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JUST IN: Belding passes balanced tentative budget for 2015-2016 fiscal year

The Belding City Council has passed a tentative budget for the 2015-2016 fiscal year that is balanced without borrowing from the city’s general fund.

Ionia County Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Julie Calley gives her opinion about the Central Area Michigan Works Consortium while commissioners Jack Shattuck, left, and Scott Wirtz, center, listen Tuesday. — Daily News/Elisabeth Waldon

Ionia County leaves four-county Michigan Works for Region 4 agency

Ionia County is leaving a four-county employment service agency for a new 13-county arrangement. In a split vote Tuesday night, the Ionia County Board of Commissioners voted against staying with the Central Area Michigan Works Consortium (CAMWC) — which serves Gratiot, Ionia, Isabella and Montcalm counties — in favor of realigning with a yet-to-be-finalized Michigan Works agency in Region 4, which encompasses 13 counties.

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JUST IN: Ionia County votes to leave four-county Michigan Works agency

In a split vote, the Ionia County Board of Commissioners voted to leave their four-county Michigan Works agency and to give Region 4′s yet-to-be-finalized Michigan Works agency a try.

A motion to have Ionia County stay with the Central Area Michigan Works Consortium (CAMWC) — which provides employment services to Gratiot, Ionia, Isabella and Montcalm counties — failed in a 3-4 vote tonight, effectively ending CAMWC.

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.

Ionia County Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Julie Calley

Michigan works? Future uncertain for four-county jobs agency

What’s been working for a four-county area in central Michigan for the past 35 years may not be working anymore.

The Central Area Michigan Works Consortium (CAMWC) has been in existence since 1981. The agency is unique in that it encompasses four counties — Gratiot, Ionia, Isabella and Montcalm — and works in conjunction with local EightCAP services.

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.