Pioneer’s 2012 Year in Review: January through June

As 2012 comes to a close, the Pioneer staff reviewed the past year’s headlines and the events and people that had the most impact on the community. This is the first in a two-part round up of the year’s top local news stories.

What story impacted you? What news did you find especially noteworthy? Email your comments to dclark@pioneergroup.com.

Happy New Year!

January

Carly Schuberg remembered

Jan. 1, BIG RAPIDS – He was buried in a casket he made himself and transported in an antique hearse he restored, pulled by a team of Percheron horses.

A cornerstone of the Big Rapids community, Carl “Carly” Schuberg, 83, who died on Dec. 30, 2011, planned his exit of the world to be as unique as his life. More than 200 people attended his funeral.

Carly Schuberg’s funeral (Pioneer file photo)

 Switching badges

Jan. 10, BIG RAPIDS – Michigan State Police Lt. Andrea Nerbonne accepted an offer to be the Big Rapids Department of Public Safety’s next director. Nerbonne replaced Frank West, who was employed with the department for 27 years. She was officially appointed on Jan. 18.

 

February

FSU hockey makes history

Feb. 14, BIG RAPIDS – The hottest team in college hockey for the past six weeks now has the ranking to match. Ferris State University became ranked as the No. 1 team in the country for the first time in school history.

The ranking was just the beginning of the Bulldog’s historic 2012 season.

 

 MOISD sends millage to ballot

Feb. 14, BIG RAPIDS – Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School District and the local school districts in it decided to place a Regional Enhancement Millage on the November ballot. The five-year millage would have provided additional funding for facilities, transportation and technology for five school districts in Mecosta and Osceola counties. The millage ultimately failed.

 

Nina Raines and Travis Matzen were married on Valentine’s Day in 2012. (Pioneer file photo)

Bowled Over

Feb. 15, BIG RAPIDS – Nina Raines and Travis Matzen chose the unique venue of The Gate for their Valentine’s Day wedding. Theirs was the fourth wedding The Gate – a bowling alley, restaurant and bar, arcade and live music venue in Big Rapids – has hosted.

 

Arroe to run animal shelter

Feb. 16, BIG RAPIDS – The Mecosta County Animal Rescue Coalition, led by Cate Arroe, was chosen by the Mecosta County Board of Commissioners to build and manage a new shelter. The county’s Sheriff and Jail Committee reviewed four proposals before recommending Arroe.

Arroe took over the role of Ken and Susan DeVries, who ran a local animal shelter for 22 years. Arroe’s proposal was for a no-kill shelter for dogs and cats, with a $50,000 start-up cost and a $55,000 annual budget.

 

Park will offer space for dogs to run free

Feb. 21, BIG RAPIDS – Big Rapids city commissioners are throwing a bone to dog owners looking for a space to let their canine pets run free. City officials decided to designate space at the north end of River Street Park for a community dog park.

 

Austin Arquette celebrated his 12th birthday on Leap Day. (Pioneer file photo)

Residents celebrate Leap Day birthdays, anniversaries

Feb. 29, MECOSTA COUNTY – It’s that day, Feb. 29, when an individual’s birthday, anniversary or other important date finally appears on a calendar for the first time in four years.

Austin Arquette, of Big Rapids, turned 12 on Leap Day. David and Debbie Szot also celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary that day.

 

March

State Champs!

March 19, EAST LANSING – The Morley Stanwood High School girls basketball team made history on March 17, winning its first state championship in the program’s history. The Mohawks finished the season with a perfect 28-0 record, capped off with a 61-57 win over Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.

MSHS girls basketball team celebrates its state title. (Pioneer file photo)

 

City commissioners vote unanimously to stop charging at-fault drivers for services

March 20, BIG RAPIDS – A program that billed at-fault drivers for city police and fire services was unanimously repealed by city commissioners on March 19. City officials took a lot of criticism from area residents and business owners after contracting with Cost Recovery Corporation to bill non-city residents who are at fault in an auto accident for emergency services. After three months of the program actively collecting funds, the projected annual revenue from the program combined with criticism from residents caused city officials to repeal the program.

 

Family Engineering Night

Science comes to life at Family Engineering Night

March 21, BIG RAPIDS – Families were invited to take a closer look at different aspects of science and engineering with a variety of hands-on activities at the Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School District’s first Family Engineering Night on March 20. The engineering night was run in conjuncture with the annual Regional Science and Engineering Fair for middle and high school students.

 

Controversial business opens in Stanwood

March 22, MECOSTA TWP. – Sitting directly off U.S. 131, Stanwood’s newest and most controversial business, The Gentleman 131, is open for business and ready to deliver what owners are calling “high-class visual entertainment.” Originally envisioned as a topless bar, the club opened its doors as a “gentleman’s club” with dancing entertainment.

Due to outcry from residents at several meetings in 2011, the Mecosta Township board approved a regulatory ordinance prohibiting nudity in an establishment licensed by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission.

 

Frozen in time

Ferris hockey earns program’s first trip to Frozen Four. (Courtesy photo)

March 26, BIG RAPIDS – Bulldogs earn first-ever spot in NCAA Frozen Four after hockey team defeated Cornell 2-1 on March 24 at the Resch Center in Green Bay, Wisc.

 

April

Faculty, Ferris agree on contract

April 5, BIG RAPIDS – After more than a year of bargaining for higher pay, more job security and health benefits, the Ferris Nontenure Track Faculty Organization reached a tentative agreement with Ferris State University.

On March 29, university officals and nontenure track faculty representatives agreed on a proposal that would grant pay raises to nontenure faculty for the the next three years. Health benefits will be available to nontenure full-time employees – as it was before – and all employees will have the option of purchasing insurance through Ferris’ plan. About 100 faculty members belong to the union.

 

The puck stops here

April 6, TAMPA, Fla. – The underdogs are one win away from being the Top Dawgs.

Ferris State University’s hockey team continued its incredible run toward a national championship on April 5 with a 3-1 win over Union in the Frozen Four national semifinal at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

The Bulldogs went on to play in their first national championship in any competitive sport in school history on April 7 against Boston College. Ferris coach Bob Daniels was named NCAA hockey Coach of the Year after the team’s Frozen Four appearance.

Ferris State University hockey.

Something to be proud of

April 9, TAMPA, Fla. – A season seemingly too good to be true for the Ferris State hockey team came to a close with the earned respect of hockey fans across the country … but no national title.

Ferris fell 4-1 to Boston College on April 7 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, ending the Bulldogs’ season at 26-12-15. They left without a trophy in their hands, but left nothing on the ice, said Ferris State coach Bob Daniels, who was named the 2012 NCAA Coach of the Year.

 

Morton Township Library

Morton Township Library opens new facility to public

April 18, MECOSTA – After nearly a year of rennovation, the Morton Township Library’s doors reopened on april 17 to a much larger and more sophisticated building than it previously had. The $2.7 million library renovation and expansion project was completed in March.

 

Happy birthday, Pioneer!

April 18, BIG RAPIDS – Community members from across Mecosta County stopped by the Pioneer’s downtown office on April 17 to wish Pioneer Group chairman Jack Batdorff and his staff a happy 150th birthday.

The Pioneer was founded in 1862 by Charlie Gay. He decided to call the publication the Pioneer because it was the first newspaper in Mecosta County. An annual subscription was $1.

Now 150 years later, the Pioneer continues to deliver the news to Mecosta County through its print and online editions. The newspaper boasted 16 consecutive months of positive circulation growth between 2010 and 2012.

 

CMET makes major drug bust

April 21, MECOSTA COUNTY – About 300 marijuana plants and $15,000 in cash were seized by police on Wednesday from people involved in a manufacturing and distribution ring based in Mecosta County.

After a seven-month investigation led by Central Michigan Enforcement Team, police executed search warrants at seven properties in Mecosta, Ionia and Isabella counties. The largest seizure was taken from the village of Mecosta.

 

David Pilgrim speaks at the grand opening for the Jim Crow Museum. (Pioneer file photo)

Grand opening held for Jim Crow Museum

April 27, BIG RAPIDS – One man’s vision to turn racist objects into lessons on tolerance was realized on April 26 at the grand opening of the Jim Crow Museum at Ferris State University.

Museum curator and founder David Pilgrim, Ferris’ vice president for diversity and inclusion, unveiled the $1.3 million, 3,300-square-foot museum located in the lower level of FLITE. Pilgrim began collecting the racist artifacts more than three decades ago, and planning for the museum’s new location took 15 years.

Several university officials, Ferris board of trustees chair Ron Sneed, DTE Energy Foundation president Fred Shell and former students spoke at the museum’s grand opening.

 

May

MOISD millage voted down

May 9, MOISD — A millage put on the ballot to help local schools upgrade facilities and equipment was defeated by a margin of 416 votes. The Regional Enhancement Millage was voted down 2,447 to 2,031 overall, with opposition from 51 percent in Mecosta County and 64 percent in Osceola County. MOISD Superintendent Curt Finch cited unstable economy and economic uncertainty as reasons for the defeat.

 

Cranker’s Brewery opens to the public

Cranker’s Brewery opened in May. (Pioneer file photo)

May 10, BIG RAPIDS — After months of work installing a microbrewery, Cranker’s Brewery opened to the public on May 9. Contractors broke ground on the microbrewery in October 2011, more than one year after owner Jim Crank announced the estimated $815,000 project.

 

Raising the Woof

May 15, BIG RAPIDS — The Animal Rescue Coalition breaks ground at the site of the new Mecosta County Animal Shelter in Green Township. The new shelter can house 25 dogs and 35 cats at one time. It features 29 kennels, two open cat rooms, a cat and dog quarantine area, a 150-foot-by-150-foot outdoor dog exercise area and a walking trail around the property. ARC hoped to raise $250,000 to fund the project.

 

MSCS closes Stanwood Elementary

May 16, STANWOOD — After months of deliberation, the Morley Stanwood Community Schools Board of Education voted to close Stanwood Elementary School. The decision was made after the board voted at its April meeting to close one of the elementary school buildings and use the other to house preschool classes and the alternative school. K-5 students would be housed in the current middle school building, and seventh- through 12th-graders will attend school in the high school building. Nine teachers took retirement incentives, four parapros were laid off. The restructuring saved the district about $170,000 annually.

 

June

Suspect sentenced in meth lab case

June 9, BIG RAPIDS — Rachell Ann Stewart, 26, was sentenced to two to 20 years in prison on June 8 in Mecosta County’s 49th Circuit Court. She pleaded guilty in April to one count of delivering methamphetamine. Stewart and four others were arrested in January when Central Michigan Enforcement Team raided a house at 324 S. State St. in Big Rapids. In April, Ray Allen Miller, 30, of Big Rapids, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to deliver methamphetamine and one count of delivering the drug related to the same incident. He was sentenced to a minimum of nine years and six months in prison, with a maximum of 20 years.

 

Reductions, increases at RCAPS

June 19, REED CITY — In a move that left Superintendent Steve Westhoff with new duties and a $20,000 pay increase, the Reed City Area Public Schools board approved 5-1 a budget for the 2012-13 school year, which included a $665,817 cut and the laying off of six teachers. The budget reductions also were achieved by eliminating the elementary choir program, eliminating two paraprofessional positions which were no longer needed because the students assisted by those staff members graduated this year, eliminating one secretarial position through retirement, eliminating two crossing guard positions through retirement and an administrative restructure that included the retirement of high school principal Tom Antioho who would be rehired with the district to complete teacher evaluations at every building. Superintendent Steve Westhoff will take on the role of high school principal in addition to his duties as superintendent, for a pay increase of $20,000.

 

More than $100,000 stolen in debit card scam

June 26, BIG RAPIDS — More than $100,000 was taken from more than 400 people impacted by a debit card cloning scam affecting the Big Rapids area, and police identified two of the suspects involved. Local banks and businesses said their cash registers were compromised, but it was unclear if the thieves used an external device, such as a card skimmer, to collect information from the cards’ magnetic strips, or if the machines were hacked digitally.

 

 

 

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