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Big Rapids Riverview Elementary School receives awards for exceptional reading proficiency

As a part of their new program recognizing local schools that go above and beyond in reading proficiency, the TalentFirst group honored Riverview Elementary in Big Rapids on Monday.

Students, staff, and media piled in to the school’s gymnasium to celebrate the occasion, including being joined in attendance by TalentFirst President, Kevin Stotts, and Michigan Representative, Tom Kunse.

The ceremony included opening words from Principal Renee Kent, Superintendent Tim Haist, and former Talent First board member Leslie Brown.

“We work so hard here at Riverview,” Kent said. “We love to read, we love to do math, and we love to have fun. We work hard to play hard.”

When it came to the selection process, Stotts said Riverview was an obvious first pick for the award due to their unmatched proficiency.

“Compared to their peer schools, Riverview was well above any other school in the (reading) category,” Stotts said. “They stood out just on their performance alone being 50 to 60 percentage points in terms of reading proficiency, and then we did an interview with them and their team to see what they were doing. We found validation in some of their practices we’ve identified that lead to greater proficiency in reading.”

The school was presented a $1,000 check by TalentFirst for earning the “Literacy Leader Award” as well as given a tribute by Kunse that was signed by state leaders, including Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, to commemorate the occasion.

“I’m honored to be a part of your day.” Kunse said to the audience.

When asking two Riverview teachers, Carrie Beeney and Chris Hearth, they said they believe it’s the connection with the students that sets them apart.

“We make sure to hang out and greet the kids every morning,” Beeney said. “Building relationships is key.”

“With the students, they always know where they are at and where they need to be,” Hearth said. “Everyone continues to grow at their own pace.”

Riverview is one of five elementaries receiving the award across West Michigan.

Fatal fire kills two at mobile home in Big Rapids

The Mecosta County Sheriff's Office responded to the scene of a mobile home fire that was called in at the Circle Drive Mobile Home Park in Big Rapids Township.

The call came in at approximately 8:40 Wednesday morning. A fire investigation has revealed two victims in the mobile home. 

Detectives from the Sheriff's Office are being assisted by the Michigan State Police Crime Lab (Grand Rapids), Big Rapids Township Fire, Big Rapids Fire, Mecosta and Austin Fire, and Mecosta County EMS Units.

Ferris State Football unveils full 2024 game schedule

A full 11-game slate and six home games at Top Taggart Field highlight the 2024 Ferris State University football schedule for this coming fall as announced yesterday by the Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs, who have reached the NCAA Division II Playoffs a nation-leading nine consecutive years to date, will play 11 games over the course of 12 weeks this fall with the implementation of D2's new week zero scheduling addition.

This fall's gridiron slate will feature four matchups against teams that reached the NCAA Division II Playoffs at least once in the past two seasons, including a pair of showdowns against fellow Super Region Three perennial contenders in Pittsburg State and Grand Valley State.

"We're excited our student-athletes and our team will have the opportunity to play a full 11-game schedule this coming fall," said FSU head coach Tony Annese, who ranks as college football's winningest active head coach. "It is difficult to find non-conference games and it's outstanding that our guys will be guaranteed 11 games this year. We're also thrilled to be able to play six games in front of our home fans and looking forward to the challenge in front of us."

The Bulldogs will kickoff the season on Aug. 31 with a national showdown against Pittsburg State on the road in Kansas. The Gorillas have reached the second round of the NCAA D2 Playoffs each of the past two seasons and the matchup will be the first of two meetings over the next two seasons between two of the nation's top squads.

Following the season-opening trip to Kansas, the Bulldogs return to Big Rapids for back-to-back home contests against a pair of former Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) counterparts at Top Taggart Field. FSU will open the home portion of the schedule on Saturday, Sept. 7, under the lights versus Lake Erie before hosting another potential playoff opponent in Ashland on Saturday, Sept. 14. Each of the first two home games will kickoff at 6 p.m. (ET).

The Bulldogs will have a bye week on Sept. 21 before making a long trip to Massachusetts to face American International for the second consecutive season on Sept. 28. Last year, AIC made the trip to Big Rapids and this year's contest will mark the second-ever series' matchup between the two programs.

Ferris State will then open GLIAC play back at home on Saturday, Oct. 5, hosting league newcomer Roosevelt (Ill.) for the first time ever in a conference game in Big Rapids. The contest will serve as FSU's annual homecoming game with kickoff slated for 2 p.m. (ET) on the FSU campus.

After the league opener, the Bulldogs head to Detroit to square off against Wayne State in the Motor City on Saturday, Oct. 12. The game is slated for an evening matchup starting at 6 p.m. (ET).

The Bulldogs then return home to host Michigan Tech on Oct. 19 at 1 p.m. (ET) before heading to Allendale for the Anchor-Bone Classic on Oct. 26 against Grand Valley State with kickoff slated for 3 p.m. (ET). FSU will make a regular-season return trip to Lubbers Stadium after the conference schedule had to be adjusted with the addition of Roosevelt to the slate. It will mark Ferris State's fourth consecutive road game in the series between the two West Michigan rivals including playoff matchups each of the past two years.

Ferris State then heads to the Superior Dome on Nov. 2 to take on Northern Michigan in the final regular-season road game before closing out the regular-season back at home for two-straight home contests. The Bulldogs will host longtime GLIAC counterpart Saginaw Valley State on Nov. 9 and West Michigan rival Davenport on Nov. 16 with both games scheduled for 1 p.m. (ET) starts.

Stay tuned to for additional information on the 2024 campaign, including start times for all remaining road contests and ticket details coming soon.

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.

Below is the 2024 Bulldog Football Schedule:

Aug. 31 - at Pittsburg State
Sept. 7 - vs Lake Erie, 6 pm
Sept. 14 - vs Ashland, 6 pm
Sept. 28 - at American International
Oct. 5 - vs Roosevelt*, 2 pm (Homecoming)
Oct. 12 - at Wayne State*, 6 pm
Oct. 19 - vs Michigan Tech*, 1 pm
Oct. 26 - at Grand Valley State* (Anchor-Bone Classic)
Nov. 2 - at Northern Michigan*
Nov. 9 - vs Saginaw Valley State*, 1 pm
Nov. 16 - vs Davenport*, 1 pm 

Nov. 23 - NCAA Division II Playoffs (First Round)
Nov. 30 - NCAA Division II Playoffs (Second Round)
Dec. 7 - NCAA Division II Playoffs (Quarterfinals)
Dec. 14 - NCAA Division II Playoffs (Semifinals)
Dec. 21 - NCAA Division II Playoffs (Championship) - McKinney, Texas 

59-year-old male dies after falling through the ice on Little Bass Lake

On Monday, Feb. 26 at approximately 9:09 P.M., deputies were dispatched to Little Bass Lake, located on 65th Ave near Madison Rd in Martiny Township, for an attempted water rescue of a missing person. Deputies were advised that a 59-year-old male from Mecosta had been located by family after falling through the ice while ice fishing and they were unable to get him out of the water.

Upon arrival on scene first responders were able to recover the male who was no longer breathing. Despite all life-saving efforts being attempted, the male could not be resuscitated.

Deputies were assisted by Barryton Fire, Fork Township Rescue, Chippewa Township Fire/Rescue, Morton Township Fire/Rescue with a hovercraft, Nottawa Shermon Township Fire/Rescue with an airboat, Mecosta County EMS, Mecosta County Sheriff Office Dive Team, Medical Examiners Office and Meceola Central Dispatch.  

Sheriff Miller would like to advise that due to recent warmer temperatures the ice on lakes is no longer stable and to please stay off the ice.

Evart Police: Weekly Blotter (2/19 - 2/25)

Monday, January 19

  • Nothing reported.

Tuesday, January 20

  • Nothing reported.

Wednesday, January 21

  • Flee and Elude – Officers were requested by the Osceola County Sheriff’s Department to track multiple subjects that fled on foot after a long pursuit. Three of the four subjects were detained prior to arrival. Officers and K-9 Koda located the fourth subject who was placed into custody without incident. All subjects were transported to Osceola County Jail.
  • Suicidal Subject – Officers were dispatched to check on a potential suicidal subject. Subject was safely transported to a local hospital for an evaluation. No injuries were noted from the subject. 

  • Suspicious - Officers responded to a report of a disorderly male. Arriving on scene it was determined to be a neighbor dispute reference kids entering someone else's apartment. Parties were already separated upon arrival. 

Thursday, February 22

  • Nothing reported.

Friday, February 23

  • Runaway – Officers were dispatched for a juvenile runaway. The juvenile was located and was turned over to family.

Saturday, February 24

  • Check Wellbeing – Officers were dispatched to a check wellbeing on a subject.

Sunday, February 25

  • Structure Fire – Officers were dispatched for a structure fire along with Evart Fire Department. The residence was filled with smoke and one resident was inside their apartment. It was determined the smoke came from a stove and was caused by burnt food.

  • Check Wellbeing - Officers were dispatched to check the wellbeing of subject.

How to vote for today's presidential primary

The presidential primary polls are open today for in-person voting across the state of Michigan. 

All voters that are registered in the state of Michigan can vote at their respective polling place on Election Day, Tuesday, Feb. 27 from 7 A.M. to 8 P.M.

Unregistered voters, along with voters who have not updated their registration to a new address, must go to their local clerk’s office to register beforehand. There is also an option to vote at their clerk’s office using an absentee ballot.

Voters should remember to do the following before arriving at their repsective polling location:

  • Look up the location of the polling place to ensure it has not moved recently.
  • Look up their registration status to ensure it is current.
  • Bring their photo ID to the polls if they are in possession of one. Photo ID is not a requirement to vote in Michigan.

For more information, visit Vote on Election Day (


Moolenaar announces more Michigan agriculture support for his Supporting Farm Operations Act

Today, Congressman John Moolenaar announced additional Michigan agriculture organizations have endorsed his legislation, H.R. 7046, the Supporting Farm Operations Act. The Michigan Apple Association and the Michigan Vegetable Council have both endorsed the legislation, which would freeze the wage rate for migrant farm workers, known as the Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR) at the level that was established in 2023. This freeze would go through the end of 2025.

“I am proud to have the support of more Michigan agriculture groups for my legislation to help farmers. The Department of Labor has been raising costs on farmers for years and these unprecedented increases are making it difficult for them to keep working. Farmers and ag groups support my bill because it will help ensure they can pay a reliable work force and still afford to make ends meet,” said Moolenaar.

"The 2024 Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR) for Michigan will be $18.50 -- an increase of about 7 percent. Congressman Moolenaar's AEWR freeze bill is a positive step forward as the legislature addresses the onerous and expensive regulations around H2A and the need for meaningful reform. The Michigan Apple industry is grateful for Congressman Moolenaar's continued support and his work to preserve the United States agriculture industry," said Diane Smith, Executive Director of the Michigan Apple Association.

"Our country must grow food for itself.  The next few years will be telling as to how long and to what quantity we continue to grow fruits and vegetables.  An AEWR freeze is one step in the right direction to begin to offset current unsustainable labor costs," said Greg Bird, Executive Director of the Michigan Vegetable Council.

The Michigan Apple Association and The Michigan Vegetable Council now join Michigan Farm Bureau, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, the International Fresh Produce Association, and the U.S. Apple Association in endorsing Moolenaar’s legislation.

Ferris State wraps up action at 2024 GLIAC Indoor Championships

The Ferris State University men's and women's indoor track and field teams wrapped up action in the 2024 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Championships on Sunday (Feb. 25) in University Center.

The annual league championships were hosted by Saginaw Valley State and the Bulldog men's team placed sixth with 34 points while the women tied for seventh place overall with 27 points in the final standings.

Ferris State's Claudia Wilkinson won the league title in the women's high jump with a mark of 1.83 meters.

FSU's Danae Feldpausch came in third overall in the finals of the women's mile run (4:53.81) and Hanna Brock placed 11th in the same event (5:11.14). Whitney Farrell took ninth place in the 3,000 meters (10:12.94) and Rebecca Marvin was ninth in the shot put (11.46m).

The Bulldogs' Chase Carter finished as the runner-up in the 60 meters (6.87) and also finished fifth in the 200 meters (22.21).

Meanwhile, Cooper Sorsen was fifth overall in the 3,000 meters (8:29.41).

Blaine Rogers took seventh place in the finals of the 60-meter hurdles (8.65) and Gavin Vansolkema took eighth in the mile run (4:19.15) finals. Ben Dousuah took 10th place in the shot put (13.58m) and Hunter Richardson came in 11th (12.78) in the shot. Levi Tuinstra placed 11th in the high jump (1.78m).

FSU's Ryan Kachnowski placed 10th in the mile (4:24.73). In addition, Kevin Wilson finished 10th in the 800 meters (1:59.13) and Lucas Vandam was 11th (1:59.70) in the same race.

Ferris State was also fifth in the men's 4x400-meter relay (3:27.55) and seventh in the women's 4x400-meter relay (4:07.96).

Complete results from the league championships, including both day one and day two competition, can be found at the link below.

GLIAC Final Results

Bulldog Hockey wins shootout against Northern Michigan in final home game of the year

Ferris State University's Stepan Pokorny scored in the first round of the shootout and Noah Giesbrecht saved all three Northern Michigan attempts as the Bulldogs won their second shootout of the season Saturday (Feb. 24) in the Ewigleben Ice Arena.

The Bulldogs (10-21-2) played a tightly contested game against Northern Michigan that was tied 1-1 after the first three periods. When neither team scored in overtime, the Bulldogs had their second shootout of the year, winning it 1-0 in their final home game of the season.

Before the game, Ferris State honored 11 players for senior night. Those players were Logan SteinBen SchultheisDrew CooperAustin McCarthyJacob Dirks, Pokorny, Jason BrancheauNick HaleAntonio VenutoBrenden MacLaren and Giesbrecht.

Zach Faremouth scored the first goal of the game at 11:33 in the first period on the power play. Pokorny and Brancheau had the assists on Faremouth's second power play goal this year, giving the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead.

Northern Michigan tied the game at 1:59 in the second period. Rylan Van Unen scored with assists from Tyrell Boucher and Kevin Marx Noren, the final goal of the game.

Giesbrecht made 24 saves in regulation, while Northern Michigan goaltender Beni Halasz stopped 12 shots through the first 60 minutes. In overtime, Giesbrecht denied both Wildcat shot attempts and Halasz made five saves.

Grant Slukynsky was the first shooter in the shootout, and he was turned away by Giesbrecht. Pokorny went first for the Bulldogs and beat Halasz, giving FSU a 1-0 advantage in the shootout.

Matvei Kabanov went next, and he too was denied by Giesbrecht. Brancheau had a chance to win it for Ferris State in the second round, but Halasz made the save.

Mikey Colella was the last chance for Northern Michigan, but Giesbrecht stood tall for a third time in the shootout and won it for Ferris State.

Giesbrecht finished the game 26-27 and officially earned a tie. Halasz turned away 17-18 shots. 

Northern Michigan won 31 faceoffs compared to 25 for Ferris State. The Bulldogs went 1-3 on their power play tries and killed all four of their penalties.

The Bulldogs have one game remaining in the regular season. They will visit Lake Superior State University Friday (March 1) for a 7:07 p.m. (ET) puck drop against the Lakers. Pregame coverage will begin at 6:30 p.m. (ET) on Sunny 97.3 FM.

DuPont Scholarship boosts Ferris State Plastics Engineering Technology senior's bottom line ahead of career entry

Rockford native and Ferris State University Plastics Engineering Technology student Cameron Sawicki is the proud recipient of a $2,500 scholarship made available through a collaborative for industrial giant DuPont Tedlar and the Society of Plastic Engineers Foundation.  

Sawicki is a senior and said he will graduate this May with a Bachelor of Science degree, with a major in Plastics and Polymer Engineering Technology, accentuated by the excellence of resources and faculty in Ferris’ National Elastomer Center.

“Our program is very well rounded, as we work with the latest in injection molding technology in our labs, then learn to apply that knowledge through instruction from faculty with extensive industry experience,” Sawicki said. “I could not have asked for a better arrangement for my education and career intentions.”

Sawicki said Plastics Engineering was a field that came into focus in his high school days.

“I have to admit entering the program was something of a snap decision,” Cameron said. “I am so glad, as my choice of this degree path has exceeded all my expectations.”

The Plastics Engineering Technology curriculum is part of Ferris’ School of Design and Manufacturing in the College of Engineering Technology. Data gathered by the college notes PET graduate placement is near 100 percent. A recent group of graduates received salaries averaging $68,500 a year that were augmented by generous benefit plans and signing bonuses.

“I have received full-time job offers, but am still considering my options at this point,” Sawicki said.

PET program coordinator Tom Van Pernis, an associate professor, is a 2008 alumnus of the program. He said student recruitment requires more prospect education than in years past, owing to social media misinformation about the plastics industry and its active role in environmental stewardship.

“We are helping students understand they can be agents of positive change, by emphasizing sustainability in their service to the industry,” Van Pernis said. “There are many opportunities to work in the creation of industrial and commercial products, at starting salaries of $70,000 and beyond and Ferris graduates are ‘first choice’ candidates in their hiring processes.”

The DuPont Tedlar Scholarship that was awarded to Sawicki is part of a year-long emphasis to support studies in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

Tedlar is a polyvinyl fluoride film that can withstand scuffs, stains, and harsher conditions, with applications ranging from protective clothing to industrial uses. The corporation and the SPE Foundation continue their collaboration in 2024 through targeted educational opportunities for Girl Scouts and students in the vicinity of Tedlar production plants in New York and Ohio.

Van Pernis said Ferris PET students Anthony Audia of Ionia and Ashley Dobbyn of Garden City also received SPE scholarships in the last granting cycle. 

Lions re-sign kicker Michael Badgley

The Detroit Lions announced today that they have re-signed K Michael Badgley. Contract terms were not disclosed.

Badgley returns for his third season in Detroit after converting four-of-four field goals (100.0%) and 13-of-15 extra points (86.7%) for 25 points scored in 2023. In the Wild Card Round vs. the Los Angeles Rams, Badgley tied a postseason franchise record by converting a 54-yard field goal.

Originally entering the NFL in 2018 with the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted free agent out of Miami (Fla.), Badgley has appeared in games for the Los Angeles Chargers, Tennessee Titans, Colts, Chicago Bears and Lions over his six seasons. In 64-career games, he is 98-of-119 on field goal attempts (82.4%) and 168-of-175 on extra point attempts (96.0%) for 462 points scored.

Chorus, clamor, and our culture

The following was written by District 101 Representative Joseph Fox of the Michigan House of Representatives in response to Vice President Kamala Harris' visit to Grand Rapids regarding abortion access.


On Thursday, Vice President Kamala Harris appeared in Grand Rapids to encourage supporters to keep fighting for abortion access and protections in Michigan. She cited the Dobbs decision from the Supreme Court – which turned over the authority to regulate abortion to the state governments – as proof that abortion is under siege. This makes sense if its legal status changes depending on the results of every election.

However, women have a right to an abortion that is guaranteed in Michigan’s Constitution – an addendum as of 2022. Federal laws and which party rules in Lansing do not matter: abortion access cannot be revoked. Abortion is in no legal danger in our state.

Why then does Harris portray abortion’s legal status as dire? The answer is clear: inciting voters to fight makes more political sense more than assuring them that they’ve won the fight already. Fearmongering produces more votes than facts.

Fighting for freedoms sounds so right to us Americans, and it should. It’s in our DNA. Our nation bears a rich history of men and women sacrificing to protect essential liberties and preserve them for future generations.

But the silent voices of unborn infants plead for the freedom to live, too, even if their chorus remains unheard, drowned out by the clamor of a culture in which those that shout the loudest will triumph. Odometers, not objective truth, outline who is right in the court of public opinion.

Thinking about life as a perpetual fight also begs another question: are we worth more as humans if we are willing to fight hard enough, or is our value fixed in something or someone outside ourselves? If we trust the words of Another, who lovingly made all of us, then we can finally rest in his decree. Apart from this our dignity will always be in jeopardy.

Mecosta County Sheriff's Office: Weekly Blotter (2/12 - 2/18)

Monday, February 12

  • At 5:10 P.M., deputies made a warrant arrest in Big Rapids TWP. A male subject was arrested on a warrant. He was lodged at the Mecosta County Jail. 

Calls for Service: 19


Tuesday, February 13

  • At around 2:30 P.M., deputies made a warrant arrest at a residence in Mecosta TWP. A male subject was arrested on a felony warrant. He was lodged the the Mecosta County Jail.

Calls for Service: 16

Traffic Accidents: 1


Wednesday, February 14

  • At 08:55 P.M., deputies made a warrant arrest at a residence in Fork TWP. A female subject was arrested on a warrant. She was lodged at the Mecosta County Jail.

  • At 1:40 P.M., deputies made a warrant arrest at a residence in Millbrook TWP. A male subject was arrested on a warrant. He was lodged at the Mecosta County Jail.

  • At 1:45 P.M., deputies made a warrant arrest in Big Rapids TWP. A male subject was arrested on a probation violation. He was lodged at the Mecosta County Jail.

Calls for Service: 32


Thursday, February 15

  • At 02:23 P.M., deputies responded to a domestic assault complaint, at a residence in Morton TWP. A male subject was arrested for domestic assault. He was lodged at the Mecosta County Jail. 

Calls for Service: 18

Traffic Accidents: 10

Car/Deer Accidents: 1


Friday, February 16

  • At 9:24 P.M., deputies made a warrant arrest at a residence in Millbrook TWP. A female subject was arrested on a felony warrant for MDOP. She was lodged at the Mecosta County Jail.

Calls for Service: 24


Saturday, February 17

Calls for Service: 15

Car/Deer Accidents: 2


Sunday, February 18

  • At 02:57 P.M., deputies responded to a domestic in Wheatland TWP. A male subject had assaulted his girlfriend.  After resisting officers and being tased, the male subject was arrested for domestic assault and resist /obstruct. He was lodged at the Mecosta County Jail.

Calls for Service: 7

Traffic Accidents: 1

Car/Deer Accidents: 2

Battling MS, medal-winning Ferris State alumna shines as a 2023 Meijer State Games of Michigan Athlete of the Year

Ferris State University graduate Andrea “Speedie” Hampton is a medal-winning fencer and softball player who competes from a wheelchair due to the ongoing impact of her multiple sclerosis.

Hampton is one of four people named 2023 Meijer State Games of Michigan Athletes of the Year. She is a medal-winning fencer and softball player who competes from a wheelchair as a result of the ongoing impact of her multiple sclerosis.

The Grand Rapids resident was diagnosed with the disease at the age of 26, and she still remembers that day with vivid clarity.

“I honestly had never heard of the disease,” she recalled recently. “When the doctors told me what I had, I was afraid, and I was angry. I remember I screamed a lot in my car the first day I was given the news.”

But, she added, she eventually was able to channel that anger in productive ways, including athletics.

Growing up in Grand Rapids and attending Ottawa Hills High School, sports had always been an important part of Andrea’s life.

“I have an older brother, and whatever he played, I wanted to play as well,” she said with a smile. “In high school, I played hockey and softball.”

In fact, it was hockey that first got her connected to Ferris State.

“I actually went to hockey camp a few times in middle school at Ferris,” she said. “I knew I wanted to go to Ferris when I was able to go to college.”

When she finally got to Big Rapids after graduating from Ottawa Hills, she studied Recreation Management Leisure Services and said she enjoyed her time in and out of the classroom.

“I enjoyed the atmosphere a lot,” she said. “I went to a lot of games, and I also played a few years of intramural sports.”

As she looks back, though, she also suspects that it was in college that her first MS symptoms began to appear.

“I didn’t pay much attention to it at that time,” she said. “I remember one time I was going to the bank, and I noticed that my walking was becoming harder for me to do. Also, we played games in one of my classes, and I noticed my running wasn’t the same.”

In May 2011, she received her diagnosis of relapsing-remitting and secondary progressive MS.

The National MS Society notes that relapsing-remitting is the most common disease course, with attacks followed by remission. Secondary progressive MS, it adds, follows the initial relapsing-remitting course and disability accumulates over time.

Hampton has seen that play out in real-time. She went from walking to walking with a cane, and now, the majority of her time, she uses a wheelchair to move around and get things done. She also just switched over to using hand controls for driving.

Sports have helped her in numerous ways, she said, as her disease progresses. And she extends a huge word of thanks to Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital for its role in her athletic journey.

“They helped me regain my confidence with playing adaptive sports,” she said. “When I was first diagnosed with MS, one of the things that got me down was that I thought I was done playing sports.”

A chance encounter with the Griffins Youth Foundation’s sled hockey program and the Grand Rapids Griffins was the first spark that eventually fueled her full-scale entry into adaptive sports.

“The Griffins were at Belknap (Griff’s Icehouse at Belknap Park) and were going to play sled hockey with the Sled Wings, and for a dollar, I tried a sled for sled hockey,” she said. “I had the biggest smile on my face being back on the ice and just coasting around. One of the coaches noticed the smile and told me how I could participate in adaptive sports through Mary Free Bed Hospital, and I have been going strong with them in the sports world ever since.”

Going strong is an understatement.

At the Meijer State Games, she has won gold medals twice in fencing in the adaptive foil division. And in 2023, she also competed with able-body fencers and finished sixth in women’s foil and ninth in women’s epee. She also earned the Sportsmanship Award at the 2022 National Wheelchair Softball World Series in Chicago.

In honoring her as adult female athlete of the year, the Meijer State Games noted that “her continued vivacity for life and love of sports have allowed Hampton to adapt and find new avenues, have fun and stay active. She is known for being fearless, friendly and fun, and never lets her physical limitations define her.”

For her part, Hampton shrugs off such accolades.

In May 2024, she will mark her 14-year anniversary of having MS. A lot has changed in her life as a result, but, she said, she plans to keep moving as long as she can, a Ferris forward Bulldog.

Special promotions planned for final hockey regular-season home series this weekend

The Ferris State University men's ice hockey team will host the Northern Michigan Wildcats this weekend (Feb. 23-24) for the Bulldogs' final regular-season home series of the year at the Ewigleben Ice Arena.

The action gets underway on Friday night at 7:07 p.m. (ET) with Saturday night's finale slated for an early 5:07 p.m. (ET) start.

The opening contest of the weekend series on Friday will be Military Appreciation Night and all veterans along with active military members can purchase a ticket for $5 off the normal price by showing their military ID in person at the FSU Athletics Ticket Office.

The finale on Saturday will be Senior Night with Ferris State slated to honor 11 seniors prior to the contest. Fans are encouraged to arrive early with the senior ceremony slated to start early prior to game time. The Bulldogs will also hold a senior night recognition, which is open to the public, following the game across the hall inside Jim Wink Arena where the Bulldog seniors will be introduced in front of their families and friends.

Along with Senior Night, the Bulldogs will also celebrate Fan Appreciation Night on Saturday. Parking will be free on Saturday for all fans and several giveaways are also planned in conjunction with the evening tilt.

Fans can purchase digital tickets for all Bulldog home hockey games in advance to guarantee a seat by visiting

The FSU Athletic Ticket Office's normal business hours are Monday thru Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET) with extended hours on Wednesday until 7 p.m. (ET). A complete pricing structure, ticket office hours and additional information is available online at and can be found by visiting the "tickets" tab. For additional ticket information, please call (231) 591-2888.

The Bulldog Sports Network and flagship radio station Sunny 97.3 FM will carry all of this weekend's action live with online coverage also available at Live video coverage will also be provided on a pay-per-view basis via CCHA TV on

Moolenaar honored by community health care providers

Congressman John Moolenaar has been awarded the Distinguished Community Health Center Advocacy Award by the National Association of Community Health Centers. The award was presented to Moolenaar by members of the Michigan Primary Care Association who work in community health centers in Michigan's Second Congressional District.

“I am honored to receive this award from our community health centers, who are an essential resource for Michigan families, especially in rural communities. I will continue my advocacy for them on the House Appropriations Committee so they can continue to provide vital health care services to residents for years to come,” Moolenaar said after receiving the award.

"Congressman Moolenaar is very deserving of NACHC’s Distinguished Community Health Center Advocate Award," said Frank Waters, Senior Director of Policy and Government Affairs of the Michigan Primary Care Association. "We are grateful for his steadfast support of community health centers and their mission to provide quality healthcare for all, particularly in underserved communities." 

Moolenaar is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies.

Evart Police: Weekly Blotter (2/5 - 2/18)

Monday, February 5

  • Property Damage Accident – Officers were dispatched to investigate a two-vehicle property damage accident.

Tuesday, February 6

  • Nothing reported.

Wednesday, February 7

  • Nothing reported.

Thursday, February 8

  • Harassment – Officers were dispatched to a harassment complaint. The report has been sent to the Prosecutor for review.

  • Warrant Arrest – While investigating a complaint Officers had contact with a subject who had a warrant for their arrest. The subject was arrested and lodged on the warrant.

Friday, February 9

  • Power – Officers were dispatched for a down power line. Fire personnel arrived on scene and stood by until the down line was taken care of.

  • Property Damage Accident – Officers were dispatched to investigate a two-vehicle property damage accident.

Saturday, February 10

  • Structure Fire – Officers assisted Evart Fire Department on a possible fire call. After the fire department completed their investigation it was determined that there was no fire at a residence.

  • Civil – Officers were dispatched for a civil complaint. During the investigation one of the subjects complained of a medical issue and was transported to Reed City Hospital for treatment.

Sunday, February 11

  • Fail to Pay – Officers were dispatched for a fail to pay for gasoline. The incident remains under investigation.

Monday, February 12

  • Nothing reported.

Tuesday, February 13

  • Check Wellbeing – Officers dispatched to conduct a check wellbeing.
  • Fraud – Officers were dispatched to a local business for a counterfeit bill. The complaint remains under investigation.
  • Trespassing – Officers were dispatched to a possible trespassing complaint. Officers were advised someone reported a subject had been staying in an outbuilding of a local business. Officers searched the building and did not find the subject or any belongings inside the building.

Wednesday, February 14

  • Alarm – Officers assisted Osceola County Sheriff's Department with an intrusion alarm. The business was secure.
  • Warrant Attempt – Officers arrested an individual who had a warrant out of Osceola County. The subject was lodged at the Osceola County Jail on their warrant.
  • Criminal Sexual Conduct – Officers received a criminal sexual conduct complaint. The complaint remains under investigation.
  • Alarm – Officers responded to a burglary alarm. Entry was made into the building by Officers and nobody was located inside.  Officers stood by until the owner arrived and secured the building.
  • Criminal Sexual Conduct – Officers received a criminal sexual conduct complaint. The complaint remains under investigation.
  • Domestic – Officers were dispatched for a domestic in progress. The suspect was arrested for two counts of Domestic Violence, two counts of resisting Police Officer and on a warrant. 

Thursday, February 15

  • Domestic – Officers were requested to assist the Osceola County Sheriff Department with a possible domestic.

  • Criminal Sexual Conduct – Officers received a criminal sexual conduct complaint. The complaint remains under investigation.

Friday, February 16

  • Nothing reported.

Saturday, February 17

  • Criminal Sexual Conduct – Officers received a criminal sexual conduct complaint. The complaint remains under investigation.

Sunday, February 18

  • Disorderly - Officers were dispatched to a disorderly persons complaint. Officers helped resolved the civil dispute and arrested one of the subjects on a local warrant. 

Ferris State University Nursing and student-athlete alumna builds a career and a family in hometown of Big Rapids

Makenzi Currie’s focus was clear in her high school days in Big Rapids. Athletics were on the horizon, along with studying nursing. But she didn’t expect to be doing those things at Ferris State University.

“I have lived in Big Rapids my entire life and never expected I would continue my education here,” Currie said. “As an athlete, I had to first decide on a sport to focus on, and I had a passion for softball. The Division I offer, to walk on at the University of Michigan, was my ultimate athletic dream, but it would not accommodate my desire to study nursing.”

Currie made her intentions known and quickly found they could be met by being a Nursing student and Bulldog on the diamond in Big Rapids.

“Everything worked out at Ferris. I got athletic and academic scholarships, which easily turned out to be my best opportunity,” Currie said. “My athletic experience went great, and I got so much support from my coach, Keri Becker. There was never any conflict based on my academics. Things worked out with my schedule really worked very well.”

Currie graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and took her first assignment with the Emergency Room of what was Spectrum-Butterworth Hospital on Grand Rapids’ “Medical Mile.”

“I entered into nursing with the philosophy that anywhere, anytime and anyplace, I am capable of responding,” Currie said. “I believe that is a nurse’s true calling.”  

Working for a Level-One Trauma Center had benefits for a young nurse, Currie said.

“This was really the best possible outcome for me, as I received great training and added to my skills as a responder,” Currie said. “That included certificates as a Trauma Nurse-Critical Care, an Emergency Nurse-Pediatric Care and Advanced Care-Life Support.”

Living in Big Rapids and serving in Grand Rapids did not mesh with plans to start a family, so Currie moved from that active service scene to a new chapter in her career.

“I was adding shifts at Spectrum Health-Big Rapids Hospital, as a new mother that really gave me the ability to shorten my commute, work at a comfortable pace and make gains as a professional,” Currie said.

An experience with a patient sparked a move to the Susan P. Wheatlake Regional Cancer Center.

“I had always wanted to work in oncology,” Currie said. “I knew Stuart Hamel, the first person I recall whose passing in 2001 affected me. I didn’t see him as sick, until we knew he had cancer, and he died at the age of 41, before I was even an adolescent. I never forgot that.”

Currie worked with patients being treated at the regional center.

“The hours were great as we were building our family, but it is a difficult job,” Currie said. “It really pulls on your heartstrings, seeing community members coming in for their care.”

The professional journey continued as Currie took a position with Big Rapids Interventional Radiology, another Spectrum Health offering at the hospital.

“It really brought me to recall the pace of emergency room work and all the emphasis that is part of oncology care,” Currie said. “While the hours suited our family’s needs, I found the controlled chaos of interventional radiology really appealing, professionally. Some of the cancer patients I had met at the Wheatlake Center were there to work with us, again.”

Currie’s final full-time job was as the School Nurse for the Big Rapids Public Schools.

“Considering where I was in terms of raising a family, the hours were a small concern, so I did not apply the first time the position was available,” Currie said. “That wait paid off, as the next time it opened, I applied. I was looking forward to the joys of hearing students’ stories.”

She took that job near the end of February 2020, a couple of weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic, and her job went into the virtual realm to serve that campus community.

“I really found that difficult since I was home with my two youngest sons, in a role that was demanding in terms of providing the best possible service to the students,” Currie said. “I stuck with it for a while but decided it was an opportunity best suited for another nurse to assume.”

Currie has found great reward in following her passion in service to those in need, but also has a mind to help future nurses gain from her philosophy and experiences.

“I started the Master of Science in Nursing program a matter of days after one of my sons was born, wanting to become a professor,” Currie said. “I would have enjoyed focusing my passion on helping students learn and grow in nursing. Throughout my experiences in the field, I was always told the Ferris nursing alumnus would be an employer’s choice because we were ‘floor-ready,’ with practical training and encouraged to exercise critical thinking skills. We, as graduates are charged with caring for and thinking outside the box, as you respond to each patient and their needs.”

With four children to raise, Currie is happy at home now, near Big Rapids, but her part-time service as a nurse continued.

“I was doing per diem work for Spectrum, which has now become Corewell Health,” Currie said. “At first, my calls were to Big Rapids, Reed City and Evart patients, but the area of service grew.”

Makenzi said parenting is her top priority at this time.

“My husband and I are of the philosophy that ‘If you want to change the world, it starts in your home,’” Currie said. “The regional nature of my last professional role just didn’t mesh with my obligations to my growing children, so I decided to stay home for now. I left with good graces and will keep an eye on opportunities to use my skills and serve my family. Staying home is a hard job, but the rewards are always there to see and enjoy.”

Post-pandemic priorities point to need for chefs, Ferris State Hospitality Management program strives to support their business learning

Lifestyle changes brought on by workplace demands and a societal shift following the COVID-19 pandemic have led to increased demand for chefs in the hospitality industry – with Ferris State University Hospitality Management alums thriving as entrepreneurs or professionals in leading resort destinations.

Kathryn Wolfer is an associate professor in Hospitality Management whose educational background includes Restaurant, Hotel and Institutional Management and the culinary arts.

Wolfer said Ferris State can support those who want to focus on the food and beverage segment of the industry by completing their Associate of Applied Science or Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management programs.

“There are alumni who are purchasing food trucks and trailers so that they can take their products to the street, sporting events or other gatherings,” Wolfer said. “We also work closely with Grand Rapids Community College and its Secchia Institute for Culinary Education as a resource to those students wanting to complete their Bachelor of Science degree.”

Hospitality Management is housed in Ferris State’s College of Business. The focus on business management allows the graduates to utilize the accounting, marketing and finance courses in their day-to-day operations.

A recent finding by the American Association of Retired Persons cited chefs bringing average hourly wages of more than $27, with a 15.4 percent increase in the number of jobs available. An outgrowth of the pandemic in 2020 saw those who were forced to stay home had mastered baking and cooking, and recent growth in the number of restaurants has presented new career opportunities for those with culinary and management skills.

Rock Dandeneau of Grand Rapids is comfortable serving customers through the Taste Buds-Kitchen Connects array of outlets, which includes his Pressed In Time food truck. Dandeneau attended GRCC for Culinary studies and the Johnson and Wales Culinary School. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management from Ferris in 1993.

Rock is also the president of the Grand Rapids Food Truck Association, which boasts more than 30 members. Dandeneau said he leans on various experiences when speaking to current Ferris Hospitality Management students.

“Being a chef is my love and daily avocation, but that has taken me many places in various roles,” Dandeneau said. “I was a corporate chef for Herman Miller for a decade, then spent 15 years with Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids, helping those with special needs find their place in the industry. When I talk with Ferris Hospitality students, we explore how the industry has grown to consider production from in-home chefs as a potential avenue so those with the skills can stay in the field they love. With the right people, you learn to manage and tackle the obstacles of this industry. It is a business that involves much more than the restaurant or kitchen.”

Tiffany Beckmann earned her Bachelor of Science in Hotel/Restaurant Management from Ferris State in 2010, then added a Master of Science in Career and Technical Education from the university in 2013.

Along with those achievements, she is certified in food safety as a sous chef by the American Culinary Federation and is accredited in dietary management.

“I began as the head cook for Ferris’ Dining Services operation shortly after I earned my hospitality degree,” Beckmann said. “I followed that with a variety of institutional and resort roles, which finds me currently serving as a culinary supervisor with the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort in Mount Pleasant.”

Ferris State Volleyball headed to Spain and Portugal this May

The Ferris State University women's volleyball program, which has reached the NCAA Division II Sweet Sixteen each of the past three years, will gear up for the 2024 season with a special overseas trip this spring.

The Bulldogs will depart May 5 for a spring trip to Spain and Portugal where they will test their skills on the court against foreign competition. The unique 10-day trip will not only include game experience, but also strengthen team bonds and enrich cultural perspectives.

"The chance to spend 10 days in another country with our team is fantastic in terms of the team building that will come out of it," said FSU head coach Tia Brandel-Wilhelm. "The opportunity to play other teams and face another style of play will be a challenge, but the personal growth and leadership that will come out of it is exciting."

The FSU team is currently raising funds for the journey, which will help contribute toward airfare, accommodations, meals and in-country travel expenses. Additionally, all Gamechanger supporters contributing over $1,000 will also receive personalized updates directly from the Bulldogs throughout the trip.

"Overall, we're just really excited for the experience and the opportunity to experience new things," said FSU junior outside hitter Tatum Outlaw. "This is a once in a lifetime experience and we're working hard to educate ourselves on the language and the culture before we go."

Charitable donations to help support the Bulldogs' trip can be made online at the link below thru FSU's fundraising platform.

"I'm really excited to travel with the team, get to see new things and play volleyball in other countries," said Bulldog junior middle hitter Syann Fairfield. "I'm excited for the food and spending so much time in Portugal and Spain while getting to experience cool things."

The Bulldogs reached the NCAA Division II Sweet Sixteen this past fall for the third consecutive season. Ferris State also claimed the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLAIC) Tournament Championship this past year along with the school's 12th consecutive and 27th all-time NCAA Tournament appearance. FSU closed the campaign with a 27-8 overall record this past season.

The bulk of FSU's roster is slated to return for the 2024 fall season.

"This trip will give us the chance to face a higher level of competition in Europe and going overseas will help us grow as a team going into the season," FSU junior outside hitter Hannah Tecumseh said. "I haven't been outside of the United States, so getting to do it with the people I love so much, my teammates and coaches, is so special."

Visit this link to contribute to the Bulldogs' trip:

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