Cory Smith

Encounter Community Church Lead Pastor Rob Lawrence greets members of the church’s congregation Sunday afternoon at the future sight of a $260,000 expansion to provide more space for the church’s sanctuary. — Daily News/Cory Smith

Belding’s Encounter Community Church finds room to grow

Just a few years ago, Encounter Community Church was on the verge of shutting its doors for good. Citing low attendance and struggling to survive after opening in 2007, Pastor Rob Lawrence said the church was at a crossroads and faced an uncertain future.

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Outman making second attempt to keep e-cigarettes away from kids

As the popularity of electronic cigarettes grows, so too does the amount of questions raised regarding how they should be regulated. Are they dangerous? What’s in them? Are they a legitimate substitute for traditional cigarettes?

An image of the original Whites Bridge, superimposed onto an image of the crossing after the bridge burned down, delivers a picture of what the replica covered bridge may look like. — File graphic

Whites Bridge will rise again: Replica bridge to be built in 2016

Like the phoenix of Greek mythology, rising from its ashes to be reborn again, so too will the historic Whites Covered Bridge. Destroyed by arson on July 7, 2013, the Whites Bridge Historical Society recently announced the bridge will be replaced with a replica bridge, as early as next year.

From left, Belding foreign exchange student host parents George and Shannon Rousseau, exchange student Thale Kongsteim-Kokkim, 17, of Tønsberg, Norway, exchange student Victoria Reis, 17, of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, exchange student César Gabriolli, 16, of São Paulo, Brazil, and host parent Patricia Loser applaud during a Belding school board meeting in March after a resident pleaded that a policy be adopted to allow foreign exchange students to participate in the high school graduation commencement ceremony. — Daily News/Cory Smith

Belding exchange student policy change comes after staff-wide vote

Mia Kaarstein, a foreign exchange student at Belding High School, received an email this week that will now allow her to “have it all.” On Wednesday, the 18-year-old was sitting in a classroom with her fellow senior students, all of whom will soon be dressed in caps and gowns participating in their graduation commencement ceremony less than a month away … all of them, except for Kaarstein.

Bruce Brown was all smiles Tuesday evening as he thanked members of Belding City Council, as well as members of the community, for the opportunity to serve as the new city manager. — Daily News/Cory Smit

Interim tag removed, Belding City Council promotes Brown to manager

This community found its new city manager Tuesday evening, one who was already seated in the chair he will now fill on a more permanent basis. In a 5-0 vote, the council elected to remove the interim tag and promote Bruce Brown as Belding’s new city manager.

From right, Belding Area Schools Board of Education President Tom Humphreys and Superintendent Sara Shriver listen as Belding resident Karin Stephens addresses the board Monday with concerns about the state of the contract negotiations between the school district and Belding Education Association teachers union. — Daily News/Cory Smith

Belding schools dispute leads to third-party fact checker

After nearly 10 months, talks of a new contract between Belding Area Schools and the Belding Education Association (BEA) are no closer to a resolution. Eight negotiation sessions, three failed tentative agreements and several standing-room-only attended school board meetings later, the process will now be observed by a third-party fact checker.

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JUST IN: Interim tag removed, Belding promotes Bruce Brown to City Manager

In a unanimous vote Tuesday evening, members of the Belding City Council elected to remove the interim tag and promote Bruce Brown as the community’s new city manager.

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JUST IN: Belding school lunches to see slight price increase next school year

Students who purchase their lunches at Belding Area School in the 2015-2016 school year will notice a small increase in the price they pay for their daily meal.

After Roger Gooding was able to lease a new digital projector, the Crystal Box Office Theatre reopened after closing in November 2014. — Daily News/Cory Smith

Crystal Box Office Theatre reopens with digital projector

After months of sitting quiet in the dark, doors closed to the public, the image of patrons enjoying movies all but a memory, the sun is now shining on the Crystal Box Office Theatre again. Owner Roger Gooding was forced to close the business in November 2014. Now, for the first time in more than five months, the single-screen theater is illuminated with a new movie and plenty of guests.

Edmore Village Manager James Lower, left, listens as Village President Karl Kluwe expresses his thoughts on raising the community’s water rate during Monday’s Edmore Village Council meeting. — Daily News/Cory Smith

Edmore water rate to increase by 7.2%

Residents of Edmore are about to see a rise in their monthly water bill, but it’s a step deemed necessary by Village Council members to prepare for future expenditures. At Monday’s Edmore Village Council meeting, council members voted unanimously to approve a raise in percentage at 7.2 percent for the township’s water rate, beginning with the June 2015 billing cycle.