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Big Rapids Daily News

After outbreaks of COVID-19 were linked to crowded bars, Governor Gretchen Whitmer is rolling things back, signing an executive order closing indoor service at bars throughout most of lower Michigan.


The governor also signed a package of bills allowing cocktails-to-go at bars and restaurants to help these businesses serve more Michiganders during this time.


Over the past week, every region in Michigan has seen an uptick in new cases, and nearly 25% were of people ages 20 to 29 with major outbreaks in cities like East Lansing and Kalamazoo.


Regions 6 and 8, which include the Upper Peninsula and much of northern Michigan, are excluded from the order, and bars statewide can continue to serve outdoors.


A Freeland man is dead following a two vehicle accident in Osceola County Monday evening.


Sheriff Ed Williams said in a press release that Richard Henry Barton was traveling eastbound on 3 Mile Rd just after 6:15pm when he disregarded the stop sign on 3 Mile at 30th Ave.


He then collided with a dump truck that was traveling northbound on 30th Ave.  


Barton was flown from the scene to a Grand rapid Hospital where he later died from his injuries.  


The driver of thedump truck was not injured.  


This is an ongoing investigation but speed and alcohol are believed to be contributing factors.



An eight-month investigation has led to the arrest of a 42-year-old Mecosta County man for child pornography.


The investigation was initiated by the Michigan State Police over a 16-year-old runaway and it then became known that Christopher Robert Porter of Morley was having an inappropriate relationship with the girl.


The teen was located but then went missing again and was found at Porter's home a month later.


The eight-month long investigation resulted in the arrest for possession of child sexually abusive material and using a computer to commit a crime.


Porter was arraigned on those same charges, as of Monday he remains in Mecosta County jail on $75,000 bond.






ASSAULT reported in the 1300 block of Catherine.  Charges will be sought through the city attorney.


AGENCY ASSIST/PWID/Probation violation-While assisting MCSO with investigation, investigators had contact with a 41 year old male and 28 year old female in the 800 block of Water Tower.  The two were arrested with probation violation, the male's through Mecosta and the female's through the Isabella County's MDOC office's.  The male was also charged with PWID after what was believed to be Ice and Heroin discovered.  The BRDPS was further assisted by the MCSO and Mecosta County MDOC.




Civil 200blk of Rust.  Female confronted her husband's girlfriend.  Matter was verbal only both were sent on their way and advised to not contact each other again.




Civil in the 400 block of Woodward. Verbal argument over a cell phone. 


Larceny in the 600 block of Maple. 


Assist in the 300 block of Morrison.  




Called to the 1100 block of Catherine on report of a male pointed a shotgun at his neighbors. After speaking with all parties involved it was determined charges would be sought, as the original complainant did not want to pursue charges, then later asked if the suspect was going to jail. The suspect, a 24 year old male had a warrant for assault through the MCSO. Upon attempted to arrest the male, he advised he was not going to jail.  He swing at the officer.  He was restrained and gave up immediately. He was lodged for R&O x2, the original Agg assault and the warrant.


Disorderly in the 1100 block of Catherine. The original complainant was intoxicated and got into a shoving match with his friend. Neither wished to pursue charges or seek medical attention for injuries.


Threats complaint. The complainant is here from NC to take custody of her son from her ex. She has a signed court order from NC. She is receiving threating messages from her ex’s family. She is concerned his family may find them at the hotel and do something to their vehicle. Most of the addresses she thinks her son could be are in Osceola County.


 Civil in the 200 block of Woodward Ave.




Found Wallet.  Owner will be in to pick it up.



Civil in the 200 block of W Bridge. 


Suspicious in the 500 block of W Bridge. Cabinet door found in lawn on west side of the school. Follow up to be completed.


Attempted B&E of auto in the 300 block of Morrison. Caller observed someone with the door open to roommate's vehicle and heard a male tell a female not to take anything.




Michigan drivers who renew or buy car insurance will have some new choices starting Thursday.


They can either continue with unlimited medical coverage, lower the coverage, or choose be to opt out entirely.


On average statewide PIP rates will drop 15.5% for those who maintain unlimited coverage because an annual $220 fee assessed on every vehicle to cover catastrophic claims is dropping to $100.


Motorists can avoid the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association fee altogether — saving an additional $100 a year — by forgoing unlimited coverage and picking $500,000 of coverage or $250,000.  


Republicans who control the Michigan Legislature proposed a $1.3 billion plan last week to help K-12 schools reopen during the coronavirus pandemic, saying districts should have flexibility to start when they want and to offer remote instruction as an alternative if necessary.


The one-time funding, including an $800 per-pupil increase to address new costs related to COVID-19, would come from $3 billion in federal relief. Teachers would get a $500 bonus.


Currently, there is uncertainty among local school districts on how that money, if approved could be spent. 


"There is still a lot of uncertainty in our school budgets right now, but it is great to see that our legislators realize that it will cost more to educate our kids safely and effectively during this pandemic." Big Rapids Public Schools Superintendent Tim Haist said. 


Morley Stanwood Schools Superintendent Roger Cole believes it's great if they can get funding for schools but how that money can be spent is the bigger question because it would come from a federal relief bill. 


"There is a meeting coming up soon I'll be attending, so I can get some more questions answered but if this money can't be used to backfill the billion dollar state school aid fund deficit, which affects our budgets and could create a deficit, so to be honest, would it be helpful?, yes does it solve my problem locally? no."  Cole said. It would be terrific if this money could be used with "no strings attached" Cole added. 


Under the proposal, it calls for requiring in-person instruction for grades K-5 at a minimum, redefining “attendance” to allow for online learning without reducing schools' funding and cutting the number of snow day allowances from six to two so remote instruction occurs instead. Districts would work with local health departments on safety requirements for schools, sports and extracurricular activities. They also would do initial benchmark testing to assess if students need additional attention.


State lawmakers adjourned session last week until until July 21 at the earliest around when Congress may consider relaxing how states can spend rescue funds and if additional aid should be approved.



Belknap has been found safe, she's been staying at the family member's home for the last two months. MSP didn't say why she seemed to be missing during that time.



The Michigan State Police are investigating a missing persons compliant in Newaygo County and are asking for the public's help.


Troopers say 52-yea old Valerie Joy Belknap, went missing between 9pm on 06/23/20 and 11am on 6/24/20.


She was last seen on foot in the area of Miramar and Croton Hardy Drive in Croton Twp.


Valerie was last seen wearing blue jeans and a yellow t-shirt.


She is said to be 52 years-old, W/F, 5’04”, 160 lbs, blue eyes and dark brown hair.


Anyone with information is asked to contact the State Police at 231-873-2171 or Central Dispatch at 231-689-5288


A recall of bagged salad is affecting shoppers right here in Michigan after parasites caused illnesses in 7 states.


While none here have gotten sick, the ALDI Little Salad Bar brand Garden Salad sold at Michigan ALDI stores is among those that should be thrown out immediately.


The CDC says 122 people have come down with Cyclospora after eating tainted lettuce with 19 of those requiring hospitalization


The JC Penney's store in downtown Big Rapids is closing its doors. 


The company announced the closure on Monday, along with 12 additonal store closures nationwide. 


Last week, JC Penney announced store closures in Cadillac, Mt. Pleasant, Traverse City and Petoskey. 


According to the retailer's website, "The decision was made following a comprehensive review of our retail footprint, JCPenney made the difficult decision to close 136 store closures on June 17 and an additional 13 closures on June 22. We will continue to operate the majority of our stores and our flagship store,, to ensure our valued customers continue to have access to the products and brands they need and want."


We will have more on this story as it becomes available. 





SUSPICIOUS in the 100 block of S State.




Harassment reported in the 700 block of S. STATE. 


 CWB in the 1000 bloc of Baldwin.  Female admitted to ingesting Hydrocodone and was transported by EMS for eval.




A/C- dog running around 500 block of Green. Black/white Pitt bull. GOA


 CIVIL – 1100 Fuller for a boyfriend and girlfriend argued over the male being unemployed and having a non-working vehicle.


CIVIL – 600 block of Perry for an argument between two males over one entering the parking lot through the wrong entrance.


T/S Misdemeanor traffic - State/Belleview - A 35 year old male cited for improper plate and no insurance.  2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer towed. 


Disorderly - Officers were dispatch to the 600 block of W Bridge St reference a male who opened up the caller's vehicle doors.  Officer found the male and he became disorderly and attempted punching him.  The 24 year old male was arrested.


HIt and Run - A  23 year old male sideswiped a vehicle at State and Maple. He failed to stop and identify after the accident.  An officer located the suspect and the suspect vehicle at a local motel.  He was cited for failure to stop and identify. 


Assist 54 - Multiple vehicles stolen from Betten Baker on Northland Dr.  All 3 40 units assisted on multiple pursuits which initiated inside the city limits.  One pursuit ended in a roll over and the driver was transported by EMS.  A successful stop stick deployment ended the second pursuit on 131 MM141.  One juvenile was transported by a 40 unit back to the Department for questioning.  A debrief was held at BRDPS with the county and city units involved. 




Suspicious in the 1300 block of Catherine St.  Female stated a male in his 30’s, tall, skinny; wearing a red hoodie, blue jeans and a red hat came to her doors and demanded to see a second male reference money owed.  The male was not at the residence, but the male did not believe her and continued to bother her until she called the police. Male was not located in area.


Civil in the 300 block of Spring St.


Three 15-year old's, a 16- year old and one 19-year old were arrested after fleeing police in Mecosta County.


It happened Sunday morning around 1:40am, Detective Brian Miller with the Big Rapids Department of Public safety says Sheriff Deputies were called to the Big Rapids Betten Baker vehicle lot for a suspicious vehicle.


When police arrived, the “suspicious” vehicle fled, the vehicle ended up in a rollover accident in southern Osceola County, the sole occupant, a 16-year old driver was taken to a local hospital for non-life threatening injuries.


A second vehicle, which was reported to have been stolen days earlier from Wyoming PD fled, Michigan State Police pursued and arrested a 19-year old driver and a 15-year old passenger was turned over to his parents.


A third vehicle, observed by a BRDPS officer in the Betten Baker lot fled, stop sticks were deployed on US-131 and two 15-year old males were detained.


An investigation with the Kent County Sheriff's office believe the suspects involved were part of an attempted robbery of Sprint stores in Big Rapids and Grand Rapids Friday evening.


The case remains under investigation. 


The Big Rapids Region and Mecosta County has always been known for its friendly communities offering their unique blend of small town charm and warm hospitality.


Connie Koepke – Executive Director for the Mecosta County Visitors Bureau is hoping to get businesses arround Mecosta County to take a pledge to help combat the spread of COVID-19 and ease customers minds.  


“The onset of COVID -19 these past few months has certainly changed our lives along with our daily tasks and activities,” stated Connie Koepke – Executive Director for the Mecosta County Visitors Bureau. “We are certainly in the midst of an unprecedented time that none of us expected or prepared for. As we are all transitioning to our new and changed lifestyles of social distancing, increased hand washing and sanitizer usage along with wearing face masks, Michigan is seeing improvements. As most of our businesses start to re-open, now it‘s more important than ever to collaborate with each other on bringing back our guests, visitors and local economy.”


According to a press release, the Mecosta County Visitors Bureau’s “Safe Business Pledge” is designed to help visitors, and locals, know what precautions our community as a whole are taking in helping keep everyone as safe as possible during this Coronavirus pandemic. It also assists area businesses in staying consistent with their safety protocols.


The program is quite simple to participate in. Your business reviews the standard list of safety protocols, pledges that it will follow them and then your business will receive a personalized certificate to display. All businesses making the pledge will also be listed on the Big Rapids Region Safe Business Pledge Members page with a direct link to your business.


The Safe Business Pledge program is not designed as a guarantee that visitors will not contract the Coronavirus, or other possible respiratory infections, but is designed to help provide a higher comfort level to everyone visiting our Big Rapids Region communities and their businesses. Knowing that we are all following unified safety measures, in an effort to help slow the spread of contagious infections, only re-enforces what a great area we are to visit and spend time with family and friends.


The Mecosta County Visitors Bureau will also be sharing the Safe Business Pledge, along with the businesses participating in the program, in numerous marketing venues throughout the state. This is all in an effort to help increase visitor spending to our area.


If you are a business that would like to participate in the free Safe Business Pledge program you can reach the Mecosta County Visitors Bureau at: or, or by calling  231.796.7640 and sign up today.


Safety Pledge Guidelines can be found here.

Pledge Certification Sample can be found here.

Safety Pledge Business Agreement can be found here.


The Michigan Economic Development Corporation have announced that 22 communities in the state who  received grants to help with COVID-19 relief. 


The city of Big Rapids was one of those communities. 


They received $45,000 through the Match on Main grants that will help seven businesses that didn't receive help from the Paycheck protection Program that many others benefited from.


According to the press release, the grant helped retain 80 jobs in the Downtown Big Rapids area. 


Here is the list of local businesses who are recieving grant money: 







Ferris State University’s Board of Trustees, in a special Wednesday, June 17 meeting conducted via Zoom, approved a continuing 2020-21 general fund operating budget that includes room, board and tuition rates and fees for the upcoming academic year. The board further approved the future relocation of the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts and other items during the meeting.


Room and Board


The trustees approved a preliminary housing and dining budget for fiscal year 2021. The budget is $27.3 million, down from $29.2 million during the current fiscal year, which ends on June 30, 2020. The university will provide residence hall students with a single room at the double room rate. This adjustment reduces the overall residence hall capacity and represents a reduction in revenue. The university plans to adjust and realign expenses to maintain a balanced budget.  




Ferris’ 2020-21 tuition rates include an average undergraduate increase of 3.4 percent. The new rates are an increase of $12 per credit hour for freshmen and sophomores and $18 per credit hour for juniors and seniors. Kendall College of Art and Design tuition will also increase by 3.44 percent for undergraduate studio students from the U.S. and Canada. For Ferris and KCAD undergraduate general education students, the freshman and sophomore increase is 2.78 percent while the junior and senior increase is 3.98 percent.


Ferris’ tuition currently ranks in the bottom half among Michigan peers while its net price is among the bottom third in that group. Meanwhile, the university continues to rank prominently for its value as the national No. 5 Best Value University, according to College Consensus, and No. 5 Best Value Online University, by, among its Michigan peers.


Financial Aid


The future tuition rates include funding for an additional $605,000 for student financial aid. That represents a 2.3-percent student aid increase to $26.7 million in total.


Additionally, the university has already responded to the financial challenges its students and their families face, particularly hardships brought on by the current COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond its increase in student financial aid, the university is distributing to students more than $4.5 million in CARES Act grant funding and proactively awarded $1.2 million in institutional and private donor support through grants and the Student Hardship Fund. The Ferris Foundation’s Ferris Futures Scholarship Challenge also has helped create 223 new student scholarship endowments. 


Budget Factors


“This tuition increase has two major factors behind our action – the first being the $3-plus billion shortfall in the state of Michigan budget, which creates substantial uncertainty on the state funding we receive,” said Ferris President David Eisler. “The second is the financial impact of COVID-19 on Ferris, now estimated at losses of greater than $30 million. This increase assists the university in meeting students’ educational needs. It also ensures that Ferris can continue as a market leader in providing a personalized and relevant, career-oriented education students expect from us and the ability to create new programs that fuel and support economic growth for Michigan.”


Board members approved the administration’s recommendation of a 93-percent continuation of the 2019-20 general fund operating budget, which equates to $192.1 million, until the trustees are presented the final budget figures in the fall.


“We have worked hard to be good stewards of our resources and are mindful of the affordability of the education we provide,” Eisler said. “When the state has or is expected to reduce our funding, we have reduced our budget.”




The board approved moving the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts from its current location, at 2 Fulton West in Grand Rapids, to the nearby Woodbridge N. Ferris (WNF) Building on Kendall College of Art and Design’s campus. The move ensures greater financial sustainability as gallery space in the WNF Building, an area once used for the Grand Rapids Art Museum, will be converted to support UICA programming. UICA, particularly with the news of ArtPrize 2020’s cancellation, expected to play an even more significant role serving communities in the greater Grand Rapids area. UICA will continue its work to recognize and act against the inequities that systematically hurt artists, neighbors, and diverse communities and to show work that reflects the entire community.


Upon UICA’s relocation to the WNF Building, the university plans to sell the 2 Fulton West property.


The trustees are chair Amna P. Seibold, of East Grand Rapids; vice-chair Ana L. Ramirez-Saenz, of Grand Rapids; secretary Rupesh K. Srivastava, of Wixom; member-at-large Lori A. Gwizdala, of Bay City; Robert J. Hegbloom, of Norton Shores; Kurt A. Hofman, of Grand Rapids; Kari L. Sederburg, of East Lansing; and LaShanda R. Thomas, of Grosse Pointe.


The next regular meeting of the Board is Friday, Oct. 4 in Grand Rapids. Committee meetings begin at 10 a.m., followed by the 11 a.m. full board meeting.


The FDA has pulled their approval of the drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, once believed to be potential cures for COVID-19.


In a strong statement, the FDA’s chief scientist says it is not likely these drugs are effective, and the latest studies show potential benefits don’t outweigh the potential risks.


At one point the president claimed to have taken hydroxychloroquine for a two week period which created an increase in the demand of the drug.


The FDA wants to make sure enough of the drug is available for its true purposes of helping those with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.


A decision has been made by the Michigan Attorney General’s office regarding an Osceola County case from last October.


The case involved a man who died during a police situation where two Evart police officers were call to the domestic incident in Marion because they were closer at the time.


When officers arrived a man grabbed a knife. He was then tasered and fell on the knife killing him.


The Attorney General’s office has ruled there was nothing criminal about the officer’s actions and closed the case.


A mother and son are behind bars in Newaygo County after they were arrested by police on Monday for allegedly stealing a riding lawnmower. 


The Newaygo Co. Sheriff's Office says they recieved a complaint in progress in the area of 6 Mile Road and Osborne Ave.


The home owner observed people in his residence on a motion camera and called 911.


Deputies arrived to find two individuals in the yard of the residence as they were removing property. During the investigation multiple stolen items were recovered from the area, including a riding lawnmower.


A 40 year old female and her 18 year old son both from Sand Lake were lodged in the Newaygo County Jail and pending arraignment.


The incident remains under investigation. 


The Reed City Police Department is asking residents to take the preventative measure and lock their vehicles at night. As always the police are out and patrolling but cannot be in all areas of the city at one time.

Monday 6/8 …
Officers received a report of a dog bite. The matter is under investigation

Tuesday 6/9 …
Officers were dispatched to a local business area regarding a suspicious situation. The caller reported a
couple of juveniles walking around with flash lights looking in windows. Officers searched the area for the
juveniles who were no longer around. Nothing was found to be damaged, and the business owner reviewed video footage finding no crime had taken place.

Officers were dispatched to a noise complaint at an apartment complex. The matter was unfounded.

Officers met with Mecosta County Deputies on a Warrant arrest custody exchange. The 40-year-old male
was arrested on a DWLS bond violation out of Reed City. He was transported to the Osceola County Jail
and lodged without incident.

Wednesday 6/10 …
Officers responded to a property damage report of a vehicle damaged from a fallen tree branch during the
night by the storms.

Officers responded to a larceny from a home complaint. The matter is under investigation.

Officers were requested to assist CPS on making contact for an interview.

While out on patrol, Officers found a motorist on the side of the road out of gas. The Officer assisted the
driver in getting more gas.

Thursday 6/11 …
Officers took a complaint a wallet stolen from a parked motor vehicle. The matter is under investigation

Officers took a complaint of a wallet stolen from a parked vehicle. The matter is under investigation.

Officers to a complaint of a wallet stolen from a vehicle and unlawful entry to a garage area. The matter is
under investigation

Officers were dispatched to a 2-car personal property damage accident. The vehicles had minor damage andno injuries were reported.

Officer took a complaint of a vehicle that had been entered during the night and the contents moved around. Nothing was taken


Officer took a complaint in regards to a woman loaning her vehicle to a friend so he make a quick trip to the store. After several days the vehicle had not been returned. The woman wished to report the vehicle as stolen. The man did return the vehicle eventually and the woman declined to pursue the matter any further.

Officers received a complaint from a resident in which it was discovered that both of his vehicles were
entered but no items were taken.

Officers received a report of non-stop harassment through text messages from an ex-boyfriend. The woman reported that the individual has been driving by her residence and requested a no trespass order be placed on the man. Officers spoke to the man and advised a warrant for harassment would be requested if he did not stop.

Officer took a complaint of possible prescription fraud. The caller reported that their prescription had already been picked up but they had not given anyone permission to pick it up and it appeared someone had posed as the complainant or was deceptive in picking up the prescription. The matter is under investigation.

Officers were dispatched to a call regarding 4 dogs at large. While waiting for the Animal Control the dogs
were identified by the owner’s family who were out looking for them. The dogs had managed to rattle a gate open. The dogs were returned to their home and the gate locked.

Friday 6/12 …
Officers received a report of a residential burglar alarm. It was determined the neighbor had let a delivery
person in to drop off packages and there was no problem.

Officers arrested a 34 year old male on an outstanding warrant for Possession of Dangerous Drugs. He was lodged at the Osceola County Jail.

Officer received a complaint of damage to a mural. The matter is under investigation.

Officers responded to a complaint of alleged child abuse. Investigation showed that it was a case of the
juvenile having and issue accepting the fact they had to listen to their parent and do what they were told.
Due to deputies being tied up on other calls, officers assisted in transporting an inmate from medical care
back to the jail.

Saturday 6/13 …
Officers received a tamper alarm from a local bank. It was determined there was an authorized technician
there performing service on the ATM.

Officers took a report of a found credit card.

Officer took a complaint of an attempted larceny from a coin operated device. Video and photos of the
suspects are available and the matter is under investigation.




20-753 - ASSAULT in the 600 block of S State.  A 39 year old male threw a 2 liter pop bottle and hit clerk with it.   He was later located and lodged on assault charge and trespassed from several businesses. 


20-755 Alarm in the 800 block of Perry.  Caused by employee leaving the building.


20-756 Alarm in the 100 block of N. Michigan, Employee set off while cleaning the building.


20-757 Traffic stop Maple/Ives led to 22 year old male driver being arrested for OWI.


20-758 Officers were dispatched to a domestic in the 200 block of Ives. Downstairs neighbors called because boyfriend and girlfriend were yelling at each other. Both highly intoxicated and had conflicting stories.  Will be forwarded to CA for review.




20-759 Found Keys at disc golf course turned into Fire. The keys are for a Subaru STI and had two FSU keys on the ring. Keys TOT FSU.


20-760 Alarm in the 1000 block of Baldwin. Door was found ajar. Building was checked


20-761 Another alarm in the 1000 block of Baldwin. Key holder was on scene upon arrival walked through building a second time a unlocked door in the warehouse was located. 


20-762: Civil in the 200 block of S Bronson. 


20-763: Suspicious in the 300 block of Escott. 


20-764: DWLS State/Maple. A 23 year old male was cited for DWLS.




20-765 Harassment/stalking at Parkview.


20-767 – Civil argument in the 400 block of Bjornson.


Construction work on M-66 in Mecosta County will begin this morning.


According to the Michigan Department of Transportation, the $1.5 million dollar road project on M-66 from Six Lakes to Barryton will focus on shoulder repairs, crack sealing, and chip sealing.


Locally, the two M-66 segments are between M-46 and Church Street in Remus and between 20 Mile Road near Barryton and the north Mecosta County line.


Construction is expected to last until July.


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