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Big Rapids Daily News

Evart Police: Weekly Blotter (4/8 - 4/21)

Monday, April 8

  • Larceny – Officers were dispatched to investigate a larceny of a registration plate that was removed from a trailer. The incident remains open at this time.

Tuesday, April 9

  • Threats – Officers responded to a threats complaint. A subject used a phone to make threats towards the caller over a tv remote.
  • Animal Complaint – Officers responded to a report of dogs at large. Upon officers arrival the dogs had been located and returned home. The incident was investigated and a report was forwarded to Prosecutor for review.
  • Hit and Run – Officers responded to a local business for report of a hit and run accident. The report remains open at this time.

Wednesday, April 10

  • Assist – Officers were dispatched for a trespassing complaint.  The subject agreed to leave without causing any further issues.

Thursday, April 11

  • Alarm – Officers responded to a burglary alarm at a local business. The business was secured and it was determined to be a false alarm.

Friday, April 12

  • VIN Check – Officers responded to a local business to check a VIN on an abandoned vehicle. Vehicle did not return stolen and was towed at the property owners request.

  • Warrant Attempt – Officers assisted the Osceola County Sheriff’s Department with a warrant attempt. Subject was located and placed into custody without incident.

Saturday, April 13

  • No incidents reported.

Sunday, April 14

  • Assist – Officers responded to assist CPS with a child abuse investigation. The investigation remains open at this time.

  • Fail to Pay – Officers responded to a local business for report of a fail to pay. Officers were able to locate the subject and the subject returned to the gas station to pay for the fuel. No further action needed.

  • Domestic - Officers responded to a report of a domestic in progress. The incident was investigated a report was sent to the Prosecutor for review.

Monday, April 15

  • Found Property – Officers were advised a bicycle was found on the edge of the road. The bike was brought to the Evart Police Department for safe keeping.
  • Trespass – Officers responded to a residence for a trespassing report. The subject was found at a residence and determined to be violating a protection order as well. The subject was placed into custody and transported to Osceola County Jail without incident.
  • Assist – K9 Officer was requested by Reed City Police Department to do an area search for a possible weapon used in a homicide. K9 deployed with no articles located.

Tuesday, April 16

  • No incidents reported.

Wednesday, April 17

  • Juvenile – Officers were dispatched to a residence for a disorderly juvenile that was refusing to go to school. Officers spoke with the juvenile and a parent took the juvenile to school without incident.

Thursday, April 18

  • Suicide – Officers responded to the report of a suicidal subject. No actual suicidal attempt was made. Subject was transported to Corewell Health Reed City for an evaluation.

Friday, April 19

  • Disorderly – Officers were dispatched for a disorderly complaint. Two female subjects were arguing with another female subject. The two females left the scene prior to Officer's arrival. 

  • Noise – Officers were dispatched for a noise complaint involving loud explosive sounds. Officers checked the area and did not see any evidence suggesting the sounds were coming inside of the city. 

Saturday, April 20

  • Property Damage Accident – Officers were dispatched for a two-car accident. No injuries were reported and both cars were drivable.

Sunday, April 21

  • Juvenile – Officers were dispatched to a check the wellbeing on a juvenile. A CPS referral was made in reference to the complaint.

  • Assault – Officers assisted Osceola County Sheriff's Department with an assault in progress. The suspect was arrested and lodged at Osceola County Jail.

  • Check Wellbeing – Officers were dispatched to a check the wellbeing of two juveniles. The juveniles appeared to be good and did not require any services.

Detroit Lions Pre-Draft Press Conference Quote Sheet w/ Executive Vice President and General Manager Brad Holmes

Opening Statement: “Just want to start off by thanking everybody that’s been involved in this process up to this point, our entire personnel department. Look, when I say personnel, it’s not just scouts. That’s football information, football tech, our ops support, everybody. It’s really been all-hands-on-deck. I want to thank our area scouts. Those guys did a great job. I thought that we had our best April meetings since we’ve been here, that’s kind of when they tie the bow up on all the work that they’ve done throughout the whole year. I thought it was awesome. I wanted to highlight (Lions Director of College Scouting) Brian Hudspeth, our college director. This was his first full-time year in this role. I thought he did a great job leading and organizing and everything that comes along with being in that role. The rest of our execs, (Lions Assistant General Manager) Ray Agnew, (Lions Senior Personnel Executive) John Dorsey, (Lions Director of Scouting Advancement) Mike Martin, (Senior Advisor, Player Personnel Operations/Strategic Initiatives) Don Corzine, those guys are key cogs in this process and in extremely critical roles. So, appreciate everything that they did. I wanted to thank (Lions Head Coach) Dan (Campbell), the entire coaching staff. They play a huge part in our process, very critical roles as well, so appreciate all their time and effort in it. We’re in a good spot right now.”

On the challenge of having a later first-round Draft pick for the first time in his Lions tenure: “Yeah, you’ve just got to keep wrapping your head around it. You’re kind of looking at a different level of player. It’s just – it is what it is. I don’t want to say it’s any less pressure because you’ve got to get every single pick right as well, at least that’s the standard that we hold ourselves to whether it’s at 29 or it’s been at seven or six or two or all those things. So we just take the same approach, but I don’t see it as any more or less pressure. I just think it’s probably, I don’t know, maybe less heralded. I don’t know if people are even still hanging around or even remembering who picked 31. It kind of seems like everyone is just kind of celebrating one through 15 or something. But we just kind of stick to the same process. You’ve just got to get your head around the players, and we’ve been doing this long enough to know like, ‘Alright, we’re probably not going to be in the mix on some of those guys.’ And that’s something that I picked up when we were in LA and did not have even a first-round pick for a long time, so you kind of expedite the guys you think you can be looking at.”

On the philosophy of trading up and giving up draft picks to select a specific player: “It’s a good question. First of all, it’s got to be the right guy. You guys see this, how we’ve operated in the past. If it’s the player that we want, we’re just going to go and get them. There are a lot of boxes that need to be checked. I think we kind of said it a little bit at the end of the season, everybody can’t play here. It’s got to be identified. That player has to be identified as, ‘OK, he’s checked all those boxes. He’s the right pick and he’s the right fit.’ Also, it’s just how high you’re talking. Is it way high? Is it just a few spots? Either one, obviously when you trade up for a player you identified him. But me and (Lions Head Coach) Dan (Campbell) have been saying from day one, it just has to be the right fit. There are going to be some talented players that you all have been looking at in mock drafts and stuff that just may not be good fits, and that’s OK and we’re fine with that. But look, if it’s a guy we really want, we’ll definitely make an effort if it makes sense. It just sometimes might not make sense. You’ve got to look at what you’re giving up. It’s a good question you brought up of where the roster’s at. You’ve got to look at expiring contracts coming up, and it’s just a lot that goes into it, but it’s a good question.”

On balancing building through the Draft with how much they want to maximize the window of success they have now: “Yeah, I don’t really base it off of windows really. Again, it’s just how much of an impactful player do you want to get. I’m just trying to think – look, if there was a – I think I told you guys last year we had what, six and 18 originally? We were looking to trade up from 18 if we stayed how it stayed. That didn’t really depend on the window that we were in or anything, it’s just that those were some players that we really, really wanted to have, and that’s just kind of what we had in mind that that was going to be the plan. It kind of worked out a little bit differently, you have to be prepared for everything. I understand the question because you’re like, ‘OK, the roster’s at a certain point. OK, you guys should be contenders headed into the season so OK, how do you operate this way?’ But again, I just think if we keep improving every single year through doing it in our process, that’s what we’ve been doing and that’s what we’ll continue to do. I think when you start getting into that, ‘We’ve got this window, we’ve got this, so we’ve got to pivot,’ that’s when I think you kind of get into a little bit of trouble.”

On how this year’s cornerback class ranks among years’ past: “It’s a solid group. I don’t think it’s really far from – I think I made a comment just the other week, just kind of looking at the whole class, I think it’s very normal of previous drafts in terms of the guys that I think probably are true legit Day 1 guys or Day 2 guys. So, I think it’s pretty normal. Again, they’re always different, but in terms of numbers of guys that are in those top rounds, I think it’s very similar.”

On the potential of trading out of the first round with the unique dynamics of being in front of Lions fans while the Draft is in Detroit : “Look, that’s a fair question. Look, we have to do the right thing for the organization. If it makes sense and it lines up and it’s the right thing to do, then we have to do the right thing. Say that happens where the fans have been waiting there all night for this pick and we get an offer that we can’t really turn down and makes sense, we’ve got to do the right thing and hopefully our fans will forgive us. Now, we won’t expect immediate forgiveness right then and there, but hopefully when the season starts and that player that we end up selecting they’re like, ‘OK, alright. We can kind of get past that.’ But no, I totally understand that. Obviously with the fans there – first of all, I’m so excited about the Draft being in Detroit. I really am. It’s just another opportunity for our franchise, our city, just for the world to kind of migrate to downtown Detroit. We have a lot of – we have multiple major NFL markets that are within driving distance. I expect it to be pretty packed. I’m excited for the local businesses. I just think it’s going to be really exciting. All that being said, I know the perfect storm is, OK get to the pick, stage area, they’ve been waiting all night, you make the pick and everybody’s happy. But if it’s the best thing for the organization, you’ve got to do what’s right. I’ll just do a PSA public apology later and we’ll roll.”

On if he considers this to be a strong Draft class and where it ranks among the previous three classes he has seen in Detroit: “Yeah, that’s a good question. I thought this Draft was a little bit more normalized. Last year, I don’t want to say weaker Draft, but there were less guys that you would have as true first-round prospects last year. I thought this year was more kind of like previous years before the ’23 Draft. But I still think it’s a good class. I think the other component is more guys that are not coming out. It’s because of the college landscape has changed, so outside of just the COVID deal with guys who have had more experienced and are a little bit older, it’s a lot of players that we’ve looked at that we thought were going to come out that ended up not declaring. I think that’s a big effect of what the college landscape is right now.”

On how they have been able to find as many Pro Bowlers through the Draft as they have: “I just think we make sure we’re convicted on every single pick. You guys have heard me say it, it’s no secret, it’s about the right football player. As long as we’re convicted on the football player, then you sleep good at night. That’s a lot of work that goes into being convicted on the right player. We just had (Top) 30 visits. We had medical meetings. There is a lot of stuff that’s like, ‘OK, this is the right guy.’ We’re still looking at tape now. It’s a lot that gets to that conviction. But as long as (Lions Head Coach) Dan (Campbell) and I are really aligned and convicted and we’re still like, ‘This guy fits,’ and not getting into the – I think at the Owners Meetings there were questions asked about like drafting an outside corner. No, we draft the right football player we’re convicted on. If the outside corner was the right football player we’re convicted on, then we would take that player. We don’t really get anchored on positions. We don’t really get anchored on windows. We don’t get anchored on – it’s just, there’s only one Draft every year. There’s a lot of work that goes into it, so that’s our recipe. We just kind of look for guys that we’re convicted on that are right fits for us and we don’t get into the premium positions and the – look, you can pick another position, and that doesn’t mean the guy’s the right fit. I know you guys were asking after the last Draft, ‘Well how come you guys didn’t pick another position?’ Well, it’s like, no it’s not another position, who? Which player? You don’t just pick a, whatever the premium position is. You don’t just pick a player because he plays that position. No, he has to be the right football player. That’s what we stuck to, and it’s worked so far for us.”

On if drafting for talent versus need changes as the roster has gotten better: “That’s a really good question because when we first got here, we had a ton of needs. So, we could go for the most talented guy, the guy that really fit the most. We could have gone in so many different directions, and that resulted in a lot of young players having to play early and (they) got a lot of experience. Really, with where the roster is now, I actually think you have even more flexibility to not be anchored into a need. Again, we try to do the best we can in free agency in terms of plugging holes and pulling out the depth chart and doing all of those things, and we feel that we did a great job in free agency and we’re in a position to go whichever direction that we want to go. I actually get more comfort of how the roster is now. It’s less of, ‘Oh, we really need this, we need depth here, we need that…,’ no. We’ve always said ‘best player,’ but it’s more emphasized now.”

On how much value there is to trade out of the late first round into the early second round and having time to reset the board: “It’s a really good question because it depends on a couple of factors. It’s, all right, you have a pool of players. Say you’re at your pick, we’re at No. 29, and you get an offer that gets you somewhere in the 30s early on in Day Two. If you’re pretty much convicted, ‘These are kind of the same players,’ regardless of position, you’re getting the same level of player. Is it a good starter or is it a developmental, high-upside backup? Whatever the case is, I’m happy with either one. I always go back to, ‘You get them in ranges.’ Don’t spend a lot of time arguing going to Grand Cayman or Turks and Caicos – you’re not going to be mad either way. When you’re happy with the decision of, ‘If we come away with any of these guys,’ you kind of do the math. You’re like, ‘OK, if we trade back here, some of these guys will be left, and we’ll be happy and we’re going to get some capital.’ Or, is it – you go back to that conviction conversation, ‘No, this is that guy that we have been convicted on. We’re not moving and we’re just going to stay put.’ Whatever extra capital you get on the backend, it’s really not worth it – let’s just go ahead and pick.”

On if the team has a foundational philosophy to build through the offensive line: “We’re firm believers that that’s where the game is won, and I’m sure you’ve heard that before. But that’s the foundation, that’s the core of our team. Yeah, there were some guys in place already, so there was less work that needed to be done. Now, the pieces that we’ve added with the guys that were previously here have just fortified it and made it even stronger, but again, you guys asked me – I think at the end of the season – that’s always going to be the utmost importance. That’s something that’s hard to overlook. I don’t care who you’ve got at quarterback. I don’t care if you have more of a pocket guy, a scrambler – I don’t care what it is. Offensive line, that’s critical. When you don’t have them, it can make life hard in a lot of different areas. We’ve had to do more work on the defensive side of the ball and there wasn’t a lot of pieces there when we got here, so we had to do a lot more work there. It’s always of the utmost importance and we feel really good about our offensive line now. We love what we did in free agency and I feel like we could line down and play now and be totally fine. If we do add somebody, it’s going to be hard to crack one of those big boys up front.

On if the COVID-19 realities and the transfer portal has made it easier for the team to identify prospects’ football character: “Everybody has a different plight, a different story. I’m meeting a lot of these kids and sitting down with them to hear their reasonings for their decisions. It’s been really fascinating because they’ve all been different. On the surface, I used to think just that. I was like, ‘Oh, well he wasn’t going…,’ but no, when you really hear what went through these kids’ decisions to jump into the portal, they’re all different and I respect them. It’s a lot more in depth in a lot of cases than I even thought.”

On how this receiver class compares to past Drafts and if there’s an opportunity for the Lions to add to their room: “I think it’s a solid receiver group. There’s some guys that should be able to contribute immediately. In terms of my opinion of strength, that’s always subjective. That’s what makes the Draft so fascinating, is what our Draft board is, there’s 31 other Draft boards and they may think that it’s not as good. We’ll just keep those to ourselves, but I do think there’s some receivers that will be able to contribute pretty early, I would think in this class.”

On how quickly a player is deemed as a Holmes and Campbell type of player: “Some of them, they declare themselves pretty early. I credit our area scouts. They do so much work on the front end, and the back end, they tee it up for us very, very well. And they kind of already have the kid nailed, really. And just say like, ‘Look, this is who this player is.’ And you might meet them and it lines up exactly. Some guys declare themselves pretty early. Some guys you sit down with at the Combine and it’s like, ‘Yep, this is exactly who the scout said that he was going to be and he knocked it out the park, boom, boom, boom.’ And some guys it might be a little different. Nothing on the scouts, but the kid might have been nervous. He didn’t really show his personality, and then we might bring him in for a 30 visit. We might spend time with him at a pro day or something and get to know him a little bit more. That’s happened in this process already just in some of these visits and some of these pro-day visits it’s been like, ‘Oh, wow, I feel a lot better about him being a fit here.”

On whether the new NFL kickoff rules have played a role in player evaluations: “Yeah, we’ve had a lot of discussions about that. I think we’re still in the exploratory stages in terms of a personnel standpoint. We have an idea of what we think is going to be the right fit. It has tweaked it a little bit, especially on the return aspect. You might be looking for a different kind of returner than you have been in the past, and vice versa on the other side, on your actual kickoff team. Trying to find your kickoff team, and your return unit, does that body type change, does that type of player change, does the movement skills change? So, we’ve had a lot of discussions on that. Obviously, you guys know special teams is high priority here, but I have all the faith in (Lions Head Coach) Dan (Campbell) and (Lions Special Teams Coordinator Dave) Fipp, that we’re going to have the right guys for it.”

On who on staff helps him keep a balanced perspective when making personnel decisions: “It’s probably harder than we maybe realize on the surface just because we try to lay out our process to avoid those anchors, really it’s probably more of the groupthink and the influence that is even a greater threat to our process. That’s just human nature. People naturally just want to be a part of the tribe. They want to get along. People naturally want to agree and be likeable. It takes work to go against the grain. It takes a lot of work. That’s why I have always had a lot of respect for the lone wolf. When we’re in there and everybody is saying, ‘Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes,’ and it’s some obvious prospect. It’s that one person in that room in that room that’s like, ‘I don’t.’ I’m like, ‘I want to listen to him or I want to listen to her.’ I want to listen to that person because that was the lone wolf. It takes a lot to be that lone wolf. I just have a lot of respect for that person. The anchors, we try to setup our process to avoid them, but again, it’s really the groupthink and group influence that is probably even more of a danger than those anchors.”

On how a lone-wolf opinion influences his personnel approach: “Sometimes I am the lone wolf. I might be the lone wolf. I’ll tell you, me and (Lions Head Coach) Dan (Campbell) were the lone wolves on a player that we took last year and it worked out. We loved the player. The rest of the group was like, ‘No, no, no, get this guy,’ at the same position. So, it may be something that you already knew and you got confirmation. So, if I am the lone wolf and everybody else is completely different than me, no one really knows what I think and I am listening to everybody, I am like, ‘Man, I need to go back and look. I missed something,’ and I have the confidence and the humility to do that because I have so much respect for the process. It’s an art form. The best thing about scouting is you get 20 people, 10 people, however many, looking at the same film in a dark room and you have 10 different opinions. That’s what’s awesome about it. So, when I am the lone wolf, and everybody is the opposite, I am like, ‘Man, I need to look back and see if I missed something.’ If hear the lone wolf that matched up with what I thought, I am like, ‘Well, at least that person saw it, but everybody else still was the same.’ It just depends – but if I saw something that the rest of the group said, and the lone wolf said something different, oh, damn right I am going to go back and look and see because that person is in the room for a reason and I have got a lot of respect for that person’s evaluations.”

On if he listens to everyone’s opinion on players before sharing his own: “Yes, basically.”

On if he will share who the prospect was from the 2023 Draft class that he and Lions Head Coach Dan Campbell were lone wolves: “No.”

Ferris State alumna's empowering body image instruction for collegians, at-risk youth honored by National Communication Association

Angela (Prater) Mensah, an alumna of Ferris State University’s Television and Digital Media Production program, was recognized for her efforts to empower students through a service-learning designated course.

Mensah received the Pedagogy Award from the Activism and Social Justice division of the National Communication Association, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization established in 1914 with membership including educators, practitioners, and students in every state.

Mensah earned a Bachelor of Science degree in what had been Ferris’ Television and Video Production program in 1996. She is a teaching assistant professor in Communications and a joint faculty member of African and African American studies and communication at the University of Arkansas.

Her course, Communicating Body Image, was one of five selected from a field of entries for a National Communication Association honor.

“My course is a social justice-directed work, and I applied though at that time, I had only offered it for one semester at the university,” Mensah said. “I went into this, hoping I might get an honorable mention but am thrilled to have been recognized with this selection.”

A faculty peer with the University of Arkansas was asked by a Washington County, Arkansas court staffer if there was a course appropriate to present to young women at risk. 

Mensah said graduate students aware of the Communicating Body Image course assisted in creating modules appropriate for those students, while offering them mentorship as part of a service-learning opportunity.

Angela said there was much work needed to complete supporting documents for consideration from the National Communication Association.

“The topic of body image has many ‘hot button’ considerations, ranging from providing medication to adolescents, or approving them for bariatric surgery,” Mensah said. “Having the resources and support of body image experts Lexi and Lindy Kite is intentional, so our participants have tools to serve them for every state of their lives.”

The partnership was developed in greater Fayetteville with community groups and organizations is designed to empower the participants.

“Theirs is a difficult time of life, where learning and encouragement might keep them from entering self-destructive behaviors. Ultimately, we are striving to be an element of a transformative opportunity for all involved,” she said.

As a Pedagogy Award winner, Mensah will serve in the field of judges considering submissions for the 2024 cycle of consideration.

Moolenaar: "Gotion parent company hosted Iranian officials"

Last Thursday, Congressman John Moolenaar voted for legislation condemning the Iranian regime for its unprecedented attack on Israel last weekend. The resolution passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support in a vote of 404 to 14.  

Iran can also be linked to a potential Mecosta County battery factory. Last year, Gotion parent company, Gotion High-Tech, hosted Abbas Aliabadi, Iran’s Minister of Industry, Mine and Trade, at its facility in Hefei, China. The visit included a meeting between Aliabadi and Gotion High-Tech CEO, Li Chen. The meeting was publicized by Iran’s government-run news agency. 

“Iran is the largest sponsor of terrorism in the world, an avowed enemy of the United States, and on April 13 it launched an unprecedented attack on Israel. For state and local officials to give Gotion millions of dollars, knowing Gotion will send its profits back to China, and possibly use the money for business deals with Iran is simply wrong. This is yet another reason Gotion’s plans in Mecosta County should be ended for good,” said Moolenaar.

On April 13, Iran launched missile and drone attacks against Israeli targets. In November, Moolenaar introduced the NO GOTION Act, which would prohibit IRA tax credits from going to companies based in Iran or China, or their subsidiaries.

From Cameroon to Big Rapids: Edwige Fute Ngouen finds Ferris State provides the education and support to launch a successful business

It's a long journey from Cameroon to Big Rapids, more than 6,000 miles and some 20 hours of flying.

But the journey from a college degree in engineering to a career in the beverage industry might be even longer, metaphorically speaking.

Ferris State University graduate Edwige Fute Ngouen has done both.

She laughs as she sketches out the broad parameters of the tale from her native country to the CEO and co-founder of Cocktail Menot, a Chicago-based company that makes non-alcoholic gourmet cocktail enhancers.

"Yes, back in Cameroon, I was studying for applied mathematics, but my goal was always to become an engineer," she said. "Ferris State was recommended to me, and my father and I built a strong relationship with the International Student Office. Because I was coming to the US on my own, my parents needed to have a trusted relationship with the school, and they found comfort and support with Ferris."

That comfort and support, she added, would endure both during her time as an undergraduate and then during her days as a graduate student. She earned a Bachelor of Science Electrical/Electronics Engineering Technology degree in 2006 and a Master of Science in Information System Management degree in 2009.

"From picking me up from the airport in Grand Rapids, connecting me with other international students and onboarding me through an international student orientation, everything at Ferris State was truly designed to help make international students welcome," she said with a smile.

Adjusting to life on a university campus in the United States had its challenges, she said.

"I worked extra hard the first year to get up-to-speed with my cohort," Ngouen recalled. "I had to adapt to my new environment, learn and comprehend a new language, adjust to a new school system and deal with race and gender disparity."

With the assistance of many on campus, she persisted.

She still recalls with gratitude the many people in the International Student Office who assisted her. Professors in the Electrical/Electronics Engineering Technology were also key resources and mentors on her journey as the only woman in her graduating class ("Mr. Ron McKean has always been my strongest advisor," she said).

And, she added, her fellow students were amazing. "Thanks to Kurk Laird, James V. Rhoden and Dan Scully especially as we learned to help and support each other through lab homeworks, exams, projects and more," she said.

Tara Braun, Ferris State’s executive director of International Education, said Ngouen’s is a perfect example of how international students are welcomed at the university, and how they enrich learning.

“International students provide diversity and cultural enrichment, research and innovation opportunities, and enrich the classroom by providing different perspectives not only on campus but in the greater community,” she said. “Ferris State University is committed to growing international enrollment and providing this diverse perspective in the classroom and welcomes students from all over the globe to learn in the world classroom.”

As an undergraduate student in engineering, Ngouen wasn't afraid to take on more work, including working some 16-20 hours per week as math tutor and as an orientation leader during International Orientation week.

Today that work ethic serves her well as the CEO and co-founder of Cocktail Menot, a Chicago-based company that makes non-alcoholic gourmet cocktail enhancers.

She said that after working for a number of years in engineering in West Michigan, and numerous volunteer hours with the Red Cross and Goodwill of Greater Grand Rapids, she was driven to start her cocktail company because of both passion and frustration.

"I’ve always been fascinated by the art of mixing different flavors into a cocktail," she said. "That was the passion. But, after being in the U.S. for 20-plus years, I was still frustrated by the gaps in the flavor diversity on the store shelves."

Her Cameroonian heritage was a big part of that frustration, she said.

"Access to traditional tropical flavors such as pineapple, coconut, passion fruit, lemongrass, ginger was improving, but not fast enough for my taste," she said. "Plus, I thought that a lot of the products mentioning these flavors did not taste right. My husband and I made it my mission to create cocktails that would reflect our Cameroonian origins and our current U.S. experience."

She said she is now driven to create "a liquid legacy."

She added: "Motivating people like me to dare, to innovate and to dream big is part of that legacy."

Her company makes premium Ready-to-Drink Spritzers and "cocktailizers" meant to be added to your alcohol of choice to create one-of-a-kind drinks.

They also are associate partners of the Chicago Fire Major League Soccer team, a relationship that Ngouen said is a natural fit.

"Growing up in the streets of Douala, Cameroon, football has been an intricate part of our daily lives," she told Eleven Sports Media. "As a local-based company, supporting our football team (Chicago Fire) felt so natural. We hope that partnering with the local team will play its part in bringing more flavors and diversity to the stadium.”

She is excited about the TITÙN Spritz launch at the Chicago Fire vs Columbus Crew game on May 18 at Soldier Field, but acknowledges that it is often hard work to juggle the many responsibilities of being an entrepreneur with her responsibilities as both a wife and a mother of three young children, ages eight, six and two.

"The lines between work and family easily get blurred," she said with a chuckle. "But, to stay motivated I stay focused on my objectives, and I stay positive."

Those are qualities, she added, that she can trace to her childhood in Cameroon and also to her days on the Ferris State campus.

And she welcomes Bulldogs of all ages to get connected to her company, including at the May 18 soccer game.

"It will be a historic event, and it would mean a lot to have Ferris well represented," she said.

Mecosta County Sheriff's Office: Weekly Blotter (4/15 - 4/21)

Monday, April 15

  • At around 6:00 P.M., deputies made a traffic stop in Morton TWP. The traffic stop resulted in the female driver being arrested on two warrants. She was lodged at the Mecosta County Jail.

Calls for Service: 31

Traffic Accidents: 5


Tuesday, April 16

  • At around 10:19 P.M., deputies made a warrant arrest in Wheatland TWP. A male subject was lodged at the Mecosta County Jail on warrants.

Calls for Service: 29

Traffic Accidents: 1


Wednesday, April 17

Calls for Service: 25

Traffic Accidents: 3


Thursday, April 18

  • No incidents reported.

Friday, April 19

Calls for Service: 31

Traffic Accidents: 2


Saturday, April 20

  • At 8:42 P.M., deputies made a warrant arrest at a residence in Big Rapids TWP. A female subject was arrested on a warrant. She was lodged at the Mecosta County Jail.

Calls for Service: 23

Traffic Accidents: 3


Sunday, April 21

  • At 4:35 A.M., deputies made a warrant arrest at a residence in Big Rapids TWP. A male subject was arrested on a warrant. He was lodged at the Mecosta County Jail.

Calls for Service: 40

Traffic Accidents: 2

KCAD showcasing 2024 graduates' creative work in wide-ranging annual student exhibition

Emerging artists and designers from all of Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University’s programs will present a diverse showcase of their best creative work, transforming KCAD’s 17 Fountain St. building into a massive gallery on display to the public for one week.

The 2024 Annual Student Exhibition exhibit runs from April 29 through May 4. All are invited to attend the closing reception celebrating the exhibition on Friday, May 3 from 4:00-7:00pm. The open house style event will feature live music from local bands Low Phase and PHABIES. Admission to both the exhibition and reception event is free.

“Celebrating our 2024 graduating seniors, this exhibition represents a culmination of student experience and highlights the breadth of learning that happens in our studios, labs, and classrooms,” KCAD President Tara McCrackin said.

"These talented emerging artists and designers have dedicated themselves to expanding their skills and pushing the boundaries of their disciplines, and we are proud share their passion with the entire community."

The Annual Student Exhibition also offers employers an opportunity to scout new talent and connect with the next generation of creative leaders. In addition, art and design lovers will have the chance to purchase students works to add to their collections.

For prospective students, the show also offers a valuable glimpse at KCAD's wide range of programs, close-knit community, and creative career possibilities.

High school and transfer students and their supporters are invited to join the KCAD Admissions team for a free Connect to KCAD event on Tuesday, April 30 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Participants can meet with faculty and students, learn about the admissions process, and take a guided tour of campus, including the 2024 Annual Student Exhibition.

Guests must register for Connect to KCAD to attend. Group tours of the 2024 Annual Student Exhibition are available by request.

An online exhibition, opening April 29 at, will complement the on-campus exhibition. KCAD's 2024 Master's Thesis Exhibitions have also begun and will continue throughout the semester.

The annual tradition concludes with KCAD’s commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 5 at the Forest Hills Fine Arts Center. From May 2–10, the work of First Year Experience students will be on display at the FHFAC gallery and serve as a reminder for graduates of how far they have come as artists, designers, and scholars.

Additional information is available at

Gotion Inc. working to improve the environment by donating $5,000 to the Mecosta Conservation District for tire recycling event

The Mecosta Conservation District in Big Rapids has received a $5,000 donation from Gotion Inc. to help sponsor a countywide tire recycling event on Thursday, Aug. 8 in Big Rapids.

Chuck Thelen, vice president of Gotion Inc. – North American Manufacturing, said the monetary gift is part of Gotion’s ongoing commitment to donate to nonprofit organizations in Mecosta County that keep people safe, help those in need, and protect the environment.

“Gotion’s commitment to safeguarding our environment extends far beyond creating advanced battery technologies,” Thelen said. “By helping fund this important recycling event, we are supporting the safe and sustainable disposal of old tires while contributing to a cleaner, greener future in Mecosta County.”

Gotion Inc. has made separate donations to the Big Rapids Department of Public Safety to purchase fire detectors for area families and Women’s Information Services Inc. (WISE) to help women and children in need in Mecosta County.

The tire recycling event takes place on Aug. 8 from 3-6 p.m. at the Mecosta County Fairgrounds, 540 West Ave., Big Rapids. Standard passenger vehicle and light truck tires will be accepted free of charge. There is a 10-tire drop-off limit.

"The community's support and donations are extremely important for the continued success of the long-standing Household Hazardous Waste Program and the new Tire Recycling Program,” said Brook Baumann, district administrator for the Mecosta Conservation District.  “When Gotion approached us and expressed interest in helping out, we welcomed the idea and appreciated the opportunity to provide these services to our Mecosta County residents.”

For more information about the recycling event, residents can call the Mecosta Conservation District at 989-309-9229.

Bulldog Softball garners Sunday split on Senior Day against Purdue Northwest

The Ferris State University softball team celebrated senior day on Sunday (April 21) while battling to a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) home split against Purdue Northwest at the FSU Softball Field.

On a day in which the Bulldogs honored senior ace pitcher Aryn Gallacher along with two other key senior staff members, Ferris State pulled out a 1-0 win over the Pride in eight innings in game one before falling 2-1 in a tightly-contested game two.

Gallacher earned the victory in the opener, earning the complete game shutout win for her eighth victory of the campaign. She struck out three and walked three while giving up no runs on 10 hits to the Pride.

The Bulldogs won the opener on a walk-off in the bottom of the eighth on an RBI double to center field from first baseman Alexis Kozlowski, which scored second baseman Jadyn Joseph in the extra-inning affair.

Kozlowski had two of the Bulldogs' five hits in the victory. Outfielders Ella McDonald and Maddie Gkekas along with Joseph all added a hit apiece.

In game two, the Pride jumped in front with two runs in the top of the second and the lead stood until the Bulldogs put a run on the board in the bottom of the fourth. Ferris State had opportunities in the final three innings, stranding a runner in both the fifth and the sixth, before loading the bases in the bottom of the seventh. However, the Pride recorded the final two outs to secure the win.

Ferris State posted six hits to five for the Pride in the nightcap, including two from Joseph along with one each by Kozlowski, catcher Emily Killion, third baseman Brooklyn Verbeek and Gkekas. Both Joseph and Gkekas doubled and Gkekas accounted for FSU's lone RBI.

The setback spoiled a successful outing for pitcher Ashley Webb, who threw all seven innings and allowed only one earned run on five hits with one strikeout. PNW's Gabby Paliska held FSU to a single run on six hits with seven strikeouts and five walks in seven innings of work.

The Bulldogs are slated to host Lewis (Ill.) in a non-league home doubleheader on Tuesday (April 23) at the FSU Softball Field starting at 1 p.m. (ET).

Children Trust Michigan raises awareness of Child Abuse Prevention Month

Children Trust Michigan is recognizing the importance of preventing child abuse and neglect with a month of activities that will culminate with a special ceremony at 10 a.m., Tuesday, April 23, at the State Capitol.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has proclaimed April as Child Abuse Prevention MonthActivities and initiatives planned throughout the month will center on the symbolic blue-and-silver pinwheel of Prevent Child Abuse America, which serves as a visual representation that everyone plays a role in providing children with a bright future. Participants have been asked to share information on social media, using the hashtags #CAPMonth2024, #MIWearsBlue and #StrengtheningFamilies.

Children Trust Michigan, housed within MDHHS, was established by the Michigan Legislature in 1982.  It serves as a voice for Michigan's children and families and promotes their health, safety and welfare by funding effective local programs and services that prevent child abuse and neglect.

“Our department is devoted to improving the safety and well-being of Michigan children, as outlined in our Keep Kids Safe Action Agenda,” said Elizabeth Hertel, MDHHS director. “We are working with lawmakers, police, judges and other child welfare system leaders to do everything in our power to make Michigan the safest place in America to raise kids and nurture families.”

“Child abuse prevention is a community responsibility and Michigan is committed to ensuring all children grow up safe, healthy, educated and prepared to reach their full potential,” said Suzanne Greenberg, executive director of Children Trust Michigan. “The blue and silver pinwheels displayed in April, and throughout the year, symbolize the health and happiness all children deserve. We encourage everyone across the state to help raise awareness this month about the impact child abuse and neglect has and to help us create more stable environments and brighter futures for all children.”

Child Abuse Prevention Month culminates with the 16th annual Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Day rally on the steps of the State Capitol Tuesday, April 23. Featured speakers this year include Earl Major, Children Trust Michigan board member, Sen. Aric Nesbitt, Sen. Kristen McDonald Rivet and Fatima Salman, president of the National Association of Social Workers.

Featured programs include Child & Family Services of Northeast Michigan, InvolvedDad, Inc. and Gratiot County Child Advocacy Association. Parent stories will be shared by Ian Agee, Danni Franzoni and Julie Hunter. For information on Children Trust Michigan and Child Abuse Prevention Month, visit

Ferris State men's tennis team earns 21st GLIAC championship with win over Lake Superior State

The Ferris State University men's tennis squad captured the outright 2024 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Regular-Season Championship as the Bulldogs recorded a 6-1 home triumph over Lake Superior State on Saturday.

The win lifted Ferris State to a perfect 6-0 record in the GLIAC and came in the regular-season finale for the university, which also secured the top seed for the upcoming league tournament with the triumph.

The Bulldogs claimed their 21st all-time conference title. Ferris State has now won back-to-back GLIAC Championships in regular-season play and the Bulldogs have now won seven of the last nine regular-season titles that have been awarded.

Ferris State won its 10th consecutive match this season. The Bulldogs took the doubles round with wins at all three flights and Ferris State then claimed a victory in the top five singles spots in the lineup for the win. All five singles wins came in straight sets as Ferris State improved to 15-4 overall this year.

"It was the perfect day to celebrate our seniors who have meant so much to both our men's and women's programs” head coach Mark Doren said. “We had a great crowd that came out to support both teams and help send the seniors out in style. I know that it was senior day, but I really thought the seniors showed amazing leadership and toughness on the court today. It was super important to the men's team to outright win the conference championship and you could tell in the focus they had on the court today,"

The GLIAC Tournament will take place Friday thru Sunday, April 26-28, at the Midland Tennis Center. The Bulldogs will be the No. 1 seed and official matchups and information will be announced by the league office soon following the completion of regular season play for all teams.

Ferris State’s men’s golf team earned the GLIAC championship earlier this month, following the GLIAC crowns earned by the men’s and women’s basketball teams.

(Image credit to Ferris State Athletics).

Ferris State Softball Military Appreciation Day set for Saturday afternoon

The Ferris State University softball squad will hold Military Appreciation Day this Saturday (April 20) as the Bulldogs host the Parkside Rangers in a pivotal Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) home doubleheader at the FSU Softball Field in Big Rapids.

The first pitch for Saturday's twinbill is slated for 1 p.m. (ET) with game two scheduled to begin an approximately 3 p.m. (ET).

As part of Saturday's events, the Bulldogs will wear special camo jerseys for the Military-themed contest. All current active military members and veterans are encouraged to attend and admission is free. Fans will also have an opportunity to win prizes each inning by answering military-related questions.

The Bulldogs currently own a 21-20 overall record to date this year and are presently near the top of the GLIAC standings with a 9-7 overall conference record.

Following Saturday's doubleheader, Ferris State then hosts Purdue Northwest on Sunday (April 21) for Senior Day beginning also at 1 p.m. (ET) and 3 p.m. (ET) for games one and two, respectively.

Big Rapids baseball stays unbeaten; sweeps Indians in CSAA doubleheader

The Cardinals moved to 8-0 Friday night following their victories over conference rival White Cloud in baseball action.

Big Rapids won the opening tilt 9-0, including six runs coming in the fourth inning alone. Mason McNeilly, Ty Gielczyk, and Nick Teceno each had two hits. Teceno paced the Cardinals with 3 RBI's while Izaac Zocco scored twice. Gielcyzk went five innings on the mound, only allowing two hits and striking out 11.

"The boys battled early on," Head coach J.T. Scarpelli said. "Ruether threw well but we stayed on him and broke through the second time around. There’s work to improve upon, but it’s small things now."

Game two was finished following five innings, with Big Rapids storming out to a commanding 12-0 lead after the first three. White Cloud would fight back with a few runs but would fall short by a score of 16-3. All but four Cardinal batters had multiple hits in the contest, including Brody Ososki pacing Big Rapids with four knocks, two RBI's, and two runs scored. Cole Haist threw three shut out innings for Big Rapids to get the win, with Corbin Clark and Cole Kiebala each registering an inning in relief.

According to Coach Scarpelli, the offense executed their approach and pitchers attacked hitters effectively.

"We’re looking forward to Chip Hills next week. They have some players and they always battle."

Big Rapids will face the Warriors next Tuesday at home. Game times are slated for 4:00 P.M. and 6:00 P.M.

Ferris State Football to honor three key individuals during Friday's Spring Game

The Ferris State University football program will pay tribute to three individuals on Friday (April 19) evening during the Bulldogs' annual Crimson & Gold Spring Game at Top Taggart Field.

Former Ferris State University Athletics Director Perk Weisenburger, who retired in 2021, will serve as the game's honorary captain and take part in the coin toss prior to the spring game. Weisenburger hired current FSU head coach Tony Annese in 2011 and played a key role in the resurgence of Bulldog Football.

Along with Weisenburger, two other individuals who have played key roles in recent years will serve as the game's honorary coaches. Former FSU Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Medicine and head athletic trainer, Brett Knight, will be one of the game's honorary coaches while current FSU Strength & Conditioning Coach Andrew Thiede will be the opposite side. Knight departed from FSU earlier this spring for another career opportunity while Thiede will be leaving the Bulldog program and moving out of state in May. Both have played lead roles in working with FSU's football student-athletes and were part of back-to-back NCAA Division II National Championship staffs in 2021 and 2022.

In addition to honoring the honorary coaches and captains, the Bulldogs will also honor other Ferris State championship teams from this academic year, including the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional Championship men's and women's basketball teams along with the volleyball and golf conference championship squads. Various FSU student-athletes and teams will also take part in special halftime activities.

Kickoff for the spring contest is set for 5:30 p.m. (ET). Admission to the event will be free and gates will open one hour prior to kickoff.

As in years past, the annual Crimson & Gold Spring Game is also slated to be broadcast live on the Bulldog Sports Network and local flagship station Sunny 97.3 FM with Rob Bentley and Sandy Gholston on the call starting with pregame coverage at 5 p.m. It will be streamed online with both live audio and a free live video webcast courtesy of the Ferris State Television & Digital Media Production program at The live radio call will also be carried over the stadium public address system for the fans in attendance.

The annual spring game will provide fans with an opportunity to watch the Bulldogs for the first time since last fall in a game-like situation under head coach Tony Annese and his staff. The spring game will feature a modified scoring and timing format and provide an opportunity for many of FSU's younger players to take the field for the first time while wrapping up spring drills.

The Bulldogs will begin their 115th season of varsity competition this coming fall with their sights set on making a 10th consecutive trip to the NCAA Division II Playoffs. The Bulldogs have made five national semifinal appearances along with three trips to the national championship game and back-to-back national titles in 2021 and 2022 during the stretch.

Over the past three seasons of action, the Bulldogs own a 36-4 overall record and FSU has reached the NCAA Division II Playoffs nine consecutive years and counting. Ferris State has also reached the NCAA Division II National Semifinals five times in the past seven seasons of action and ranks as the country's winningest program over the past nine full seasons in D2 Football. FSU is 63-6 over the last four seasons of on-field action, including back-to-back NCAA D2 National Championships in 2021 and 2022.

Ferris State also holds the GLIAC's best mark and the best overall record of all collegiate programs in Michigan at 123-20 (.860) overall since the arrival of Annese as head coach in 2012.

Big Rapids Middle School hosting "Mother-Son Night Out" event

Coming up on Friday, Apr. 26 will be a mother-son bonding event at the Big Rapids Middle School.

The event is slated to start at 7:00 P.M. and end at 9:00 P.M. There will be games, sports, crafts, snacks, dancing, and more fun activities.

Pre-registration for the event is $7 with cost of admission being $10 at-the-door.

For more information, contact the City of Big Rapids by email at or by phone at 231-592-4038.

PHOTOS: Detroit Lions unveil new uniforms

The Detroit Lions unveiled their new uniforms last night at Ford Field during a Lions Loyal Member-exclusive Uniform Reveal presented by Ford. The new uniforms come following the success of the Lions 2023 season and convey a combination of the team’s modern era and the legacy of the historic franchise.

“We are excited to launch a new era of Lions football,” said Detroit Lions President & CEO, Rod Wood. “Honolulu Blue and Silver has defined the Detroit Lions for generations and I am proud that we found a way to continue to evolve the look with a nod to the past and a focus on the future. The traditional look of our primary jerseys combined with the bold attitude of our alternate jerseys capture the essence of Detroit and the multi-generational fans base that supports us.”

The Lions leadership team set out to reestablish Honolulu Blue by working with Nike to adopt a richer tone of the unique color that harkens back to an earlier era. True silver has also made its way back into the uniform, featured in various outlines and stripe elements, as well as in the team’s traditional pant. Outside of the conventional colors, the team is also bringing black back into their uniforms, with a black jersey featuring Honolulu Blue lettering encased in a silver outline and an all-black alternate pant option.

Inspired in part by Ford’s reimagination of the Bronco, the SUV served as a muse for the team in taking a classic look and creating a sharper interpretation for the modern era. The Lions and Nike Design teamed up on their new primary jersey to create a fresh take of the uniforms worn by the early 90s teams. The striping across various pieces of the uniform were also inspired by the sleek design commonly seen on the iconic Mustang. Rooted in Detroit, the uniforms draw the connection between the team and the hardworking, passionate community the Lions represent.

“Ford and the Lions have a rich, shared history grounded in Detroit heritage,” said Lisa Materazzo, global chief marketing officer, Ford Motor Company. “We’re proud that the Ford Bronco and the iconic Mustang served as inspiration for elements of their new uniforms and excited to see the Lions when they proudly represent Detroit in Ford Field and celebrate our shared passion for football.”  

Applying a modern classic version of the Lions iconic 90s look to the best of Nike performance technology, the Nike Vapor Field Utility Special Edition (F.U.S.E.) combines lightweight Nike Dri-FIT technology with a precision fit to allow for ultimate performance on the field. Strategically positioned mesh and perforations help ventilate high-heat areas and provide additional zoned breathability, resulting in a uniform that is two-times more breathable. The most visible changes to the uniform are perforations in the body of the numbers, which provide increased breathability for players.

Other notable changes visible on the new template can be seen in the cowcatcher-shaped mesh collar design and a horizontal seam in the shape of a “V” on the upper part of the jersey, which appears to push the font further down the chest. The uniform also features vertical seams that run from the top of the jersey to the bottom to give it a more structed fit. An upgrade from the team’s previous Nike Vapor Untouchable uniforms, the F.U.S.E. is 18-percent stronger and 23-percent lighter.

The new jersey, as well as traditional merchandise inspired by the updated designs, will be available in the Lions Supply store at Ford Field and on More information can be found at





Both primary uniforms feature all three of the teams’ classic colors. The jerseys also feature a patch under the inside back collar that pays homage to William Clay Ford, the team’s longtime owner who secured the team’s future in the Motor City. Inspired by Mr. Ford’s classic style, the patch mimics a custom suit label and uses the WCF logo with iconic stripes above his penned signature. Both primary jerseys can be paired with either a silver pant option that features blue and white striping down the leg or three unadorned pant options – silver, blue or white.



The home jersey features a redefined Honolulu Blue with a classic white number font encased in silver borders and reimagined shoulder striping. The inside collar of the jersey is inscribed with “ONE PRIDE,” acknowledging the team’s passionate fans that pack Ford Field each home game.


(Image Credit: Detroit Lions Communications)



The road jersey presents in classic white with blue numbers encased in silver outlines and shoulder striping in blue and silver. The inside collar of the white jersey is trimmed in Honolulu Blue as a nod to not only the Lions gritty style of play but an homage to the work ethic that built Detroit into an iconic American city. The back of the collar features a “313” wordmark and for the first time in team history, the Lions will wear “DETROIT” across their chest on the road.


(Image Credit: Detroit Lions Communications)




The black jersey features blue classic numbers wrapped in a silver outline on a black background and striping in blue and silver on the sleeves. The “LIONS” wordmark will lay across the chest and “MOTOR CITY” is inscribed on a blue trim inside the back color. The black jersey can be paired with either an all-black pant or the team’s blue pant.


(Image Credit: Detroit Lions Communications)



The Lions’ closet will continue to feature a classic uniform as a nod to the late 50s teams that dominated the early era of professional football. The redefined blue is the only change the team made to the classic uniform as they will still feature classic numbers in silver with no outline. The jersey will be paired with silver stripe-less pants and blue socks.




The team will continue to wear their classic silver helmet with the leaping Lion in redefined Honolulu Blue and trimmed in white on the side of the helmet. The updated look will feature a blue and white stripe that ties to the jersey sleeves. A blue facemask has been introduced as an additional reference to early 90s teams. The helmet also features a permanent helmet sticker that pays homage to William Clay Ford, showing the classic WCF mark featuring a pair of iconic Ford stripes on the back left of the helmet.


(Image Credit: Detroit Lions Communications)



The team’s alternate helmet, which was introduced leading into the 2023 season, now features a black leaping Lion trimmed in silver on the matte blue shell. The leaping Lion is complimented by a black and silver stripe the runs the length of the helmet, as well as a black facemask.


(Image Credit: Detroit Lions Communications)



The Lions will continue to embrace their classic look in an all-silver helmet paired with their classic jersey. The team will have the option of matching the helmet with a silver facemask or providing some contrast with their new blue facemask.


(All images are credited to the Detroit Lions and Detroit Lions Communications).

Lt. Gov. Gilchrist, MiLEAP launch "Reach for the Pie" initiative to promote financial aid opportunities for Michigan students

Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II joined the Michigan Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement, and Potential (MiLEAP) today to kick off “Reach for the Pie,” a statewide initiative and contest, in partnership with Hungry Howie’s and Michigan Credit Union League, encouraging students and parents to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to lower the cost of college and unlock valuable financial aid opportunities such as the Michigan Achievement Scholarship.

The goal of the initiative is to encourage Michigan students to complete the FAFSA to increase access to student aid. By completing the FAFSA, class of 2024 students will be eligible to enter the contest for a chance to win free Hungry Howie’s pizza for a year. The prize will be awarded to 100 randomly selected students. The deadline to enter the contest is June 30, 2024. MiLEAP’s MI Student Aid will post the list of winners on on or after Aug. 1, 2024.

“Reach for the Pie” comes as the White House and the U.S. Department of Education recently declared April 15-19 the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Week of Action, advocating a concerted effort from all stakeholders at all levels to assist students and families with completing the 2024 FAFSA.

 “With FAFSA, students can ‘Reach for the Pie,’ and unlock doors to opportunity,” said Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II. “They can access critical financial aid like the Michigan Achievement Scholarship, which offers up to $27,500 for college. The Achievement Scholarship is a cornerstone of our vision to remove financial barriers and ensure that by 2030, 60% of Michiganders will hold a postsecondary credential. We will keep working hard to pave the way for future leaders.”

The Michigan Achievement Scholarship, established to lower the cost of college and support the state’s educational goals, offers significant financial assistance to eligible high school graduates. This scholarship, along with other state-funded programs such as Michigan Reconnect, Tuition Incentive Program and MI Future Educator programs, aim to increase access to higher education and workforce development.

“There has never been a better time for students to explore financial aid. The new streamlined FAFSA process can open scholarship and grant opportunities like the Michigan Achievement Scholarship, providing all Michiganders an affordable path to college.,” said Michelle Richard, acting director of MiLEAP. “Our goal with ‘Reach for the Pie’ is to not only make students aware of these opportunities but also to incentivize them to take action and complete the FAFSA now so they can enroll in college this fall.”

“Filling out the FAFSA is the gateway to unlocking scholarship opportunities, including the new Michigan Achievement Scholarship, which provides up to $8,250 over three years at a community or tribal college, up to $27,500 over five years at a four-year public college or university or up to $20,000 over five years at a private college or university,” said Diann Cosme, director of MiLEAP’s MI Student Aid. “By participating in this statewide FAFSA initiative, students not only have the chance to win free pizza for a year but also take a significant step toward securing their financial future.”

“Encouraging students and families to complete the FAFSA is not just about accessing federal student aid or grants; it’s about making a smart financial decision,” said Kieran Marion, executive vice president of advocacy for the Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) and the Michigan Credit Union Foundation (MCUF). “This event exemplifies MCUL’s priorities to provide Michiganders with access to pathways for financial growth and stability, and by supporting this FAFSA initiative, MCUL and MCUF are demonstrating their commitment to financial literacy, empowering individuals to make smart financial decisions and advancing the broader goal of promoting financial health and security for all.”

The pizza is provided through a partnership with Hungry Howie’s.

“Our independently owned and operated franchises are deeply rooted in their communities,” said Kevin Dittrich, franchisee owner of Hungry Howie’s in the Lansing area. “We are excited to partner with MiLEAP and MI Student Aid to provide incentive for students to complete their FAFSA and have more opportunities for financial aid.”

Ferris State applications up nearly 40 percent, with specialists ready to help students take their next steps

Applications to attend Ferris State University are up nearly 40 percent from a year ago – and are at an all-time high.

Now university specialists are ready to help prospective students take the next steps and register for classes, guiding them through the enrollment and financial aid processes and sharing details about housing and other options.

Dean of Enrollment Services Kristen Salomonson said 18,772 students have applied to enroll for the Fall 2024 semester, up from 13,457 at this time in 2023, and greater than the 16,839 applicants in the pre-pandemic year of 2018.

The figures include the Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University, which is seeing a 47 percent increase from a year ago. 

University leaders say the application increase is likely tied to students of all ages learning about educational opportunities that will prepare them for rewarding careers and taking classes in a supportive environment with resources to help them succeed.

“Applications are at an all-time high as students recognize the quality and affordability of a Ferris State education,” Salomonson said. “Ferris State degrees lead to great jobs, here in Michigan. The application is the first step, and we are ready to help students enroll in classes that will change their lives.”

A Ferris State application is free and can be found at

Applications are coming from students graduating from high school this spring, community college graduates looking to continue their education, and older students looking to start or restart their education to gain skills and advance in their careers.

Many Ferris State academic programs are available online, with assistance available at Student Success Hubs across the state.

The university has 180 programs leading to associate, bachelor’s or graduate degrees, small class sizes, and a hands-on approach that will help students move at the speed of industry.

The Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University, located in the heart of Grand Rapids’ thriving cultural scene, offers undergraduate and undergraduate degrees in fields including fine arts, graphic and product design, and architecture.

The Ferris State Admissions Department has hotlines to assist students. Anyone seeking help with applications, transcripts, visits, orientation, and other admissions features can call 231-591-2000 or email

Students can get assistance with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid – also known as FAFSA – by calling 231-591-2110 and emailing The team can also assist with questions about scholarships, grants, and loans. Students also can schedule one-on-one appointments online.

Salomonson said she knows many students are delaying making a college decision until they hear details about federal financial aid, which has been delayed while the U.S. Department of Education revamps the FAFSA process.

Ferris State is sending students financial award letters this week even though administrators and prospective students are awaiting additional information.

The university helping students make those decisions by increasing the amount of money available in some merit-based Woodbridge N. Ferris Scholarships for new students that are based on academic performance. Increases vary between $500 and $1,500 depending on the scholarship. Those awarded a $1,500 Crimson Scholarship will see a $1,500 increase. Students earning a $3,500 Dean’s Scholarship will get a $1,000 increase.

Students receiving $6,000 President’s Scholarships and $5,000 Provost’s Scholarships will see a $500 increase. The dollar amount for a $1,000 Ferris Forward Scholarship will be the same, but it will be available to more students as students with a 2.25 high school grade point average are now eligible, adjusted from the prior 2.50 requirement.

Woodbridge N. Ferris Scholarship funds are available for students who have already applied and been accepted, as well as those still to apply for the fall 2024 semester.

The university also encourages students to look at its ScholarshipUniverse program, which provides access to thousands of scholarships.

Additional information about the scholarships is available at this link. Bulldog Bonus information is available at this link.

Ferris State Softball doubleheader at Northwood cancelled due to weather

 Ferris State University's scheduled non-conference doubleheader against the Northwood Timberwolves slated for Wednesday (April 17) in Midland has been cancelled due to impending rain and weather conditions.

The two-game set will not be made up between the two former Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) counterparts.

With the cancellation, the Bulldogs will next be back in action on Saturday (April 20) as FSU hosts Parkside in a GLIAC doubleheader at the FSU Softball Field. First pitch is slated for 1 p.m. (ET) for game one with game two scheduled for a 3 p.m. (ET) start. Saturday will be Military Appreciation Day and all active military members and veterans are encouraged to attend. Admission is free and the Bulldogs will be donning camo jerseys for the contest.

Ferris State then hosts Purdue Northwest on Sunday (April 21) for Senior Day beginning at 1 p.m. (ET) and 3 p.m. (ET) for games one and two, respectively.

The Bulldogs currently own a 21-20 overall record to date this year and are presently near the top of the GLIAC standings with a 9-7 overall conference record.

Stay tuned to for any additional schedule changes throughout the season.

State, local partners highlight Gov. Whitmer's budget recommendations and benefits for Michigan's rural communities

Yesterday, the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) joined local community members, business leaders and stakeholders to discuss Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s FY25 budget recommendations in Capac, MI. The discussion focused on rural issues and what LEO’s Office of Rural Prosperity is doing to foster strategic and coordinated investments in people and places, with an intentional focus on building the capacity and resources necessary to address complex rural needs.   

"Rural communities play an integral role in Michigan’s economy,” said LEO Director Susan Corbin. “We are honored to host this roundtable event and bring together local community members, business leaders and stakeholders to discuss the investments being made to ensure rural communities have the funds and resources to solve their most complex issues.” 

In February, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer released her sixth executive budget recommendation that will lower costs, power economic development and build a brighter future to ensure any person or business can “make it” in Michigan. The proposed budget includes $2.5M Rural Prosperity Grants to enhance regional and statewide coordination of services in rural communities. These grants would be overseen by Office of Rual Prosperity, who joined LEO late last year. 

"Rural communities are facing unprecedented opportunities, but at the same time, they often have issues solving complex challenges like housing shortages and health access, due to the lack of funding or staff resources,” said Sarah Lucas, director of the Office of Rural Prosperity. “The proposed $2.5M investment towards additional grant opportunities for our rural communities puts vital dollars in underserved areas across the state a to ensure residents have the resources they need to respond to the urgent, complex needs in their communities, while also preparing for the important opportunities in front of them.” 

In just a short time, Office of Rural Prosperity has made big strides for rural communities:  

  • Created in mid-2022 with only three staff joining in early 2023, they were able to launch the Rural Readiness Grant Program last year that’s now supporting rural innovations in housing, healthcare access, infrastructure and more, and will leverage millions of dollars in investment across the state.   
  • Built an extensive network of rural partners and resources, ensured rural needs were a part of new policies and programs across state government and developed a comprehensive statewide strategy – the Roadmap for Rural Prosperity, just released last month, which includes a vision for coordinated action.  

"We are grateful for programs and initiatives like the Rural Readiness Grants and the Roadmap for Rural Prosperity that actively address the issues that rural communities face today,” said Kathy Dickens, executive director of Four County Community Foundation. “With the Rural Readiness Grants, Four County Community Foundation has been able to implement a grant writing internship program that will give communities the knowledge to apply for additional funding opportunities. We are excited to see the potential for more funding that will positively impact our rural communities and their residents.” 

Rural Prosperity programs are a necessary tool to make sure we're investing in underserved areas across the state, giving everyone an equal playing field to address a wide range of needs that lead to positive change for Michigan residents. By investing $2.5M for Rural Prosperity grants and programs the Michigan will be able to build on the road map, lift up more communities and fund projects that will address complex challenges like housing shortages and health access.   

To learn more about Rural Prosperity, their programs and initiatives visit,

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