Mike Taylor

Bob Leppink

Belding loses one of its best boosters

One of the best known, and arguably best loved, names in Belding passed into history Thursday morning. Robert Jay “Bob” Leppink — a driving force behind the grocery stores and development company that bear his name — died in his Belding home.

“Benjamin Losford and His Handy Dandy Clippers” tells the true story of a freed slave and his journey from a Kentucky plantation to the village of Edmore, where he became the town’s barber and a respected member of the community. (Courtesy illustration)

New children’s book highlights local contributions of African Americans

Benjamin Losford was born into a life of slavery. It was the mid-1800s, a plantation in Boone County, Ky. Growing up, Benjamin would overhear relatives speaking in hushed voices of his father, Abraham, who has escaped to the north, vowing to someday return for his family. Abraham’s first attempt to reclaim Benjamin and his sister resulted in his recapture.

But Abraham — who had served as the plantation’s resident barber — escaped a second time, eventually settling in Howell, where he opened his own barber shop

Mecosta County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Wieber is pictured with his wife, Bethany and their infant son, Charlie. Jason is currently receiving treatment in Houston, Texas, for a rare brain tumor. Friends at the Phenix Bar in Edmore will host a benefit for the family from 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday. — Courtesy photo

Phenix Restaurant ‘family’ hosts benefit for owner fighting rare brain tumor 

Until November 2011, Jason Wieber’s life was much like that of any Mecosta County Sheriff’s deputy. He spent his days responding to assaults, traffic accidents, shoplifting reports. He wrote the occasional speeding ticket.

Only 25 of these custom-built 2016 Tombstone Motorcycle Hearses have been made and one is now part of the Simpson Family Funeral Home business in Sheridan. Funeral home owner Bill Simpson Jr., pictured above, says the purchase of the new hearse is a unique way of “celebrating a person’s life and not just mourning their death.” (Courtesy photo)

BUSINESS BEAT: Funeral home’s new motorcycle hearse offers a unique ‘one last ride’

For many riders, a motorcycle is more than simply transportation … it’s a way of life. Thanks to a new offering from Simpson Family Funeral Homes it’s a way of life that can be celebrated even in death.

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Volunteer offers free junk pickup in Stanton

There’s good news and bad news for city residents. The bad news is, if you’re in violation of Stanton’s blight ordinance, chances are you’re going to be cited, if you haven’t been already.

A number of roads throughout Montcalm County were temporarily closed Thursday after branches and downed power lines blocked travel due to an overnight storm that left a layer of ice throughout Montcalm County. — Daily News/Cory Smith

Thousands lose power after icy winter storm

More than 3,600 Montcalm County residents were without power following an ice storm that began late Wednesday and continued through Thursday morning, accompanied by high winds and some snow. According to Consumers Energy, power also was out for 3,509 customers in Kent County, 2,745 in Newaygo County and 644 in Muskegon County.

CCI Greenheart Regional Manager Lisa Jensen, left, helps place students like these from around the world with local host families. The goal of the program is to increase cultural understanding between countries. — Courtesy photo

Exchange student program a local success in culture

“If you want the people to understand you, invite them to your life and let them see the world from your window!” These words, from Turkish novelist Mehmet Murat Ildan, elegantly sum up the philosophy behind student exchange organization CCI Greenheart.

The generosity of a local farmer will soon translate into new turnout gear for the Sheridan Community Fire Department, thanks to a program sponsored by Monsanto. — Daily News/Mike Taylor

Local farmer donates to Sheridan Community Fire Department

At some point, every child dreams of growing up to be a firefighter. Like policeman and astronaut, the job maintains an aura of glamor and excitement. Running into burning buildings, saving lives, operating all the complex equipment on the big red truck. It’s little wonder youngsters are drawn to the career.

The reality is a little different. In practice, firefighting is often a difficult, physically taxing and dangerous occupation. This latter point can be particularly true in small town departments, where turnout gear — the equipment firefighters wear while on the job — isn’t always the latest and greatest.

Steeplechase Tool & Die is one of the properties that could eventually be part of the village of Lakeview if plans for an annexation reach fruition. Currently, the parcels under consideration lie outside the southwest borders of the village and in Cato Township. — Daily News/Mike Taylor

Lakeview could annex, develop new parcels

The village may soon be growing. At Monday’s regular meeting, the Lakeview Village Council took a first tentative step toward increasing the village’s geographic footprint.

Meijer plans to remodel its Greenville store, located at 606 S. Greenville W Dr., as part of a $400 million investment that will see 32 total stores remodeled as well as nine new stores opened. The Greenville location opened in 2001. Areas such as the pharmacy are expected to become less congested in the future with shorter lines after a remodel occurs this summer. — Daily News/Cory Smith

Extensive renovations coming to Greenville’s Meijer store

Anyone who has ever picked up a prescription at the Meijer store pharmacy on Greenville West Drive knows there’s room for improvement. Long lines are the norm, rather than the exception.