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Archive | November, 2011

Take the tour of lights

This photo was sent to us a couple of years ago by Tom Scott, of Tyrone Township. It shows a great display that year on 17 Mile, near Algoma.

This photo was sent to us a couple of years ago by Tom Scott, of Tyrone Township. It shows a great display that year on 17 Mile, near Algoma. Have you decorated the outside of your home for the holidays? Or, do know of a home that has a great display? The annual Post Tour of Lights map is in production, and we’d like to add your addresses to the list! Email us the information so that we can all have the joy of driving by and seeing the beautiful displays. Or, if you drive by someone’s home and would like to add them to our map, you can do that too! Email us at news@cedarspringspost.com, and put “Tour of Lights” in the subject line.

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Letters to Santa Claus

Ashlynn Davis, 5, of Cedar Springs, was the first child to drop off a letter to Santa in our mail box. Thanks, Ashlynn!

It’s that time of year again, when kids can’t wait to mail their letters to Santa! To help parents out, the Cedar Springs Post has set up a special North Pole drop box. Every year dozens of kids use our special box for express delivery to the North Pole, and we make sure Santa reads each and every one! So, if you’d like to send a letter to Santa, and maybe get it printed in the newspaper, just drop off your letter in the bright red box labeled “Santa Mail” outside our office at 36 E. Maple Street, or mail your letter to: Letters to Santa, c/o the Cedar Springs Post, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

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POST to collect toys for needy

Would you like to do something special for families in need this Christmas? You can partner with us to provide toys for needy children in Kent County. The Post is participating in the Toys for Tots program again this holiday season, as a drop off site for toys.
Toys for Tots is a volunteer organization whose goal is to collect new, unwrapped toys for kids 0-16, and distribute them to children who would not otherwise receive a gift during the holiday season. Toys for teens are always needed.
The program runs now through the first two weeks of December. Just bring a new, unwrapped toy to our office at 36 E. Maple Street in Cedar Springs, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you can’t make that time, call us to make other arrangements.
Together we can make this Christmas special for many children!

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Small business Saturday and Sunday

Everywhere you turn, you hear and see ads and commercials promoting Black Friday specials at the big chain and department stores. But what about the small mom and pop shops—the small businesses—whose survival depends on you shopping there?
Charlie Owens, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, the state’s leading small-business association, is encouraging holiday shoppers to invest in their communities by shopping at small businesses the Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving.
“Black Friday is when a lot of people get up early and line up outside the giant department stores, but if you’re looking for something unique and want to support your community, then you need to shop at small businesses, too,” said Owens.
According to a 2011 report by Ernst & Young, more than 90 percent of all businesses in Michigan are registered as flow-through companies, usually sole proprietorships, partnerships and other small operations.  They account for more than half of all jobs in the state.
“Small businesses drive our economy, and if we’re going to create jobs in this state, we need a healthy small-business community,” said Owens.
“Small and independent business owners are among the most generous supporters of civic groups, local charities, youth sports, school activities and virtually every other form of community activity,” Owens said. “Shopping locally is a way for people to help their friends and neighbors and create jobs and opportunities in our communities.”
Check out the ads and specials in this week’s paper to find small businesses in our area. And check out our website at home page for some Internet-only coupons!

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Former theater student part of “long gray line”

By Judy Reed

Peter Noreen

A casual observer might think that enrolling in the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York has become a military tradition in the Noreen family. Colonel Tom Noreen graduated from West Point, as did two of his daughters, Sarah and Janet. Peter Noreen, a 2009 graduate of Cedar Springs High School, is the latest Noreen to become a cadet at one of the world’s preeminent leader development institutions.
But Peter, the son of Tom and Nancy, of Nelson Township, will be the first to admit that he isn’t doing it just because of a family tradition. “I can say with 100 percent certainty that if my dad and sisters hadn’t gone, I probably wouldn’t be there. But it can be frustrating when people lump us all together. We all joined for our own reasons,” he explained. “It’s a huge opportunity.”
West Point’s mission is to educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country. The student body, or Corps of Cadets, numbers 4,400 and each year approximately 1,000 cadets join the Long Gray Line as they graduate and are commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army.
Peter noted that tradition runs deep at West Point. “I am awed by the magnitude of it all. The legacy can be intimidating, but it’s cool to be a part of it,” he explained.
While Peter was in high school, drama and music were two of his big interests, and still are. When he graduated in 2009, he went to Western Michigan University to join their theater program. He had started the process to join West Point while in high school, but wasn’t sure he really wanted to go. When he found out he had been accepted, he had to make a decision. And even though he still thinks of himself as a theater kid, he’s sure it was the right one.
“It’s fascinating the things we have the opportunity to do,” he said.
Peter said that singing with the West Point Glee Club has been an amazing experience. “I’ve sung at Carnegie Hall, the Grand Ol’ Opry, sang backup for Trace Adkins—a ton of things I wouldn’t have dreamed of getting to do with my theater degree,” he explained. He also said that CBS recorded a 30 second spot of their glee club singing that will be aired either right before the Army-Navy football game, or during the documentary slated to run in December.
He also told of cadet who was chosen to play the violin during one of the football games. “He played before thousands of people. I know people who practice 6 hours a day back in Kalamazoo would love to have that type of venue,” he said.
And joining West Point doesn’t mean he’s given up theater. Last fall, he played the part of Jonathan in “Arsenic and Old Lace”—the very same part his grandpa, Jack Clark once played. “Mom and grandma (Marge Clark) drove 14 hours to see me in it,” he said.
Peter said that he does wish he had talked with someone a little more about what to expect when he first went in, because it was a big culture shock. “I had no clue what I was getting into,” he said. “I went from doing things for myself (on a vacation in Egypt), to having someone be with me all the time. I couldn’t do anything on my own. I resented it at first. But once you get through it, things change.”
Peter, who is majoring in Arabic, takes 23 credits and stays busy. For every cadet there is formation at 6:50 a.m. and then all 4,400 cadets sit down together for breakfast. Classes end at 4. Curricular activities take place between 6 and 8 p.m., then it’s study time and off to bed.
After graduation, cadets sign on for five years of service.
Peter joined in the summer of 2010, and said that after two years in, a cadet has to make a declaration on whether they are going to continue. That time will come for him next year. “It’s such a huge opportunity. I never thought it would be me. But I plan to stay,” he said.
If anyone is thinking of applying to West Point and would like to talk to Peter, he’d be happy to answer any questions you have. You can email him at peter.noreen@gmail.com.

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Stage play brings area families together

Jennifer Ninds and son Michael, of Howard City, are two family members that are enjoying working on Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”

A Christmas Carol debuts at the Kent Theatre Dec. 9

Christmas is certainly a time when most people gather with family and friends for fun and frivolity. Families look for creative ways to enjoy the tidings of the season. Some volunteer their time at a soup kitchen, some might wander their neighborhood streets singing Christmas carols and some might hop in the car one evening and drive miles just to look at thousands of Christmas lights.
But, for a small group of people in northern Kent County, they’ve chosen to celebrate their Christmas holidays by taking to the stage. The cast and crew of “The Christmas Carol,” which numbers well over 40, is comprised largely of people who just happen to be related to each other.
The production director boasts that it’s truly a family affair.
“It’s wonderful to see so many families involved in such a fashion,” said Terri Riggle, production stage director. “They’re having fun and spending a lot of time together in a worthwhile project.”
Ebenezer Scrooge is played by Rockford’s Virgil Hubbard, and his wife, Kathleen, who’s making her acting debut on the Kent Theatre stage, is playing the wife of the character Fred, Scrooge’s nephew. Cedar Springs resident Russ Cole, who is Bob Cratchit, is also given singing direction under the guidance of his wife Carolee, who’s the production’s music director. Laura Johnson, who plays Christmas Present, also enjoys being on stage with her son, Tom, who plays Young Scrooge.
And the list continues. There are two mother and daughter combinations, Judy and BreAnna Schulz of Howard City and Eva Walters and her daughter, Mystic also from Howard City. Then there’s the Price family, all from Cedar Springs, who have four out of their five members involved in the play. Jon, the father, is playing dual roles of Mr. Fezziwig and the Ghost of Christmas Future; his wife, Tammy, is Mrs. Fezziwig; son Jordan is Dick Wilkins; and daughter Grace is Martha Cratchit.
Then there’s the sister and brother combination of Leah and Andrew Woltansus, from Kent City, who are playing the Ghost of Christmas Past and Peter Cratchit, respectively. Howard City resident Jennifer Nind is the production stage assistant and mother to Michael, who is playing the Young Errand Boy. Cedar Springs resident Scott Phillips plays ghoulish Jacob Marley, and his wife Dani is a special effects and lighting technician.
“This production promises to be an engaging evening of live stage performances, which includes not only acting, but singing and a little dancing thrown in just for fun,” Riggle said. “Bring your family. There’s no better way to start the holiday season than seeing this Christmas classic brought to life.”
Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” adapted by Brian Way and produced through special arrangements with Baker’s Plays and the Cedar Springs Theatre Association, will be opening Friday, Dec. 9 at 7:30 on the Kent Theatre stage in downtown Cedar Springs. The production runs through Dec. 11 with performances at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, the 10th, and a final matinee at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 11. Tickets are $8 for adults and $4 for kids 11 and under. They’re available at the Cedar Springs Public Library or by calling 616-696-0949 or 616-696-SHOW or before each performance at the Kent Theatre box office, which opens at 7 p.m. for evening performances and at 1:30 p.m. for matinee performances.

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Appeals court overturns panel’s decision in Gabrion case

Marvin Gabrion

Rachel Timmerman and daughter Shannon

The man found guilty of killing a Cedar Springs woman may not escape his death sentence after all.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the decision that one of their three-judge panels made in August, when they overturned the death sentence for Marvin Gabrion, 57.
Gabrion was convicted in 2002 for the 1997 kidnapping and drowning death of Rachel Timmerman, 19, of Cedar Springs. Although Michigan does not have the death penalty, Gabrion was sentenced to death by lethal injection, because Rachel’s body was found on federal land, in the Manistee National Forest.
In August, a three-judge federal appeals panel upheld his conviction but overturned the death penalty on the grounds that the trial judge, Robert Holmes Bell, should have allowed lawyers to tell the jury during the sentencing phase in 2002 that Gabrion would not have faced death if he had been tried in a state court.
However, a majority of the 16 judges on the Sixth Circuit of Appeals threw out that decision last week. The full court will now revisit the sentencing phase of the trial.
Rachel disappeared from her father’s house in Cedar Springs in June 1997. Her body was found in Oxford Lake, in Newayo County, weighted down by cinder blocks, on July 5, 1997. Prosecutors believe Gabrion murdered Rachel to keep her from testifying that he raped her the previous fall. The rape trial was set to begin within days of her disappearance. Her daughter, Shannon, who was 11 months old at the time, also disappeared, and was never found.
Rachel’s father, L.C. (Tim) Timmerman and his brother John have written a book that tells the story of Rachel and Shannon’s disappearance and Gabrion’s subsequent arrest called “The Color of Night.” The book can be bought at Schulers, or ordered from either Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

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Police investigate home invasions

Kent County Sheriff Deputies are investigating a series of home invasions that took place in Algoma Township last Thursday during daylight hours.
According to police, the crimes took place on Thursday, November 17, between 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. They occurred in the 12600 block of White Creek Ave, 11300 block of Summit Ave and 8400 block of Wolven Ave.
Police said that the owner of the Wolven home interrupted suspects at approximately 11:30 a.m. The suspects said they were looking for a construction company. They are described as 2 black males with no facial hair, medium build, approximately 6 feet tall. The vehicle is described as a dull red compact car.
Items stolen from the homes include coins, cash, electronics and jewelry.
Police said remind residents to keep all exterior door and windows locked, including the exterior doors of your garage.
If you have any information or if you observe any suspicious activity, contact the Kent
County Sheriff’s Department at 632-6100.

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Have turkey will travel

Are you going to be one of the 1.33 million residents traveling 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday this week? That’s how many people AAA Michigan estimates will be on the road Wednesday, November 23 to Sunday, November 27. That’s nine percent more people traveling in Michigan this year than last year. Nationally, the number is up four percent, to 42.5 million.
“This is the first significant increase in any holiday travel this year,” noted AAA Michigan President Steve Wagner.  “Despite the uncertain economy, our projected increase shows more travelers are choosing visiting family and friends over frugality this holiday.”
Vehicle travel remains the most popular form of Thanksgiving transportation.    Ninety percent of Michigan travelers will go by vehicle, down from last year’s ninety-four percent.  Nationally, 90 percent of holiday travelers will also go by vehicle, a four percent increase.
Gasoline prices have fallen 15-20 cents over the last week, depending on where you live. In Cedar Springs, they were $3.26 at press time, and still about 50 cents higher than a year ago.
“Gasoline prices have continued their slow decline in the last week across a solid majority of the United States, with the national average sagging to its lowest level since this past February,” according to GasBuddy.com Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan. “Many motorists may be giving thanks for the lower gasoline prices until they realize that average prices will still easily exceed prior Thanksgiving Day records,” he added.

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Driver crosses center line; sends three to hospital

The Montcalm County Sheriff’s Office received a report from Montcalm Dispatch of an erratic driver in the area of West Sidney Road and South Berridge Road  in Montcalm Township on Sunday, November 20, at about 1 p.m. As deputies searched the area for a Chevy Lumina minivan, they were dispatched to a personal injury accident involving the vehicle.
According to police, the minivan had crossed the center line and struck a red Dodge Durango, occupied by a family of five. Three children, ages 11, 6, and 3, were in the Durango and transported to Spectrum United Memorial Hospital with minor injuries. The 38-year-old driver of the Lumina is suspected of driving under the influence of prescription pain medication at the time of the crash. All passengers in the Durango were wearing a seatbelt, but the driver of the minivan was not.
The report has been sent to the prosecutor’s office and charges are pending while the crash remains under investigation.

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Pastor Mary Ivanov
Cedar Springs United Methodist Church
140 S. Main St., Cedar Springs

“Thanks!”  I say this word more times than I can count in one day.  I write it on notes and type it many times as I finish an E-mail message.  It’s become a standard “sign-off” for us, but I was struck by some verses from First Thessalonians 5:16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (New International Version)
16 Always be joyful. 17Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (New Living Translation)
16-18Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live. (The Message)
These verses come from the end of a letter to the early church, probably one of the earliest writings in the New Testament (50’s AD).  The apostle Paul is writing to a congregation that he formed on his missionary journey to Thessalonica, and these words come at the close of his letter—advice from a church leader to other followers of Jesus Christ.
The call to be joyful, pray, and give thanks is not so surprising.  These are a part of Christian character and practice, but the instructions on how and how often are powerful!  We can’t just be joyful in the Lord when we feel like it—when life is going great for us. Our joy is deeper than our circumstances. We don’t pray just when we “need to,”when there’s a specific situation that drives us to ask God for help. Prayer is a gift of God that keeps us connected to God and to people around us.  And we don’t just give thanks on one particular Thursday in November.  Giving thanks is a way to live “in all circumstances.”
Perhaps you’ve heard verse 18 misquoted before. I’ve heard it read: “give thanks for all circumstances…” but that’s not the right word or the spirit of the Scripture!  That small word makes a big difference! God’s Word doesn’t call us to give thanks for the difficulties we face or the struggles we have, but to give thanks and recognize God’s presence in the midst of all of life.
So whatever you might be doing this Thanksgiving Day—whether sitting around a large table with family or friends, cooking for one or two, recovering from surgery or illness, grieving losses and missing loved ones, feeling overwhelmed with blessings, or not quite in the holiday spirit—know that the call to “give thanks” isn’t limited to one day. It’s a call on our life to show our faith in God who walks with us on every step of the journey. Giving thanks in all circumstances is a powerful witness to God’s presence and power in our lives and in the world!
If you don’t have a church home or have been away for a while, every day is the perfect time to get reconnected! Consider getting back to church or trying it out for the first time during this season of Thanksgiving leading up to Christmas. I invite you to worship with us this Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m. or 11:30 a.m.  We also have a special Bible study beginning this Sunday, November 27 at 10:15 a.m. called “The Journey” where we’ll learn more about the people and places surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ.  We share the love and hope of Jesus Christ!

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Of goats and gratitude

by Ronnie McBrayer

A man went to his rabbi and complained, “There are ten of us living in one room. Life is unbearable! What can I do?” The rabbi answered, “Go home and take your goat into the room with you.”  The man was incredulous; but the rabbi was insistent. “Do as I say. Come back in a week.”
A week later the man returned looking more distraught than ever. “Rabbi, please, we cannot stand it. The goat is filthy!” The rabbi then told him, “Very well, go home and let the goat out. Come back in a week.” A radiant man returned to the rabbi a week later. His perspective had been astonishingly altered. “Life is beautiful,” he cried. “We enjoy every minute of living together without the goat—and there’s only ten of us!”
Jesus once encountered a group of ten, living together, with little for which to be thankful. These ten had more than a stinking goat in the room. They had leprosy. But Jesus did more than change their perspective: He healed them. They were physically well, and turned together from death’s door. Yet, they did not turn together toward their healer.
Only one came back to Jesus. He fell at the feet of Christ and worshiped. This was a thankful man. This was a man with perspective. Jesus was surprised by this. “Were not all ten cleansed?” Jesus asked rhetorically. “Then, where are the other nine?”
Why didn’t the others come back? Maybe one waited to see if the cure was for real. Maybe another intended to go back later, as soon as possible. Maybe one ran to the family from which he had long been separated or got so entranced with having his life back, he simply forgot to return to the one who had performed the healing. I don’t know for sure.
But I do know that we can become so absorbed in our happiness—in our blessings or good fortune—that we fail to consider the Source of those blessings. We do not maintain perspective, and can sometimes say “Thank you,” because we know that it is the proper thing to do, but saying it and feeling it are two different things.
During this holiday week, may the Source of every good and perfect gift give us the greatest gift of all: A grateful heart. In return, may we fall at his feet with thanksgiving.
Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, speaker, and author. His books include “Leaving Religion, Following Jesus” and “The Jesus Tribe.” Visit his website at www.ronniemcbrayer.net.

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