Artworks to present Steel Magnolias as Intimate Theater


Artworks will present Steel Magnolias as its next Intimate Theater production in June, featuring an all-female cast and a mostly female production crew. The stage play, written by Robert Harling, is based on his experience with his sister’s death from diabetes-related complications. The play is a comedy-drama about the friendship bonds among a group of Southern women in northwest Louisiana. As the title suggests, “the female characters are as delicate as magnolias but as tough as steel.”

Director Wendy Samuels said she chose this play in light of the #MeToo movement because Steel Magnolias is about the female empowerment and about women taking charge of their lives. She also thought the production, set completely in Truvy’s Beauty Spot, would work well for Intimate Theater at Artworks.

“It’s sad, and it’s funny,” said director Wendy Samuels. “It’s one of those shows where you’re crying and you’re laughing at the same time, and it just pulls on your heartstrings. Steel Magnolias is going to be a little different from the Intimate Theater productions we have done before.”

The cast will feature Jamie Samuels as Truvy, Kelley Samuels as M’Lynn, Audree Stephens as Shelby, Suzette Compton as Ouiser, Ginny Kerwin as Clairee, and Emily Aslakson as Annelle.

The performances will be Thursday, June 28 through Saturday, June 30 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, July 1 at 2:30 p.m. in the Chemical Bank Lower Gallery in the Artworks building in downtown Big Rapids.

Tickets are $15 and are available at The Painted Turtle Gift Shop in the Artworks building or online at EventBrite. The event is sponsored by Nancy Baldwin; Judge Susan H. Grant, retired; Judge Kimberly Booher; Kristi Haik; Gheretta Harris; Shelly Pearcy; Lynne Scheible; and Robbie Teahan.

Senior Enrichment Day

pexels-photo-339620The Mecosta County Senior Center will once again host Senior Enrichment Day, Wednesday, June 20, 2018 at Big Rapids High School, at 8:00 a.m.

Senior Enrichment Day is a one-day conference offering opportunities for older adults to enrich their lives. The day includes classes and workshops covering an array of subjects. The cost of the conference is $12 and the deadline to sign up is June 13. The entry fee includes lunch and admission to most classes. Some of the classes may have an extra fee for materials.

Conference attendees and interested vendors can find more information at

Also at this conference will be the presentation of the Mary Pine Award Recognizing Elder Citizenship. This award honors special citizens, age 55 and over, who use the gifts of a long and productive life to benefit Mecosta County in a positive manner. The Senior Center is currently accepting nominations for this award. Special consideration will be given to those “unsung heroes” whose efforts and civic spirit may not ordinarily receive adequate recognition. We are looking for that unique person who acts behind the scenes or in a subtle way, avoiding publicity and notoriety. Area residents may nominate persons deserving recognition by sending the person’s name, age, phone, address, and a description of involvement in volunteer activities benefiting older Americans and the community to:

Mecosta County Commission On Aging

12954 80th Ave.

Mecosta, MI 49332

Nominations must be received no later than June 4, 2018.  The nomination form can be downloaded here: mary_pine_form.

Thank you for helping us discover greatness in our own neighborhoods!

FSU Community Summer Band Begins Its 53rd Season!


2018 REHEARSAL DATES:  Come Play as Many Weeks as You Can!

7:00–9:00 p.m. @ Ferris State University’s Music Center, Room 108

May 30 (Wednesday)                     [Season Preview Rehearsal]

June 4 (Monday)                              [for June 6 Concert]

June 11 (Monday)                            [for June 13 Concert]

June 18 (Monday)                            [for June 20 and/or 21 Concerts]

June 25 (Monday)                            [for June 27 Concert]

July 2 (Monday)                                [for July 3 Concert]


6 UPCOMING CONCERTS:  Come Play as Many Weeks as You Can!

Weekly Ferris Community Summer Band Concerts are presented outdoors throughout the greater Big Rapids area, including the new Big Rapids Band Shell, the Canadian Lakes Castle, and local parks.  All of them support local community endeavors such as the Roof Replacement Project at the Old Jail, the annual Spectrum Health Big Rapids Community Block Party, the Canadian Lakes Association, and the City of Big Rapids annual Band Shell Concert Summer Series.

June 6 • Wednesday–The Old Jail Lawn, Big Rapids • 7:00 p.m.

June 13 • Wednesday–Canadian Lakes Castle • 7:00 p.m.

June 20 • Wednesday–Big Rapids Band Shell • 7:00 p.m.

June 21• Thursday–Spectrum Health Big Rapids Hospital Community Block Party

Centennial Park, Big Rapids • 7:00 p.m.

June 27 • Wednesday–Big Rapids Band Shell • 7:00 p.m.

July 3• Tuesday–Big Rapids Band Shell • 7:00 p.m.

(Rain Location: Big Rapids First United Methodist Church, 304 Elm Street)

For more information visit


Sponsored by Ferris State University as part of its “Music for Life!” initiative, the Ferris Community Summer Band is celebrating its 53rd year of bringing the campus and the community together through music.  It is open — at no cost — to all area adults, college students, high school students, and advanced middle school students with band experience.  Ferris students may also select to take Summer Band for credit as Music 160: Symphony Band.

In order to perform in a concert, musicians should attend the rehearsal beforehand.  Musicians are invited to perform in as many weeks that fit into their schedules.  Musical friends and relatives visiting in town this summer are also welcome. 

To participate, either contact director Scott Cohen in advance (231-591-2484 or, or simply come to the next rehearsal!


Tickets Available for Leadership Mecosta Fundraising Dinner

BIG RAPIDS, MI – Tickets are now available for Beer, BBQ and Bulldogs: A Leadership Mecosta Fundraiser, Friday June 8th, 2018 at 6:00 p.m. at the Stone Hatchery Building in Paris, MI. This event will serve as a fundraiser for the Leadership Mecosta Endowed Scholarship Fund. The scholarship is the class project chosen by the 2018 class of the Leadership Mecosta Program.


The casual dinner event will feature a barbeque dinner provided by Ferris State University Catering, yard games, silent auctions, and more. All proceeds from this event will benefit the Leadership Mecosta Endowed Scholarship Fund.


Some of the silent auction items include sideline tickets to the Ferris State University Football home opener, a ‘Tour of Italy’ dinner for 10, a guided walleye fishing charter, stays at Cran-Hill Ranch and Two Hats Ranch, watching an FSU hockey game from the President’s Box for 10, and so much more! The class chose this scholarship as their class project in order to create a legacy for the Leadership Mecosta program, exemplifying the program’s stellar reputation for leadership development in the area. The class is partnering with FSU as part of their Now and Always campaign, so every dollar raised for this scholarship will be matched by the Ferris Foundation.

“Our class is pleased to be able to partner with Ferris State University for our capstone project,” said Bob Murray, project committee chair. “This project not only helps students in our community it strengthens the bond between the Mecosta County Area Chamber of Commerce and Ferris State University!”

Tickets are $25 and available at Artworks, The Mecosta County Area Chamber of Commerce, or by clicking the link below. If you are unable to attend this event, but are interested in contributing with either a financial or in-kind donation, please contact Bob Murray, committee chair at (231) 349-5339, Megan Eppley, committee secretary at (231) 796-7649, Tessa McNally, committee treasurer at (231)796-2420, or any member of the Leadership Mecosta 2017/2018 class.



The Pioneer Group Chamber Open

The Mecosta County Area Chamber of Commerce along with title sponsor, The Pioneer Group,  hosted the Pioneer Group Chamber Open on Wednesday, May 16, 2018 at Clear Lake Golf Club. Over 100 golfers enjoyed beautiful weather as they took to the links in the area’s first golf outing of the year. Chemical Bank was the overall winner of the day as well as the Men’s and Women’s team winners. Original Footwear was the winner of the co-ed team division.

Every year, the chamber, in conjunction with the golf outing committee, are pleased to bring this event to Mecosta County. The chamber and committee would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to our Title Sponsor: The Pioneer Group; Hole in One Sponsor: Betten Baker; Lunch Sponsor: Chemical Bank; Breakfast Sponsors: Conley’s Bakery, and Biggby Coffee; Beverage Cart Sponsor: Isabella Bank; Putting Contest Sponsor: Lakeland Title of Mecosta County–Stanwood; Golf Cart Sponsor: Lake-Osceola State Bank; Raffle Sponsors: Lake & Lodge Realty, Original Footwear, and Lakeland Title of Mecosta County.

The chamber would also like to thank the following businesses for their support and for donating: Service Master, Lakeland Title of Mecosta County-Stanwood, The City of Big Rapids, Fleis and Vandenbrink, Original Footwear, Lake and Lodge Realty, Lakeside Motor Sports, Ferris State University, Ferris State University Alumni Association, Pro-Turf, Marquette Trails Golf Course, Katke Golf Course, Altercare of Big Rapids, Lakeland Title of Mecosta County, Century 21 White House Realty, Jordan Balkema Elder Law Center, B-103.9, Independent Bank-West Michigan, Babb Ford Sales, Inc., Biller Insurance, Coldwell Banker Schmidt Realtors, Remax Together, Steve Jones Construction, Big Rapids Radio Network, Buffalo Wild Wings, Sunny 97.3, State Representative Michele Hoitenga, Ice Mountain Spring Water, Preferred Office Machines, Spectrum Health Big Rapids and Reed City Hospitals, Meijer Stores,  Silvernail Realty, H & S Companies, PC, Evergreen Physical Therapy, Bailey Chiropractic Offices, PC, Best Homes Title Agency, Blue Cow, Blue Lake Tavern, Bridge Title Agency, City of Big Rapids, Dezigns by Loni, Downtown Business Association of Big Rapids, Falcon Head, Forget Me Not Floral, Goodwell Automotive, Habitat For Humanity, Holton LP Gas, Huntington Banks, Johnson’s Automotive Repair, Lakeside Motor Sports, Lee’s Rapid Wash, Inc, Lowe’s #2532, Marquette Trails Golf Course, Meijer Stores, Metron of Big Rapids, Moe -Z-Inn, Paris Auto Sales & Service, Inc., Patterson’s Flowers & Gifts, Pizza In Paris, Planet Fitness, Pro-Turf, Raven Brewing & BBQ , Small Business Association of Michigan, and Sorenz Greenhouse and Produce Growers.

Co-ed winning team: Original Footwear
Women’s winning team: Chemical Bank
Overall and Men’s winning team: Chemical Bank

Leadership Mecosta 2018 Graduation

The Leadership Mecosta Class of 2018 graduated from this year’s program on May 10, 2018 at a ceremony and dinner held at Cran-Hill Ranch. Graduates were treated to a dinner, sponsored by Isabella Bank and gained additional leadership insight from speaker Josh Eling, of Isabella Bank. Following dinner, the class received their graduation certificates from class facilitator Scott Barger. Lynne Scheible accepted the Alumni of the Year award on behalf of her son, Nick Scheible, who was chosen as the recipient of the award by other alumni of the Leadership Mecosta program. Megan Eppley, of the Mecosta County Area Chamber of Commerce, was the recipient of this year’s Spirit Award, as chosen by her classmates in the 2018 class.

This year’s class includes Robert Murray–Ferris State University, Megan Eppley –Mecosta County Area Chamber of Commerce, Tessa McNally—Artworks,  Andi Stricker—MOISD, Dee Powell–Isabella Bank, Fred Sharpsteen-MOISD, Greg Wickings–Hope Network, Isabel Trombley–Lowe’s, Jake Martin–Ferris State University, Jesse Blanchard—Wesco, Kalee Coss—MOISD, Mark  Sweppenheiser–City of Big Rapids, Linda Ward—MOISD, Chris Crawley–Community Liason, Miguel Galley–Big Rapids Department of Public, Safety,  and Jeff Hull–Big Rapids Fire Department.

Lynne Scheible of Artworks, accepts the Leadership Alumni of the Year award on behalf of her son, Nick Scheible, of Lerner, Csernai, and Fath.
Megan Eppley, of the Mecosta County Area Chamber of Commerce accepts the Spirit Award from Leadership Mecosta facilitator, Scott Barger.

2018 Glow Run

20180512_210132_026Hemlock Park in downtown Big Rapids was a-glow with the brightest runners in Mecosta County at the 4th Annual Glow Run 5K! Runners were treated to music provided by Scott and Bob from B103.9, glow face painting, and stretching led by Mary Beth Beemer, all before the 9:00 p.m. start to the race.


Congratulations to Amelia Thompson (19:57) and Wyatt Hanline (22:27), our first place women’s and men’s runners this year! Finishing up the top three for the women were Tasha Rogers (20:05) and Nicole Majeske (23:59). For the men, Logan Curie (23:22) and Brian Gebhart (23:27) were the second and third place finishers, respectively. The Mother Runners were this year’s winner of the best dressed trophy, with their shining constellation wear.


Special thanks also goes out to our sponsors: Kelgraphics, Crossroads Charter Academy, Planet Fitness, Toppings Frozen Yogurt, Star Shooters, Big Rapids Family Eye Care, Spectrum Health Big Rapids Hospital, and Big Rapids Public Schools!

Thank you also to Planet Fitness, for providing prize packages for the winners. Finally, thank you to all of the volunteers that helped to make this event possible. We could not do it without you! See you next year!

Congratulations to Michigan Works! West Central, our Member of the Month!


Michigan Works! West Central is part of the statewide Michigan Works! system serving employers and job seekers in Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Newaygo, Oceana and Osceola counties. We are part of the first state-unified workforce development system in the country and an instrumental partner for developing Michigan’s economic future.

We are one of 16 Michigan Works! agencies across the state, each of which is locally responsive and demand driven. We exist to assist employers in finding and retaining qualified employees and assure that the local talent pool meets the needs of employers.

Our mission is to continually improve a workforce development system that produces a workforce with the required skills to attract, retain and expand business and enhance our regional economy.

We assist job-seekers in a variety of ways, including free access to computers to search Pure Michigan Talent Connect (PMTC) for job openings, post resumes online, seek out career information and conduct research on specific industries; we offer assessments, career counseling, job search assistance, supportive services and occupational skills training; GED information and GED testing at our service centers in Big Rapids, Reed City, Fremont, Baldwin and Shelby; offer training programs and readjustment services for dislocated workers including rapid response, skills training, and basic readjustment services; employment assistance for veterans; and more.

Michigan Works! West Central also helps employers by posting open positions on PMTC, collect and search through qualified resumes, provide use of rooms for interviewing job applicants and use of conference room for employee training sessions, Conduct job fairs (single or multiple employer), Provide unemployment-related and labor market information, and more.

For more information about our business services, contact Business Services Director Merri Bennett at (231) 583-2029 or, or Business Services Specialist Jonathan Eppley at (231) 660-0253 or

Job-seekers can visit any one of our six service centers in Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Newaygo, Oceana and Osceola counties for help and guidance. Our Big Rapids service center is located at 14330 Northland Drive. For more information about services we offer, call (231) 796-0049.

Thank you, Mecosta County!

expo-flyer-2018.jpgOver 3,000 people attended this year’s Community and Family Expo last weekend! What a successful event! The Chamber always has such a great time organizing this event for the community. Thank you to everyone that came out to this year’s event!
Thank you to all of our entertainment groups that participated this year, including the FSU Living Statues, Casey Bouman and Walker Weirts and their trash can percussion ensemble, Camryn Matson and Caleb Price, The Big Rapids Middle School Choir, and all of our spirited mascots. Congratulations to Brutus the Bulldog from FSU, this year’s Mascot Dance-off winner.
Also, thank you so much to our Expo planning committee, particularly Jessica Wimmer, of Mecosta-Osceola Great Start, for organizing all of the activities in the hallway; Josh Pyles, of the City of Big Rapids, for coordinating the Touch-A-Truck event; and Deb Tyson, of BRPS, our committee chair, whose tireless efforts and enthusiasm helped to create and amazing event.
Finally, a huge thank you to The 2018 Community and Family Expo sponsors! We couldn’t do it without your continued support of this event and the Mecosta County Area Chamber of Commerce!expo sponsors.png