When Belding resident Byron Davey and his wife Debra celebrated their first Belding Labor Day celebration together in 1972, it was just the two of them for the newlywed couple. Forty-one years later, and the Daveys found themselves celebrating yet another Belding Labor Day celebration this holiday weekend, but this time, it was with their three children, their spouses, and seven grandchildren.
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While the world may be settling down for the final holiday weekend of the summer, the wheels are turning in Belding — as in ferris wheels and tilt-a-whirl carnival rides, which have transformed the city for the weekend as it celebrates the 108th annual Belding Labor Day Celebration festival.
It hasn’t yet been two months since the latest area disc golf course, SMASH Park, opened at Lightning Bend Park in Belding, but that hasn’t stopped organizers from looking to the future. The park, which is free to play, opened on July 2 and features nine holes, from which visitors tee off with the throw of a disc with a goal to eventually land the disc into a basket at the end of each hole.
With 30 young women competing in three different categories in a contest that lasted 3 1/2 hours, it was Sarah Thompson, who, in the end, walked away with the crown, sash and title of Miss Belding.
Alma resident Howard Larsen could recall several memories of various trips he made in crossing the original Whites Covered Bridge, be it by car or on foot, before the bridge burned and collapsed into the Flat River on July 7. Larsen said he was heartbroken when he first heard of the bridge’s destruction, which was officially declared a crime of arson.
Murl “Red” Sanders wasn’t expecting much for his his birthday this year. The Korean War veteran and Greenville resident has resided at Metron of Greenville in extended care since last October after health complications resulted in the amputation of his left leg from the knee down. But on Friday, on his 84th birthday, Sanders was given a gift he found difficult to express in words.
Starting Monday, the Ionia County Road Commission will begin safety improvements on Whites Bridge Road from M-44 south to 4 Mile Road and Button Road from Montcalm Avenue east to the Flat River. According to Ionia County Road Commission Engineering Director Paul Spitzley, the project was originally submitted for Federal Safety Hazard Elimination Funding through the Michigan Department of Transportation in March 2011 and was awarded in January 2012 for the 2013 construction year.
A few old, rotting boards, several cracked and broken shingles and a skeleton-like casing of one of the original steeple windows of the Belding Bros. clock tower are all that remain today across the street from the sight of the iconic tower that stood for 110 years. The image sitting in the Central Riverside Park parking lot has created mixed emotions from residents who are either in favor of seeing the structure finally removed from public view or saddened by the way it was disassembled.
Marian Wrung hasn’t lived in Smyrna for a number of years now, but she will always call it home. That’s why, when she, her two daughters and granddaughter visited the small community during the “160-Years of Smyrna” celebration Saturday, it was a step back in time.
When Paul Phenix was just a young boy, he could recall walking along the former Whites Covered Bridge with his grandparents, who took him to a section of the bridge where he recognized a few names inscribed into the wood. “This is where your great-grandparents signed their names on the bridge,” they said to him. “It’s where we signed our names, and your parents, and now you can sign your name.”