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Big Rapids Daily News
News That Affects You

Flood watch in Mecosta County extended until Tuesday

 

A flood watch is being extended until Tuesday afternoon for the West Central Michigan area that includes Isabella, Mecosta, Montcalm, Newaygo and Osceola Counties.

 

Officials from National Weather Service say several rounds of thunderstorms are forecasted tonight. Rainfall rates will top an inch per hour in the strongest storms.

 

Local storm total rainfall amounts could exceed 3 inches which would be enough to trigger flooding. 

 

Mecosta County Emergency Management officials advise residents or commuters to turn around when encountering flooded roads. Most flood deaths occur in vehicles. Keep children away from storm drains, culverts, creeks and streams. Water levels can rise rapidly and sweep children away.

 

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Osceola Township Planning Commission denies Nestle Waters permit for a second time

The Osceola Township Planning Commission denied an appeal from Nestle to get a new booster pump station so it can draw more water from an aquifer.

 

On Tuesday night, a special land use permit was denied by the township planning commission when it decided the station would not perform an essential service to the community.

 

Nestle requested a change in zoning classification, but it was denied.

 

The planning commission had denied granting Nestle the permit for the pipeline booster station at Spring Hill Camp back in April.  

 

Nestle could appeal to the county circuit court, but says it hasn't decided if it will. 

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Evart man drowns in Muskegon River

 

An 47-year old Evart man is dead from drowning after he jumped off a bridge into the Muskegon River.

 

Deputies in Osceola County say the man jumped off the 50th Avenue Bridge in Sylvan Township then got hurt after hitting the water.

 

According to police, the man told bystanders of his injuries, who then tried pulling him to shore, but the rivers current was too strong.

 

An hour and a half later crews found the man near the bridge and pronounced him dead at the scene.

 

Police continue to investigate the case. 

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Big Rapids woman pulled from vehicle on fire

 

A Big Rapids woman is alive after four good Samaritans pulled her from a burning vehicle Sunday night in Green Township.

 

It happened on 230th Avenue, deputies say the driver lost control of her vehicle then went sideways into a ditch, hitting multiple trees.

 

The four Samaritans managed to pull the woman who was unconscious out of the car while it was on fire.

 

The driver was taken to a local hospital to receive treatment for non-life threatening injuries.

 

Alcohol is being suspected as a factor in the accident. 

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Big Rapids man sentenced to jail after pleading guilty to sex crimes

 

A Big Rapids man accused of sexually assaulting a relative is heading to jail.

 

33-year old Edward Brandon Morton was sentenced up to ten years in prison in Mecosta County court.

 

Morton took a plea deal from prosecutors and agreed to plead guilty to a charge of assault with intent to commit sexual penetration.

 

In exchange for his plea, the original charges of two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of accosting a child for immoral purposes were dismissed.  

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Congressman John Moolenaar speaks about baseball field shooting

 

Reactions continue to pour-in following Wednesday's shooting at a congressional baseball practice in D.C.

 

Mid-Michigan Congressman John Moolenaar, speaking for the first time about it, was warming-up along the first-baseline when the first shot was fired. 

 

"All of us weren't thinking at 7:15 in the morning in this pastoral setting where you know people in the community were there to watch practice and ask questions,  we just weren't thinking at all about gunfire but after that first shot, a short time later and multiple shots someone yelled shooter and we knew we were under assault," Moolenaar said.  

 

Going forward, the Midland Republican expects a strong debate on open-carry laws.

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Michigan Congressman John Moolenaar not hurt during baseball practice shooting this morning

 

As many as 50 shots rang out during a shooting at an early morning baseball practice in Virginia.

 

According to reports, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., and multiple Congressional aides were shot during baseball practice Wednesday morning.

 

US Congressman John Moolenaar of the fourth congressional district which encompasses Mecosta County and other West Michigan communities, was at practice this morning.

 

Moolenaar's Communications Director David Russell issued a statement:

"This morning, Congressman John Moolenaar attended baseball practice. He was uninjured in the shooting that took place. He asks that you keep those injured in this act of cowardice in your thoughts and prayers. "

 

According to reports, all Michigan Congressmen and women have been accounted for. 

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Officials from AMVETS Post 1941 in Big Rapids to hold Flag Day ceremony

 

In honor of flag day, the AMVETS Post 1941 in Big Rapids will be hosting a flag retirement ceremony on Wednesday.

 

Jean Bennett of the AMVETS says they are taking old flags to be properly disposed of.

 

"You can bring your old flags to our post or to the DAV Chapter 18 on Michigan Avenue and we will properly dispose of your old flags with respect," Bennett said.  

 

The ceremony starts at 1pm at the AMVETS Post off of 16 mile road in Big Rapids. 

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Tire collection event to take place June 28th in Osceola County

 

 

As part of a Department of Environmental Quality grant one township in Osceola County is giving residents a way to get rid of their old tires.

 

Middle Branch Township will be hosting a tire collection event starting June 28th and going until July 1st. Officials say hours for the collection are 8am-8pm on June 28th and 29th then 8am-6pm on June 30th and 8am-12pm on July 1st.

 

Officials are asking that tires be fairly clean. Forestry tires, loaded tires, airplane tires and tires bigger than four feet and wider than 12 inches will not be accepted.

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Mecosta County Parks to host 2nd Annual Community Open House Saturday and Sunday

 

The Mecosta County Parks are offering a great way for residents and visitors from out of town to experience their facilities as part 2nd annual Community Open House event.

 

The event will take place on June 10th and June 11th.

 

Park officials say daily vehicle and boat fees will be waived at each county park allowing free day use of the facilities.

 

The event is in conjunction with the DNR free fishing weekend.

 

If you want more information about any of the parks or this weekend, visit mecostacountyparks.com. 

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New leadership taking over next month at Big Rapids Salvation Army

 

There will be a change in leadership at the Big Rapids Salvation Army beginning in July.

 

According to a press release, Lieutenants Chris and Brianne Karlin will be heading to Muskegon for their new assignment with the Salvation Army.

 

The Karlins are preparing for the move and a smooth transition of leadership. While they are excited about this new opportunity, the move is bittersweet. 


“The day we drove into Big Rapids for the first time, I reached over, put my hand on Brianne’s shoulder and said…it’s ok…this is home,” Lt. Chris recounted. “In our short time here, we’ve made many friends. Our son, Nate, was born here. We will always call Big Rapids home.” 

 

During their time with the Big Rapids post, the Karlins establish several new programs to assist families and children, as well as opening the area's first ever Salvation Army Family Store and Donation Center in October of last year.

 

Ed and Theresa Hoskins will lead the efforts of The Salvation Army of Big Rapids starting in July. 

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4-year old boy struck by a car in Newaygo County

 

A four year old boy is fighting for his life after he was hit by a car Monday night near Hesperia in Newaygo County.

 

It happened on M-20 near Dickinson Avenue.

 

The Newaygo County Sheriff's Department says the boy entered the road where he was struck by a westbound vehicle driven by a 62-year-old Fremont man.

 

The child was airlifted to a Grand Rapids hospital, where he is listed in critical condition.  

 

Alcohol does not appear to be a factor in the crash.

 

The accident remains under investigation.  

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Wastewater rates increasing in Big Rapids starting in July

 

Waste water rates are going up next month for Big Rapids homeowners and businesses.

 

The rate increases were approved during the Big Rapids City Commission meeting last night.

 

Starting July first, sewer users will be charged $7 per 1,000 gallons of use, which is around a $4 increase for homes or businesses with a 5/8-inch meter.

 

Users previously were charged $6.27 per 1,000 gallons of use. 

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DNR Free Fishing Weekend slated for Saturday and Sunday

 

Get your rod and reel ready.

 

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is offering a free fishing weekend this coming Saturday and Sunday.

 

People can fish without a license and the state is waiving the regular entry fee for all cars and trucks going into state parks and recreation areas.

 

The DNR started the free weekends in 1986 as a way to promote the state's resources. 

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Midland man arrested after car/tractor accident in Isabella County

 

A 55-year old Midland man has been arrested in Isabella County after being involved in a drunk driving accident involving a tractor.

 

It happened on Pickard Road (M20) and Loomis Road.

 

Sheriff Michael Main says during the investigation officers determined that the driver of the vehicle was highly intoxicated at the time of the crash. The tractor was well lit and properly marked.

 

The driver did not sustain any injuries but was taken to a local emergency department to be evaluated.

 

The man was arrested and awaiting arraignment.

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Pair busted for alleged meth lab arraigned in Mecosta County

 

Two people were in front of a judge yesterday in Mecosta County listening to charges levied against them in connection to their drug arrest last week.

 

39-year old Ronald Raymond Garrison Jr. of Harrison and 34-year old Alicia Marie Bracey of Saginaw were charged with two counts of operating/maintaining a laboratory involving methamphetamine, one count of purchasing/possessing ephedrine/pseudoephedrine to make methamphetamine, one count of possession of a controlled substance containing morphine.

 

The charges stem from the pair's arrest on May 26th in Martiny Township following an investigation by the Central Michigan enforcement team. They are being held on $150,000 bond a piece.  

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House committee advances Hoitenga's 'right to carry' legislation

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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White Cloud duo arrested on charges connected to trying to cash stolen checks

 

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. 

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Jackson man airlifted after motorcycle accident in Osceola County

 

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.  

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Reed City Public Schools search for new superintendent amid Webster retirement

 

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. 

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Memorial Day activities planned to honor those serving or who have served in armed forces

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.

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City of Big Rapids giving out free flowers to residents and business

 

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. 

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Spectrum Health opens Convenient Care Walk-in Clinic in Reed City

 

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.

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No injuries after school bus accident in Mecosta Co.

 

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.

 

 

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Police execute search warrant; discover meth lab in Osceola Co. home

 

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.  

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Mecosta Co. man accused of home break-ins sentenced to jail time

 

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.  

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Petitions for legal marijuana and government contractors approved

 

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.

 

 

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Big Rapids water/sewer rates rise slightly

 

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.

 

 

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Mt. Pleasant man found dead in apartment

 

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.

 

 

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Mesick man arrested on murder for hire case

 

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. 

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Michigan State Police investigating deadly crash on US-131 in Osceola County

 

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.

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DNR asks for help in tracking fish

 

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.

 

 

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State Board of Canvassers reviews legal pot petition

 

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.

 

 

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Culver's Restaurant opening Monday in Big Rapids

 

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 

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Motel explosion in Wexford County sends three people to hospital

 

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. 

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Hersey man charged with multiple felonies involving drugs and weapons

 

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. 

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Driver ejected from vehicle during two car accident in Mecosta County

 

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. 

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Mecosta County Parks 2017 season off to a great start

 

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.

 

 

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Consumers seeks approval on renewable energy program

 

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.

 

 

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Snyder graded on environment

 

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.

 

 

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Big Rapids School Board approves sinking fund projects; BRHS junior student nets perfect score on ACT

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 

 

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Michigan Avenue repaving project expanded

 

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.

 

 

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Michigan rated among worst in the country for drug problems

 

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.

 

 

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Big Rapids getting national attention for handicap swing

 

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.

 

 

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Worldwide cyber attack stopped by Newaygo County man

 

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. 

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Three car accident in Colfax Township puts two drivers in the hospital

 

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.

 

 

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Missing children found in Morton Township

 

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.

 

 

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Ex-wife of former Greenville DPS Director found guilty of health care fraud

 

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. 

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Big Rapids Library Park improvements under way

 

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.

 

 

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Summer gas prices expected to be higher than last year

 

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.

 

 

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Input sought on Mecosta County internet

 

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.

 

 

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TNT arrests Osceola County man on meth charges

 

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.

 

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Grand Rapids woman arraigned on drug charges connected police investigation

 

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.   

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Big Rapids Farmers Market opens Friday

 

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. 

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Group sues SOS over suspended drivers licenses

 

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.

 

 

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Big Rapids Community pays respect to fallen officers

 

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. 

 

 

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Michigan based scientist dismissed by Trump administration

 

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.

 

 

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Wexford County man charged with CSC

 

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.

 

 

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Big Rapids man charged with drunk driving

 

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.

 

 

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Paris man injured in two car accident in Green Township

 

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. 

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Big Rapids Township to spend quarter million on firehouse expansion

 

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.

 

 

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Proposal would eliminate handgun registration in Michigan

 

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.

 

 

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Police find body in burnt car

 

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.

 

 

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Another water grab? potential potash mine angers residents

 

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.  

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Pilot escapes plane crash in Big Rapids with minor injuries

 

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.

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Tuition rates increase as Ferris State Board of Trustees approve preliminary budget

 

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.

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More charges levied against Barryton man as sex crime investigation continues

 

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.  

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Weather not cooperating for start of planting season

 

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.

 

 

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Police Memorial Ceremony to be held next week in Big Rapids

 

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 .

 

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Property owners may be changing their minds about Pickerel Bergess Lake dam

 

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.

 

 

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State AG looks for new ways to curb meth production

 

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.

 

 

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Net-neutrality fight heats up in Washington

 

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.

 

 

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MSP using unmarked cars in distracted driving crack down

 

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.

 

 

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Medical marijuana meeting brings questions and answers to local officials

 

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.

 

 

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Nestle appeals building permit in Osceola County

 

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.

 

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