Wow, another year.nearly in the books. The pages of N3 spent the year filled with the stories about our area. We covered the news to be sure but also included a boatload of high school sports, columns by a clever collection of contributors, edgy editorials, insightful information, and a dash or two of controversy.
Our most popular stories this year? Meijer had to be at the top. Since we launched Near North nearly two years ago no stories have drawn more interest than anything written about Meijer. Lured by the exploding numbers of readers that accompanied each posting we considered expanding this by perhaps interviewing Sandy the penny horse or doing in depth explanations of the Perks program but restrained ourselves and found most who came to us for Meijer stuck around for our ‘other’ news and articles.
What follows may not be an all encompassing list of N3’s top 2017 articles but perhaps a few that seemed to draw significant attention to our pages. In keeping with our alliterative tendencies we divided into categorical twosomes. Politics and Provisions, Hemp and Homicide and Fire and Fun.
Politics: In January Lindsey Isenhart and Michelle Petz articulately described their participation in the Women’s March in Washington D.C. in our Pulse section as did Stephanie Barrette in an interview with Alexis Mercer.
Rob Davidson a local Emergency Physician followed a town hall appearance by incumbent U.S. Rep Bill Huizenga with an announcement that he would seek to unseat the Congressman in November of the coming year after engaging the Rep in a bit of a debate about health care. The last Democrat to hold office in the 2nd District was Wes Vivian who rode Lyndon Johnson’s landslide victory in ‘64 to serve a single term after which began a 50 year run for the GOP.
Local elections saw incumbent Mayors fend off challenges as Ed Fedell and James Rynberg remain in the mayoral seats of Newaygo and Fremont. White Cloud HS Band Director Jamie Denslow took the open seat as mayor of that city and Grant’s mayor Julie Hallman ran unopposed.
Provisions: Groceries were in the news frequently this past year. The closing of Plumbs the previous November brought forth a landslide of speculation as to if and when a new tenant would take over the store and just who it might be.
In March Leppinks announced they would add Newaygo to their stable of stores and did so in June filling a grocery gap that existed for more than half a year.
Gene’s Market passed the torch after 6 decades when the Sordins sold their stores in Grant and Croton to Elliott and Larissa Vanderlaan.
And the Meijer mystery came to an end when it was finally announced that the retail giant with West Michigan roots would build in Fremont with construction beginning this coming April.
Hemp: Marijuana hit the headlines this summer and beyond but not due to a major drug bust. The new state laws regulating all aspects of medical marijuana (or marihuana as the state oddly enough spells it) went into effect December 15th and in July the city of Newaygo was the first to pass an ordinance that would allow for a medical marijuana facility to be built in their industrial park.
Efforts to do something similar in Merrill Township went south accompanied by strong opposition to an early initiative from their community watch group but White Cloud ok’d each of the 5 licenses available under the new law including dispensaries and Brooks Township gave the green light for a dispensary.
While opposition to the ordinances emerged, the promise of good paying jobs and tax revenues helped spur these actions along. Our opinion pages predicted a likely 2018 ballot initiative for recreational use.
Homicide: After 9 hours of deliberation a jury convicted Glenna Duram of first degree murder in the death of her husband Marty. She would be sentenced to life in prison without parole in a case that drew national attention as the ‘Parrot Trial’ because of the couple’s African Grey parrot who had reportedly repeated incriminating words such as “Don’t shoot” while in the care of the victims ex-wife.
And no, the parrot never took the stand.
In a case with many grisly details Anthony Shawn Blamer was arrested on a number of charges involved in the murder of a Muskegon man including dismemberment.
Meanwhile an appeal filed on behalf of Paul and Matthew Jones convicted in 2015 for the murder of Shannon Siders was denied.
Fire: While resignations and elections produced changes in their city council the Cloud seemed to be in the news for flames more frequently than California. In two separate blazes the Eagles Club and Department of Public Works buildings were consumed by fire and taken to the ground. While the destruction of the Aerie might have been an emotional blow to those who frequented the club the DPW loss would prove to cripple a department forced to operate without most of its equipment.
Why, even a motorhome rolling down M-37 seemed to decide on our county seat as a likely spot to ignite itself.
We’re hoping the New Year gives WC a bit of a reprieve from any further conflagrations and perhaps a little economic shot in the arm with the Co-op and a possible grow facility looking to make the long dormant industrial park a hive of activity.
Fun: Festivals dotted the landscape from Fremont, Holton and Hesperia to Grant, Newaygo, White Cloud and Croton. Further out local folks poured into the Irish Music Festival in Muskegon, the Wheatland Music Festival in Remus, and of course, ArtPrize in our metro cousin to the south.
The Dogwood Center lit it up again with a remarkable series of entertainment offerings and Rockin Newaygo County caught lightning in a bottle as the little beauties began turning up everywhere and the subsequent facebook photos spread like wildfire across the local social media pages.
And that’s just a few of the tidbits that led to an ever increasing readership for which we are grateful and honored.
It has been our mission to entertain, enlighten, educate and encourage dialogue while being a tad audacious, a little risky and hopefully, a whole lot of fun.
We hope we have succeeded thus far and aspire to continue to providing our readers with timely, relevant, informative and appealing stories and articles.
Here’s to another year.
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