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Big Rapids Daily News

BR Commissioners provided update on Roben Hood Runway extension

The Big Rapids City Commission was provided an update on the runway extension at Roben Hood Airport. 

The extension would be from a 4,300 foot runway to a 5,000 foot runway. 

Airport Manager Steve Schroeder told the commission its been a process but he's hoping to get a to a resolution sooner than later. 

"I was hoping to come before you with really good news from the FAA and that everything is a green light however I haven't gotten that call but I think that will come at any day now." Schroeder said.  

Schroeder told the commission there were a few hiccups but everything is up to date on the process. 

"We did a justification study back in October, we then had to make some revisions and then resubmitted in November and the FAA then justified the $1.8 million dollar earmark." 

"We were still $1.2 million dollars short, so we went back to the drawing board and got an excellent letter of support from Ferris State University President Dr. Bill Pink's Office explaining the benefits this extension would provide to them from academics to athletics and alumni coming in. " Schroeder said. 

He said the letter was sent to the FAA on March 16th and he heard from MDOT on Monday, so they are now just waiting on the FAA to make its decision in regards to the rest of the funding. 

Schroeder added they have a short timeline when it comes to its environmental assessment which takes 12 months to complete. He also said he hopes to get contracts to commissioners for construction within the next couple of meetings so they can start in 2024. 









Two children die in Wexford County vehicle/ buggy crash

Two children have died in an Amish buggy accident.


It happened Monday morning in Cedar Creek Township, north of Cadillac. A horse drawn buggy crossed traffic and was hit by a vehicle.


An 11-year-old girl and 7-year-old boy were ejected from the buggy and died on the scene.


Deputies say a 9-year-old was airlifted to Devos Childrens Hospital in Grand Rapids. They were listed as having serious injuries.


The Wexford County Sheriff's Office notes the driver and passengers were not hurt, and speed is not believed to be a factor.

Big Rapids City Commissioners to discuss airport runway extension and review city charter

The Big Rapids City Commission meets tonight at City Hall to discuss issues and approve resolutions.


During study session, Commissioners will get an update from Roben Hood Airport Manager Steve Schroeder on the runway expansion and where it currently stands. They will also discuss the the city's charter and possible changes to it.


In general business, commissioners will discuss and act on resolutions including approving grant application submissions for Swede Hill Skate Park and accepting the Drinking Water Asset Management (DWAM) Grant Application. Commissioners will also act on a resolution adopting the City of Big Rapids Economic Development Strategy.


The meeting begins at 6:30pm.


To see other items on the agenda scroll down: 


Act on the minutes of regular meeting of March 6, 2023.
a. Charter Revision
– Tamyra K. Gillis, City Clerk
b. Runway Extension Update - Steve Schroeder, Airport Manager
– None
10. GENERAL BUSINESS. (Regarding public comment, anyone may speak on an item of
general business. Please rise and wait to be recognized.)
a. Grants
i. Resolution Authorizing Submission of a Michigan Department of Natural
Resources (DNR) Recreation Passport Grant Application for the Swede Hill
Skatepark Project.
ii Resolution Accepting the Drinking Water Asset Management (DWAM) Grant
b. Resolution Awarding Bid for 2023 Construction Season Maintenance Materials and
c. Resolution Adopting the City of Big Rapids Economic Development Strategy.

d. Resolution Approving a Third Amendment to Site Lease for Verizon.
e. Resolution on Mayoral Appointments to Boards and Commissions.

*** f. Ordinance Amending Section 50.14 in Title X Chapter 50 of the Big Rapids City

Code of Ordinances – Polycarts.

11. UNSCHEDULED BUSINESS – (Commission Concerns/Reports)
12. WORK SESSION – Ethics Policy – Commissioner Jennifer Cochran

***Agenda items requiring a 4/5 Vote.

Mecosta County Sheriff's Office Blotter: 3/17-3/20



At 1:34pm, deputies made a traffic stop on Northland/Jefferson in Aetna TWP.  The stop resulted in female driver being arrested for Operating While Intoxicated.  She was lodged at the Mecosta County Jail.


Calls for service 12



At 11:30pm, deputies made a traffic stop on Maple/Warren in Big Rapids Twp. The stop resulted in a male driver being arrested for Operating While Intoxicated.   


Traffic accidents 4

Calls for service 14



No reported incidents



At 12:51pm, deputies responded to a domestic at a residence in Morton TWP.   Male subject was arrested after assaulting someone in the residence and making threats to shoot people in the residence.  He was lodged at the Mecosta County Jail.


Calls for service 22

Traffic accidents 2

Car/deer accidents 1

Ferris State celebrates opening of new athletics complex

 Ferris State University officially celebrated the grand opening of the Center for Athletics Performance and Bulldog Arena with a special ceremony held in conjunction with Bulldog Volleyball's alumni game on Sunday (March 19) at the Ewigleben Sports Complex.


A project intended to fortify Ferris' student-athletes and advance its programs into the future, the Center for Athletics Performance was officially approved in February of 2021 as part of a $15.3 million upgrade to the Bulldogs' Athletic Facilities. The upgrades now offer championship-caliber training and conditioning facilities to the nearly 400 Bulldog student-athletes and 17 varsity programs.


Sunday's events included guest speakers such as FSU President Dr. Bill Pink, Athletics Director Steve Brockelbank, Bulldog Football alum and donor Luke Piepkow along with FSU Volleyball head coach Tia Brandel-Wilhelm, head strength and conditioning coach Andrew Thiede and volleyball student-athlete Syann Fairfield.


Following the speakers, a special ribbon cutting ceremony took place outside the entrance to Bulldog Arena and FSU student-athletes led tours thru the new facility and upgrades in addition to photo opportunities followed by the alumni volleyball match and reception.


The opening of the Center for Athletics Performance and Bulldog Area was part of a multi-phase renovation and construction project which included not only a new and expanded strength and conditioning space, but also a new multipurpose arena and competition space for the volleyball program and practice area for other sports, additional and renovated locker room facilities along with team meeting spaces. Further, the project features a new connector and entrance to athletic facilities and renovations to offices and the sports medicine area.


Along with the Center for Athletics Performance, the new and renovated locker room facilities along with the sports medicine area were opened during preseason camp in August. The addition of office space overlooking the CAP was completed soon after with the construction of the new Bulldog Arena and team meeting spaces finished late this past fall.


Granger Construction oversaw the subcontracting firms, who took up approximately 7,200 square feet of renovation work and the development of nearly 16,000 square feet of new construction to create the Center for Athletics Performance. This work included the new home for the volleyball program, Bulldog Arena, in addition to a new entry and connector space.


The Center for Athletics Performance provides student-athletes with increased space for strength and conditioning, cardio work, training and nutrition.


The Ewigleben Sports Complex was originally constructed in 1974 with the former volleyball arena, which was transformed into the new Center for Athletics Performance, added on in 1982. Ferris State built Jim Wink Arena off the existing structure in 1999 and renovations to the ice arena were last made in 2007. The new Bulldog Arena addition will sit to the east side of the main concourse near both the existing Ewigleben Ice Arena and Wink Arena.

Police in Mecosta County need help to identify this woman


The Mecosta County Sheriff's Office is asking for help to identify a woman, who's accused of being involved in an incident in Green Township.


The alleged incident happened Saturday night. If you know who this person is, contact Sgt. Darcy Mann at 231-592-0150. 



Deputies in Osceola Co. investigating Pine River bus crash

The Osceola County Sheriff's Office is investigating why a school bus with Pine River students crashed Thursday morning in Burdell Twp.


It happened on on 18 Mile Road and 185th Avenue.


Sheriff deputies say the Pine River School Administration was notified immediately and activated their response plan.


At the scene, students reported no injuries initially and were transported to Pine River High School.

Once at the high school, Osceola County EMS began evaluating students that were complaining of injuries or sickness from the crash.


This incident is still under investigation by the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office.

Evart Public Schools put on lockdown Thursday due to threat

It was a scary time for parents and students at Evart High School Thursday as the school district went into lockdown due to a threat at the high school.


Evart High School Principal Jessica Kolenda said in a press release, the district went into lockdown because of a threat of a weapon. In her statement, Kolenda said after being notified of the threat, law enforcement was called. Officers were then able to track the student's movements using security cameras and conduct systematic searches of the building to ensure that the building was safe.


Kolenda then thanked everyone who assisted with the investigation and went on to say in her statement that EPS take these threats very seriously and wants to assure everyone that their first priority in an emergency situation is to ensure that the students are safe and secure end quote.


To read the statement by EHS Principal Kolenda scroll down: 


Ferris State Football National Championship Parade This Saturday In Big Rapids

Ferris State University, in conjunction with the city of Big Rapids and the Downtown Business Association, will hold a special "National Championship Parade & Celebration" honoring the Bulldogs' 2022 NCAA Division II Football National Championship team this Saturday, March 18, in downtown Big Rapids.


All Bulldog fans, supporters and community members are invited to come out and celebrate FSU's second consecutive NCAA Division II National Championship with the Bulldog team and university community.


The parade will begin in downtown Big Rapids on Michigan Avenue at 12 p.m. (ET) and run from the South to North, starting at the Big Rapids Public Library and ending near city hall. Members of FSU's national championship team will be featured in the parade along with other FSU student-athletes and teams, local fire and police vehicles, the FSU dance team, cheer team and more.


Near the end of the parade route, a special recognition and proclamation ceremony will take place in front of Horizon Bank in downtown Big Rapids featuring special speakers such as Big Rapids Mayor Fred Guenther, FSU President Dr. Bill Pink, Athletic Director Steve Brockelbank, head coach Tony Annese and others.


The festivities will continue following the parade until 2 p.m. (ET) and the general public will have an opportunity to greet the national championship team, get autographs, take photos with the national championship trophy and more in the lot near city hall on North Michigan Avenue. The downtown area from Maple Street to Pine Street will be blocked off until the event concludes and local business restaurants and establishments are expected to be open for dining and retail shopping.


All FSU students and campus faculty and staff along with the general public, community members and supporters are invited to attend the parade and celebration to help honor the Bulldogs' back-to-back NCAA Division II National Championship team and staff.


The Bulldogs capped off a second-straight national championship with a decisive 41-14 win over the Colorado School of Mines on Dec. 17 in McKinney, Texas, finishing the year with a 14-1 overall record.

Reed City Police Blotter: 3/6-3/11

The liaison officer gave citations to 3 High School students for vaping on school grounds.

Tuesday …3/7
An Officer observed snow plowed in a manner that blocked the sidewalk in two different locations. Notice to remove the snow were given to both locations.

Wednesday …3/8
An Officer was dispatched to a residence, where a domestic assault had happened the previous night. The caller had found a pistol. After investigation, the pistol is found to be unregistered and charges have been requested on the owner.

Thursday …3/9
The School Liaison Officer was dispatched to assist with a student that was acting disorderly during one of the morning pickups stops. The student attempted to assault the driver and another passenger and damaged the vehicle and another vehicle. The situation was deescalated. Since the juvenile violated probation, he was transported to a detention facility.

The school liaison officer issued a citation to a teen for being in possession of marijuana. Since it was also a violation of probation, her probation officer was notified.

Officers arrested a 44yr old male for absconding from parole and for having an outstanding warrant for failing to appear in court on a traffic violation.

An Officer took a complaint in reference to a possible inoperable vehicle in violation of city ordinance.

Friday …3/10
An Officer took a complaint in reference to a possible inoperable vehicle in violation of city ordinance.

An Officer took a complaint in reference to a possible inoperable vehicle in violation of city ordinance. An abatement notice was served.

An Officer took a report from an individual reporting that some of his property was missing from his vehicle after being towed. The item was located and returned to the owner.

An Officer was dispatched with CPS to a residence regarding a domestic dispute between mother and son. Charges have been requested on both.

An Officer responded to a call about a male hanging out at an apartment complex. The individual had nowhere to go. The responding officer contacted the individual and after investigation, the officer took him to a safe place to spend the night.


An Officer responded to the Reed City Hospital out of an abundance of caution since an assault victim from another county was being treated and the suspect had not been located. Once the victim was transferred out to another medical facility the officer cleared without incident.

Saturday …3/11
Officers served a trespass notice on a male following a prior disturbance at an apartment complex. He was advised if found on the property he could be arrested for trespassing.

The Making of a State Champion

For the first time since 1991, a Reed City Coyote outlasted the state’s best on the wrestling mat.

By the virtue of a 5-3 sudden victory in overtime, senior Bryson Hughes defeated Constantine’s Troy
Demas to claim the Division 3 State Championship in the 190-pound weight class.

“(It feels) pretty good,” Hughes said. “It’s a lot and at first, I didn’t know how to handle it.”

Hughes finished his season with a 50-2 record, improving on his fourth place finish a year ago. What
many might not know is Hughes wrestled in the 2022 state meet with an injured shoulder from football.

Following last year’s exit from the bracket, Hughes made a bold claim to his coach that created an
incredible story concluding his career: “We were walking out of Ford Field and he had his arm around me,” Head coach Roger Steig said. “He said ‘Coach, I’ll be back next year with a healthy shoulder and we’ll win this thing.’ It couldn’t have turned out any better.”

When I asked the 2023 State Champion Bryson Hughes about the time he knew he could become a state champion, he mentioned qualifying for states in 2021 as a sophomore and how that gave him the confidence to reach the state’s top mark in 2023.

Hughes finishes his career as a Coyote with 158 wins, which ranks seventh all time in school history.
Along with two state finalist finishes, he also earned three CSAA conference championships and all-
conference honors four times.

While the awards will certainly be remembered, Coach Steig said he’ll remember Bryson by his

“I think that is what made him elite,” Steig said. “He’s not only a very gifted athlete, but he’s extremely
coachable. A good example of this was before the championship match. Back at the hotel, we studied film on the guy he’d wrestle at finals and I gave him a game plan. It was going to change his style and
technique of wrestling at the highest level for a state championship. He was willing to do that and he
couldn't have done any better.”

As an inspiration to many, Hughes’ advice to those that want to reach his accomplishment: Always work.

“It’s gonna be hard. It’s gonna be tough. Never stop working, because one day you will succeed.”

While Hughes’ wrestling career has come to an end, the talented athlete will look forward to his next
chapter after signing with Olivet College to play football; but from now on, he’ll always be remembered as a Reed City Coyote State Champion Wrestler.

MDOT: Signal installation begins next week; road work starts May 8th in Big Rapids


Michigan Department of Transportation officials say road crews will begin phase one work next week on a signal installation on State Street at Gilbert Road. 


It starts Monday, March 20th at 8am and runs through April 7th. 


Phase two, officials say will resurface 5.75 miles of US-131 Business Route and M-20 in the city of Big Rapids which begins May 8th.


This $4.3 million project includes concrete joint repairs, concrete curb and gutter, sidewalks, and the installation of a new traffic signal at State Street and Gilbert Road.


The project is scheduled to be complete by July. 



Stanwood woman struck by vehicle at Coppertop store Tuesday

A 74-year old Stanwood woman is recovering after being hit by a vehicle in the parking lot of the Coppertop store.


Mecosta County deputies say the 74-year old woman was walking back to her vehicle in the parking lot when a 59-year old Morley man pulled into the lot making a U-Turn around the gas pumps and didn't see the Stanwood woman, striking her with his vehicle. 


She was taken to Corewell Health BR for Non-life threatening injuries. 

Local manufacturer to expand and hire more employees

A local manufacturer is looking to expand and hire more people. 

Last week, the Big Rapids City Commission granted a tax abatement for Big Rapids Products properties located at 525, 535 and 625 North DeKrafft Ave over the span of 12 years.  

According to Aaron Thompson, Vice President of Sales at BR Products, the tax abatement will allow for the $3-million dollar expansion to build a new facility for warehousing, packing and inspection. 

“We are looking to expand the DeKrafft Avenue facility to bring more business to Big Rapids.” Thompson said. 

The expansion will also add 60 more new hires to the current 300 employees who already work at Big Rapids Products locally.  

“Big Rapids Products is a vital partner of this community and is very much needed and wanted in our industrial park.” Big Rapids City Manager Mark Gifford told the commission.  

Mecosta County Community Development Director Kelly Wawsczyk added to what Gifford told the commission saying BR Products is a great business for the area.

 “They have gone above and beyond to create a culture that really shows their investment in their employees, between the full benefits package, to an on-site facility to take care of medical needs, cornhole they can play during lunch and a great café that provides fresh made food and a place they can decompress and take a break. When it comes to talent, they don’t struggle with that because they provide such a great culture.” Wawsczyk said. “So filling those new additional positions won’t be an issue.” 

Lake County Shooting suspect arrested by police in the Muskegon area

A suspect involved in a Lake County shooting has been arrested following a police chase. 


The Lake County Sheriff's Office says 40-year old Alton James Corbin was taken into custody today after a vehicle pursuit, driving a stolen vehicle, in the Muskegon area.


Corbin is accused of shooting a 33-year old man at a home in Webber Township Friday night. 


When deputies arrived at the scene, they found the victim on the ground with a gunshot wound to the stomach. He was taken to the hospital for treatment. 



Police in Montcalm County looking for 'Hit and Run' suspect

Police in Montcalm County are on the lookout for a suspect and a SUV they say was involved in a hit and run crash involving a pedestrian walking on the shoulder of the road last week.


It happened March 7th, on Hillman Road north of Stanton Road in Douglass Township. Deputies say a 66-year-old man from Stanton was walking southbound on Hillman Road, when he was struck by a southbound vehicle. They say the southbound vehicle crossed the center line and continued onto the shoulder where the man was walking. 


The man was taken to Corewell Health United Hospital in Greenville for treatment for his injuries.


The suspect vehicle has been described as a sport utility vehicle, believed to be a Chevrolet/General Motors product, missing its driver’s side mirror.  Anyone with information is urged to contact the Montcalm County Sheriff’s Office.

Police pull 15-year old from underneath ORV in Fork Township

A 15-year old girl from Walker was taken to the hospital after being pinned underneath an ORV in Mecosta County Saturday.


It happened in Fork Township, deputies say thats where someone was driving a Polaris side-by-side on 18 Mile Road near 60th Avenue. It rolled over, trapping a 15-year-old girl underneath.


A deputy, and with help from the driver, were able to lift the ORV and pull her from it.


The victim was taken to Helen DeVos Children's Hospital with non-life threatening injuries, and officials say the driver and other passenger was left uninjured.


Sheriff Brian Miller warns to always wear a helmet, eye protection and other safety equipment when operating ORV's or other recreational vehicles.


He also says that parents should make children take ORV, snowmobile and other boater safety courses before they drive them.


Hospice of Michigan seeking volunteers in Big Rapids

By mid-February, most people have abandoned their New Years resolutions, but Hospice of Michigan believes it’s not too late to start something new in 2023. For those looking for opportunities to get more involved in their community, the not-for-profit is seeking compassionate volunteers to help patients and families dealing with life-limiting illnesses throughout Big Rapids and surrounding communities.


The not-for-profit has a specific need for area residents who can make a real difference in the lives of others by providing the following services:


  • Caregiver relief volunteers to allow a caregiver to get away for a few hours and recharge.
  • Companionship volunteers, who visit patients living at home or in a facility setting to offer comfort and company.
  • Veteran volunteers, who visit patients who are fellow veterans.


“Hospice volunteers provide so much more than a social visit – they offer companionship, conversation and comfort during one of life’s most vulnerable times,” said Megan Cadle, volunteer program manager at Hospice of Michigan. “If you’re considering getting involved in your community, I urge you to consider becoming a volunteer with Hospice of Michigan. You never know the impact you can have on someone’s life.”


All volunteers are required to complete orientation, background checks and fingerprinting prior to volunteering. Volunteers must also be age 18 or older and have received the COVID-19 vaccine. For those who have experienced a recent loss, Hospice of Michigan requires a waiting period of one year before becoming a hospice volunteer to allow for the processing of grief.


Hospice of Michigan volunteers are vital in helping to deliver exceptional, compassionate support to patients and families according to its mission of caring for patients wherever they call home, right in the same community in which its volunteers live.


Those interested in volunteering can contact Megan Cadle at 616-356-5233 or to apply to become a volunteer. To learn more about Hospice of Michigan and apply to become a volunteer, visit

Ferris State recognized for its online graduate nursing program, a guide for healthcare students and working nursing professionals, included Ferris State University’s Master of Science in Nursing degree among the 25 best programs in the nation at 21st.


Ferris’ bridge program for registered nurses has concentrations in Nursing Education, Nursing Administration and Nursing Informatics, according to MSN program coordinator Stephanie Gustman, an associate professor in the School of Nursing. She said the online curriculum is accessible anytime to accommodate and inform nurses in the field.


“We know these students are adults with jobs and busy lives,” Gustman said. “We strive to be supportive and accommodating in all regards, so they can accomplish their goals while serving in the profession.” cites Ferris’ success in providing a return on investment for MSN Nursing students. Ninety percent advance to a leadership position in the nursing field within six months of graduation. Gustman said Ferris’ Nursing faculty take coursework through a continuous improvement and review process.


“We incorporate information on current healthcare issues as they relate to best outcomes in practice, along with topics related to global health trends as part of our learning,” Gustman said. “Obviously, considerations related to COVID-19 have been a primary focus during these last few years.”


Ferris’ College of Health Professions has entered other initiatives recently to help address workforce demands and nursing shortages. The university signed an affiliation agreement with MedStar, an Illinois-based nonprofit focused on assisting international nursing students to enhance their credentials and receive training to support healthcare workforce development. Also, a third cohort has been added to the university’s five-semester prelicensure Nursing program, so 96 students are accepted annually.

Drug investigation leads to two arrests at Aetna Township home

The Mecosta County Sheriff's Office says two people were arrested following a drug investigation. 


After receiving multiple tips on from the community regarding the suspects being involved in the selling of methamphetamine, deputies conducted an operation where a purchase of methamphetamine was made an Aetna Township residence.


A search warrant was executed on the residence where deputies had to make a forcible entry due to the suspects not cooperating. An initial sweep of the residence revealed the female suspect, identified as Wendy Sue Williams and her 14-year-old son.


Wendy Williams was taken into custody and the juvenile was led from the residence to be turned over to family members. The second suspect, Christopher Williams, was later located by deputies hiding in a closet. He was taken into custody after a short struggle where force was used to effect the arrest including the use of a taser.

Both suspects were transported to the Mecosta County Jail and lodged on multiple charges stemming from the distribution of methamphetamine as well as resisting / obstructing officers. They were arraigned in the 77th District Court on their charges.

Christopher Lee Williams, was formally charged with: Violation of Controlled Substance Act - Methamphetamine – Deliver, Violation of a Controlled Substance Act - Crystal Meth, Deliver, Violation of Controlled Substance Act - Methamphetamine – Possess, and Obstructing Police - Resisting Officer. His bond was set at $150,000.00 Cash/Surety.

Wendy Sue Williams, was formally charged with: Violation of Controlled Substance Act - Methamphetamine – Deliver, Violation of Controlled Substance Act - Methamphetamine – Possess, and Obstructing Police - Resisting Officer. Her bond was set at $10,000.00 - 10% Bond.

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