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Archive | April, 2010

Solon to host farmer’s market

By Judy Reed

Residents who love to shop the farmer’s markets during growing season will have a new place to check out come May 8.

Solon Township to host farmer’s market this spring and summer on the old horse farm at 15185 Algoma Avenue, just north of 18 Mile Road, in Cedar Springs.

Solon Township will sponsor a farmer’s market and craft sale at the old horse farm at 15185 Algoma Avenue every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. beginning May 8 and running through September. They hope to have a good supply of produce, plants, and craft items for customers to choose from. “It will mostly be craft items at first since the produce isn’t ready yet,” explained Linda Badgerow, administrative assistant at Solon Township.

The township bought the property almost a year ago after it was foreclosed on. But they didn’t have the funds this year to renovate it for a township hall or fire barn. “We’ve been talking about how we could use it, and we thought it would be nice to have something close by like this for residents,” said Badgerow. Solon is offering the use of the barn at no charge to vendors and will provide tables if needed. And since the market will be held inside, the sale will go on rain or shine.
The township has been advertising for vendors and Badgerow said that the response has been good. Stands will be on a first come basis. For more info, contact her at (616) 696-1718 or email adminasst@solontwp.org.

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Order in the court

Man pleads guilty in circumcision case


Thomas Alan Heugel, 56, of Sparta, pled guilty Monday, April 19, to unauthorized practice of medicine.

Heugel was arrested March 2 for illegally performing circumcisions. Police said Heugel portrayed himself as a medical doctor to his patients and performed the procedures at his residence. In addition to the circumcisions, he was also performing body piercings and massages. He was reportedly turned into police by an ex-boyfriend.

Heugel is scheduled to be sentenced on the charge June 9, but he is still being investigated for ciminal sexual conduct.

Man pleads guilty in sex scheme


Shawn Godfrey, 38, pled guilty last week to conspiracy to commit first degree criminal sexual conduct for holding a couple at gunpoint last year and forcing them to have sex. According to police and Godfrey, Lee Craddock, 53, wanted to have sex with his 21-year-old relative, and concocted a scheme with Godfrey in April 2009 where he would pretend to be a gunman. Godfrey agreed, and “forced” Craddock and his 21-year-old relative off their motorcycle in the Rogue River State game area in Tyrone Township, near 20 Mile and Red Pine Drive, and ordered them to go into the woods, take off their clothes and have sex. When they did as he instructed, he left. The woman did not know Godfrey, and thought the gun was real. Godfrey testified against Craddock, who was convicted earlier this month.

In exchange for Godfrey’s cooperation, a sexual assault charge and habitual offender charge was dropped. He will receive a sentence of between 6 and 11-1/2 years instead of 14 to 24. Both men will be sentenced May 18.

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Time to plan for severe weather

Don’t let a mild severe weather season last year fool you. According to National Weather Service Meteorologist Jamie Bielinski, there were 19 violent F4 and/or F5 tornadoes between 1953 and 1977. “We are overdue,” she sai, at a recent SkyWarn training.

According to the National Weather Service (NWS), Michigan experienced the lightest severe weather season in 2009 in the modern era of Doppler radar. Despite the lull in severe weather activity, significant flooding resulted in nearly $77 million in damages and severe thunderstorms were responsible for one death and approximately $150 million in damages. A total of 93 flooding and flash flooding events occurred across the state in 2009.

During 2009, approximately 75 percent of severe weather in the state occurred on five days: April 24 and 25, June 19, June 25 and August 9.  In the state, there were only 161 distinct severe weather events in 2009.  Only eight of those were recorded in Northern lower and upper Michigan. To put that number into perspective, in June 2008, there were 415 distinct severe weather events for the state.

This double tornado was one of 47 tornadoes that occurred on Palm Sunday, April 11, 1965 and affected several states in the Midwest, including Michigan. This particular tornado hit the Midway Trailer park in Indiana, killing 33 people.

This double tornado was one of 47 tornadoes that occurred on Palm Sunday, April 11, 1965 and affected several states in the Midwest, including Michigan. This particular tornado hit the Midway Trailer park in Indiana, killing 33 people.

During 2009, three tornadoes touched down in Michigan, which is well below the state’s annual average of 16 tornadoes. The last time Michigan experienced three or fewer tornadoes in a year, was nearly 40 years ago in 1970. All three tornadoes in 2009 hit during the evening of June 19, within a half hour and 30 miles of each other in Allegan and Kalamazoo counties. The first tornado touched down in Allegan County, damaging trees and structures alike.  Along the path of this EF-2 tornado, a pole barn was destroyed, doors of a garage blown in and a roof was ripped off an unoccupied home.  The other two tornadoes occurred in Kalamazoo County.  The first of these was rated an EF-1 and was on the ground for 1.8 miles, which caused major damage to an outbuilding as well as damaging trees and utility lines.  The second tornado, rated an EF-2, was on the ground for less than one mile and tore a roof off a ranch-style house and uprooted several trees. No injuries or deaths were reported during any of the three tornadoes.

A tornado warning means that a tornado has been spotted or is indicated on Doppler Radar.  Go immediately to the basement or a small interior room on the lowest level.  Keep away from chimneys and windows.  Leave mobile homes and find shelter in a sturdy building.

When a thunderstorm warning is issued for your area, get indoors immediately and do not use the telephone or electrical appliances. Keep away from windows. Do not take shelter in sheds or under isolated trees. If you are out boating and swimming, get to land and find a sturdy shelter immediately.

To prepare for severe weather, the Michigan Committee for Severe Weather Awareness suggests that you:

  • Plan ahead.  Be sure everyone in your household knows where to go and what to do in case of severe weather.  Make plans for those who may have trouble getting to shelter.
  • Have emergency supplies on hand, including a battery-operated radio, a flashlight and a fresh supply of batteries.
  • Know the shelter locations in public buildings, such as work, schools and shopping centers.
  • Make a list of household furnishings and other items.  Take photographs of each room.  Store the list and photos in safe place.
  • Have an emergency communication plan.  Know how to reach family and friends if you are unable to meet at home.
  • Create an emergency plan for your pets.

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Is recent earthquake activity unusual?

China’s tragic magnitude 6.9 earthquake on April 13 and the recent devastating earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, Mexico, and elsewhere have many wondering if this earthquake activity is unusual.

Scientists say no.

According to Dr. Michael Blanpied, U.S. Geological Survey Associate Coordinator for Earthquake Hazards, an average of 16 magnitude 7 or greater earthquakes—the size that seismologists define as major—have occurred worldwide each year since 1900. Some years have had as few as 6, as in 1986 and 1989, while 1943 had 32, with considerable variability from year to year.

An earthquake rocked Port au Prince, Haiti on January 12, 2010. A man exits a restaurant after he looked for his belongings.  Photo by Marco Dormino/ The United Nations  United Nations Development Programme.

An earthquake rocked Port au Prince, Haiti on January 12, 2010. A man exits a restaurant after he looked for his belongings. Photo by Marco Dormino/ The United Nations United Nations Development Programme.

With six major earthquakes striking in the first four months of this year, he considers that 2010 is well within the normal range. He noted that from April 15, 2009, to April 14, 2010, there have been 18 major earthquakes, a number also well within the expected variation.

“While the number of earthquakes is within the normal range, this does not diminish the fact that there has been extreme devastation and loss of life in heavily populated areas,” said Blanpied.

In Michigan, we normally don’t feel threatened by earthquakes, although they have occurred here. The largest was on August 9, 1947, with a magnitude of 4.6. This earthquake damaged chimneys and cracked plaster over a large area of south-central Michigan and affected a total area of about 50,000 square miles, including points north to Muskegon and Saginaw and parts of Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Reports of damage to chimneys and some instances of cracked or fallen plaster, broken windows, and merchandise thrown from store shelves were common over the epicentral area. It was also felt in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Ontario, Canada.

The last earthquake in Michigan was reportedly a 3.9 in September 1994. Although, some residents have said they felt tremors from an earthquake near Cairo, Illinois, in the southeastern region of Missouri, that occurred on March 2.
Blanpied said that although the recent earthquakes around the world are not unusual, they are a stark reminder that earthquakes can produce disasters when they strike populated areas, especially areas where the buildings have not been designed to withstand strong shaking. What can you do to prepare? Scientists cannot predict the timing of specific earthquakes. However, families and communities can improve their safety and reduce their losses by taking actions to make their homes, places of work, schools and businesses as earthquake-safe as possible. The USGS provides information on how you can prepare at the Earthquake Hazards Program Web site at http://earthquake.usgs.gov/prepare/.

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Earth Day cleanup this weekend

The City of Cedar Springs will be celebrating Earth Day this weekend with a lineup of activities on Saturday, April 24.

It starts at 8 a.m. with the collection of e-waste behind city hall; a ground-breaking and tree-planting ceremony at the new Veteran’s Memorial Park on the corner of Main/Oak at 9:30 a.m.; and the clean-up of Cedar Creek at 10 a.m., with everyone instructed to meet at the fire barn. The first 100 registrants get a free t-shirt, and everyone who helps gets a ticket to the pizza party held afterward at the American Legion. Following that will be the city surplus auction. There are other activities also going on, including a seedling sale.

Earth Day Activities and Registration

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Fine arts night returns

The 2010 Cedar Springs Public Schools’ Fine Arts Night promises to be an evening to remember for our community. It will be from 6 to 8 p.m. on April 27 at the Cedar Springs High School.

This special event will showcase the creative talents of our Cedar Springs youth, in grades 1 through 12, featuring each of the Fine Arts departments in our district: drama, instrumental music, vocal music, and the visual arts.

Select students from the elementary schools will be performing on stages with a variety of songs. The Middle School and High School vocal music departments will be adding to the evening with a variety of music, including solos and ensembles.

From the Middle School and High school instrumental music department, small ensembles and soloists will be performing throughout the evening.

The High School Drama students will again captivate their audiences with monologues, duos, dramatic interpretations, and hilarious comedic pieces throughout the evening.

All these wonderful vocal and instrumental selections will be performed against a background of Elementary, Middle, and High school Visual Arts on display throughout the building’s first floor. The halls will be filled with the sound of music, and there will be plenty of creative artwork to see and enjoy.

Please plan to attend this special annual event in our community, and celebrate the arts in Cedar Springs!
Admission is free.

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Trout and walleye season opens Saturday

Fishing activity ratchets up a notch Saturday, April 24, as trout season opens on Type 1 and Type 2 streams and Type A and Type D inland lakes statewide, the Department of Natural Resources and Environment reminded anglers today.

In addition, walleye, pike and muskellunge seasons open on inland waters of the Lower Peninsula. And anglers may begin catching and immediately releasing bass in all Lower Peninsula waters, too.

“Trout fishing on opening day is one of the most long-standing traditions in Michigan,” said DNRE Director Rebecca Humphries. “This is a day when people gather with friends and family to celebrate our outdoor heritage.”

Anglers who venture to the Upper Peninsula are likely to find favorable conditions this spring.

“The winter run-off is over with, the ground is warm, the streams are clear, and we’re seeing early hatches of insects this year,” said DNRE fisheries biologist George Madison in Baraga.

“The situation in the northern Lower Peninsula “looks good,” said DNRE fisheries biologist Dave Borgeson in Gaylord. “Anglers are getting out and seeing a lot of insect activity. The snow is long gone and the streams are in fine shape.”

In southwest Michigan, DNRE Southern Lake Michigan fisheries biologist Brian Gunderman of Plainwell said the stream conditions are very good.

“The water levels are low so it should be easy for fishermen to wade,” Gunderman said. “And they may find the trout concentrated in some of the deeper areas.”

As for walleye, DNRE Southern Lake Huron Fisheries Supervisor Jim Baker says the Saginaw and Tittabawassee rivers should be good, again, depending on the weather.

“The walleye spawn probably peaked about a week early this year, so fish have started filtering back out to Saginaw Bay,” Baker said. “We’ve already had a significant high-water event and if we get another rain, there could be a lot more fish leaving. But there will be fish in the river and the season opens as early as it can this year, so maybe that will balance things out.”

Anglers are reminded that they must have an all-species fishing license to possess trout or fish on designated trout waters. Creel and size regulations vary. Please check the 2010 Michigan Fishing Guide for the regulations that apply to particular lakes and streams.

For more information about fishing opportunities in Michigan, visit www.michigan.gov/dnrfishing.

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‘Read All About It’ with author Donald Lystra

The Timothy C. Hauenstein Reynolds Township Library announced that Donald Lystra, author of Seasons of Water and Ice, will pay a special visit to the library at 1:30 and 7:00 on May 5, 2010, for a day of first-rate storytelling; book signing and question-and-answer time with guests.

Mr. Lystra is visiting the Timothy C. Hauenstein Reynolds Township Library as part of the Library of Michigan’s 2010 “Michigan Notable Authors Tour.” This year, 16 authors whose engaging works were chosen as 2010 Michigan Notable Books selections will visit nearly 45 libraries throughout the state.

The Timothy C. Hauenstein Reynolds Township Library is located at 117 W. Williams, Howard City. For details about this author event, call 231-937-5575 or visit the web at http://Reynolds.llcoop.org.

“It’s a literary treat to have Donald Lystra in our community, sharing his work with our friends and neighbors in such an open, accessible way,” says Janice Williams, director of the Timothy C. Hauenstein Reynolds Township Library. “Michigan is home to some of the best stories and storytellers found anywhere in the country. An author of Donald Lystra’s caliber here, in our library, will make it a day to remember.”

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Taking care of your little patch of planet earth

Family Features

Thriving lawn is more than a soft, friendly playground. It can help cool the environment and clean the air. And it’s not hard to practice a little backyard environmentalism — here’s how it works and what you can do to take good care of your lawn.

Keeping It Cool

Have you ever noticed that temperatures in town are often higher than in outlying areas? That’s due to what’s commonly called the Urban Heat Island Effect. Pavements retain heat, so the more pavement there is instead of grass, trees or shrubs, the more an area “bakes” in the heat.

Through its natural processes grass releases water to stay cool, much the same way our bodies stay cool through perspiration. Water evaporating from your lawn or body absorbs excess heat to keep a constant cool temperature. (Just like the big fans with water mist sprayed in the air at amusement parks and ball games!) Because your lawn stays cool the air above it can be as much as 30 degrees cooler than it is above your driveway, patio or sidewalks.

Cleaning the Air

An average lawn has over 11 million individual grass plants. These little green machines work 24/7 to trap dirt, dust and impurities from the air. And like all plants, grass absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen, making it possible for us breathe a little easier.

How to Have a People and Earth Friendly Lawn

The Most Important Thing for Your Grass Is Feeding Regularly: Well-fed lawns are strong and vibrant. In general, feeding two to four times a year will build a lawn that is ready to stand up to weeds, heat, drought and insects. So how do you decide? Well it’s pretty easy. If your lawn doesn’t get much activity from the kids, pets or parties, 2 to 3 feedings is enough. Feeding a couple of times a year also applies if the spring and fall seasons where you live are only a few months long.

On the other hand, if your grass is used for ball games, Slip’n Slide or parties, you’ll want to feed 3 to 4 times a year so the grass can regenerate and withstand wear and tear.

So when should you feed your lawn? That’s easy too! Anytime grass is growing and you are mowing is a good time to feed.

Some fertilizers are designed for lawns, some aren’t. Choose a fertilizer that says “for lawns” on the bag and has a spreader setting. All-purpose fertilizers don’t have the right nutrient balance for lawns and may not even have spreader settings to apply the right amount!

Mow High: Set your mower to one of the highest cut settings to give your grass an advantage over heat, drought, weeds and bugs — and make lawn care simpler. Mowing high means more grass leaves and therefore more deep roots that reach water in the soil better. Longer grass blades crowd out weeds, capture rain water better and reduce moisture loss from the soil. Not only does longer grass look better, it’s greener! Why? Because you see more grass leaves.

Keep Clippings: Mow and feed your lawn at the same time by leaving grass clippings on your lawn. These break down quickly and recycle nutrients back into the soil.

Clean Up: Sweep any fertilizer and grass clippings that land on driveways and sidewalks back into the lawn to keep nutrients where the grass can use these for food.

Watering Optional!

In many parts of the country, Mother Nature provides enough water for your grass to survive. Well-nourished lawns are particularly good at bouncing back from dry spells. These tips should guide you to deciding if you need to water.

Sometimes when it’s hot and dry, the lawn will go dormant and turn brown. Don’t worry. Grass will bounce back again once it rains, especially if you’ve fed it well and mowed high. Properly fed grass survives on Mother Nature’s drinking fountain.

If you use your lawn as an extension of your living space, then your grass will let you know when it needs a drink. It will turn dull in color and footprints appear.

If rain isn’t expected soon, water using a sprinkler that shoots the water in a jet fashion, low across your lawn, and in the morning to reduce water loss from evaporation.

Compared to unfed lawns, properly fed lawns tolerate heat and dry weather better than unfed, weak lawns. That’s because they have better roots and stored energy reserves to bounce back when rainfall or water returns. Keep your lawn well-fed and let nature be your primary sprinkler.

Get more green-spiration at loveyourlawn.us.

Courtesy of Family Features

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Ranger Steve’s Nature Niche

Early spring flowers

Many interesting features of spring flowers evade our attention as well as many spring flowers themselves.

The Silver Maples are done flowering by mid-April and we take notice when the male flower parts fall on cars, drives, and yards. The fertilized female ovary must remain for development of the seeds. We will soon notice seeds when the helicopter samaras come spinning down from the trees.

If a child has not yet learned to make a whistle from the flat helicopter blade attached to the seed, I highly recommend you, as an adult, make sure they learn to make the whistle. Place the flat, winged blade between your tongue and roof of your mouth, with the thick ridge toward the back of you mouth. Blow air across the blade and reposition as necessary until a wonderful or possibly irritating sound is created.

As of mid April, the box elders, another maple, is in bloom and the sugar maples are not yet ready to display their cryptic flowers. Many insects pollinate these flowers and are a reason we have birds in our yards that eat them.

Closer to the ground other plants are in bloom or are already withering. Serviceberry, June berry, and Amelanchier are names for the same plant that flowers before most other shrubs. Their beautiful white flower clusters make the trees showy before leaves emerge. The plant stored enough energy last year for early spring reproduction this year. After hosting many insects and in turn birds that eat insects, the flowers will produce tiny little apple-like fruits that gave the plant its name Juneberry. When berries are formed, the plant will host wildlife in your yard that comes to feed on insects. With more native plants you will notice more wildlife. The name serviceberry developed because the flowering time indicated that frost was out of the ground and our dead relatives could be buried. People spent more time noticing natural occurrences than many of us do now.

Nearly all insects go unnoticed by humans but a great many have a close relationship with native plants. Without these dependent relationships, other wildlife populations will suffer greatly. Non-native ornamental plants do not fill nature niches well and are largely sterile deserts for life in our yards. Go native with plants instead. Some people think non-native plants are wonderful because they support fewer insects. People notice only a very small fraction of insects that either bite us or are beautiful garden jewels. Most insects go about their lives without our notice. Plants do notice and need insects. Without them a great many could not reproduce. I host several non-natives in my gardens but most of the yard is reserved for native species.

I have a much richer variety of life at Ody Brook than most of my neighbors to the north and south. After purchasing Ody Brook in 1979, I let more than half of the mowed lawn area be claimed by wild flowers, shrubs, and finally trees. It was lawn between my house and the neighbors but now I have birds, mammals, frogs, and other wildlife present. They are present because insects have found appropriate food, water, shelter, and living space that are not available in lawns. The plants that colonized the yard also are more efficient than lawns at holding water, purifying the air, sequestering carbon from the atmosphere, and maintaining soil fertility. It is less expensive to maintain and draws larger desire wildlife to live here.

I do keep some areas in meadow or lawn. The meadow areas are better for supporting butterflies and other interesting insects, amphibians, birds, mammals. Mowed areas around the house are mostly free of biting mosquitoes during sunny hours so we can sit on the porch and enjoy songs of birds and their frequent flights from thicket to thicket. Deer walk daily along forest edge on well-established trails. Rabbits have their own set of highways.

I have not even begun to discuss the spring flowers at the ground level but most will bloom in late April or May. Those out by early April include: Adder’s Tongue, Skunk Cabbage, Spring Cress, Marsh Marigold, Spring Beauty, Golden Saxifrage, Common blue Violet, Long-spurred Violet, and White Violet.

Enjoy wildflowers during the coming weeks and the May column will address many of those flowers. Knowing wildflower names is not nearly as important as the relationship you build by allowing them to repopulate portions of your yard. The benefit for you is becoming a steward for a much greater variety of life in nature niches where you live.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at the odybrook@chartermi.net  Ody Brook, 13010 Northland Dr, Cedar Springs, MI 49319-8433. 616-696-1753

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