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BigRapidsDailyNews : Breaking News


There is a new tool available for residents and those visiting the area, if they're in an emergency situation.


Text 911 is now available for residents in Mecosta and Osceola Counties.


The service launched earlier this month, Director of Meceola Central Dispatch, Megan Erickson says this new tool will break down a barrier so that dispatchers can help those who have a hearing impairment, speech impairment, maybe an intruder is in your home, a domestic situation is occuring or can benefit those in areas where wireless service is limited.


Erickson added to please remember to call when you can; text when you can’t.


There are a few more tips to remember when texting to 911. Send a brief message without using abbreviations or any slang. Be prepared to communicate your exact location and the emergency help that is needed. Stay with your wireless device and be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from a 911 dispatcher.


For more tips click HERE and HERE


Photo credit: John Moolenaar 


A Korean War Veteran from the Reed City area was honored last week for his service to his country. 


U.S. Rep. John Moolenaar, State Sen. Curt VanderWall and State Rep. Michele Hoitenga awarded 87-year old Rudy Grahek  with several medals including the National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal with one Bronze Service Star, the Combat Infantryman Badge and the United Nations Service Medal. 


photo credit: Julia Lttle 


Grahek says these medals bring back a lot of memories from his time serving in the military.


“During my service from 1952-1954, I was in line in front of my company commander and I volunteered for a lot of night patrols that started at midnight and I would patrol along mountainous hills in Korea and try to locate where the enemy was hiding.”Grahek said. 

Grahek was drafted in 1952 and sent to Camp Atterbury in Illinois after graduation, he was part of the Battle of Pork Chop Hill. Grahek was discharged in 1954.


Later in life, he started working as “Dynamite the Clown” appearing at various events around the state. 


Even at 87-year old, Grahek says he appeared at 37 events this past Summer.




  Photo's courtesy of Bill Yontz


The Mecosta County Toys for Tots program is having its distribution day tomorrow at the Big Rapids Eagles Club and is still in need of donations for families in need during the holidays.


Region 4 Mecosta County Coordinator Angela Malek says they had a great start with donations in the beginning, but it started to slow down and now are short and still looking for toys for boys ages 10-12 and toys for infant boys and girls.


Donations will continue to be accepted at the Sheriff's Department in Big Rapids until 5 p.m. tonight or at the Big Rapids Eagles Club until 8 p.m. tonight.  


Toys will be distributed on Saturday Dec. 7th from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., for registered families.


Walk-ins will be welcome as well on Saturday.


The Toys for Tots program is also in need of storage donation for any toys that weren’t taken for distribution to be held for next year.



Cora Okkema of Mecosta County took the top spot at Michigan Farm Bureau's (MFB) 2019 Young Farmer Discussion Meet Dec. 4 at MFB's 100th Annual Meeting in Grand Rapids.


Cora received her Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture from Dordt University in Iowa and is currently studying livestock behavior and welfare at Colorado State University graduate school.

Okkema’s roots are in Blanchard, Mich., where her family runs a 675-head Holstein dairy farm.


While this is her first year competing, Okkema has been involved in county Farm Bureau activities such as Breakfast on the Farm, Young Farmer events, and being a liaison between her research at school and sharing it with farmers to utilize on their operations.


“I had such an amazing time working with my colleagues during this discussion meet and going through topics that are really current in this industry,” Okkema said. “In my opinion, the most interesting subject we tackled was the consumer-based question where we talked about consumer values and their changing needs. I thought it was interesting because we competitors come from different ag sectors and have our own issues with the subject. But we were able to come together in unity, address the issue and evolve as an industry to work with consumers and their new-found values, while at the same time realize our values are truly the same.”


Farm Bureau discussion meets test young farmers ages 18 to 35 in a unique public speaking challenge; participants are rewarded for their knowledge of current agricultural issues, their cooperative demeanor and the tact and civility of their delivery. As the contest moderators explain in their opening remarks, these are discussions, not debates.


After 11 regional contests across the state, nearly 35 participants competed in two opening rounds. Round three saw the field cut to 16 semifinalists, then four finalists faced off to determine the statewide winner.


The other three finalists were Bradley Love of Branch County, Elizabeth Wernette of Hillsdale County, and Kyle McCarty of St. Clair County.


This year's discussion topics addressed four current issues of concern among the agricultural community:


  • Preliminary Round 1: The customer is always right. How do farmers and ranchers think and respond, through the lens of consumer priorities and marketing trends, to build common values and confidence in modern production methods to build consumer acceptance?

  • Preliminary Round 2: The 21st-century agricultural economy is threatened by labor shortages. Without a clear solution for accessing foreign guest workers as a component of immigration reform coming from Congress, what are some creative and legal ways for agriculture to address the labor needs of a modern production system?
  • Sweet 16 Round: With abundant productivity, farmers are in need of new markets, including outside traditional food and feed channels. How do we develop, invest and commercialize to innovate new uses of agricultural products and by-products to benefit all of agriculture?
  • Final Round: Products like cell-based food products have demonstrated the food system is rapidly changing. How can future food technologies and related products be beneficially integrated into modern agriculture production without hampering the success of traditional products and the farmers and ranchers who grow them?


As the state-level winner, Okkema received a $2,000 cash prize from AIS Equipment and a paid trip to compete in the national-level Young Farmer and Rancher Discussion Meet at the American Farm Bureau Federation 101st Convention and Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas, Jan. 17-22, 2020. All four finalists also receive a suitcase courtesy of Michigan Farm Bureau Health Services and a Yeti cooler sponsored by the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture.


The AFBF YF&R program helps young Farm Bureau members shape their future and American agriculture through leadership development and personal growth opportunities. Three competitions enable members to showcase their leadership experience, communication skills and successful business plans as they compete against the best of the best from each state Farm Bureau.


As part of the YF&R competitions, the top four competitors in the Achievement Award, Discussion Meet and Excellence in Ag areas receive:


  • Winner: a new Ford vehicle (up to a value of $35,000) and paid registration to the AFBF YF&R Leadership Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, courtesy of Ford.
  • Runner-up receives: Case IH Farmall 50A, courtesy of Case IH.
  • Third-place finisher receives: Case IH 40-inch Combination Roll Cabinet & Top Chest and $500 Case IH parts card, courtesy of Case IH plus $2,200 worth of Stanley Black & Decker merchandise (PROTO, DeWalt, Stanley, Lenox & Irwin), courtesy of Stanley Black & Decker.
  • Fourth Place receives: Case IH 40-inch Combination Roll Cabinet & Top Chest and a $500 Case IH parts card, courtesy of Case IH.


Consumers Energy announced the emergency public warning siren systems near its Rogers, Hardy and Croton hydroelectric generating plants on the Muskegon River will be tested on Thursday, December 12 at approximately 9:30 a.m.


The tests will include a voice message, a 30-second siren and a second voice message. The public does not need to take any action during the tests.


The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission requires hydroelectric facilities to be able to quickly notify residents and visitors of any developing emergency at the plants. Typically, Consumers Energy performs the test once in August and in December each year.


In the event of an emergency, the siren/speaker units’ initial warning will be supplemented by information on radio and television stations along with Newaygo and Mecosta County emergency notification systems.


Consumers Energy offers a safety caution to those who visit dams in the winter.


“Ice on a reservoir near a hydroelectric facility is not reliable and should be avoided by snowmobilers, anglers and others,” said Bill Schoenlein, Consumers Energy’s executive director of renewable generation. “Also, ice-covered water down river from a hydroelectric facility should never be considered a safe place to walk.”




Mecosta County Sheriff Deputies arrested a Mecosta teen Tuesday on a warrant for crimes connected to a sexual assault of a minor. 


17-year old Dylan Snyder was arraigned on two counts of First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct in Mecosta Co. 77th District Court Wednesday. 


Detective Casey Nemeth says the arrest stems from an investigation into incidents that occurred in 2017 and 2018 with a minor child in the Village of Remus.  


Snyder posted $25,000 and is released on bond until his next court date.



Spectrum Health Reed City Hospital emergency department staff have been recognized for their work with trauma patients after being designated as a Level IV trauma facility by the State of Michigan.

The three-year certification follows a site visit and documentation review by the Michigan
Department of Health and Human Services to the facility in October.

“We’re very pleased with the designation,” said Jeff Hotsinpiller, a trauma coordinator for
Spectrum Health Big Rapids and Reed City Hospitals. The certification validates the
good work our teams have done in making trauma care a top priority of our emergency

Big Rapids Hospital is also a Level IV trauma facility

Trauma accounts for nearly half of deaths for people ages birth to 44.

Big Rapids and Reed City Hospitals have worked together creating a trauma program to
find and treat injuries quickly and efficiently. The program includes a partnership for
continuous education provided to EMS and other agencies to improve first responder
practices. Community education was also included to highlight fall prevention and
tourniquet application to control bleeding.

“Through these efforts, our emergency department can provide efficient and evidence-
based trauma care, ensuring the very best care for trauma patients starting at the scene
of injury so they heal quicker and have the best possible outcome,” Hotsinpiller said.



A Chase man is charged with a handful of counts following a string of incidents after a staged intervention.


It happened on Sunday, Osceola County Sheriff deputies say they were called to the area of 220th Avenue near 10-Mile Road, in Lincoln Township where it’s was reported the suspect, 25-year old Trevor Joesph Smith became combative after a family attempted to have an intervention for drug use.


According to police Smith was recklessly discharging an AR-15 at a family members pickup, then continued to discharge the firearm and then fled on a stolen ATV just prior to deputies arrival. Sheriff Ed Willaims says deputies tracked Smith from the home to another residence in Lake County and was taken into custody without incident.


Illegal drugs are thought to be a factor in this incident.


Smith was arraigned in the 77 th District Court today on charges of Felony Damage to Property Weapons, Firing Reckless Felony, Motor Vehicle Theft and Felonious Assault. 

Smith's bond was set at $75,000 and is currently lodged in the Osceola County Jail


A three judge panel has sided with Osceola Township against the proposal for a new building for Nestle Waters North America.


The Michigan Court of Appeals agreed with the Township that Nestle's plan violates the zoning ordinance.


The intent of the new building would be to increase their water bottling efforts to by carrying Nestle groundwater to a loading station in Evart.


The appeals court said Nestle's bottling operation was not an “essential public service.”


State Rep. Michele Hoitenga’s plan to restore the practice of baiting and feeding deer in Michigan has been sent to the governor for her consideration.


The plan would end the ban issued by the Michigan Natural Resources Commission in August 2018 amid concerns about the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD).


Hoitenga, of Manton, said the baiting and feeding ban puts unnecessary restrictions on Michigan hunters with little evidence it will prevent the spread of disease. Her plan, House Bill 4687, would allow people to engage in baiting during open seasons on deer and elk in Michigan.


“The NRC banned baiting, but that didn’t eliminate the natural instinct of deer to herd for warmth and food,” Hoitenga said. “The baiting ban is hurting the situation by driving people away from the sport. Hunting prevents overpopulation – and that is key to preventing the spread of disease.”


Hoitenga said the decrease in hunting license sales will hurt Michigan’s conservation efforts, as well as the rural and northern Michigan communities that receive an economic boost from hunting activity.


Last year, hunting and fishing license sales made up 20 percent of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ entire annual budget, equal to $83.5 million. These funds were used to aid the recovery of endangered and threatened species, including restoring thousands of acres of habitat and wetlands.


According to one recent study, 171,000 jobs are created and supported annually across Michigan by hunting and fishing activity. Hunting generates around $8.9 billion in economic impact, the study said.




Two men and a woman were arraigned on charges connected to a case involving methamphetamineand stolen property out of the village of Morley last Friday.  


37-year old Robert Thomas Wright Jr, of Morley was charged with possession of methamphetamine and retail fraud 2nd degree, he remains jailed with a $110,000.00 bond.


46-year old Tammy Lynn Wright, of Morley was charged with retail fraud 1st degree and remains jailed with a $5000.00 bond pending further court action.


56-year old Timothy Allen Dahlke, of Saginaw was charged with possession of methamphetamine and remains jailed with a $100,000.00 pending further court action.


On Friday, deputies from the Mecosta County Sheriff’s Office responded to the Village of Morley to arrest a suspect on an arrest warrant for a Retail Fraud charge. Deputies attempted contact with the suspect’s family and located the suspect as he attempted to flee the area. Deputies stopped the suspect driving an unregistered vehicle attempting to leave the area. The suspect was arrested on traffic charges as well as the outstanding theft warrant.


Additional investigation led to the detention of a (2nd) male suspect at the residence who was also wanted by another agency. Information was obtained at the residence was that drugs were hidden prior to the suspect leaving the residence. Deputies were able to obtain consent and conducted a search based upon the information received. Deputies located a quantity of Methamphetamine.


Deputies then obtained a search warrant for the residence to obtain additional evidence. Deputies were able to locate numerous items of (new) stolen property. The total amount of the stolen property recovered is in excess of $1000. Deputies arrested both males on Possession of Methamphetamine charges. The wife of the suspect was also arrested and lodged theft charges as well.


A 57-year old Grand Rapids-area man has died after a crash along U.S. 131.


The Mecosta County Sheriff's Department says 57-year old Fred Bender Junior of Sparta was killed when the pickup truck he was in went into the median of the freeway and rolled over Sunday morning.


The driver of the pickup, identified as 65-year old Steven Spring of Norton Shores was rescued from the truck and taken to the hospital with serious injuries.


An investigation is underway to determine what caused the crash.


Sad news out of Osceola County this morning as a 17-year old man from Tustin was killed in a car accident and another 17-year old from LeRoy was arrested.


It happened early Saturday morning just after 2am on Mackinaw Trail near 160th Avenue in Sherman Township. The reporting person had stated that nobody was around the vehicle.


Sheriff Ed Williams said in a press release, upon arrival deputies found a tan 2004 Toyota Camry had went off the road and overturned and the driver and his parents were on scene removing items from the vehicle. The driver was a 17-year old from Leroy.


At 3:17am deputies and an ambulance were dispatched to a house on 20 Mile Road near 160th Ave for a 17-year old having medical problems. Lifesaving measures were attempted on scene and the 17-year old male from Tustin died prior to arrival at the Hospital.


Ongoing investigation has revealed that the two incidents were connected and the 17-year old driver from Leroy was arrested and lodged at the Osceola County Jail for Operating Intoxicated causing death.

This investigation is ongoing and alcohol, speed, and seat belts are believed to be factors.


The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office would like to express their condolences and prayers to the family of the deceased during this tragic event.


Police in Big Rapids are currently investigating rumors of a threat to Big Rapids Middle School. 


A letter was sent out to students’ parents Tuesday.


The school says the threat was reported by students who ride the Big Rapids School Bus System.


After looking into the complaint, the school says it found no evidence to suggest the threat was real.


But school officials and police will be beefing up safety measures today.


The school says extra security will be at the school throughout the day. In addition, doors will be secured during the school day as well.


A statement from Big Rapids Deaprtment of Public Safety was released on its Facebook page recently about the recent rumors: 


"The Big Rapids Department of Public Safety is currently investigating the rumored threats and we will continue to work with the Big Rapids Middle School to ensure that students and our community remains safe. Our current belief that the rumored threats to the Big Rapids Middle School are not based in any facts; however, we will take every precaution as law enforcement to ensure that the Big Rapids community, families and students feel safe to learn and grow while at school."


If you have any information about this issue, you’re asked to call Big Rapids Police at 231-527-0005. Questions can be directed to the Big Rapids Middle School at 231.796.9965 or its central office at 231.796.2627.


The letter to BRMS parents from BRPS Administration is attached below.




Detectives at the Mecosta County Sheriff's Office say a Big Rapids man was arraigned on felony charges following an investigation into allegations into alleged sex crimes. 


Detective Drew Nielsen says 38-year old Kenneth Lee Bishop was charged with four counts of third degree criminal sexual conduct with multiple variables on November 15th in Mecosta County 77th District Court.  


Bishop remains in jail on $75,000 pending further court action. 



Michigan State Police say they need your help finding a man suspected of multiple car break-ins around Newaygo County.


Troopers say the male suspect stole multiple items from a car in Ensley Township during the beginning of November.


They say it happened near E. 136th St. and S. Elm Ave.


If you recognize this person or know anything about the thefts, call  MSP Trooper Dawson Hart Post 231-873-2171 or Newaygo Central Dispatch at (231) 689-5288.


State Rep. Michele Hoitenga’s plan to end the ban on baiting deer and elk in Michigan was approved today by the State House Tuesday 57-49.


Hoitenga said the ban – issued by the Michigan Natural Resources Commission in August 2018 amid concerns about the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) – is hurting outdoor enthusiasts and local businesses.


“Baiting is a method that hunters have relied on for generations, and there’s absolutely no evidence it contributes to the spread of disease,” Hoitenga said. “It’s silly for the NRC to ban hunters from scattering apples around their deer blinds when every day deer graze on apples that fall off trees in nature.”


The plan, House Bill 4687, would allow people to engage in baiting during open seasons on deer and elk in Michigan.


“The ban is doing more harm than good by chasing hunting families away from the sport,” Hoitenga said. “The revenue generated from hunting licenses helps support conservation efforts carried out by the DNR, and hunting enthusiasts play a crucial role in supporting our state’s northern and rural economies.”


Last year, hunting and fishing license sales made up 20 percent of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ entire annual budget, equal to $83.5 million. These funds were used to aid the recovery of endangered and threatened species, including restoring thousands of acres of habitat and wetlands.

According to one recent study, 171,000 jobs are created and supported annually across Michigan by hunting and fishing activity. Hunting generates around $8.9 billion in economic impact, the study said.


The bill now moves to the State Senate for consideration. 


With clinching the Central State Activities Association, the Morley Stanwood Mohawks moved to 12-0 in conference play and hold a 28-6-1 record going into district play.  

The Mohawks ended their regular season play with a win over Hesperia and in turn led to the Mohawks winning the CSA silver with and undefeated record in conference play. The Mohawks have only lost one match in conference play while winning 34 and holding an 81.4-win percentage.  

Senior Mohawk Ryleigh Newton said, “it’s really big for us because we’ve always had tough competition and it was a goal for us to go undefeated in our conference.” 

Outside the conference the Mohawks have won 70 sets and only lost 16 and are on a for game win streak. They are also ranked 9th in their class, 81st in the state, and even nationally ranked at 2863rd.  

Head Coach Robin Kozuch said, “they don’t take any team lightly because the game is so much highs and lows, you have to stay fired up or it’s the end of your season and I believe the girls realize that if they don’t give it their all then they’re done.” 

The Morley Stanwood volleyball team is full of young talent with three sophomore, five juniors, and their three senior leaders. Kozuch said that her three seniors are huge players for the team, but the younger kids have really grown and developed as well.  

“The biggest thing is from the leadership of the seniors this year, they are three really nice girls, they take the rest of the team under their wing even kids that we brought up that are younger they are all great mentors and very positive and nurturing, but they still push each other and I hope this keeps the young girls to be like them moving forward," Kozuch said. "I feel like this team has really gelled very well, they perform well, they are great athletes and we’ve had that a lot of years in the past as well but I feel like it really takes a family and a cohesiveness to be successful down the stretch.” 

Both Kozuch and Morley senior Breanna Berry said that this past summer the entire team went to a volleyball camp in Caledonia. Berry said that the camp was very challenging and that the girls were not allowed to have their phones for the entire week. 

“To see how hard the girls pushed and persevered through that tough summer camp that we went to and bond together is such an amazing memory and I’d like to keep that tradition going because it was awesome,” Kozuch said.  

Morley senior Jaidyn Schmitt said that she is pumped for post season action since it's her last year and would love for her team to go the distance. Schmitt feels that her team can get past districts and make it to states because the team has worked very well together this year than ever before. Berry said that she agrees with her teammate and that she really loves the team chemistry and leadership from the younger girls.  

“I think we are doing really really good at communicating when we need it the most and just being there for each other to lift each other up,” Newton said. ““Coach knows what to say and when to say it for all of us girls, she knows all of our tendency's and what to do it fix things when we struggle which has helped a lot.” 

Kozuch said that she has really enjoyed being allowed to coach this group of girls and that she has seen them play well enough that she believes that this team could go all the way. Kozuch loves the communities support and loves the Mohawk family and that it continues to grow.  

The Morley Stanwood Mohawks will play in the first round of districts that start Monday November 4th at 6 p.m. against Lakeview on the Mohawks home court. If they win, they would play again on Wednesday November 6th at 7:30 p.m. with the championship game Thursday at 7 p.m. 


Deputies with the Mecosta County Sheriff's Office believe alcohol was a factor in a one car accident early Sunday morning.


It happened at the intersection of 35th Avenue and 8 Mile Road in Remus.


Deputies say the driver, a 29-year old Remus man, was traveling southbound on 35th Avenue when his vehicle went off of the roadway, striking a tree.


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


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