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Big Rapids Daily News
News That Affects You Archives for 2017-03

FSU hosts Lunch and Learn programs during National Public Health Week

Ferris State University’s Public Health programs will be active during the first full week of April, which is designated by the American Public Health Association as National Public Health Week. With a goal to promote prevention of illnesses and injuries, the program’s administration and faculty will welcome the Mecosta County community to four campus events, which will feature experts in their respective subjects.

 

College of Health Professions Dean Matthew Adeyanju said Public Health Week has been celebrated globally for more than 20 years, and these free events are intended to help county residents lead a healthier and safer life.

 

"Prevention of illnesses and injuries is a part of every person's daily life," Adeyanju says. "By hosting National Public Health Week events, and providing educational resources, we hope to help build a healthy community in Mecosta County and beyond."

 

The following Lunch and Learn events will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the West Campus Community Center on Ferris’ Big Rapids campus:

 

  • Monday, April 3 – “The Dangers of Distracted Driving and The Dangers of Social Media” presented by Victor Vandertol, deputy, Mecosta County Sheriff’s Office

  • Tuesday, April 4 – “It’s Summer, and It’s Hot!” presented by Tim Kearney, certified safety professional, 3M Personal Safety Division

  • Wednesday, April 5 – “How Much is Enough – or Excessive?” presented by Dave Greydanus, assistant professor, Ferris State University School of Criminal Justice

 

Lunch will be provided and pre-registration is required. More event information is available at online. Those interested are asked to contact Public Health Assistant Professor Margaret Wan at 231-591-3131 by Saturday, April 1.

 

In addition, on Tuesday, April 4, the documentary, “A Day’s Work,” will be shown starting at 5 p.m., in room 120 of the Interdisciplinary Resource Center. The 2015 film, which is focused on the health risks of temporary workers across the U.S., will be presented by producer Dave DeSario, a founding member of TemporaryEmployees.org. This documentary has been screened at more than 75 locations across the nation, and program organizers with the university are pleased to host the event.

 

 

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Michigan congressman proposes 'Medicare for All'

 

A Michigan congressman is proposing a solution to the healthcare debate that some physicians believe is a better alternative than the failed GOP proposal, and would fix the shortcomings of Obamacare. Representative John Conyers introduced the Medicare for All Act, which would extend and expand the popular single-payer program already in place for those over age 65.

 

Glenn Pearson, former president of Physicians for a National Health Program, says a single-payer option would allow President Trump to make good on campaign promises for more coverage and better benefits.

 

"America is the only wealthy country in the world that has a free market, for-profit system. It treats health care as a commodity, like buying a TV. In every other country, health care is a human right,” he says.

 

Critics have say the move would be too costly for insurance and healthcare companies, but independent analysis of similar legislation found that 95 percent of American households would pay less than with the current system of insurance premiums, deductibles, and co-pays.

 

Pearson, while not a fan of the Trumpcare proposal, notes the Affordable Care Act still leaves many without coverage and channels billions of taxpayer dollars to private insurance companies. He says a majority of Americans, including Republicans, support a system where money currently going to administrative overhead and private profits is spent on patient care instead.

 

"There would be no deductibles, no co-insurance, there would be very small co-pays. And so nobody would ever go bankrupt because they became ill."

 

He says even though more people have insurance since the rollout of the ACA, nearly two million Americans go bankrupt each year because of healthcare expenses. A National Day of Action calling for universal guaranteed health care is set for April 8th, the first day of the congressional recess.

 

 

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Spectrum Health Big Rapids and Reed City Hospitals to offer free cancer screenings for eligible residents

 

Spectrum Health Big Rapids and Reed City Hospitals will again be offering free cancer screenings for eligible residents.

 

The eligibility requirements are those 64 or under, who do not have health insurance or coverage for screenings and who have not had a cancer screening in at least one year.

 

Screenings include skin cancer, colorectal, mammogram, pelvic exam with pap smear and prostate screening.

 

The screenings are available on Friday, April 14, 2017.

 

Appointments are required and walk-ins will not be accepted.

 

To make an appointment or more information call 231.305.8650. 

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Online privacy landscape changing with new FCC rules

 

While privacy advocates say overturning FCC rules on Internet privacy will put all consumers’ personal information at risk, it raises added concerns for the immigrant community. Current rules require Internet Service Providers to get permission before sharing “sensitive” information, like Social Security numbers or health records.

 

Alex Nogales, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, points out that without those rules, ISPs will be allowed to sell customer information, including immigration status, to anyone. Nogales notes that regulations do serve a purpose.

 

"They keep everybody safe, they keep everybody in check. Now, we're losing the rules and regulations that the FCC has put down, so that business can make more money,” he says.

 

ISPs lobbied heavily against the rules and in favor of overturning them. Under the new Congressional Review Act, the FCC will also be prohibited from adopting similar rules protecting privacy in the future.

 

Opponents of the new rule say they will buy the internet data of Congressional members and display it online. President Trump is expected to sign the bill.

 

 

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More business tax breaks being considered in Lansing

 

New legislation approved by the Michigan Senate would provide tax incentives for business expansions. Senator Jim Stamas sponsored the "Good Jobs for Michigan bill package".

“This package is specific to look at bringing 250 plus jobs, or 500 plus jobs to a community. They must be new and they must meet a regional average wage or better,” he says.

 

Stamas says the package also states a company will not get a single dime until they can prove those jobs were created. However, some lawmakers say the state should not be giving more tax breaks to big business when they haven't been giving out similar incentives to smaller businesses.

 

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Sanctuary cities in Michigan could lose federal funding

 

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he will cut billions in federal funding from so-called sanctuary cities, some of which are in Michigan, that choose to help undocumented immigrants. Some members of Congress, like Representative Pramila Jayapal, say Sessions is trying to make local municipalities enforce federal immigration laws.

 

"The vast majority of sanctuary policies across the country do not violate the Constitution; and you could even argue to force jurisdictions to implement federal immigration laws would, in fact, be a violation of the Constitution."

 

Sessions says, "Countless Americans would be alive today and countless loved ones would not be grieving today if these policies of sanctuary cities were ended." However, federal government data shows crime rates are lower in sanctuary jurisdictions than their non-sanctuary counterparts.

 

 

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Student's email addresses found on criminal web sites

 

Hundreds of thousands of university email address from Michigan are circulating on the Dark Web.

 

A report from the Digital Citizens Alliance says millions of stolen emails connected to universities around the country have been found on the web used by criminals.

 

They say the largest number is from the University of Michigan – more than 122,000 while Michigan State had nearly 116,000 stolen addresses.

 

Researchers say it's not from a massive data breach, but more likely from breaches at other sites where people have used their school email.

 

 

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Teens can refuse breathalyzer test under new bill

 

Minors in Michigan would be able to refuse to take a breathalyzer test under a bill that's passed the house.

 

That would mean police would not be allowed to measure their blood alcohol level without their consent or a court order.

 

The measure would also get rid of tickets, fines, and the two points added to a minor's driving record if they refused.

 

They could still face arrest if police suspect they were driving drunk.

 

 

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Car accident in Sheridan Township sends three people to the hospital

 

Slushy roads were a factor in a car accident that sent three people to the hospital in Mecosta County.

 

Deputies say it happened in Sheridan Township on 30th Ave (M-66) and 17 Mile Rd.

 

They say a vehicle operated by a 38-year old Lake man was traveling south on 30th when he lost control on the slushy roadway.

 

The vehicle left the roadway and went down into the ditch.

 

Three passengers from the vehicle were taken to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries. 

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UPDATE: Cadillac man arraigned on charges after alleged machete incident

 

A 30-year old Wexford County man is now arraigned on four counts of assault with a dangerous weapon among other charges after an incident earlier this week in Cadillac.

 

30-year old Mason Lee Haveman is accused of chasing four kids with a machete in the downtown area after one of the kid's bumped into him while coming out of a Speedway gas station.

 

Haveman is also was charged with one count of police officer assault, resist or obstruct.

 

Because of his criminal history, the 30-year old's bond was set at $150,000. 

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Michigan reacting to executive order on Clean Power Plan

 

Several environmental groups in Michigan are not happy with President Trump's executive order ending the Clean Power Plan.

 

Ecology Center health outreach coordinator Mara Herman says the order will have a devastating impact on the health of Michigan residents while Sierra Club Director Regina Strong says recent extreme temperatures and weather events indicates we should be ramping up efforts to address climate change, not scaling them back.

 

Congressman John Moolenaar supports the president’s decision saying it will help make America more energy independent and it will benefit Michigan with affordable electricity.

 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says the Clean Power Plan would have saved American families $55 billion to $93 billion per year starting in 2030 and would have helped avoid more than 140,000 asthma attacks in children.

 

Note also that although smokestack emissions have gone down as a result of the Clean Power Plan, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services still recommends limiting consumption of certain species of fish caught in Michigan due to high levels of mercury contamination that has been linked to coal fired power plants.

 

 

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Anti-marijuana advocate says it's all about the money

 

Should pot be legalized for recreational use in Michigan? A national opponent to the idea is visiting Michigan to make his case against it. Kevin Sabet of the group Smart Approaches to Marijauna says lobbyists are setting up shop in Lansing to pave the way for what has become a lucrative industry.

“It's about money, it's not about anything else and so folks think it's a chance for them to get rich and we're bring folks together today to say maybe let's think this thing through a little bit more. Really pause before we make this mistake.”

 

This in light of reports from the Drug Enforcement Administration that they are giving approval to pharmaceutical company Insys Therapeutics to produce synthetic marijuana. Insys is on record as having donated $500,000 to anti-marijuana campaigns.

 

A recent EPIC-MRA poll conducted in January and February of 2017 shows 57 percent of the Michigan residents polled say they would definitely vote yes, probably vote yes, or are leaning toward voting yes on a ballot question about legalizing marijuana.

 

 

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State Police find human remains in Wexford County

 

State Police discovered human remains in Wexford County Tuesday and believe they maybe of a missing 37-year old Pentwater area man.

 

Troopers say the remains were found by a K-9 unit while on a search for James Hepworth.

 

The Pentwater area man went missing in August of 2016, his vehicle was discovered near the Dobson Bridge in South Branch Township three days later.

 

The remains were sent to a hospital in Lansing where a forensic autopsy will be conducted.  

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Gun seller registries may be repealed

 

Lawmakers in Lansing are working to repeal a law that makes it a misdemeanor if gun sellers don’t keep a registry of firearm purchases.

 

The Senate passed the bill last week which, supporters say, are technical changes to a law that eliminated gun boards for issuing concealed handgun licenses.

 

The 1931 law requires gun businesses to keep a registry of each buyer’s name, age, occupation and residence along with information about firearms purchased.

 

The bill also would let police officers carry concealed pistols in gun-free zones. That exemption already applies for retired officers and others.

 

 

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Big Rapids American Legion working to educate local students about state government

 

The Big Rapids American Legion post is on a mission to help some Big Rapids High School students learn more about, and maybe improve, how state and local government operates. Big Rapids American Legion Vice Commander, and BRPS social studies teacher, Mark Brejcha says 28 students will join some 600 other students from across the state for their America Legion Boys and Girls State program.

 

It's June 18th through the 24th. We've already actually selected our candidates – we have 16 boys and 12 girls this year.”

 

During the week, students create a fictitious state and then learn how government works while developing leadership skills & an appreciation for their rights as a citizen. They run for office, learn public speaking, create and enforce laws, and actively participate in all phases of creating and running a working government.

 

The students are plugged into positions of government throughout the fictitious state, all the way from governor all the way down to city mayor and they throw scenarios at them. These kids are up 'till one in the morning doing case studies and everything else to try to tackle the scenarios in a democratic way,” Brejcha says.

 

He notes that each participating American Legion post has to “take the ball and run with it.” Two years ago the Big Rapids post sent five students, last year they sent 16, and this year they hope to send all 28 candidates. And, at a cost of $400 per student, fund raising efforts are under way. Brejcha says they are reaching out to area businesses, individuals, and alumni of the program.

 

They can send the money to the AMVETS/Legion post here and just earmark it 'American Legion Boys and Girls State.' They can send it to myself, Mark Brejcha, I'm the chairman [and] I'll make sure they get it.”

 

The Big Rapids American Legion Post 1941 is located at 320 S. 4th Avenue, Big Rapids, MI 49307 or you can call 231-796-6998.

 

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Right to carry legislation introduced in State House

 

Freshman State House Representative Michele Hoitenga (R-Manton) is introducing a bill that will allow law-abiding citizens to carry concealed pistols without obtaining a government-issued permit.

 

The four-bill package is also sponsored by Reps. Triston Cole of Mancelona, Sue Allor of Wolverine and Pamela Hornberger of Chesterfield Township.

 

According to sponsors this bill is a step toward reforming Michigan firearm law to stop law-abiding citizens from being punished for exercising their Second Amendment right to bear arms.

 

Responsible people shouldn’t have to obtain a special permit from the government to exercise a right that is guaranteed in both the U.S. and state constitutions,” Hoitenga said. “Other states have recently passed full constitutional carry laws, and I plead to my colleagues and our governor to pass this common-sense package that will allow law abiding women, like myself, to protect ourselves and our families without jumping through bureaucratic hoops. Criminals don’t complete the permitting process before they commit a crime, and it’s time we level the playing field for lawful people who want nothing more than to protect their families.”

Hornberger said the state would continue issuing concealed carry permits; this legislation simply eliminates the requirement to obtain a license to carry in Michigan. The current permitting structure will remain in place to allow Michigan CPL holders to continue to carry in states that recognize Michigan’s permit. In addition, a CPL will continue to allow people to carry openly in certain restricted zones.


 

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Newaygo Police looking for group of thiefs who have been breaking into vehicles since January

 

Police in Newaygo are asking residents to lock their vehicles and homes after noticing an uptick in break-ins.

 

Police say the suspects have stolen at least one handgun during their crimes.

 

Crimes started in January 2017 and are getting more frequent in number.  

 

Police believe two or three suspect are involved.

 

If you have information to report that could help lead to an arrest in this crime/crime activity, please contact police at 231.652.1655 ext 214 or 210. 

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Man in Wexford County allegedly charged at group of kids with machete

 

A man, who allegedly charged at four boys in Cadillac with a machete, faces arraignment today.

 

The boys had reportedly left the Speedway Gas station downtown when they bumped into the man, who pulled out a ten inch knife from his coat and charged at them.

 

They ran and called police.

 

Police found the man nearby and arrested him for felonious assault. 

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Public television could be on the way out

 

The very existence of public television is being threatened according to PBS CEO Paula Kerger.

 

Kreger spoke in Michigan on Friday and she says President Trump's proposed budget would cut Federal money to their 350 non-commerical TV stations across the country.

 

Those stations get direct funding from the federal government for such shows as Antiques Road Show, This Old House, Nova, Masterpiece Theater, and Sesame Street.

 

Studies show that PBS children’s programming yields long-lasting positive benefits, especially for kids who don’t attend preschool, and lack other educational resources at home.

 

Kreger notes smaller, rural stations are much more dependent on federal funds and there’s really no substitute for that.

 

 

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Police ask for help identifying porn distributor

 

The Isabella County Sheriff's Office says more victims of the person who left porn on a number of cars are coming forward.

 

So far,12 events of someone leaving pornographic material on cars while people were shopping have been reported. A

 

deputy investigating the case was able to obtain still photographs of the suspect from surveillance cameras.

 

The Isabella County Sheriff’s Office is looking for help identifying the man in the picture as a person of interest.

 

Anyone with information should contact the Sheriff’s Office at 989 772 5911 or Isabella County Central Dispatch at the non-emergency number of 989 773 1000.

 

 

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Downstate woman sent to hospital after two car accident in Big Rapids

A 20-year old downstate woman was sent to the hospital Friday after a two car accident in Big Rapids.

 

It happened on N. State Street near Pine Street, that's where police say a 20-year old woman from Clinton Township made a left turn onto Pine Street and struck another vehicle driven by a woman from Albion.

 

The Clinton Township woman who was cited as the at fault driver was taken to Spectrum Big Rapids Hospital complaining of neck pain. 

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Mecosta Co. Road Commission to lift seasonal weight restrictions in April

 

The Mecosta County Road Commission will lifting seasonal weight restrictions on all county roads beginning Monday, April 3rd at 6AM.

 

Those restrictions currently affect semi trucks and heavy farming equipment. 

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Big Rapids Police arrest man after Sunday afternoon police chase

 

One man is behind bars on charges after trying to flee and elude police Sunday afternoon in Big Rapids.

 

It happened when officers tried to pull over the suspect's vehicle on Fourth Avenue and Madison Street.

 

Police say that's when the man sped away and took officers on a chase through Big Rapids. The suspect eventually ditched his vehicle and tried to escape on foot but police caught up and arrested him.

 

He was arrested on a handful of charges including felony fleeing and eluding and operating with no license. 

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Women find pornographic material on their vehicles; police investigating

 

The Isabella County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a report of someone placing pornographic material on a windshield of a vehicle that was parked in the Target Store parking lot.

 

Deputies say the security video from the store parking lot shows a Silver SUV being driving by a male. The vehicle pulls up next to the victim’s vehicle and places something on a windshield.

 

Police say the the video is not clear enough to make out a face or detail of the incident. The suspect vehicle then drives away.

 

This case is similar to a case in 2013 that this Office investigated. 

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Barryton man arrested/arraigned on sex crimes against child in Mecosta County

 

A 39-year old Barryton man faces a slew of felony charges connected to sex crimes in Mecosta County over a two year period.

 

Paul Alexander Smith was arraigned on four counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct.

 

It's alleged that Smith sexually assaulted a young girl from 2015-2017 in Sheridan Township.

 

His bond was set at one million dollars. 

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Argument over $15.00 gets one man stabbed in Isabella Co.

 

A argument over$15.00 sent a Lake man to the emergency room with a stab wound to his leg.

 

Isabella County Sheriff Michael Main says two 19-year old men from Lake were arguing over fifteen dollars when the victim refused the give the suspect the money. The suspect then pulled out a boot style knife and stabbed the victim once in the leg.

 

The victim was taken to the local emergency room for treatment of the wound.

 

The suspect has been located and interviewed, during the interview the suspect admitted to stabbing his friend over the argument about money.

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Project Hero Hugs prepares to honor veterans on Mid-Michigan Honor Flight this weekend

 

Mid-Michigan Honor Flight is flying a group of veterans from Grand Rapids to Washington, DC to visit memorials dedicated their service and sacrifices. When they return, Sandra Howe with Project Hero Hugs says they will have a gift waiting for them.

 

Their bears are going to be a little bit different. The vest itself on every bear is going to have a little tag on it that says Mid-Michigan Honor Flight with the date of their flight and every vest is made out of a uniform.”

 

Project Hero Hugs makes stuffed bears for veterans as a symbol of love and recognition.

 

For what they did for me, the least I can do is give them a hug that they'll have every day which is why I name these bears 'Project Hero Hug'.”

 

Howe says she started the project in remembrance of Matt Webber of Stanwood who was killed while on duty in Iraq in 2006. She is heading up a workshop at Ferris State University's West Campus Community Center on Saturday to make the bears.

 

My thing is to bring the community out and feel the same way I do – see the reaction on these veterans faces when they get this bear knowing that we care enough to give back to them.”

 

Howe hopes people will turn out with their sewing machines to help with the project and will join her when she greets the veterans as they return.

 

When they fly back in, I'm going to be there with whoever else wants to be there and hand each one of those veterans coming off that plane one of these bears.”

 

The workshop starts at 9:30 am and, Howe says, no experience is needed and you will be helping to insure that each of the honorees receive a gift of love. To volunteer, email johnsod@ferris.edu or mamawhowe59@hotmail or you can call 231-591-3781.

 

 

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New rules could allow internet providers to share and sell user data

 

Resolutions in Congress could end an Obama-era Federal Communications Commission rule that would keep Americans' internet habits out of the hands of internet providers and advertisers. The FCC order requires Internet Service Providers, or I-S-Ps, such as AT&T, Verizon and Comcast to get consent from consumers before selling or sharing their data, ranging from browser history to app usage to browser tools that can act as geolocation tags. Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union, says this rule is based on an earlier ruling by the FCC that classified internet providers as utilities just like telephone service providers.

 

When you pick up your landline telephone in your home and you make a call to your doctor or anybody else, the telephone company is not allowed to take lists of the people that you call and sell that for marketing purposes. And the reason they can't do that is the privacy provisions of the communications act."

 

If passed it would repeal the rule or any similarly proposed rules under the Congressional Review Act. The FCC approved a temporary stay on the rule at the beginning of March. FCC head Ajit Pai says the Federal Trade Commission should be in charge of privacy rules such as this one because that agency also handles rules for online entities such as Google and Facebook.

 

Opponents of the FCC rule also say it will put a substantial cost and burden on ISPs. However, Jeremy Gillula with the Electronic Frontier Foundation disputes this.

 

"Usually what they're talking about is that they are in some cases already making a ton of money on the side selling your information to marketers, usually without telling you. They like to keep it quiet because they know that there will be a lot of pushback if people discover that all of their information is being sold by ISPs."

 

Opponents of the rule also have argued that the information internet providers have access to is not "sensitive data." However, Stanley says providers can learn a lot about a person from "spying" on this information and that the higher stakes are Americans' right to privacy.

 

"I deserve privacy as an American in my communications and in my research online and what I read, what I download, and Americans all deserve that kind of privacy and I think that Americans expect that kind of privacy and would be shocked to learn that these companies want to do this kind of stuff."

 

 

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Tax breaks for college grads who stay in Michigan

 

Lansing state house lawmaker Andy Schor wants to keep college grads in Michigan and says his proposal would allow an income tax credit that would offset the cost of student loans if that graduate agrees to continue living and working in the state.

 

Former students could claim the tax credit for five years after graduation.

 

Schor says his proposal would be an incentive for grads to make roots here and reduce Michigan's "brain drain."

 

 

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Trust in state government lacking

 

A new report by the Center for Michigan says residents have an alarmingly low level of trust in our state government.

 

The "Fractured Trust: Lost faith in state government and how to restore it” report was this week after the Center hosted 125 community conversations and surveyed thousands of Michiganders.

 

It says infrastructure, education, college affordability, campaign finance reform, government transparency, and reforming the state's emergency manager law are areas where residents say state lawmakers are not responding to their needs.

 

 

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Lake County's North Lake Correctional facility stays open with wastewater treatment plant project

 

The Northern Lakes Correctional facility in the city of Baldwin might be keeping its' doors open.

 

The Baldwin village president says the GEO Group, who owns the prison, is paying for a $7-million dollar upgrade to Baldwin's waste water treatment plant.

 

Geo says they now anticipate renewing a contract to house prisoners from Vermont and expect 400 additional prisoners to come from Ohio.

 

The company also says they have been in talks to house illegal immigrants arrested as the federal government cracks down on illegal immigration. 

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Human trafficking awareness conference to be held at Ferris State University in April

 

Ferris State University will play host to a conference that brings more awareness to human trafficking.

 

The Ferris State University Coalition Against Slavery and the Professional Convention Management Association Student Organization are holding a two-day public Conference on Human Trafficking Awareness, April 5-6, at the FSU University Center.

 

Attendees are welcome to register for one or both days and will learn more about the definition of ‘trafficking,’ lures, signs of exploitation, and root causes, the trauma experienced by a person who has been exploited, and tips for keeping family and friends safe through cyber security. 

 

Pre-registration is required at http://fsuhospitality.wixsite.com/fsucas. Registration will close on Monday, April 3 at 11:59pm. 

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Speed, alcohol factors in car accident involving Stanton man in Mecosta County

 

A Stanton man was sent to the hospital after hitting multiple trees with his car in Mecosta County.

 

Deputies say the accident occurred on 95th Ave south of 5 Mile Rd in Hinton Township, that's where the 29-year old man lost control of his vehicle, left the road and struck multiple trees.

 

He sustained non-life threatening injuries.

 

Police believe speed and alcohol were the main factors in the crash. 

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Big Rapids welcomes new police officer

 

There's a new face at the Big Rapids Department of Public Safety. Police officer Lindy Waite was sworn in at Monday's City Commission meeting. Director Jim Eddinger says the addition of Waite means there's no holes in the lineup at DPS.

 

With this position being filled we'll now be at full staff at the Department of Public Safety.”

 

Waite was born in Big Rapids and grew up in the Lakeview area where she went to Lakeview High School and went on to graduate from Indiana Wesleyan University with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Intercultural Studies. She spent some time working for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services in Grand Traverse and Montcalm counties and then decided to become a law enforcement officer.

 

Aside from public safety, Waite says of her goals as a Big Rapids police officer is to make our community more culturally aware.

 

 

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Number of Michigan residents with concealed carry permits soars

 

A lot more people in Michigan are carry guns.

 

A report from the Michigan State Police says the number of concealed pistol licenses approved in Michigan jumped 42% last year to more than 600, 000.

 

Concern for personal safety is being sited by many people who got CPL licenses despite FBI statistics showing a substantial decline in violent crime over the past 20 years.

 

 

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Healthcare proposal goes up for vote

 

As President Trump makes a last push to get his healthcare proposal across the finish line in the U.S. House, policy experts in Michigan are raising red flags. Gilda Jacobs, who heads the Michigan League for Public Policy, says the Republican healthcare proposal shifts the cost burden back to the state.

 

"Once you create a financial strain on our state budget, we're going to end up reducing the number of people that are covered by Medicaid, or cutting other vital state programs – so that includes education, public safety, infrastructure."

 

More than 650,000 people are enrolled in the state's Healthy Michigan expanded Medicaid plan, with another 1.8 million receiving traditional Medicaid.

 

Jacobs notes that Michigan would be particularly hard hit, given the current legislature's resistance to any sort of tax increase. Meantime in Congress, the bill faces uncertain prospects for a vote on Thursday, as many conservative and even moderate Republicans have expressed reservations about it, and all Democrats are expected to vote no.

 

 

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Tornado sirens to be tested in Big Rapids next month

Big Rapids Department of Pubic Safety officials will be testing its Tornado siren system on Saturday, April 1st at 1pm.

 

The siren's will be tested on the first Saturday of every month as part of maintenance during the spring.

 

In Big Rapids, there are four siren locations; City Hall, the Department of Public Works, the Mecosta County Fairgrounds and at soccer fields on River Street in Big Rapids. 

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Sheriff: Death of Mt. Pleasant woman ruled accidental

 

The death of a Mt. Pleasant woman who was found face down in a hotel hot tub last month has been ruled accidental, according to the Isabella County Sheriff.

 

Michael Main says 26-year old Mabann Marie Teller died of accidental drowning.

 

A suspicious death investigation was launched February 20th after Teller was found dead by other guests face down in a hot tub at the Baymont Inn and Suits in Union Township.

 

He says Teller who had THC in her system, also had a blood alcohol level of .356 at the time of her death; which is more than four times the legal limit in Michigan. 

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UPDATE: Amber Alert for kids in Flint area canceled

 

UPDATE: According to multiple reports, 2-year-old Arinna Buing and 9-month-old Lincoln Buning have been found safe in Flint. Police are still searcing for the suspect. 

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An amber alert is in effect for two children who were in a car that was stolen from a Burton gas station this morning.

 

Police say 2-year-old Arinna Buing and 9-month-old Lincoln Buning were in a two-door Monte Carlo when it was stolen around 7:00 a.m. at an Admiral gas station just outside of Flint.

 

The vehicle is a 2000 dark blue Monte Carlo with tinted windows and a license plate of DKZ4121.

 

The suspect is described as a black man wearing a red sweatshirt.

 

Authorities ask that you police immediately if you see them or have any information.


 

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Paris fish hatchery getting a new lease on life after 53 years

 

After being mothballed in 1964, Mecosta County may once again have an active fish hatchery in the near future. County Park Superintendent Jeff Abel is working with the Department of Natural Resources to reactivate the hatchery in Paris and plans are moving forward.

 

What we're going to do is do a test run in conjunction with the DNR fisheries division and we're going to test to see if some of the ponds will accommodate being able to raise walleye.”

 

He says the DNR is excited about utilizing the Paris facility because they don't have as many hatcheries as they would like, especially for walleye.

 

Opened in 1881, the Paris Fish Hatchery was the state's second fish-rearing agency. The area was selected because of its abundant sources of water and excellent railroad connections. The Paris hatchery was a major supplier of fish which was shipped in milk cans painted a distinctive red throughout the state in railroad baggage cars. The most famous of those was the "Wolverine," which was used from 1913 to 1938, when motorized vehicles began to dominate shipments. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) renovated and expanded the facility in the mid 1930s. It continued to operate until 1964, when it was closed by the Department of Natural Resources. The site was acquired by the Mecosta County Park Commission in 1973, refurbished as a park and reopened in July 1976.

 

Although the test run with the DNR is nowhere near the scale of production in the past, Abel says he's optimistic about the facility's future.

 

In the past they used to do trout, rainbow trout or brown trout, at the hatcheries here. We're looking into the possibility of starting with doing some walleye and hopefully building from there.”

 

He says raising sturgeon and muskie is being considered, but he also would like to see the Paris hatchery once again become a “destination” with educational programs for visitors.

 

 

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Michigan's healthcare program still open for business

Amidst the controversy over healthcare, District Health Department No. 10 reminds Michigan residents that enrollment for the Healthy Michigan Plan remains open throughout the entire year.

 

Residents between the ages of 19 and 64, single, with an income of about $16,500, may be eligible for coverage. Coverage is available for families with an income up to $33,000 a year.

 

For more information about Healthy Michigan Plan coverage, eligibility, and how to apply, visit HealthyMichiganPlan.org or call (855) 789-5610.

 

District Health Department No. 10 offers enrollment assistance by appointment. You can contact the local DHD No. 10 office for assistance completing the Healthy Michigan Plan application. The Mecosta County office can be reached at (231) 592-0130 and the Lake County office at (231) 745-4663.

 

 

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It's more expensive to own a car in Michigan than elsewhere in the U.S.

 

A new study by gobankingrates.com says Michigan is the most expensive state in which to own a car.

 

The study says unlimited medical costs for people seriously injured in accidents adds to the price of insurance policies and limits insurance companies' ability to negotiate hospital bills.

 

The high costs also means one in five Michigan drivers are on the road without insurance even though that is against the law.

 

However, the Insurance Institute of Michigan says the Michigan's insurance benefits are far beyond those of other states.

 

 

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Victim in Mecosta County crash dies

 

One of the victims of a two car crash that sent six people to the hospital on Sunday has died.

 

Authorities say 89-year-old Marie Gatehouse passed away hours after arriving at the hospital.

 

A Big Rapids woman missed a stop sign at 19 Mile Road and M-66 near Barryton smashing into the other car.

 

Gatehouse’s granddaughter says she was on her way to the store at the time.

 

 

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Medication take back day to be hosted by area hospitals next week

 

Spectrum Health Big Rapids and Reed City Hospitals are set for another medication take back day next week.

 

The take back program is a partnership with the Ten16 Recovery Network. Over the last year, the program has served 221 people, collecting 359.9 pounds of medication and 287.7 pounds of needles.

 

Anyone who uses needles to manage their medication or has leftover prescriptions is encouraged to bring the materials to the hospitals during the specified times for proper disposal.

 

Unwanted medications to be accepted include over-the-counter medications, prescriptions, liquids, inhalers, ointments, pet medications and needles.

 

The event will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 28, in the main lobby of Reed City Family Practice and from 3 to 6 p.m. Thursday, March 30, at the Big Rapids Hospital Main Lobby.

 

 

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Mecosta County official optimistic for Meals-on-Wheels program under proposed federal budget

 

A lot has been in the news recently on how President Trump's proposed budget will affect the Meals on Wheels program. Mecosta County Commission on Aging Meals and Health Coordinator Shawn Sredersas says she's taking a wait and see approach.

 

I have learned from past experiences that what they say is going to happen and what actually happens sometimes is two different things. So I never really cry over spilled milk until I actually see the spilled milk.”

 

Sredersas says although they receive about $77,000 a year in federal funding for their meals on wheels program, much of that is from the Older Americans Act which is not being targeted for cuts in the new budget.

 

 

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Free tax assistance available

 

Free tax help is available across the state. Hundreds of I-R-S certified, trained volunteers across Michigan are helping residents to processing and file their tax returns at no charge. Ross Yednock with the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan says without that assistance, many people would miss out on money due to them, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit.

 

"And that can be several thousands of dollars federally. And then Michigan has specific credits as well, and that’s the Homestead Property Tax Credit, and then the Home Heating Credit. "

 

Michiganders can find the closest free tax site by dialing 2-1-1, or by logging on to http://MichiganFreeTaxHelp.org/.

 

Appointments are necessary at most sites, and it's important to bring proper documentation, including any W-2 and 1099 statements, Social Security benefit statements and property tax information.

 

 

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Sidewalk repair in Big Rapids to get under way in May

 

Some new sidewalks are on schedule for Big Rapids. The City Commission passed a resolution for a special assessment to fix crumbling walkways in a number of areas around the city at Monday's meeting. City Engineering Technician Matt Ruelle says there's always more to fix than there is money to fix it.

 

Generally I try to concentrate on areas where we're doing road construction. Also, just walk Big Rapids and try to fix the worst spots first.”

 

Ruelle says a request for bids on the project has already been sent to prospective contractors and he expects the project to get under way as soon as possible.

 

Usually it's not until around May because we want to make sure that the freeze-thaw cycle is done. And then, maybe a two to three week process for all of the sidewalk program. Contractors are generally eager to get in and get done.”

 

The special assessment means that 50 percent of the expense will be paid by the property owner benefiting from the repairs and 50 percent will be paid by the city.

 

The areas slated for repair are:

 

  • 100 & 200 block of Rust Avenue

  • 100 block of Baldwin Street

  • 800 block of Marion Avenue

  • 200 block of Fuller Avenue

  • 300 & 400 block of S. Michigan Avenue

  • 100 block of N. Stewart Street

  • 100 block of S. Warren Avenue

 

 

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Teacher salaries continue to decline in Michigan

 

The average teacher's salaries in Michigan are falling continuing a five year trend.

 

In 2009, the average salary was $64,000, it's now $61,800.

 

Analysts say fewer raises over the years and baby boomer teachers are leaving the work force allowing school districts to bring in cheaper teachers at lower levels.

 

In addition, charter schools may be siphoning off some of the teachers and affecting the average wages as well.

 

A report from the Education Trust-Midwest says without vast improvements to public education, Michigan is on track to become 49th in the country for student achievement by 2030.

 

 

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Weidman man arrested for making meth in Isabella County

 

A Weidman man is in jail on felony drug charges involving methamphetamine.

 

The Isabella County Sheriff's office says during a child protective services check at a home in Deerfield Township, deputies found components to make methamphetamine and arrested 36-year old Scott Underwood.

 

A 7-year old girl, who was not at the home at the time, is currently in the care of CPS. 

 

Underwood was arraigned on drug charges, his bond was set at $350,000. 

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Six people sent to the hospital following two car accident in Mecosta County

 

A two car accident in Mecosta County's Fork Township sent six people to the hospital Sunday afternoon.

 

It happened at the intersection of M-66 and 19 Mile Rd, police say a vehicle driven by a Big Rapids woman was heading eastbound on 19 Mile Road and failed to stop for a stop sign and struck a vehicle driven by a Barryton woman, who was heading southbound.

 

The southbound vehicle was carrying five passengers. The front seat passenger received life-threatening injuries and was airlifted to a hospital in Grand Rapids. Two passengers were taken to a local hospital for their injuries and the last two were treated on scene and released.

 

The Big Rapids vehicle was carrying three passengers. All were taken to Spectrum Health Big Rapids Hospital for injuries.

 

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Amish family of seven injured in Isabella County car/buggy accident

 

An Amish family of seven including two children under the age of three were sent to the hospital after a pickup truck hit their buggy Thursday in Isabella County.

 

Deputies say the buggy was traveling eastbound on Blanchard Road when a 26-year old Blanchard man hit the buggy with his pickup truck.

 

The buggy was completely destroyed in the accident.

 

All seven Amish members were taken to the hospital. The status of the victims are unknown at this time but did not appear to be life threatening.

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Group seeks support to complete paving the White Pine Trail

 

The Fred Meijer White Pine Trail State Park, the longest linear state park in Michigan, is often called "the spine" of West Michigan's trail system. About half of the trail is currently paved and the West Michigan Trails and Greenways Coalition is working to complete paving on the entire trail. Executive Director John Morrison stopped by the Mecosta County Board of Commissioners meeting on Thursday to elicit community support through the commission. He told the Board that in 2007, the Department of Natural Resources wanted to finish the rest of the trail in crushed limestone.

 

There was public push back on that so that project got halted. They've been working since to raise the funds to start on the paving project,” says Morrison. He notes that funds have already been raised to pave an 11 mile section between LeRoy and Reed City, but they want to do more. “At the same time, we'll be raising funds to do the 29 mile section between Big Rapids and Sand Lake.”

 

The MTGW is seeking a $500,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation for the project, but part of the requirements for the grant is community support. Commissioner Bill Routley noted that their experience with the DNR in 2007 was frustrating.

 

We didn't like the way they approached it the first time they came through here and that little song and dance where it's either crushed asphalt or crushed limestone or nothing, and nobody could convince them that that was wrong."

 

Routley adds that crushed stone is uncomfortable for hiking and walking and causes serious wear and tear on bicycle tires.

 

Morrison is asking the Board for a resolution of support for the project the next 60 to 90 days.

 

 

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Bovine TB found in Newaygo County

 

A case of bovine tuberculosis is being confirmed in Newaygo County.

 

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development says the disease was found in a two-year-old steer and is similar to TB found in the cattle and free-ranging, white-tailed deer in northeastern Lower Michigan.

 

A three-mile surveillance area has been established around the affected farm.

 

Farms within the surveillance area will have six months to complete bovine TB testing.

 

An informational meeting to discuss this finding of bovine TB and the surveillance area is scheduled for:

Monday, March 27, 2017, at 7:00 p.m. at the Grant Community Center located at 105 S. Front St., Grant, MI 49327

 

 

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Michigan businesses hoping for tax reform under Trump in spite of current tax breaks

 

Business leaders in Michigan have high hopes that the Trump administration can bring reforms to taxes.

“We've long held that there needs to be corporate tax reform. There are different proposals on the table, but when America has the highest corporate tax rate of the developed world, that's not a good thing. That's not something that encourages businesses to reinvest here and create good jobs. I think that's got to be right at the top of the priority list,” says Doug Rothwell, the President and C-E-O of Business Leaders for Michigan.

 

Although Rothwell says corporate taxes in America are higher than elsewhere, an annual staff report from Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation notes that corporations in America enjoyed more than $1.3 trillion in federal tax breaks last year alone.

 

A recent analysis by Forbes Magazine points out that in Michigan, the state owes about $9.4 billion in tax credits to companies, a liability that costs the state about $500 million a year.

 

 

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Advocates say Great Lakes restoration good for business

 

After President Trump announced an up to 97 percent cut to funding for Great Lakes programs, advocates for the lakes are gathering in Washington, D.C., urging members of congress to keep federal restoration efforts on track. Jordan Lubetkin with Healing Our Waters is appalled with what the administration wants to do.

“We don't think we should accept cuts to a program that really is at the forefront of providing clean drinking water, outdoor recreation, and a thriving business environment. Businesses know in this region we have an ace on the table, it's the Great Lakes. There's nothing like it in the world and a healthy Great Lakes means a healthy economy and a healthy people and we need to keep that going.”

 

He says he's stumped by the proposed cut because in past meetings, representatives of the administration had spoken strongly about protecting the Great Lakes.

 

 

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Children in critical condition after SUV hits horse drawn buggy

 

Two children are hospitalized with critical injuries after an S-U-V collided with a horse drawn buggy in Montcalm County.

 

The 13 and 10-year-old children, of Carson City, were taken to a downstate hospital.

 

The SUV driver and a five year old passenger were not hurt.

 

The horse suffered serious injuries and was euthanized.

 

The sheriff's office says bright morning sun may have been a factor in the crash.

 

 

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Area police stepping up enforcement for St. Patty's Day in Big Rapids

 

The Big Rapids Department of Public Safety and Mecosta County Sheriff's Office are teaming up to make sure those who are participating in St. Patty's Day festivities in Big Rapids are doing so responsibly.

 

DPS Director Jim Eddinger says he wants residents to have fun this year but wants to make sure people don't over indulge during festivities throughout the day.  

 

"Along with sheriff deputies, we will have officers patrolling in the downtown area focusing on alcohol violations as well as a few officers on foot patrol during the early evening," Eddinger said.  

 

Along with local police agencies, the Michigan State Police is also stepping up of drunk driving enforcement during its drive sober get pulled over campaign that runs through March 26th.  

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Grant woman dies after two car accident in Newaygo Co.

 

A 50-year old Grant woman is dead following a two car accident in Newaygo County.

 

State Police say preliminary investigations indicate a vehicle was traveling south on Oak Avenue and struck a second vehicle driven by the grant woman, who heading eastbound on 120th Street.

 

She was pronounced dead at the scene.

 

The other driver was taken to a local hospital for minor injuries.

 

The accident remains under investigation. 

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Churches offering sanctuary for illegal immigrants

 

Churches across the state are providing safe spaces for illegal immigrants who fear being deported.

 

Michigan United has partnered with nearly a dozen churches in Calhoun and Kalamazoo Counties, some of them in secret to act as safe havens.

 

Michigan United is a statewide group that advocates for immigration reform, among other things.

 

It says it will help anyone from the West Michigan area and hopes to get some Grand Rapids area churches on board.

 

It is also organizing similar efforts in other cities, including Detroit.

 

 

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Lawmakers want full financial disclosure in Lansing

 

Under current law in Michigan, it is up to each individual lawmaker to decide whether they have a conflict of interest concerning pending legislation. It's called “self policing” and Representative David LaGrand says it doesn't work.

 

To self police is not a good situation because honest folks will come forward and talk about their conflicts and they will have conversations about them. But we don't want to create a situation where people have an active incentive to hide their own self interests.”

 

Some lawmakers say they want full financial disclosure.

 

 

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Animal control officer heading to jail in Wexford County

 

A former animal control officer in Wexford County is heading to jail.

 

Michelle Smith pleaded guilty to embezzlement charges after being accused of illegally using public funds.

 

Smith spend over $500 of county money during 10 different gas stops.

 

She has been sentenced to 30 days in jail, 12 months probation, and has been ordered to pay more than $1,000 in fines, and $1,000 in restitution.

 

 

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Clio man sentenced on drug charges in Big Rapids

 

A man is going to jail after being sentenced on drug charges in Mecosta County.

 

39-year old Mahtavis Alonzo Tate of Clio was arrested in September after police found marijuana, cocaine, pills and more than $42,000 at his Big Rapids apartment.

 

As part of a plea deal with prosecutors, Tate plead guilty to possession with intent to deliver cocaine, possession with intent to deliver hydrocodone and maintaining a drug house.  

 

Tate was also sentenced in a separate case involving drugs and both of his sentences will run concurrently. 

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Big Rapids skate park a step closer to reality

 

Plans for a skate park in Big Rapids are moving forward. The Skate Park Committee met with City Manager Mark Gifford and Parks and Recreation Director Heather Bowman on Tuesday. Gifford says he's optimistic about the project.

 

I think we have a great group here interested in making a skate park happen. I really feel that this is our opportunity to make it a reality in the community,” he says.

 

It was the group's second meeting and preliminary plans call for a two pronged approach with the first phase installing a “street skateboarding” portion with obstacles such as rails, park benches, and ditches. The second phase will install a bowl type structure for “vert” or “transition” skateboarding. It was also agreed that Hemlock Park would be the best location.

 

The committee has voiced the idea that it's important for families to be able to all use it together. So, if one person's at the skate park, maybe a younger sibling could be at the playscape and the parents could be walking on the path. We're building on other amenities that are already in place – Hemlock Park's the best spot to do that,” says Gifford.

 

Gifford adds that it's important to get a company with experience in designing skate parks on board. He says Parks and Recreation Director Heather Bowman has been in contact with a number of companies in preparation for the next step.

 

We're going to look to hire somebody to do a design for us. Although preliminary, it's something that we can draw from to get estimated costs and to use as a tool for raising money throughout the community, writing grants, those kinds of things.

 

The committee is still looking for input on the project and is encouraging residents to attend the next meeting on April 11 at City Hall.

 

 

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IRS says $34M owed to Michigan residents from 2013

 

The Internal Revenue Service says more than 33,600 Michiganians have unclaimed federal income tax refunds averaging $763 per return waiting to be claimed.

 

A total of nearly $34 million may be due to those Michigan taxpayers who did not file a 2013 federal income tax return.

 

To collect the money, taxpayers must file a 2013 return no later than this year's tax deadline.

 

The IRS reminds taxpayers there is no penalty for filing a late return if a refund is due.

 

 

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Insurance companies urge caution in dealing with storm damage, especially renters

 

The massive windstorm that tore roofs off houses and downed trees across the state also could rip a hole in your budget, which is why experts urge caution with the repair process. Insurance Institute of Michigan spokesperson Lori Conarton says most wind damage will be covered by insurance policies, however those who are renting properties may find themselves in a tough spot.

 

"They assume maybe, incorrectly, that their landlord will pay for any damage, and that's not the case. The landlord's coverage will cover the building, the structure, but not the contents in it."

 

She adds that while spoiled food from a power outage isn't typically covered by insurance, items bought to prevent further damage to homes, such as tarps and plastic to cover roofs and windows, are reimbursable, which is why you should hold onto all receipts.

 

 

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Environmental groups renew pressure to shut down Enbridge Line 5

 

The potential failure of the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac was the main point of contention at Monday's Pipeline Safety Advisory Board meeting in Lansing. Mariah Urueta with Food and Water Watch is calling for the pipeline to be shut down, and is calling on the governor and attorney general to step to the plate.

 

The State of Michigan has consistently put oil and gas, specifically Enbridge's, needs before the people. And we're calling, specifically on Attorney General Schuette, saying that if the Attorney General wants to be our governor in the next election cycle then he really should start doing something to actually protect Pure Michigan and listening to the voices that have been calling for Line 5 to be shut down for years now,” she says.

She believes Enbridge is "lying" when calling the chance of failures in the line merely "hypothetical" despite being described as real in various studies.

 

 

 

 

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Michiganders have mixed views over the American Health Care Act

 

The Congressional Budget Office says the Republican bill to replace Obamacare would lead to 14 million fewer Americans with health insurance by 2018 and 24 million by 2026. Michigan League for Public Policy spokesperson Gilda Jacobs says there are concerns about 670-thousand folks losing their insurance coverage.

 

We don't know what's going to happen now with Medicaid expansion, the Affordable Care Act. I believe you just can't throw 650,000 people off of insurance.”

 

However, Congressman Bill Huizenga of Michigan apparently likes the American Health Care Act. In a statement he says it will reduce the deficit by $337 billion, cut taxes by $883 billion, and lower premiums by 10%. He also says he hopes those who are more interested in playing partisan political games reset their priorities and become constructive voices in the process.

 

 

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LeRoy man sent to hospital after accident in Mecosta County

 

Speed and snowy road conditions were factors in a car accident that sent one LeRoy man to the hospital in Mecosta County.

 

Deputies say the 24-year old driver was traveling on Northland Dr., south of 21 Mile Rd in Green Township, that's where the man lost control due to snowy roads causing the driver to leave the roadway and strike multiple trees.

 

The driver was transported to Spectrum Health Big Rapids for non-life threatening injuries. 

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BRPS launches new web site

 

Big Rapids Public Schools is launching a new web site. Accounts Coordinator and Marketing Director Jennifer Prince, who has headed up the initiative for a new web site, says it's big improvement over the old web site.

 

Our goal is for it to be user friendly where parents and students and faculty and staff can visit our page for more resources than maybe what they've had in the past.”

 

Each school now has its own home page with news, Face Book feeds, upcoming events, and calendars. A new feature is a feed from the Michigan High School Athletic Association that is updated hourly. Prince says users can now isolate information from each school individually making it easier for parents and students who are looking for information on their particular school.

 

Superintendent Tim Haist notes improvements for mobile users as well.

 

I think the format on the mobile is much better, much easier to navigate than it was before,” he says.

 

Prince agrees and adds there are more users with mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, coming to the site.

 

More often, our site is visited mobiley – I think it's like an 80/20 split.”

 

You can visit the new site at bigrapids.foxbrightcms.com.

 

 

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Scientists refute EPA stance on climate change

 

The scientific community still is reeling from comments made by EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, who said in an interview that carbon dioxide isn't a primary contributor to global warming. Noah Diffenbaugh, a professor at Stanford University's Woods Institute for the Environment, says climate change and humans' contributions to it are well known.

 

"To deny that scientific reality is not only a denial of evidence but it also threatens the security and safety of Americans because we are experiencing increasing occurrence of extreme events."

 

Diffenbaugh points to extreme weather events such as Hurricane Sandy and the California drought as examples of the increasingly severe and dangerous effects of climate change. Most of Michigan experienced the warmest February on record this year, and last week's massive windstorm that knocked out power to nearly one million people is being called one of the most significant weather events in state history.

 

 

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Snyder not on board with GOP healthcare plan

 

Governor Rick Snyder says he's against the GOP plan to overhaul the Affordable Care Act.

 

Snyder is particularly concerned about how the congressional plan would affect Medicaid, especially the Healthy Michigan program that enrolled more than 650,000 people who wouldn’t have coverage otherwise.

 

Snyder says he and other governors have tried to make their case, but have been ignored, and he fears the the Republican plan would be to drive up states’ Medicaid costs.

 

 

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Lobbyist spend big wining and dining Michigan legislators

 

Michigan lawmakers are eating well and lobbyists are picking up the tab.

 

A report from the Michigan Campaign Finance Network says lobbyists provided Michigan lawmakers with $690,681 in food and drinks in 2016.

 

Republican Mike Callton was at the top of he list disclosing $4,047 in lobbyist provided meals.

 

The average American household spent just $3,008 on eating out in 2015.

 

Governmental Consultant Services, a bipartisan lobbying firm based in Lansing, was the top purchaser for a third of Michigan’s legislature but because of Michigan’s disclosure laws, it is not known what interest groups the firm was representing when it met with lawmakers.

 

 

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Students hospitalized following truck-bus accident

 

Three people are recovering following an accident involving a school bus and a semi-truck Monday morning.

 

Police say the accident happened on M-115 in Clare County.

 

The school bus had 15 students from the Farwell Middle School on board.

 

Two students and the semi-truck driver were taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

 

The crash remains under investigation.

 

 

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Drunk driving accident leaves one man dead and another man in jail

 

One man is dead while another is behind bars on drunk driving charges after a fatal accident involving two vehicles in Isabella County.

 

It happened Sunday afternoon on Blanchard Road near Crawford Road in Lincoln Twp. Sheriff Michael Main says A 70-year-old Crystal man driving west bound on Blanchard crossed the center line and side swiped a Ford pickup that was traveling the opposite direction. The pickup lost control after being hit and went into the ditch, the vehicle then came back onto the road and rolled over several times before stopping.

 

The driver, a 46-Year-old Winn area man was thrown from the vehicle while it rolled. The man was pronounced dead at the scene.

 

The driver of the Intrigue that crossed the center line was not hurt, he was arrested at the scene for operating while impaired causing death. 

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Boon man charges with sex crimes in Wexford County

Up in Wexford County, State Police say they arrested a man who is a accused of sex crimes against a child.

 

37-year old Timothy Michael Morton of Boon was arraigned on four separate felony charges of first and second degree criminal sexual conduct, aggravated indecent exposure and third degree child abuse.

 

The charges stem from alleged events that occurred over a four year period, from 2012-2016 at a home in Wexford County.

 

Morton's bond was set at $250,000.

 

State Police say an extensive investigation is still taking place regarding this case. 

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UPDATE: Four people charged with meth lab in Isabella Co.

 

We now have an update on a story we reported to you earlier this week about a meth bust in Isabella County.

 

53-year old Samuel Tracy Wiborn of Deerfield Township, 29-year old Heather Lynn Romanow, of Howell, 31-year old Justen Howard Harris of Mt. Pleasant and 18-year old Dusten Charles Sadler of Six Lakes are all charged with multiple felony drug charges including operating a meth lab and possession of meth and ecstasy.

 

The group was arrested after officials from the Central Michigan Enforcement Team executed a search warrant a home they were at earlier this week. 

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Marijuana facility moves ahead, distribution system looks good

 

The village of Kingsley in Northern Michigan is one step closer to getting a medical marijuana factory. During this week's public meeting the company that wants to build the facility received a big show of support.

 

The Canadian companyTheraCann says the factory will create more than 100 jobs. The Downtown Development Authority analyzed the project based on the impact it would have to their economy and says the benefits outweigh the controversy. The village council will now make the final decision.

 

Meanwhile, Americans for Safe Access says Michigan has one of the best-run medical cannabis programs in the country. AFSA, whose mission is to ensure safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research, says our state earned a "B-plus" – the third-best program in the U.S., in terms of making it hassle-free for medical marijuana patients. Spokesperson Steph Sherer says people who use pot-for-pain deserve access to care, just like other people seeking medical treatment...

 

How easy is it for them to navigate that system – to go from their doctor recommending cannabis to them actually receiving the medication they need. [And] product safety protocols to make sure that the medicine that patients are getting are free of contaminates, pesticide, etc.”

 

Sherer hopes Michigan lawmakers can fast-track implementation its new regulated dispensary system.

 

 

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Great Lakes activists turn to Congress

 

Supporters of a Great Lakes cleanup program are taking their case to Congress.

 

Preliminary budget figures suggest the Trump administration may try to cut nearly all its funding and that contradicts the Trump campaign's pledge last fall to support the program.

 

The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition represents nearly 150 groups favoring the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

 

The program has received about $300 million a year since 2009.

 

But recently leaked documents say Trump's soon-to-be released budget might request only $10 million.

 

 

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AARP says new healthcare plan would hurt seniors

 

Republicans in Congress are touting their replacement bill for Obamacare as a cost-saving alternative, but those who work on behalf of older Americans are convinced it would weaken Medicare and put health insurance out of reach for millions.

 

The American Health Care Act would allow insurance companies to charge people in their 50s and early 60s five times as much as younger adults for premiums. The current cap is only three times as much. AARP is branding the difference an "age tax," and Lisa Dedden Cooper with AARP Michigan says it would hit the most vulnerable populations the hardest.

 

"Say you're a 64-year-old, but you are lower income, you're making $15,000 a year. With the changes under this legislation, your premiums would be expected to go up by $8,400 a year."

 

Republicans point out that the plan does include a tax credit that increases for older adults to help defray costs. But the legislation would also eliminate some other tax credits that have helped expand insurance coverage under the ACA. The American Hospital Association and the American Medical Association are among the groups also opposing the bill.

 

 

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Downstate man accused of sex crimes in Mecosta County

 

A downstate man accused of sex crimes in Mecosta County has been arrested and arraigned.

 

33-year old Daniel Carlson of Farmington Hills is accused of third degree criminal sexual conduct and obstruction of justice.

 

It's alleged back in October, Carlson took advantage of an incapacitated female victim during a party at a home in Morton Township.

 

Police arrested Carlson yesterday in Farmington Hills, and he was arraigned on both felony charges.

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Big Rapids Park and Rec Board welcomes new Recreation Coordinator

 

The City of Big Rapids has a new Receation Coordinator. The city's Park and Recreation Board welcomed Bryn Chesebro at Thursday's meeting.

 

I am doing just the recreation side of parks and rec. The Program Coordinator, so coordinating youth programs, adult programs, any kind of coordinating special event type of thing in the city is now my responsibility.”

 

Chesbro is not a Big Rapids native, but is familiar with the city having grown up in Morley where she attended Morley-Stanwood schools. She then went on to get her Bachelor's degree in Recreation in Event Management from Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant.

 

After graduating from CMU, Chesbro moved to Clearwater, Florida, where she spent a year as a youth sports coordinator, but decided it was too far from home. She moved back to Michigan and spent last season working for the Detroit Tigers and finally moved to Big Rapids when the position of the city's Recreation Coordinator became available.

 

Parks and Recreation Director Heather Bowman says that although Chesbro has only been with the city for a few weeks, she isn't wasting time.

 

She's wearing multiple hats and doing a great job – running full tilt.”

 

Bowman notes that Chesbro is already devoting a lot of time to the city's Spring Program, Girls on the Run, and is assuming the role of Farmer's Market Master, a position she had experience with in Mt. Pleasant.

 

 

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Vietnam vets may be eligible for more benefits

 

The Director of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency says Vietnam veterans in the state may be eligible for benefits they weren't eligible for before. James Redford says as a former member of the military he wants to make sure people are getting the help they need.
 

Thanks sister or brother for your service. And marine, airman, shipmate, soldier, merchant marine, thank you for the sacrifice you and your family made on behalf of this nation and this state.”


Redford says there are 242,000 Vietnam era vets in the state and they are possibly entitled to benefits they earned from their service. He says to get connected to state and federal benefits as well as local resources call 800-MICH-VET.

 

 

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Military spending increase poised for approval

 

The U.S. military is getting an increase in funding if legislation passes muster in the Senate.

 

The House of Representatives passed a $583.7 billion dollar appropriations bill for military operations on Wednesday.

 

Congressman John Moolenaar, who voted for the increase, says it includes a 2.1 percent pay increase for U.S. troops.

 

He adds the legislation gives troops the equipment they need to win on the battlefield and gives them and their families a well-deserved pay raise.

 

 

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Panel recommends abolishing Michigan's State Board of Education

 

A panel commissioned by Governor Rick Snyder says the State Board of Education should either be abolished or have its members appointed by the governor.

 

Currently the State BOE is elected as is not accountable to the governor.

 

His panel says this is part of the reason Michigan's education system is lagging behind.

 

The move requires voter approval of a constitutional amendment.

 

Michigan is one of only seven states that doesn’t allow the governor to appoint the state school superintendent or board members.

 

 

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Couple killed as tree falls on top of car while traveling in Clare Co.

 

A couple is dead following a car accident in Clare County's Freeman Township.

 

State Police say they responded to a single vehicle crash on M-115 near the Clare/Osceola County line.

 

Preliminary investigations reveal a car with 20-year old Maxwell Muessig of Midland and 23-year old Margaretta Potter of Jamestown, Rhode Island was traveling eastbound when a large tree was blown over by high winds onto the roof of the vehicle.

 

Both Muessig and Potter were pronounced dead at the scene. 

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High winds Wednesday knocked out power to over 1,600 Consumers Energy customers in Mecosta Co.

 

Some Mecosta County residents could be waiting a few days to get their power restored after Wednesday's high winds knocked out power across the state of Michigan.

 

Consumers Energy says due to the high winds that knocked down trees and power lines in Mecosta County, over 1,600 customers are without electricity.

 

They say crews have been assigned to restore power however due to the widespread severity of outages across the state, it could take until Saturday at 11pm to get it back.   

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Lawmakers react to new healthcare plan

 

Part of the repackaging of the Affordable Care Act is underway. Lawmakers like Congresswoman Debbie Dingell are getting their first look at the bill, and she doesn't like what she's seeing.

“Seniors are going to pay an age tax and the life of the Medicare trust fund is going to be shortened. It appears that older Americans are going to be forced to pay premiums five times higher than what other people are paying. We need to make sure that seniors even have access to affordable quality healthcare,” she says.

 

Dingell says she is praying that there are republicans who won't find the new plan acceptable.

 

West Michigan Republican Congressman Justin Amash says, "[The] new plan does not repeal/replace; it repackages Obamacare. It's a political plan that signals retreat, and will not reduce health care costs."

 

Congressman John Moolenaar says he supports efforts to repeal the ACA and is reviewing the new plan.

 

 

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Michigan gives more tax breaks to businesses

 

A new study by the Upjohn Institute says Michigan gives more tax breaks to businesses than the national average.

 

Senior economist Tim Bartik notes that running business incentives means there's not as much spent on public schools or individual tax cuts.

 

Michigan's legislature is currently debating the incentive programs which, Bartik says, are used mostly for development in urban areas.

 

 

 

 

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Power outage at Chippewa Hills

 

As of 1:30 this afternoon, Chippewa Hills High School has closed due to a power outage.

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Michigan women's group concerned over 'permitless gun carry' legislation

 

Today (Wednesday) is International Women's Day, and one group of Michigan women is marking the occasion by taking aim at what they believe would be a dangerous change to the state's gun laws. Two bills in the House would make Michigan the seventh state in the nation to allow people to carry concealed weapons in public places without a permit.

 

Emily Durbin with the Michigan chapter of "Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America" says if those bills pass, a person could carry a concealed weapon without background checks or the current eight-hour training for gun safety, live fire, and gun laws.

 

"All of those safeguards would be eliminated, and we think that's not smart. We think we have a permitting system in place for a very good reason, and that we think that would be a hazard to public safety if that gets dismantled."

 

Durbin says they're also concerned that the proposed changes would allow some people to carry concealed weapons who aren't currently allowed to carry firearms at all, including those convicted of past violent offenses. Supporters of the bills call Michigan's current permitting system "government overreach."

 

 

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four people arrested on meth charges

 

Three men and one woman were arrested on methamphetamine charges after officials from the Central Michigan Enforcement Team executed a search warrant at a home Monday in Isabella County.

 

Police say while executing a search warrant at a home they discovered a meth lab, components to make and distribute the drug and finished methamphetamine.

 

Three male suspects ranged in ages of 53 to 19-years old and a 29-year old woman were arrested on meth charges.

 

The identities of the suspects are being withheld pending arraignment. 

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Road relief on the way in Big Rapids Township

 

Big Rapids Township is getting some relief from rough roads – likely not as much as many people want, but some. The Township Board of Commissioners approved funding for paving parts of 190th Avenue and 14 Mile Road at Tuesday's Board meeting.

 

We are, finally. It has needed it for years and we saved up the money last year so we could put extra in this year and we can do that,” says Township Supervisor Bill Stanek. “We're talking two miles on 190th and about three-quarters of a mile on 14 Mile and it's about $428,000 total.”

 

Stanek says a timetable for the project isn't set yet, but he's hoping to see it done within the next few months.

 

That is up to the county when they can get to it. They have to bid this out yet for their paving for this year – maybe late summer – we're going to get ours in as quick as we can so that we can get it.”

 

He notes that Township officials are aware of problems with roads, especially this year.

 

I get a lot of complaints about the roads. That's the biggest complaint we get in the Township. I hear it at least three times a week [and] probably 85 percent of them were 190th Avenue this year.”

 

Other road projects, such as the gravel on 220th Avenue and paving Campus View Drive, are on the Board's radar and Stanek says they will be adding to the road millage from the general fund as much as possible every year to get them done.

 

 

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Michigan based groups vow to fight new travel ban

 

President Trump's revised travel ban is in place and at least two Michigan groups say they're ready to pick up the lawsuit filed against his first travel ban.

 

After suing in federal court to overturn the first executive order, the Michigan ACLU and the Arab-American Civil Rights League say they'll amend the lawsuit to fight the new order that targets migrants from six majority-Muslim countries, not seven — Iraq is now off the list.

 

It also exempts permanent U.S. residents and people with valid pre-existing visas.

 

 

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Secret bids in Lansing

 

Lawmakers in Lansing want to keep bids for state government work a secret.

 

A bill doing just that is nearing final approval in the Michigan Legislature.

 

Supporters say the legislation would prevent firms from using the Freedom of Information Act to access the bid information of competitors in order to win a state contract.

 

Companies’ trade secrets and other financial and proprietary information would be fully exempt from disclosure.

 

Critics say adding more exemptions to the open-records law is unwarranted and there are already privacy protections in place for firms seeking government work.

 

 

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Michigan ranked eighth highest in the nation for property taxes

 

Michigan is ranked 44th in the country when it comes to property taxes. Jill Gonzalez, with personal finance website Wallethub, says the average Michigan resident annually spends about $3,200 on property taxes.

 

Michigan has always been an outlier as far as taxes are concerned. We typically see that a lot of times, especially in the mid-western states, it tends to be the highest. As we've said before, it really has a lot of tax rates that are competitive with coastal states.”

 

On average, the typical American household spends nearly $2,200 annually on property taxes. Michigan is also one of 27 states with vehicle property taxes, causing residents to shell out an additional $150 annually for owning a car.

 

 

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Meijer food recall expanded

 

Meijer is expanding a recall of some of its food items.

 

The recall now includes Meijer brand Artisan Made Natural Muenster Cheese and Meijer’s pre-wrapped ham sub on an artisan white baguette due to a risk of listeria contamination.

 

The initial recall on February 10 included Meijer brand Colby and Colby jack cheese.

 

The recalled cheese has the expiration dates of March 28, May 13 and June 10 of this year and a UPC code of 8-86926 27573-5.

 

The recalled sub has sell by dates between Nov. 2, 2016 and Dec. 30, 2016 and a UPC code of 7-13733 76499-5.

 

 

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High winds in Mecosta County causing power outages

 

Over 500 Consumer's Energy customers in Mecosta County are without power due to high winds in the area.

 

Utility officials say electricity should be restored by 12:30pm in the affected area between 19-Mile Rd and 22-Mile Rd. in Green Township this afternoon. 

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Police in Isabella County identify two men in separate domestic assault cases

 

 

We now know the identities of two men who were involved in separate cases connected to alleged assaults of women over the weekend.

 

38-year old Joseph Cervantes of Riverdale was arraigned on felony charges of Domestic Assault, Resist and Obstruct and Interfere with Telecommunications device, that occurred during an incident at a residence on SW County Line Road Friday.

 

 

Meanwhile, 27-year old Morris Love of Mt. Pleasant was officially charged with Domestic Assault and Resist and Obstruct after an incident that occurred where he allegedly choked a Reed City woman on Kay Street Sunday in Union Township. 

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Big Rapids' Baldwin Street Bridge projects receives award, but falls short on lighting

 

The City of Big Rapids is receiving an award for the Baldwin Street Bridge project. The American Public Works Association is recognizing the the bridge as its 2017 Project of the Year in the category of $5M to $25M. However, the project didn't go quite far enough with respect to lighting says Big Rapids business owner Pat Currie.

 

We have these lights all the way to the bridge, across the bridge, and then it's dark. We've got Rails-To-Trails up there, we've got Wolverine, the biggest employer Big Rapids has had in years and they're adding on – what greater gift to them is to put lights all the way up to their factory?”

 

Currie told the Big Rapids Board of Commissioners at Monday's meeting that the situation is bad for business.

 

As a businessman, the first thing you want is lighting. We have not seen any development going on over there. We have some investors who possibly might be investing over there, but when they look at that they're going to say, 'This is dark, this is dangerous, why would we want to put money over here?'”

 

Mayor Mark Warba agrees with Currie and notes they've heard it before.

 

That's a comment that other people have expressed to us. When you look at the new lighting that went in as far as the bridge project, it looks good going to the west but not so good going to the east,” he says.

 

City Manager Mark Gifford is also aware of the issue and says he's already working on it.

 

I've got it on my list – I'm going to find out a number. We're going to find out how much that costs to do and whether or not, maybe then we could do it a little at a time, maybe that's an option or maybe it's a bigger project.”

 

Gifford adds the city would like to have extended the lighting from the bridge project further east on Baldwin Street but decided against it due to budget constraints in the original project.

 

 

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Laws curbing protesters unconstitutional expert says

 

In recent months, no less than 18 states have introduced – and, in some cases, actually voted on – legislation designed to curb mass protests, citing demonstrations at oil pipeline sites, airports and other public places. Supporters of such legislation, some of which is inspired by ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, say it's designed to protect public safety. Others say these proposals would have a chilling effect on the right to protest. Don Kettl, a senior fellow at The Brookings Institution, says the First Amendment could not possibly be more clear on this.

 

"Any effort in history, in the American republic, to try and restrain that has always been rejected. It's just hard for me to imagine there's any possible constitutional basis on which restrictions could be put on the ability of the people to gather, to talk among themselves, to demonstrate as they like, even in large numbers."

 

None of the proposed legislation actually has been passed into law, and some states have shelved legislative proposals of this sort. But Kettl says it's a moot point because such legislation would never pass constitutional muster.

 

 

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Study says most Michiganders believe environmental issues more important than economic growth

 

A new study from Michigan State University shows most residents in the state prefer policy makers to prioritize the environment over economic growth.

 

The premise of the question was they have to make a trade off, they have to prioritize one or the other. Now that may not always be the case with environmental issues, but we wanted to force people to make a hard choice,” says Associate Professor Daniel Bergan.

 

Fifty-nine percent of poll respondents favor protecting the environment, even if economic risks such as job loss were possible for doing so. Bergan says understanding citizens’ perceptions of the tradeoffs between policies and risks can help inform policy making decisions.
 

 

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Local lawmakers say Trump's plans for the Great Lakes jeopardize working families

 

Two congressmen from Michigan and one from Ohio are calling on President Trump to personally intervene to help protect the Great Lakes.

 

Bill Huizenga and Mike Bishop of Michigan and Marcy Kaptur of Ohio say actions by Trump delaying work by the Army Corp of Engineers on keeping Asian Carp and other invasive species out of the Great Lakes is jeopardizing the livelihood of working families in Michigan and across the Great Lakes Basin.

 

Business and shipping interests are saying the plans to keep invasive species out of the Great Lakes could hamper inland navigation.

 

A copy of a letter sent to President Trump by the law makers can be found at here.

 

 

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Riverdale man in jail on domestic violence charges

 

A 38-year old Riverdale man is behind bars on domestic violence charges after an incident in Isabella County.

 

During the confrontation, deputies say the Riverdale man became upset and tried to break the victim's cell phone as she attempted to retrieve her phone. The victim decided to leave the residence to get help and as she was getting her shoes she was pushed by the suspect down some steps. The victim then stated that suspect picked her up and brought her into another room and dropped her on the floor, so that she could not leave the residence.

 

The victim eventually got out of the residence and away from the suspect.

 

Deputies located and arrested the man on Culter Road.

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Mt. Pleasant man & Reed City woman arrested for assaulting each other

 

A 27-year old man from Mt. Pleasant and a 27-year old woman from Reed City were arrested over the weekend after assaulting each other.

 

Police say they were dispatched to 5000 East Kay Street in Union Twp. Police determined that the Reed City woman had slapped the Mt. Pleasant man and in return he grabbed her by the throat.

 

As the deputies spoke with the male suspect he became belligerent and attempted to leave the scene. Deputies advised him that he was under arrest. The Mt. Pleasant man resisted and deputies were forced to use a taser.

 

The female that slapped the man was also arrested.

 

The suspect's names are being withheld pending arraignment. 

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Literacy at a crisis point in the Big Rapids area

 

Literacy, or lack of it, is a big problem in the Big Rapids area. To help combat the situation, SLD Read is teaming up with the Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School District to put on a Literacy Summit this Tuesday.

SLD Read Education Services Specialist Suzanne Finney says more people need to be aware of the problem before it can be tackled.

 

The main purpose [of the summit] is to make people aware of the state of literacy, which is at a crisis point in our community and across our state.”

 

She notes that Michigan is not faring well in basic reading when compared with the rest of the U.S.

 

If you look at the NAEP score, which is the National Assessment of Educational Progress, in Michigan we ranked 42nd in the nation in reading.”

 

And, this doesn't bode well for the future of children in the Big Rapids area.

 

Here in this county, our students are scoring above the state level, which is about a 50 percent proficient on the state tests, but that's not enough for employability,” she says. “And we have one out of four of our students who will struggle with reading because of a language based difficulty. Sometimes we call it dyslexia, but it could be other things as well.”

 

The summit is being held at 6:30 pm this Tuesday in the Miller Wing of the MOISD Career Center at 15830 190th Avenue in Big Rapids. There will be presentations by MOISD Early Literacy coaches and consultants along with information booths highlighting various Local Literacy Projects happening in our community. You can call the Career Center at 231-796-5805 for more information.

 

 

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Ospreys get a new home in Big Rapids Township courtesy of Consumers Energy

 

A pair of osprey are getting a new home in Big Rapids Township. This weekend, Consumers Energy donated

a 65 foot pole and crew time to move an osprey nest from its original location on M20 and 180th Avenue to a new location about 100 feet away.

 

Right now the nest is perched on top of a pole with a voltage of 4,800 volts so, that's a little precarious,” says Senior Public Information Director Roger Morgenstern.

 

Consumers is working with Boy Scout Pack 3600 out of Breckenridge who designed and built the osprey nesting box that sits atop the new pole. The scouts earn a merit badge for the project and learn about the osprey while helping the environment.

 

The osprey like the crossarms of power poles, so it's a common place for them to nest,” says Morgenstern.

 

The scouts are building more nesting boxes to move osprey's off power poles in other locations across Michigan. Morgenstern notes it took crews about three hours to complete the job, which was their first in the state.

 

They're going to take some of the nesting material and put it on the new platform with the hopes that when the osprey come back, in probably about a month – they usually come back in early April, that they'll transfer to their new home and nest and like their new surroundings which will be safer for the osprey.”

 

It took the crews a little over three hours to complete the job, partly because the nest was frozen to the pole with about a yard’s worth of frozen dirt in the nest, along with sticks and trash, from bungee cords to plastic bags and duct tape. Morgenstern adds the project is part of Consumers' philosophy of “leaving it better than we found it.”

 

We're creating a better habitat for the osprey while at the same time, on our day job running the utility, we're improving the voltage and the reliability of the power here east of the city of Big Rapids.”

 

He says the $550,000 project will increase the voltage on about two miles of electric line from 4,000 volts to 7,200 volts to meet the growing energy needs of the Big Rapids area.

 

 

 

 

 

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Moolenaar reacts to AG Sessions' recusal on investigating Russian election interference

 

Michigan Congressman John Moolenaar says it's an important step toward ensuring the FBI’s investigation is independent and has the trust of the American people.

 

This after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from any current and future investigations into foreign interference in the 2016 election.

 

During his Senate confirmation hearing, Sessions failed to disclose two pre-election meetings with Russia's ambassador to Washington, at a time when Moscow was accused of interfering in the presidential race.

 

Other lawmakers are calling for Sessions' resignation, accused him of lying to Congress.

 

 

 

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Police searching for hit and run suspect in Morley

 

The Mecosta County Sheriff's Office is asking for help in apprehending a hit and run driver in Morley.

 

Deputies say a light blue 4 door passenger car was traveling southbound on Cass St. near Second St. at around 11:00 am on Friday before it jumped the curb and struck a power pole.

 

The vehicle then struck a mailbox before continuing southbound on Northland Dr.

 

The vehicle should have front end damage and anyone able to identify the vehicle or the driver should contact Deputy John Bongard at the Mecosta County Sheriff Office at 231-592-0150.

 

 

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DEQ extends public comment portion on Nestle Waters application to increase water pumping from well in Osceola County

 

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is holding a public hearing April 12 on a draft permit to allow

 

Nestle Ice Mountain to increase the amount of groundwater it pumps from the headwaters of two coldwater trout streams in Osceola County.

 

TheDEQ will accept public comment until 5 p.m. on April 21 on Nestle's application to boost pumping on the well northwest of Evart to 400 gallons-per-minute -- the third extension of public review since November. 

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Michigan based campaign aims to show economic benefits of immigrants

 

A new effort is underway to answer the federal government's new actions against the immigrant population. Steve Tobocman, the head of the Michigan based "Champions for Growth" campaign says the effort will showcase what immigrants bring to the region's economy.
 

They're more likely to start businesses, more likely to run their businesses – that's particularly true in the high tech sector where a third of all Michigan companies created over the last couple of decades had at least one immigrant founder.”

 

Tobocman adds that recent executive orders signed by President Trump have caused alarm throughout the immigrant community, as well as for business leaders and economic development groups who work with immigrants.

 

 

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Human trafficking advocates aim to change laws involving cops and prostitutes

 

Police in Michigan cannot be prosecuted if they have sex with a prostitute during an investigation.

 

The old law means it's possible for investigators to have sex with human trafficking victims in the commercial sex industry without facing punishment according to U of M's Human Trafficking Clinic director Bridgette Carr.

 

She says when the law was written, it gave law enforcement all the power they needed to investigate prostitution, but no one thought to go back and carve out a prohibition against sexual intercourse.

 

Carr is working with legislators to get the law changed.

 

 

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Paid sick leave may be coming for Michigan workers

 

Michigan lawmakers are working on legislation that would give workers paid sick leave whether they are part-time or full-time. State Representative Stephanie Chang is a bill sponsor.

 

Our bill basically helps make sure that every single worker in Michigan has access to earned, paid sick time. For every 30 hours that you would work, you would get one hour of paid sick leave and this would accrue over time for each year,” she says.

The time would accrue up to 40 hours for a small business and up to 72 hours for large businesses. A 2016 study by the Michigan League for Public Policy shows that 44 percent of Michigan workers cannot take time off if they or a family member become ill.

 

 

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Michigan congresswoman reacts to Trump's speech and the ACA

 

Michigan U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell says she's concerned about President Trump's ideas for the Affordable Care Act, as mentioned in his address to congress Tuesday night.

“I like to hear him say it's important that we ensure that people with preexisting conditions are able to have coverage, and yet the proposals that we've seen so far are not really providing that in reality. And, for me, we've got to not make the Affordable Care Act a war of political words between two parties – it's real people.”

 

Dingell says she also says we DO need comprehensive immigration reform, but there are "far more violent crimes committed by Americans." Meantime, Republican Congressman, Jack Bergman, of Michigan, says he liked what he heard from Mr. Trump.

 

 

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Moolenaar praises rollback on part of Clean Water Act

 

A measure has been signed by the president to rescind a major Obama administration water regulation and direct an end to the government's defense of the rule. The Waters of the United States rule expanded the number of waterways that are federally protected under the Clean Water Act. The rule has faced intense opposition from farmers, energy companies and Republicans in Congress, including Michigan congressman John Moolenaar.

“By withdrawing this and then promising to work towards a rule based on sound science and common sense, this really assures farmers and landowners that we're going to have a new process where permits will [be] required and best practices will be followed,” he says.

 

Withdrawal of the act will likely face court challenges from some state attorneys general and environmental groups.
 

 

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MSP cracks down on left lane drivers

 

You may want to start paying more attention to those signs that say “Keep right except when passing” on the freeway.

 

Michigan State Police say they are cracking down on drivers who use the left lane of the highway for general travel.

 

Slower drivers that stay in the left lane are violating state vehicle code and, too often, are the cause of road rage incidents.

 

Troopers say their main focus will be on US-131 in Kent and Montcalm counties.

 

 

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UPDATE: Mecosta County Deputy passes away from cancer

 

Mecosta County Sheriff Todd Purcell announced Wednesday morning Deputy Jason Wieber a 16 year veteran of the sheriff's office, passed away from his battle with cancer. 

 

Purcell said Wieber was a great deputy and a even better family man. "Jason was a caring man, anyone that needed help around the office, Jason was always there. " He had alot of friends in the community and alot of people respected him as a deputy here at the sheriff's office, Jason will be greatly missed," Purcell said. 

 

Wieber is survived by his wife and son.

 

Visitation for Wieber is set for 5 to 7 p.m. today, March 2 and Friday, March 3, 2017 at Daggett Gilbert Funeral Home, 13985 Northland Dr., in Big Rapids. Funeral services will be at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 4, 2017, at Trinity Fellowship Evangelical-Free Church, 15085 220th Ave., in Big Rapids.

 

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Charlie Wieber Educational fund.

 

 

 

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Refinery fire leads to increased gas prices overnight in Michigan

 

Look out for a jump at the pump. The website GasBuddy.com is reporting drastically higher gas prices across the Great Lakes, with prices in Michigan hitting $2.55 a gallon.

 

Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan says this trend likely marks the beginning of the season's road to higher summer gas prices.

 

He says a fire at PBF's Toledo refinery may also result in reduced capacity to motor fuels and could have an additional impact on price.

 

DeHaan is hopeful we won't see the same 90 cent increase in gas prices we saw last year. 

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