Township back in August.
Michigan residents will soon see volunteers asking for signatures on two petitions.
On Thursday, the State Board of Canvassers approved petition language for a legal marijuana initiative and one for a ban on laws requiring government contractors to pay union-level wages.
Last year, a drive for that petition fell apart after it was revealed petition circulators turned in fraudulent signatures.
The City of Big Rapids is in the middle of restructuring its water and sewer rates to satisfy Michigan Department of Environmental Quality standards. As a result, most customers will see a slight uptick in their monthly water/sewer bills in the near future says City Treasurer Aaron Kuhn.
“The average customer will see their water bill remain at $28.60 for water and increase from $29.40 to $33.40 for waste water.”
The new rate structure was presented to the City Commission at Monday's meeting.
An investigation is underway in the death of a Mt. Pleasant man.
State Police say they were called to Collegiate Way Apartments where they found 20-year-old Mohammed Khalid-Y Alusail dead in his room.
Alusail's roommates had tried to contact him throughout the day and eventually had apartment maintenance unlock his door.
Troopers say there were no visible signs of injury and an autopsy did not suggest any foul play.
Alusail reportedly had a history of seizures.
A Mesick man is sitting behind bars right now on charges connected to a murder for hire case.
Michigan State Police say they received a tip about the 28-year old suspect had been attempting to hire someone to kill two people.
Troopers conducted an undercover operation and obtained evidence that the Mesick man was in fact soliciting for murder.
The suspect was arrested during a traffic stop on M-115 last night. The man is awaiting arraignment.
Two drivers are dead following a three car crash on US-131 in Osceola County.
It happened Thursday on southbound US-131 near 20 Mile Road.
Michigan State Police say the at fault driver a 43-year old man from Paris was pronounced dead at the scene.
An Illinois man who was the driver of the second vehicle involved was taken to Spectrum Health Reed City Hospital and then by helicopter to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids where he died from his injuries.
The driver and passenger of the third vehicle were not harmed in the crash.
Troopers say all people involved were wearing their seat belts and It is unknown at this time if drugs or alcohol are a factor.
The crash is still under investigation.
The Department of Natural Resources is encouraging anglers across the state who fish the Great Lakes to keep an eye out for tagged fish.
“If anglers catch any of these marked or tagged fish, it's really valuable to us as an agency for them to report those fish. So, there's a variety of different type of tags that anglers might come across – one is a jaw tag or an anchor tag attached to a fin,” says DNR spokesperson Elyse Walter.
The mass marking provides critical data as fisheries biologists look to determine the value of naturally reproduced fish versus stocked fish, and lake-wide movement of fish. Walter says if you catch a tagged fish, head to michigan.gov/taggedfish to report.
Legal marijuana in Michigan would be one step closer to reality if state officials sign off on petition language for a ballot proposal.
The State Board of Canvassers is reviewing the form of the petition language but not the legality of the issue.
Polling data suggests there is around 50 or 60 percent support for legal marijuana among Michigan residents.
If the petition is approved, backers of the proposal would have to collect over 300,000 valid signatures within 180 days to get the proposal before Michigan voters.
The wait is over for Big Rapids residents to get their hands on a famous ButterBurger or a fresh frozen custard, as the New Culver's Restaurant will be opening up on Monday, May 22nd at 10:30am.
The restaurant is located at 15295 Waldron Way.
According to a press release, franchise owner/operator, Pete Spohn is excited to bring Culvers to the area.
“We’re thrilled to bring handcrafted, high-quality meals and desserts to the community of Big Rapids,” says Spohn. "We think it’s a wonderful area and we are excited to become a contributing and active member of the community.”
For more information and hours of operation log on to culvers.com
Three people are hospitalized after a motel in Wexford County exploded this morning.
It happened at Green Mill Motel in Manton, deputies say once on scene the motel was fully engulfed in flames.
Three people with severe burns were taken to Munson Cadillac Hospital where they will be flown from later to Grand Rapids for further treatment.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
An Osceola County man was in Mecosta County court to hear charges levied against him following his arrest last week.
27-year old Richard James Bentley, of Hersey was arrested back on May 12th in Big Rapids Township by Michigan State Police.
He's been charged with multiple felonies including two counts of delivery/manufacturing of methamphetamine/ecstasy, four counts of felony firearm, one count of possession of methamphetamine/ecstasy, one count of possession of a firearm by a felon.
Bentley is expected to be back in court later this month.
His bond is set at $750,000.
Two drivers are recovering following a two car accident Tuesday in Mecosta County's Mecosta Township.
It happened at the intersection of Northland drive and 8 Mile Rd.
Deputies say a vehicle was traveling south bound on Northland drive when it was T-Boned by another vehicle going westbound on 8 mile Rd.
The south bound driver was ejected from the vehicle and was airlifted from the scene for his injuries and taken to Butterworth hospital.
The driver of the westbound vehicle was transported to the Spectrum Health Big Rapids hospital for non-life threatening injuries.
The Mecosta County Parks 2017 camping season is starting off full throttle. Park Superintendent Jeff Abel reported to the Park Commission on Tuesday that everything is going great.
“Starting out very well. The weather's cooperating for the most part and a lot of guests in the parks and so far the feedback we've gotten has been very positive from everybody coming in.”
He adds that bookings for campsites are up at all the campgrounds compared to a year ago. He did note however that many campers have had questions regarding firearms at the campgrounds. He says there is no specific policy on guns, but...
“Our policy is we'll follow the policies of the state so, whatever those regulations are related to concealed carry or open carry is what you're allowed to do within our parks as well.”
Park workers however follow a different set of rules.
“We do not allow personnel to carry when on duty, but that will be getting sent back to committee for re-evaluation just to affirm that that continues to be our stance,” he says.
A recent on-line survey for park improvements received 1,583 responses and Abel says they will start evaluating the suggestions and getting them worked into the park's master plan.
Consumers Energy is making good on its commitment to a clean Michigan future by working with large businesses that want to be powered 100 percent by renewable energy. They have proposed a program to allow large businesses to match their energy use with renewable energy sources. Spokesperson Brian Wheeler says costs are evening out between renewable energy and natural gas.
“Over the last few years the cost for renewables has come down tremendously. So businesses that take part in this program, they will be paying the cost of service, they will be paying the price for whatever it would take for us to secure their energy for them. But our goal is to provide energy at the lowest cost and, of course, be 100 percent renewable. No one else will be paying for these businesses to get additional power from renewable sources.”
Consumers Energy is asking the Michigan Public Service Commission to approve its plan.
The Michigan League of Conservation Voters is giving Governor Snyder less than stellar grades for his handling of environmental issues this year.
The group gave Snyder an “F” for the Flint water crisis, a “D+” for opposing stricter smog rules, and a “C” for protecting the Great Lakes and Michigan water.
However, he did get an “A” for new energy laws to increase efficiency and renewable energy.
Building improvements are on the horizon for the Big Rapids Public School District.
The Big Rapids school board approved several sinking fund improvement projects during a special meeting last night.
Superintendent Tim Haist is excited for all things happening this summer.
"We will be replacing the roof on the high school auditorium as well as installing hand rails and replacing some step flooring in the high school," Haist said. "We will also be replacing the gym/cafeteria floor in the elementary school as well as putting up new curtains along with painting in that space and finally putting in new lockers at the middle school."
The projects are expected to be completed before students return from summer break.
Meanwhile, the School board also extended their congratulations to High School junior Arya Rao who score a perfect 36 on her ACT exam. (courtesy photo) The Rao Family
A major repaving project in Big Rapids is being extended. The City Commission authorized a change in the city's Local Street Paving Project at Monday's meeting. Now, more of Michigan Avenue will be fixed than originally planned.
“It's going to all the way from downtown to the University – a complete reconstruction. Previously we were looking at two blocks just going to the library, now we're going to be able to extend that,” says City Manager Mark Gifford.
He says the mild winter meant more money was left in the city's street fund and the Commission wanted to put that money to good use. Additionally, the city had put money aside as matching funds for an Infrastructure Capacity Enhancement (ICE) grant to put in a new water main and roadway along Ives Avenue. The city but did not get the grant which left even more money for roads but, Gifford says, the Ives Avenue project will go ahead, just in smaller phases.
“We're going to do from Oak to Magnolia, that's happening one way or the other. If we would have got the ICE grant we would have went all the way from Oak Street all the way around to State Street.”
Gifford expects to find out why the grant for Ives Avenue was denied by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and reapply next year.
Michigan is being ranked as the 10th worst state in the nation for drug problems.
The new analysis by WalletHub is based on the percentage of teenagers and adults who used illicit drugs, the number of opioid pain reliever prescriptions, per capita overdose deaths, methamphetamine lab incidents, and admissions to substance abuse treatment services.
Michigan is the only Midwest state to make the top ten list for overall drug problems.
Big Rapids Parks and Recreation Director Heather Bowman says the city is getting national attention for the handicap swing in Hemlock Park.
“Yeah, the handicap swing is a hidden little treasure that people are starting to identify across the nation which is really quite unique – to put us on the map for that.”
She says she's been getting calls by municipalities from across the country wanting to know how it came about and if there are plans they could use to build their own handicap swings.
An engineer from Newaygo County who helped stop a worldwide cyber attack over the weekend is urging businesses and organizations to keep their security software up to date.
Darien Huss lives in Fremont and works for Proofpoint Inc, a cyber security company. He found the "kill switch" in the malware used to carry out the global cyber attack that has affected 200-thousand organizations.
Despite the work, experts say the problem may become bigger today when people switch on their computers.
Two people are recovering following a three car accident in Colfax Township.
Mecosta County Deputy Victor Vandertol says it happened late Friday morning on 15 Mile Road near 180th Avenue when a vehicle had stopped on the roadway to make a left turn, a second vehicle stopped behind it, and a third vehicle was unable to stop and rear ended the second vehicle which was then pushed into the first vehicle.
The drivers of the second and third vehicles were hospitalized for non-life threatening injuries.
The driver of the first vehicle was uninjured.
Two children are safe after being reported missing in Morton Township on Friday. The three and five-year-old walked down a trail near their residence and were missing for 45 minutes before police were notified.
Upon arrival, the Mecosta County Sheriff's Office summoned their K9 and additional units to aid in the search. Once other units arrived on scene, the residence was searched. Family members were also out searching the area.
Central Dispatch began making notifications and requests for additional resources. Canadian Lakes Security and their Mobile Watch were contacted. Mecosta County Emergency Management was notified and Big Rapids Township Fire was contacted for the use of their drone.
About 45 minutes later the children were located about a half away from the residence. The children were found by a family member and other than being scared, were uninjured. The children were turned over to their mother.
The ex-wife of former Greenville DPS Director Mark Reiss has been found guilty of health care fraud.
Mark and his ex-wife Christine were charged with health care fraud after allegations surfaced that Christine illegally remained on his health insurance plan with the city of Greenville with Mark’s knowledge after the couple divorced in 2014.
On Thursday, Christine was found guilty of health care fraud false claim, health care fraud concealing information and health care fraud false statement.
Meanwhile, Mark Reiss is scheduled for trial in June.
Residents will start seeing improvements to Library Park soon. The Friends of the Big Rapids Community Library and the Library Board presented their Master Plan for the park to the city Park and Recreation Board on Thursday. The plan calls for a wide ranging makeover including areas dedicated to outdoor reading and movies, vegetable gardens, a pollinator garden, and a 20 space parking lot. The entire project is estimated to cost around $290,000.
“It's quite a large project but that doesn't mean it's impossible through grants and fundraising and taking the whole project into phases,” says City Parks and Recreation Director Heather Bowman.
The plan was approved by the Big Rapids Park and Recreation Board and Bowman notes that although it is a long term effort, things will start happening quickly.
“As early as this weekend. We've coordinated with the Big Rapids Community Garden Club to start getting people out there to utilize those garden beds.”
Bowman adds the Library Park project is part of an overall Master Plan for all Big Rapids city parks.
The price U.S. drivers are expected to pay for gasoline this summer is being revised down as recent crude oil price declines and rising motor fuel supplies are cutting into pump prices.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration says it expects this summer's pump price will average $2.39 per gallon.
That's 16 cents higher than last summer but 7 cents less than previously forecast.
Gasoline prices are lower as U.S. gasoline inventories are up, increasing 900,000 barrels in April.
That compares to the average 4.4 million barrel drop in gasoline stocks seen during April over the last five years.
The Mecosta County Broadband Committee is looking for public input on internet access.
An online survey is being conducted to address current and future broadband needs in the county with an eye toward becoming Broadband 2.0 certified.
The survey can be found at connectmycommunity.org/mecosta-county.
An Osceola County man is in trouble with the law after a home check by law enforcement.
Officials from the Traverse Narcotics Team, the Osceola County Sheriff's department and Michigan Department of Corrections performed “Operation Nighthawk” which checks on those on probation.
During a visit to a home in Evart Township, agents discovered components and chemicals to make and manufacture methamphetamine.
The man was arrested and is lodged at the Osceola County Jail awaiting arraignment.
A Grand Rapids woman was arraigned in Mecosta County following a drug investigation by the Central Michigan Enforcement Team.
32-year old Natasha Marie Smith faces numerous charges connected to an investigation by CMET.
She is charged with one count of delivery of hydrocodone. The charge is in relation to an alleged incident that occurred in Colfax Township back in March, according to court documents.
Smith is also charged with possession of cocaine, possession of hydrocodone and one count of possession of diazepam. According to court documents, those charges are connected to an alleged incident that occurred May 8th in Green Township.
The Big Rapids Farmers Market starts Friday which marks it's 10th year of operation in the city.
New Recreation Director Brynn Chesebro is excited to take over the program.
She says the market benefits the community as a whole, especially low income residents.
“We offer four different food assistance programs for low income residents like WIC, and then we have a program called “double up food bucks” which allows people with bridge cards to get their money matched dollar for dollar when purchasing fruits and vegetables,” Chesebro said. “ We also offer other programs like “Market Fresh” and “Senior Project Fresh”.
The farmers market is open on Tuesdays from noon until 5 p.m. and again from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Fridays through the end of October.
A civil rights group is suing Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson over suspended drivers licenses.
Equal Justice Under Law says it's unconstitutional to suspend people's licenses who are too poor to pay traffic fines.
Executive Director Phil Telfeyean says the state could offer poor people alternatives to fines they cannot pay, such as community service, or payment plans.
He notes the state is often pushing people out of jobs they can no longer keep once they lose their driver's licenses.
That means they may no longer pay taxes and the state often ends up paying them benefits to support themselves and their families.
The Big Rapids community came out to the campus of Ferris State University to pay tribute to police officers who were killed in the line of duty over the years.
The 14th annual Police Memorial Ceremony was held tuesday morning outside of the FLITE Library.
FSU President David Eisler spoke about the officers who put their lives on the line on a daily basis and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice like former Ferris State Unversity graduate Colin Rose who was killed in 2016.
“His death is a continuing reminder that when police officers put on a uniform and badge to bravely protect the citizens of their community, they do so knowing at any moment they could be placing their lives in harm’s way,” Eisler said.
The ceremony also paid tribute to all of the police officers who have died over the last year.
A Michigan scientist is among those being dismissed from the EPA by the Trump administration.
Robert Richardson is an ecological economist at Michigan State University and a member of the EPA's Board of Scientific Counselors.
The board is tasked with reviewing the work of EPA scientists and Richardson says he thinks his and other dismissals is part of a move to make the EPA friendlier to the fossil fuel industry, the chemical industry, and to marginalize climate change science.
A Wexford County man is facing CSC charges.
Police say Timothy Morton assaulted a young girl he knows over the course of 14 years in Cherry Grove Township.
He's being charged with first and second degree criminal sexual conduct, child abuse, and indecent exposure.
If convicted, Morton could face life in prison.
A Big Rapids man is in trouble with the law in Wexford County.
Fifty-four-year-old John Albert Kitelinger has been arraigned on charges of operating while intoxicated, third offense; possession of marijuana or synthetic equivalents; and open container of alcohol in a vehicle following an incident on May 5 in Clam Lake Township.
Kitelinger could spend the rest of his life behind bars if convicted.
A Mecosta County man suffered a leg injury after a car he was in was struck by a another vehicle.
Sheriff Deputies say a 17-year old Stanwood girl was traveling south bound on 230th Ave and 21 Mile Rd in Green Twp. That's where she slid through a stop sign and struck a west bound vehicle driven by a 43-year old Paris man.
The Paris man was taken to Spectrum Health Big Rapids Hospital for treatment.
Big Rapids Township is looking to expand its firehouse. Last week, the township Board of Trustees approved nearly $250,000 for the project. Township Supervisor Bill Stanek says the expansion is needed.
“This building is 30 years old. It was designed for a lot smaller township and our township in the last 30 years has continued to grow.”
Stanek notes that working in cramped quarters is hard on fire fighting personnel and on equipment.
“We have equipment sitting outside all winter long, we have vehicles that we can't get inside the building.”
Having had experience in the construction industry, Stanek has also offered to act as general contractor on the project saving the Township that expense. The project has to approved by the Planning Commission after which there will be a public hearing. Stanek says if all goes well he expects construction to begin late summer or fall.
Legislation to eliminate Michigan's pistol registration law is in the works.
Republican Rep. Lee Chatfield has introduced the legislation that would make registering a hand gun optional and eliminate the $250 fine for not registering.
Chatfield argues registering hand guns does not prevent crime and the government does not need a list of those who own them.
The Isabella County Sheriff's Office is investigating a car fire
Deputies responded to the scene on North Coldwater Road in Sherman Township on Saturday when they discovered a body in the car.
The vehicle appeared to have left the roadway and traveled through a ditch for a short distance before hitting a driveway and flipping end over end.
Deputies say the driver may be a 19-year-old female from the Weidman area.
The Medical Examiner’s Office at Sparrow is working to confirm the victim's identity.
After fighting back against bottled water giant Nestle, residents and concerned citizens near Evart now are trying to keep another company from drawing down and potentially contaminating their water supply.
Just six miles from Nestle's wells, Michigan Potash, a Colorado-based company, is seeking permits to drill 11 injection wells for a potash-mining operation.
Potash, a mineral element, is naturally occurring in Michigan and used in many forms of fertilizer.
Ken Ford is a wildlife manager, he says the process could potentially draw down the water tables, dry up local streams and rivers, and reduce the flow into the Muskegon River.
"It requires 1,200 gallons per minute of fresh, clean water - drinking water - to create these potash cavities," Ford said. "So 1,200 gallons per minute equates to 1,728,000 gallons per day."
As part of the process, the freshwater is mixed with mined salts and the hot, brined solution is pumped under high pressure to refineries and disposal wells.
A permitting hearing was held before the EPA in January, but no decision has been made.
An airplane pilot walked away with minor injuries after a plane crash at Big Rapids' Roben Hood Airport Sunday.
Mecosta County Deputies say the plane was on the runway about to take off, but the plane caught an upwind which caused the pilot to lose control.
The plane then landed in a field just off the runway.
The pilot, Aaron Sedine, of Cedar Springs refused treatment from EMS officials. Police believe weather was a contributing factor of the crash.
The FAA was contacted and they will be doing an investigation.
Ferris State University students could be paying more to go to the Big Rapids based school.
The board of trustees Friday approved a preliminary general fund budget for the 2017- 2018 academic year that includes a tuition increase for undergraduates of 3.77 percent.
This includes a lower-division increase of 3.57 percent, to $406 per credit hour, and an upper-division increase of 3.97 percent for an undergraduate rate, to $419 per credit hour.
The budget also includes a 2.5 percent increase in student assistance aid. Institutional aid to students has increased from $13 million, during the 2008-09 academic year, to $24.6 million in the upcoming academic year.
Trustees also approved a preliminary 2017-18 housing and dining budget of $32.6 million.
More charges are being levied against a Barryton man accused of sex crimes against a minor.
39-year old Paul Alexander Smith is now charged with a additional count of second degree criminal sexual conduct.
Smith was arrested and arraigned on March 22nd on four counts of first degree CSC and one count of second degree CSC.
Two weeks later, Smith was arraigned on additional charges of first degree CSC.
The Sheriff's office says all of these charges are the result of the same ongoing investigation by their office.
The weather has been difficult for Michigan farmers at this start of the growing season. Michigan Agri-Business Association President Jim Byrum says rain has been part of the problem.
“It all depends on what rainfall came and when it came and what stage farmers were at when they were looking at planting their crops.”
And, he says, cold wet conditions are an even bigger worry.
“That brings it to a screeching halt – at least crop production or at least growth. Crops don't like, or nothing likes, 40 degree temperatures.”
However, Byrum notes it's still early May and farmers can get crops in the ground quickly.
As a way to honor those police officers who gave the ultimate sacrifice while trying to protect their communities, an event in Big Rapids will be held next week to pay tribute to them.
The 14th annual Police Memorial ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, May 9th, in front of FLITE Library on the campus of Ferris State University.
Officers from local agencies and around the state will be in attendance.
This year's event will honor former Ferris graduate Colin Rose who was killed in 2016 while on patrol for Wayne State University Police.
The event is free to the public .
A number of property owners around Mecosta County's Pickerel Burgess Lake want to do away with a DNR imposed lake level requirement in order to avoid a special assessment district that the county wants to impose for upgrading the Pickerel Lake dam. Last month, Grant Township Supervisor Randy Vetter told the Mecosta County Commission that the group was outraged because the move would hike their property taxes. The group then started a petition drive to have the lake level requirement removed.
There was a hearing on the petitioned request on April 27 with 20 property owners that signed the petition, the County Prosecutor, and the County Drain Commissioner. County Administration Paul Bullock says during that hearing, a number of petitioners changed their mind.
“Once they fully understood the ramifications of doing away with the lake level, i.e. if something goofy happened, they're on their own, at that point there was a real dissension within the ranks.”
Bullock says the group is now faced with two options – either there's a lake level and a special tax district, or no lake level and no district.
“A whole bunch of people that signed it now are thinking 'no probably not,'” he says.
Should the petition stand, the County Commission would be forced to take action because removing the lake level requirement with no district would then make the county responsible for the lake level and all the costs associated with it. The Commission has decided to table the petition request until after a June court hearing on the matter.
Attorney General Bill Shuette is announcing a new campaign designed to cut down on methamphetamine production in Michigan.
The AG along with local officials and Retailers and Pharmacists associations are looking for new ways to stop "smurfing," which involves meth makers paying others to buy or get them cold and allergy medicine with pseudoephedrine -- which is a key ingredient for methamphetamine.
The new public awareness campaign will be outlined at the Attorney General's office in Lansing.
Internet activists are gearing up for another battle in Washington after lawmakers introduced a bill this week that could block equal access to the Internet. The move comes on the heels of a proposal by new FCC chairman Ajit Pai to roll back net-neutrality rules put in place two years ago. Evan Greer, an organizer behind the BattleForTheNet.com website, says Pai - a former lobbyist for Verizon - wants to dismantle protections that millions fought for over the past several years.
"What he wants to do is allow companies like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T to slow down, censor websites, or charge websites for access to a fast lane while sticking the rest of us in a slow lane."
He says the move would effectively turn the Internet into cable TV, where the only voices you hear are big companies that can afford to pay. Pai says it was a mistake to classify the Internet as a common carrier service, like the telephone, and Verizon and AT&T support Pai's proposal. Greer argues net neutrality depends on public-utility classification, and notes the Internet is no longer a luxury but a critical communication tool necessary for education, employment and civic engagement.
Michigan State Police say over 7,500 crashes were caused by distracted drivers in 2015.
Therefore, they are cracking down on the problem utilizing unmarked police cars.
The system utilizes a driver and a spotter in an unmarked car who relays information on distracted drivers to a marked vehicle that then makes a traffic stop.
Officials say distracted driving is easy to spot because it often mimics drunk driving.
Getting pulled over can get you a $150 ticket.
Members the Big Rapids City Commission and the Big Rapids Township Board of Trustees are still digesting a massive amount of information regarding the ramifications of Michigan's new medical marijuana laws. At a special combined meeting on Wednesday, officials heard from a number of presenters both for and against it.
Oasis Wellness Center spokesperson Kevin Chang noted that medical marijuana is big business whether you are like it or not.
“Medical marijuana has become a budding billion dollar industry in the United States. According to CNBC, the polling finds 89 percent of America supports medicinal marijuana nationwide,” he says.
Oasis hopes to open a number of marijuana provisioning centers in Michigan once licenses are allowed under the new law at the end of the year.
Shades of Green Consulting LLC advocates for a number of clients and works with Michigan municipalities on the state's 2016 legislation on medical marijuana. Spokesperson Kimberly Yob says her firm urges officials to keep in mind that the new laws are supposed to help people.
“What we like to stress to municipalities, if you are considering opting in and having discussions, to take a look at the purpose of this. It is medical marijuana, this is not recreational marijuana.”
Both Chang and Yob noted a “wild west” atmosphere for medical marijuana under the older laws passed in 2008 and the news laws are meant to bring control, accountability, and patient safety to the industry.
However, Big Rapids Department of Public Safety Director Jim Eddiner says that even medical marijuana has a stigma attached to it.
“I don't care if you put medicinal, magic, or any other word in front of marijuana, it is still associated with deviance. Neither you or I made that a reality, but it is clearly associated with society's under-culture.”
Mecosta Count Prosecutor Brian Thiede argued strongly against having medicinal marijuana facilities in the county noting that, aside from a potential rise in criminal activity, doing so may put the City and the Township in trouble with federal law enforcement.
“From a legal point of view, I just want to tell you this is all illegal federally,” he says.
City Commissioner Tom Hogenson may have summed up the presentations for many of those in attendance when he said,
“This whole discussion, not just tonight but looking at all this, leaves me with as many questions as it does answers.”
Hogenson added that although a lot of information was presented on the pros and cons of medical marijuana from a legal, law enforcement, and business point of view, he would like to hear from those that have benefited from medical marijuana as well.
Nestle Waters North America isn't giving up on their plans to increase pumping capacity from their well near Evart.
Last month, the Osceola Township planning commission denied Nestle's request for a building permit for a booster pump facility on SpringHill Camps off 95th Avenue and 8 Mile Road.
On Monday, Nestle filed an appeal over the permit with the Osceola Township’s Zoning Board of Appeals.
Nestle spokesperson Arlene Anderson-Vincent says the booster isn't critical to their plans but would assist water movement.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is still considering Nestle's request for a permit.
Many homeowners have insurance but most don't realize that insurance often doesn't cover the water and sewer lines buried outside of the home to the point of the utility connection and it can be costly if one of those lines breaks. The Big Rapids City Commission recently approved a marketing agreement with Utility Service Partners Inc. that may help. Residents can expect notification of the program in the near future says City Manager Mark Gifford.
“They generate a letter that then is sent out to residential customers and the customers then can decide whether whether or not they want to sign up.”
The Commission decided on USP after comparing several programs of the same nature. The warranty program offers an around-the-clock hotline and uses local contractors.
Residents in the City of Big Rapids along with Big Rapids and Green Townships said “Yes” to renew a Big Rapids Public Schools millage proposal during Tuesday's election.
The 18-mill renewal voters passed 693-244 provides $3.5 million in operating funds for BRPS, which pays for teachers, staff, textbooks and classroom supplies.
Meanwhile up in Lake County, voters in the Baldwin Community School district said “no” to a 20-year $9.9 million dollar bond proposal.
Voters declined the proposal by a narrow margin Tuesday 394-321.
The millage proposal would have provided funding to Baldwin Community Schools to allow them to upgrade facilities in the district and provide new technology for its students.
An Idlewild man is going to jail for at least the next two and a half years after being sentenced on drug charges in Mecosta County.
The charges stemmed from an investigation and arrest of 54-year old Bobby Louis Brown by the Central Michigan Enforcement Team.
As part of a plea deal with Mecosta Co. Prosecutors, Brown plead guilty to possession of cocaine and delivery of cocaine, a third charge involving marijuana was dismissed.
The incidents Brown was charged with occurred between June and August in Big Rapids, according to court documents.
A man who pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a foster child in Mecosta County is heading to prison.
Sixty-six year old Marvin Bowman of Big Rapids was sentenced to between 30 months and 50 years on Monday after he pleaded guilty to sex crimes against a young girl from 2005-2016 in Big Rapids Township.
He was set to stand trial on the charges on April 11, but reached a plea agreement with the prosecutor’s office.
He also will have to register as a sex offender and GPS monitoring for life.
In light of new state medical marijuana laws that went into effect last last year, officials from Big Rapids and Big Rapids Township are getting together over the issue. The Township Board and the City Commission are holding a combined session on Wednesday to discuss the new law. Township Supervisor Bill Stanek organized the meeting. He says he wants to hear first hand the pros and cons of medical pot.
“I've got two people that are pro commercial use marijuana, and then I've got law enforcement on the other side that's against it.”
Stanek says it's wrong to say “no” to medical marijuana facilities in the Township right off the bat and the Board owes it to the people to be fully informed before making a decision.
“For us, it's just a matter of getting information. I hate to make a decision without knowing the facts.”
The meeting will start at 6:30 pm at the Mecosta County Services Building, 14485 Northland Dr. in Big Rapids.
Mecosta County residents came out to CK's Place give back to service men and women who are stationed around the country and overseas.
The annual Jerky for the Troops event took place Monday.
The event allows anyone to send a box filled with venison jerky, candy, personal care items and other items to active duty military members, it's been going on for the the past 15 years.
Kay Sharpe of Mecosta has been participating for over 10 years.
"I think it is a great and wonderful thing what Colin (Kelley) is doing for the troops,” Sharpe said. “I went to the store and purchased $100 worth in candy, deodorant and other goodies for the troops and the kids here helped me send it.”
More than 700 pounds of jerky will be sent to military members through the program this year.
Tuesday is election day for residents in the Big Rapids Pubic School district. Superintendent Tim Haist says he hopes voters will make it possible to continue the kind of programs that have made Big Rapids Schools among the top 50th percentile in school rankings across the state.
“May 2nd is our operational millage renewal, that's our annual renewal on non-homestead properties. Our community's been very supportive of that in years past and we are very grateful for their continued support.”
The ballot proposal asks voters in Mecosta and Newaygo counties to increase the tax to 18 mills ($18 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) for 2017.
Wolverine Worldwide is getting a tax break from the City of Big Rapids. The City Council approved an Industrial Facilities Exemption Certificate for the company at Monday's Council meeting. Part of the agreement for the tax break is improved trees for the streets, which has been completed, and improving the parking lot at Fourth Avenue and Baldwin Street, which is currently under way. Wolverine spokesperson Gail Taylor says tax abatement will help them improve the parking lot even faster.
She notes that Wolverine Worldwide is a global company that considers the Big Rapids operation as a small stand-alone facility. And, even though they signed a $27 million contract last year to make military footwear, which prompted the warehouse expansion, there's not a lot in it for the corporation.
“There's very little to zero profit in military footwear. All the money that we make goes towards improving the facility and our community,” she says.
Big Rapids City Manager Mark Gifford adds the tax break is not as big as it may seem.
“Wolverine will not have to pay those portion of taxes on their new addition, not the whole facility. It's just the addition portion.”
He says the City needs to work with Wolverine as part of the community.
“Tax abatements are really the only tool that a community has to be able to offer to an industry partner like Wolverine.”
Gifford says another condition of the tax abatement agreement is adding new jobs at the facility.
Michigan drivers will be able to go faster on 1,500 miles of road starting today.
Speed limits along a 95-mile-long stretch of U.S. 131 between Kent and Wexford counties will increase to 75 mph.
The changes also include increased speed limits of 75 mph along sections of freeways I-75, U.S. 127, I-69, U.S. 10 and U.S. 31 and increased speed limits of 65 mph along 22 sections of non-freeway roads.
Wherever the speed limit is increasing to 75 mph, the speed limit for trucks and buses will also increase to 65 mph.
Police in Big Rapids are looking for a suspect they say broke into a business and caused $3,000 worth in damage.
Authorities believe the incident occurred last week, late Thursday night.
Police say a number of windows at the business on S. Warren Avenue were damaged along with other items moved from their original place however nothing else was reported missing.
During its investigation, police found blood on the floor and believe the suspect may have cut their self while trying to gain entry.
Anyone with information can contact DPS at (231) 527-0005.