Musicians’ Christmas Party–December 23

44613880_10161061948190261_7874507570084315136_oSunday, December 23, 2018 from 4 pm to Midnight, Angels of Action will host the Musicians’ Christmas Party at the Big Rapids Eagles, located at 18361 16 Mile Road in Big Rapids.

Get your dancing shoes and your FA-LA-LA’s ready for a jingle-janglin’ GOOD TIME with our amazing lineup of musicians, including Lisa Carol, Country by Request, Bob Craig, Outlaw Express, Just Jammin’, Sean and Friends, Uncovered, and Deadlight Holiday!

Holiday photos will be available by Cheryl Cooley. $10 for a 5×7 with all proceeds going to The Mid-Michigan Honor Flight. A special tribute to honor the local vets from the area will take place at 6 p.m. Come early and help honor our local hero’s this holiday season.

Dinner will be available. Patrons can choose from a sloppy joe or a hotdog with bag of chips for only $3.

See if you have been naughty or nice, as rumor has it that the big guy will be making a stop on his way to pick up all the toys from the North Pole!

Proceeds from this event will benefit Angels of Action. Tickets are available at

Learn more about Angels of Action at


Spectrum Health Announces Big Rapids/Reed City Leadership Change

Andrea Leslie to take on expanded regional role.

Andrea Leslie

Effective January 1, 2019, Mary Kay VanDriel will transition from her role as president, Spectrum Health Big Rapids and Reed City hospitals, to vice president, operations, cancer health. Mary Kay will lead the Spectrum Health cancer centers in Grand Rapids and in the communities across West Michigan, including the Susan P. Wheatlake Regional Cancer in Reed City. Andrea Leslie will take on an expanded role as northeast regional market leader and president of Spectrum Health United, Kelsey, Big Rapids and Reed City hospitals. Leslie has been president at United and Kelsey hospitals in Greenville and Lakeview since 2016.

“Mary Kay has done an outstanding job leading Big Rapids and Reed City hospitals through some exciting changes. We are looking forward to her bringing her leadership skills to the cancer health team,” said Gwen Sandefur, president, Spectrum Health Hospital Group. “At the same time, we are fortunate to have Andrea Leslie, an extraordinary leader, ready to take on this expanded role. Andrea has proven to be an invaluable asset to the communities surrounding United and Kelsey hospitals and we anticipate she will also be a very active leader in Big Rapids and Reed City.”

Andrea Leslie began her career as a registered nurse with Spectrum Health Blodgett Hospital in 1997.  She worked at United Memorial Hospital from 1999 to 2001. Leslie transitioned to Grand Rapids and was promoted to roles of increasing leadership at Spectrum Health Butterworth and Blodgett hospitals where she served as director of nursing operations and leader of the Magnet program from 2011 to 2013. From 2013 to 2016, she served as chief nursing officer at Spectrum Health United and Kelsey hospitals before being named hospital president in 2016. Now as the regional market leader, Andrea will oversee direction for the four hospitals to improve the health of the communities served.

Leslie earned a master’s degree in nursing administration from Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, and a bachelor’s degree in nursing, magna cum laude, from University of Detroit Mercy.

Spectrum Health, a not-for-profit, integrated health system, is committed to improving the health and wellness of our communities. We live our mission every day with 31,000 compassionate professionals, 4,200 medical staff experts, 3,200 committed volunteers and a health plan serving 1 million members. Our talented physicians and caregivers are privileged to offer a full continuum of care and wellness services to our communities through 14 hospitals, including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, 230 ambulatory sites and telehealth offerings. We pursue health care solutions for today and tomorrow that diversify our offerings. Locally-governed and based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, our health system provided $459 million in community benefit in the last fiscal year. Thanks to the generosity of our communities, we received $30 million in philanthropy in the most recent fiscal year to support research, academics, innovation and clinical care. Spectrum Health has been recognized as one of the nation’s 15 Top Health Systems by Truven Health Analytics®, part of IBM Watson HealthTM.


Home for the Holidays!

Copy of Happy Holidays from the Mecosta County Area Chamber of Commerce (3)Imagine walking down the snow-covered sidewalks of downtown with a brisk chill in the air, the smell of chestnuts roasting, the sound of carolers singing, and snowflakes falling in the glow of the street lamps. Thursday, December 20th, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., join The Big Rapids Downtown Business Association as they once again step back in time for “Home for the Holidays,” sponsored by Lake-Osceola State Bank.

Downtown Big Rapids businesses will be open late for shopping,  and sleigh rides and hot cocoa will be available to the public at no cost, and Santa will be at Red Fox Market, located at 112 S. Michigan Avenue. The Big Rapids High School Choir and The Salvation Army will also be on hand, singing on the streets. This is the perfect opportunity for shoppers to get their last-minute Christmas shopping done in this festive downtown holiday setting.  You’ll want to be Ho-Ho-Home for the Holidays!

Learn more about the Big Rapids Downtown Business Association at

Your 2019 Chamber Community Guide and Membership Directory is on the way!

Picture1Our 2019 Membership Directory is in the works!
The Mecosta County Chamber of Commerce is once again partnering with the Pioneer Group once again to print our annual Community Guide and Membership Directory. The directory is a valuable marketing asset to our chamber members, and an essential reference to both community visitors and residents alike. The publication features full color glossy pages, includes information about Mecosta County and the chamber, and features a listing of all current chamber members. The new directory will be available in January 2019.
As a chamber member, you have the exclusive opportunity to have your business even more prominently featured in this year’s Chamber directory, with the potential to reach over 2,000 prospective customers! Our publishing partner, The Pioneer Group, will be contacting you soon about how you can participate in advertising in this publication. For further information, please contact Tim Hahn from the Pioneer Group at 231-592-8322.
Thank you in advance for your continued support. With your help, this project will once again be a success!
Jennifer Heinzman,
Executive Director,

Ferris State Athletics to host Salvation Army Day Dec. 8

Big Rapids, MI – The Salvation Army of Big Rapids and Ferris State Athletics Salvation Army Logohave announced the renewal of Salvation Army Day at sporting events on campus to benefit the local organizations Christmas Campaign in Big Rapids.


Saturday, December 8, bell ringers for The Salvation Army will once again be seen ringing the iconic Christmas bells at various Ferris State University athletic events throughout the day in an effort to assist in meeting a $120,000 Christmas campaign goal. This year’s goal has been established to meet the overall needs of the organization’s clients.

“The Salvation Army is grateful for our long-standing relationship with Ferris State University and the Big Rapids community.” Envoy Edwin Hoskins, added, “because of the generosity of the university and residents in and around Big Rapids, The Salvation Army is able to continue “Doing the Most Good” right here in Mecosta County as well as the immediate surrounding area.”

In addition to the red kettles at various Bulldog athletic sporting events during the day, hockey fans will have the opportunity to support the efforts during the hockey game at 7:00 p.m. at Ewigleben Ice Arena on the campus of Ferris State University. The Ewigleben Ice Arena is located at 210 Sports Drive in Big Rapids. The hockey game will include several on-ice events including a Ceremonial Puck Drop, a Teddy Bear Toss and other Salvation Army-related activities.

The annual “Teddy Bear Toss,” gives attendees at the hockey game against Bowling Green State the opportunity to toss a new stuffed animal onto the ice. The toy will then  be donated to The Salvation Army’s Christmas efforts. “The stuffed animal toss is a great way for kids and adults alike to do something fun and unique to assist in our annual effort to provide new toys and gifts to area children on Christmas morning,” added Envoy Theresa Hoskins.

The Red Kettle campaign began throughout Mecosta, Osceola, Lake and Newaygo Counties on Nov. 16th. Anyone looking to volunteer as a bellringer, can do so by visiting and searching under 49307 for local business locations that support the effort or by calling 231-796-5597.

The public can also support The Salvation Army of Big Rapids online at by phone at 231.796.5597 or 1-800-SAL-ARMY, by texting SABR to 41444 or by sending financial gifts directly to The Salvation Army, PO Box 1256 Big Rapids, Michigan, 49307.

Gingerbread House Competition

The Big Rapids Downtown Business Association is hosting a Gingerbread House 4200FOGB1PCompetition!

Gingerbread houses created by local families and individuals will be on display at the The Old Pioneer Store and Emporium, Artworks of Big Rapids, or Red Fox Market, all located in historic downtown Big Rapids December 13th through December 20th.

1st Prize $50 Gift Cards to Art Works, RedFox Market, and The Old Pioneer Store and Emporium

2nd Prize $25 Gift Cards to Art Works, RedFox Market, and The Old Pioneer Store and Emporium

3rd Prize $10 Gift Cards to Art Works, RedFox Market, and The Old Pioneer Store and Emporium

To enter, drop off your completed gingerbread house at one of the participating businesses. Entries can be dropped off on Thursday December 13 or Friday December 14 ONLY! Entries will not be accepted before or after these dates. Each entry must be tagged with your name, phone number and email address. Judging will occur on Friday, December 21st at 10:00 a.m. at the Old Pioneer Store and Emporium.

Houses must remain on display at the businesses through December 20th, at which time individuals will be responsible for picking up their houses by Saturday, December 22nd by 5:00 p.m.

Any structure is acceptable, but it must be edible. Examples of edible products include chocolate, cookie dough, gingerbread. A minimal amount of non-edible detail and ornamentation is allowed, but not encouraged. Judges will consider the amount of non-edible materials, which impacts your total score.

Judging will be done on a 1-10 scale in the following categories: Use of edible materials, craftsmanship (execution of design), originality of design, intricacy of design, variety of materials used, and overall presentation and creativity. There is no age limit. Family participation is encouraged. No category distinctions will be made for the age of contestants.
Note: The participating businesses and the DBA will not be responsible for breakage. Houses will be on display in the store windows where they will remain until picked up by owner on December 21st or 22nd.

Michigan students to unwrap gift of career exploration this December


LANSING, Mich. – Arguably one of the most undervalued gifts this holiday season is the gift of career exploration. Its return on investment pays dividends in future career success and a stronger, more resilient economy.

As Michigan high school students wrap up the first half of the school year and head home for winter break, state leaders are dubbing December Michigan Career Exploration and Awareness Month to ignite conversations around career options and pathways between students and their families.

“It’s important students explore careers early and often,” Talent and Economic Development Department of Michigan Interim Director Jeremy Hendges said. “This month is about highlighting the array of resources and opportunities to explore careers before students graduate from high school. But more than that, it’s an opportunity to bring those conversations about career exploration home from the classroom to the holiday dinner table so families and friends can share their experiences with their students, too.”

With more than 811,000 career openings across the state through 2024, Michigan is working to close the talent gap. State leaders believe that talent gap stems from a career awareness gap and counselors, educators, employers and parents all have a role in helping Michigan’s young people explore the hundreds of thousands of high-demand, high-wage careers available in the Great Lakes State.

“Too often, students leave high school without a plan for what’s next and are doing their career exploration in college,” Hendges added. “The more we can help students explore these opportunities earlier, the sooner we can close our talent gap and connect our young people with rewarding, great-paying careers here at home.”

As the state works to close the talent gap spanning Michigan, it has developed two state-of-the-art and first-of-its-kind online resources to help students and job seekers alike explore careers and the pathways to them.

Overhauled this fall, is now a one-stop online tool that provides students and all Michiganders with information on the state’s most high-demand, high-wage career opportunities in the Professional Trades, including salaries and job growth data, ‘A Day in the Life’ series that highlights professionals in their careers and how they got there, and local schools and training facilities to get started in a Professional Trades career.

Additionally, students can roadmap their career path with the state’s Pathfinder tool that allows students to pick a career field and see, all at once, how to get there from training to full-time career.

State leaders say there are multiple paths to great careers in Michigan and the four-year degree isn’t the only options, albeit a good one.

“There are many career choices and pathways to those options, including stackable credentials, certificates and degrees,” said Michigan’s Interim State Superintendent Sheila Alles. “Success comes in many forms and it’s a priority for us to help every student find and achieve their own success. To do that, we first must help them explore all the options, and that’s what this month’s focus is about.”

Alles added it’s important to remember that parents have a role in this process, too, and it’s pivotal for them to talk with their kids at home and with their counselors and teachers about their career-path options.

This month’s observance comes as the state prepares to award its first round of Marshall Plan for Talent grants in early December, which include $10.5 million in funding for career navigators to help students with career exploration and develop meaningful learning plans to guide them.

Learn more about Career Exploration and Awareness month at


The Talent and Economic Development Department of Michigan (Ted) allows the state to leverage its ability to build talent with in-demand skills while helping state businesses grow and thrive. Joining job creation and economic development efforts under one umbrella, Ted consists of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Michigan State Housing Development Authority, Michigan Strategic Fund, Talent Investment Agency and Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority.

Learn more about Ted by visiting our website,