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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.

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.

From left, Belding City Councilman Jerry Lallo recognizes Belding Area Schools Athletic Director Joel Wilker, Belding resident Rick Beckett, girls varsity basketball coach Brad Wilson and (not pictured) boys varsity basketball coach Michael Redell with the Good Neighbor Award for organizing the “Fill the Gym” event at Belding High School. — Daily News/Cory Smith

Belding’s ‘Fill the Gym Night’ organizers recognized

Who could ask for better neighbors than those who bring together 1,400 people in a celebratory event overflowing with community pride? It’s been two years since a Good Neighbor Award was bestowed upon a resident or group organization in this community by the Belding City Council, but January’s “Fill the Gym Night” at Belding High School caught the attention of Councilman Jerry Lallo.

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Greenville/Belding trail connection part of final project to connect 125 miles

Trail lovers will soon have access to 125 miles of Michigan trails starting right from Jackson’s Landing Park in Greenville.

During the latest Greenville City Council meeting, the council voted in favor of applying for a Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) Trust Fund grant to complete a portion of the Fred Meijer Flat River Valley Rail-Trail from Greenville to Belding.

Belding High School teacher Alisha Hummel holds up a sign that reads “Belding teachers work hard for students, want a fair contract” as she pleads with members of the Belding Area Schools Board of Education Monday evening to reach a “fair contract” with the Belding Education Association teachers’ union. — Daily News/Cory Smith

Belding teachers continue to plea for ‘fair’ deal

In the middle of an eight-month conflict of failed teacher contract negotiations, it was the voice of a young sixth grade student that brought people to their feet in unanimous applause Monday evening. Allyson May, 12, a student at Belding Middle School, approached the podium during the public comment portion of the Belding Area Schools Board of Education Meeting in the Belding High School Performing Arts Center auditorium.

Charles Ring, 78, was found dead inside his home Saturday morning at 8401 Canfield Road in Orleans Township as firefighters responded to a structure fire at the residence. — Daily News/Cory Smith

Orleans Township man dies in Saturday morning blaze

An early morning structure fire claimed the life of its homeowner Saturday shortly after he called 911. Charles Ring, 78, was near the door of his home when firefighters responded to a structure fire at his residence.

At right, Belding High School foreign exchange student Mia Kaarstein, 17, of Porsgrunn, Norway, speaks with fellow senior and friend Grant Hansen, 18, in the main lobby of Belding High School on Monday. Kaarstein is hoping to participate in the school’s commencement ceremony in May. According to school policy, Kaarstein cannot currently participate as she will not be earning a diploma. — Daily News/Cory Smith

Belding foreign exchange student hopes for policy change

From senior dances to participating on the golf team, Mia Kaarstein is attempting everything she can to absorb American culture in her year as a senior at Belding High School. Currently separated from her home of Porsgrunn, Norway, by six time zones and the entirety of the Atlantic Ocean, the 17-year-old foreign exchange student has always been curious about life in America.

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Pair of adults board Belding school bus, refuse to leave

The Belding Police Department is pursuing the arrest of two Belding residents after they allegedly boarded a school bus and refused to leave at the instruction of the bus driver. At approximately 3:17 p.m. Friday, Belding police officers were dispatched to the bus parking lot at Ellis Elementary School, located at 100 W. Ellis St., to a report of an adult on a school bus that was refusing to get off the bus.

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Belding team takes second place at VEX Robotics State Championship

For the second consecutive year, the Belding robotics team made quite a splash at the VEX Robotics State Championship at Michigan State University. On Feb. 22, four teams of Belding students — all of whom qualified by winning three separate tournaments on the season — competed among 40 of the top high school robotics teams in the state.