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Archive | March, 2012

Russell Road staging area parking requires permit

People using state-owned staging areas are now required to have a Michigan recreation passport on their vehicle.

In our area, that would affect the staging area at Russell Road, just south of Cedar Springs, for the White Pine Trail. (Cedar Springs and Sand Lake staging areas are not state-owned.)

The change came about because Michigan Department of Natural Resources Director Rodney Stokes signed a land use order, effective immediately, that classifies state forest campgrounds and non-motorized pathways as state recreation areas. It requires campers using state forest campgrounds and persons using the state’s non-motorized trails and pathways to have a valid Michigan Recreation Passport on their vehicle.

Since the Recreation Passport was adopted in 2010, it has only been required to enter a state park, recreation area or state-administered boat launch fee site. By requiring the Recreation Passport at state forest campgrounds and non-motorized pathway parking areas, the DNR hopes to increase sales of the Recreation Passport and provide more funding for state forest-based recreation programs.

“We intend to keep all state forest campgrounds open and available for campers,” said Ron Olson, chief of the DNR’s Parks and Recreation Division. “The days of closing state forest campgrounds are over. During this transition, we will raise awareness of the Recreation Passport requirement for state forest campgrounds and non-motorized pathway parking areas, and put those funds back into maintenance and operations of state forest recreation programs.”

Enforcement of the Recreation Passport at state forest campgrounds and non-motorized pathway parking areas will focus on notification of the change.  Visitors who do not have the Recreation Passport will be given the opportunity, without penalty, to secure one for the first year.

Michigan residents can purchase the Recreation Passport ($10 for motor vehicles; $5 for motorcycles) by checking “YES” on their license plate renewal forms, or at any state park or recreation area.  To learn more about the Recreation Passport, visit www.michigan.gov/recreationpassport, or call 517-241-7275.


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Man arrested for storage break-in

Mark McGinnis

A 33-year-old man was arrested this week for breaking into storage units at a nearby business.

The Kent County Sheriff Department received a tip Monday, March 26, that a break-in was going to take place at Storage Pros, 12505 Northland Drive, a business that has had numerous theft complaints in the last month and a half. According to the tip, the suspect would arrive in a U-haul truck and steal a large amount of property.

Deputies set up surveillance, and saw the suspect arrive at the complex about 4:20 a.m., March 27. The suspect broke into two storage units and stole property. When the suspect left the facility, officers conducted a traffic stop and recovered the property.

During an interview, the suspect admitted to breaking into numerous storage units, and said the property was taken to an address north of Greenville. Deputies conducted a search at the address (with consent) and found enough property to fill a pick-up truck, property van, and a car. The property was taken back to the department so it could be given back to its rightful owners.

Police are seeking charges against the suspect, Mark Jay McGinnis, of breaking and entering a building with intent, and possession of a firearm by a felon.


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The good, the bad, and the grace

Pastor Darryl Miller  

Sand Lake UMC

65 W. Maple, Sand Lake

South Ensley UMC

 13600 Cypress, Ensley Township



It was a dark and stormy night. Really! We were in one of our most beloved places in creation, our family church camp on Lake Michigan. Usually it is the most relaxing and joyful place. Except this night. I had recently undergone surgery to reattach my bicep and my arm was infected. And so, we found ourselves in the emergency room in Grand Rapids. I was miserable and I’m sure I was lousy company. As we sat in the waiting room, my wife suddenly said that the police were bringing in a man that she recognized. She went to see what was up and was told that he had attempted suicide. When I was settled, she went to talk to the man. She found out that he felt hopeless and wanted to end it. She began to minister to him and before I left the ER, she had convinced him to seek counseling and had helped him to arrange it.

So what does this have to do with you? Good question!

I didn’t want to be where I was. I was miserable and would have rather been just about anywhere other than a hospital. But even there God made himself real. In Romans 8:28 we read: “28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (NKJV). It sounds good, but what does it mean to me? God used a bad situation and made it good. That night, a man’s life was saved! He made himself real to me, my wife, and the man who was struggling so.

The infection was a real thing, and God did not cause it. Could he have stopped it? Yes. So why didn’t he? Because God sees things that we cannot. Had he stopped it, I, and my wife, would not have been there when this man was looking for help. Could God have intervened without us? Absolutely, but he allowed us to be his hands, feet and voice to this man. In Acts 8:26-40, Phillip is told to go into the desert and to run after a man in a chariot. And after his encounter with the man, he is swept away to preach somewhere else. God knows when and where we are needed. And it’s not always where we want to be. Although I am the preacher in the family, it was my wife who provided the needed ministry there. God calls everyone to be ministers, not just people with titles. That seems scary to a lot of people, but God is in control and as long as you let him guide you, you’ll do just fine! Don’t worry about what to say, God will provide the words, and besides, silent presence can be just as important.

The third person in this little story was the man. In his way, he was calling out for help. And faithful to his word, God heard him and answered him. What an awesome God! He hears us wherever we are and whatever we have gotten ourselves into. And he answers!

Unfortunately, we don’t always get to see the good that may come from every situation we find ourselves in. But even if we don’t see these results, that’s a part of faith, knowing that God is there and in control, even when we may not notice Him.

So next time you find yourself somewhere you don’t want to be, keep your eye peeled for God in action, you may be surprised at what you discover!



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Ella Esther Clarke (1924-2012)

After a long, fun-filled and joyous life, Esther went to be with God on March 25, 2012. Esther was born on a farm in Cedar Springs, Michigan to Emily Miranda and John Harvey Heiss on June 8, 1924. After graduating from Cedar Springs High School she married Eric Clarke in 1942 and began the adventure of their lives together. She sold her cow, left the farm, and followed him around in the service until his time was up and he went back to finish at Purdue. They moved to California in 1958 and settled in San Pedro. They raised their children there and Esther lived in that same home until her passing. Esther was a homemaker and mother “supreme” and never wanted anything different. However, weekends were meant for fun and Esther always had something planned; camping, Sunday drives, backyard parties and the list goes on. Their motto was, “Every day is the 4th of July and every night is New Year’s Eve!” Her husband, Rick, preceded her in death by 5 years and now they are having fun dancing together again, celebrating what would have been their 70th anniversary year. Their three daughters and sons-in-law; Susan and Paul Galyean, Debora Esther and Myron Croel, and Emily and Dave Anderson, wish they could see them as they are reunited as do the grandchildren and their families. Susan’s family includes; Mark and Jennifer Galyean with Griffin, Rick and Anna Galyean, Clarke and Erin Galyean with Jadyn and Kylar, Gerri and Sam Panebianco with JP and Eric. Debora Esther’s family includes; Christine and Darren Cecil with Tinsley, CJ, and Darren, Roxie and Mike McNabb with Clayton, Ella Esther and Matt. Emily’s family includes; Jennifer and Kevin Pulvers with Isaiah, Piper, Bradley and soon- to- arrive Grayson, Jim and Ann Anderson with Hailey, Faith and Blair, Rob and Kristen Anderson with Isabella, Ashley and Madelyn, and Jared and Ana Anderson with Ava. The guest list would be at 47 just with Esther’s immediate family! Her numerous beloved nieces, nephews and many friends would be a must! Esther’s life revolved around her family and friends and she put her never-ending energy into keeping them all together Esther was the only girl in six children and is survived by her brother, Jack Heiss. She is also survived by her brother and sisters-in-law; Bill Clarke, Betty Heiss, Ellen Heiss, Rosemary Clarke and Sally Clarke. Esther was a long-time member of the First Presbyterian Church of San Pedro, the Order of the Eastern Star, and an honorary member of Bethel #24 Job’s Daughters. There will be a memorial of her life (and probably theirs together) at the First Presbyterian Church of San Pedro on Sat., March 31st at 2:00 p.m. The family invites friends to join the celebration as we share and remember together.  Visitation will be held at Green Hills Memorial Park on Fri. March 30th at 5- 8:00. You may sign the guestbook at  http://www.greenhillsmortuary.com



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Merlin (Mike) Holton

May 17, 1927 – April 1, 2011


Something Beautiful Remains

The tide recedes but leaves behind

Bright seashells on the sand.

The sun goes down, but gentle

Warmth still lingers on the land.

The music stops, and yet it echoes

On in sweet refrains….

For every joy that passes,

Something beautiful remains.

Author Unknown


Dear Mike, Dad, Grandpa and Great-Grandpa

In the course of our daily lives and when we least expect it, we still hear your voice and feel the warmth of your hug.

You left us all with wonderful memories; gifts of character, strength and humor and a treasure trove of your special brand of wisdom. Your are loved and missed so very much. TTFN



Kathy & Mike, Karen & Gary, Kevin & Carol and Kris & John

Grandchildren and Great-grandchildren

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Red Flannel Festival Facts

*The Red Flannel Festival incorporated in 1978. It has been an independent, non-profit corporation for 34 years.

*The Red Flannel Festival Corporation and the City of Cedar Springs are two completely separate entities.

*The Red Flannel Festival first trademarked its logos in the 1970s. The Festival holds state trademarks on 10 different phrases and logos. There is also Federal protection on a main, generic logo.

*The Festival Board has a duty to protect its logo/trademark from infringement of state and federal law from any entity, as it would with any other Festival asset.

*The Festival and City Ad Hoc Committees met for the first time on Jan. 23, 2012 to discuss the Festival’s trademark and continue to work positively and collaboratively together toward an agreement that will benefit both parties. We consider these negotiations in the very beginning stages, and no final decisions have been made.

*Taxpayers of Cedar Springs have paid $5,400 (as per City budget line item) for Festival services for 71 years.

*In May 2011, Festival paid City $5,224.65 for the 2011 Festival. City Council accepted an agreement that is valid until 2015 for a “not to exceed” amount of $8,000.

*The Festival received a final bill after the 2011 Festival for $8,064.30. Taxpayers covered $2,839.65. A copy of the bill is on the Festival website, www.redflannelfestival.org.

*The City of Cedar Springs (per their website) enjoys a budget of approx. $6.9 million, and $1.9 million in the general fund. The Festival has a budget of approx. $90,000. The proposed $8,000 is a nominal amount in budget comparisons.

*The Festival has spent $393,000 since 2006 at local or state businesses for goods and services. The policy of the Festival Board is to buy locally first in Cedar Springs, then in the immediate surrounding area, unless items are unavailable.

*The Festival does not employ any paid staff. Planning for the Festival begins in January each year and all work is done solely by volunteers.

*The Festival Board implemented the community share program, whereby non-profit organizations provide volunteers and the Festival shares event profits. The Festival has donated $25,748.05 to area non-profits the past few years.

*The Festival donated $2,024.69 to the City of Cedar Springs the past 2 years for Veterans Park for the Timmy Brown Family Fund from the Flapjack Breakfast.

*The Festival has always paid for security at the Grand Lodge. Since 2005, the Festival has paid $3,495.21 to the CS Police Department for security at the Grand Lodge.

*The recent newspaper article makes it appear we made $18,092 in 2010 for the Grand Lodge. This is because expenses of $1,126 in Sales Tax, $3,180 in contract labor and $2,250 in donations associated with the event are reported in other areas of the tax return.

*Net income for the 2010 Grand Lodge was $12,536.29. In 2011, net income for the Grand Lodge was $8,915.08.

*The Festival draws 35,000+ visitors into the City of Cedar Springs annually for the events, which in turn, boosts local businesses.

Red Flannel Board of Directors


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Speculators are driving up gas prices

by Sen. Carl Levin


Once again, oil prices are spiking, threatening our economic recovery and causing real hardship for American families and businesses. The price of a barrel of oil is up nearly 30 percent since early October.

Unfortunately, that’s nothing new. For years now, the commodity markets have taken the American people on an expensive and damaging roller coaster ride with rapidly changing prices for crude oil. At the start of 2007, oil cost about $50 a barrel. By July of 2008, oil prices had shot to nearly $150 per barrel and then, by the end of the year, crashed to $35. In the beginning of 2011, oil prices took off again, climbing to over $110 a barrel in May. By October, the price fell to $75 a barrel, a drop of more than 30 percent over four months. Now, three and a half months later, oil prices are back up.

One of the major factors driving these high prices isn’t getting enough attention: excessive speculation in the commodity markets.  Investigations by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which I chair, have shown how the activities of speculators – those who don’t produce or use oil, but who bet on oil price changes – have overwhelmed normal supply and demand factors and pushed up prices at the expense of consumers and American business.

In 2006, the subcommittee released a report that found that billions of dollars in trading by speculators in the crude oil market was responsible for an estimated $20 out of the then $70 cost for a barrel of oil that year – and a corresponding rise in the price at the gas pump. Since then, even more speculators have entered the commodity markets. Today they bet billions of dollars on oil prices every day.

Oil markets exist to enable producers of oil and users of oil to do business. But at a November hearing before my subcommittee, the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Gary Gensler, testified that 80 percent or more of oil trades are now made by speculators. In February, Forbes magazine, citing a recent report by Goldman Sachs, reported that oil speculation adds 56 cents to the price of each gallon of gas bought at the pump.

Before speculators flooded the markets, oil prices were determined by fundamental market forces of supply and demand. When supplies were tight and demand high, prices went up. In contrast, when supplies were ample and demand low, prices went down.  Nowadays, that relationship is largely absent. There is no shortage in the supply of oil globally, and the United States is producing more oil than it has in a decade. Last year, the United States actually exported more gasoline and other petroleum products than we imported. At the same time, U.S. demand for fuel actually sank.

Under normal economic conditions, rising production and lower demand should mean lower prices. Instead, prices are more volatile than ever. One key reason is that speculators are playing too large a role in the oil market. If we are to get a handle on oil prices, we have to curb excessive speculation.

Congress has already taken the first steps. In July 2010, we told federal regulators to establish rules to prevent speculators from dominating markets and distorting prices. Last year, the regulators rolled out the new rules. They are not as tough as they should be, but the real problem is that they are not yet fully in force. That means this important new tool lies dormant. One big roadblock is that the financial industry has filed a lawsuit to stop it from taking effect.

In the meantime, Congress should acknowledge that speculation is helping to drive up gas prices. We should urge federal regulators to exercise emergency authority, without waiting any longer, to clamp down on excessive speculation in the oil markets.

Congress should also ask more of the president’s task force on commodity speculation. A year ago, Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island and I sent a letter asking President Obama to convene a task force to investigate and combat excessive oil speculation. While the attorney general did convene a task force, it focused on criminal cases instead of the broader problem of commodity traders driving up gas prices. The task force should urgently refocus and bring its firepower to the battle against excessive speculation.

American families cannot afford the current price of oil and neither can our economy, which after four years is beginning to turn a corner toward real growth. Ignoring how speculators affect oil prices could put our recovery at risk.

Carl Levin is the senior U.S. senator from Michigan.

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Main Street

Watchful eyes

You may have noticed the little blue “police” cars on the streets of Rockford. Behind the wheels are some unpaid good guys, members of Rockford’s Volunteer Services Unit Chief David Jones came up with the useful (and cheap) idea six or seven years ago. The volunteers (about 16 of them) police handicapped parking spaces, check on vacant homes and on the disabled, and monitor the White Pine Trail. They also staff the Visitors Center much of the week.

Volunteers usually work one day a week. Although unarmed themselves, they keep an eye on things throughout the city and are in radio contact with headquarters if they see something that needs attention.

Sgt. Dave Robinson, who has been with the Rockford Police Department since 2000, is in charge of the unit. In 2011 Dave received the West Michigan Crime Prevention Practitioner of the Year Award.

Our sister city, Cedar Springs, does not have an official Neighborhood Watch. However, Chief of Police Roger Parent says the department encourages residents to notify the police 24/7 if they see anything that might be suspicious. Chief Parent emphasizes that the C.S. police are never too busy to handle these calls.

More watchful eyes

The radar installed in a police helicopter caught a speeding motorist.

Down below, a police officer pulled him over and began to issue a traffic ticket.

“How did you know I was speeding?” asked the frustrated driver.

The officer pointed somberly toward the sky.

“You mean,” said the motorist, “that even He is out to get me?”

Police department

From a State Policeman:

I once received a call from a woman who asked how to baste a turkey. After a stunned moment I, being the go-to cook in my family, described the procedure.

Then I thought to ask: “But why would you call the State Police to find out how to baste a turkey?”

There was only a slight hesitation before the lady replied, “Well, you knew, didn’t you?”

Paramedics department

As he came out his front door onto the porch, a man passed out in a dead faint. Someone called 911.

When the paramedics arrived, they helped him regain consciousness and then asked if he knew what caused him to faint.

“It was enough to make anybody faint,” said the man. “My son asked me for the keys to the garage and, instead of taking off in the car, he came out with the lawn mower!”

Art department

Tom goes to his first show at an art gallery and is looking at the paintings. One huge canvas has black with yellow blobs of paint splattered all over it. The next painting is a murky gray color with drips of purple paint streaked across it.

Tom walks over to the artist and says, “I don’t understand your paintings.”

“I paint what I feel inside me,” explains the artist.

Tom says, “Have you ever tried Alka-Seltzer?”


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Rotary cow plop fundraiser

Do you want to win some money? Do you want to support local students get scholarship help for college? Do you want to enjoy family fun and music while staying  local? If the answer was yes to any of these questions, than you need to find a Cedar Springs Rotarian because the Cedar Springs Rotary club is hosting a cow plop fundraiser on May 5!

What is that? The land next to White Creek Lumber will be sectioned off into 2×2 squares, and a calf will be released and monitored. There are tickets assigned to each square at 5 p.m. and, if the cow plops in the  square where your ticket is placed, you may be a winner.

There are three prizes. The first plop square wins $1000, the second $350 and the third $150. The great thing is that you do not even need to be present to win, but we hope you will come and join in the fun anyway. The ticket will also grant you admission into a community concert featuring local musicians in a band called “Madhouse.” They are a local band that will play lots of fun cover songs that will make you want to dance. There will also be ballon animals, face painting, bounce houses, exhibits from Howard Christensen Nature Center and more.

The event begins at 2 p.m., with the winner announced after the 5 p.m. drawing. Tickets are only $5 each and can be purchased at Independent Bank, ChoiceOne Bank, Weingartz, White Creek Lumber, Cedar Springs Area Parks and Recreation, Gebhardt Insurance, or from any Cedar Springs Rotarian. For more information, you can join the group on Facebook at Cedar Springs Rotary Club.





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Seed Swap at Wittenbach/Wege Center

All this warm weather we’ve been having lately is making our gardening thumbs twitch here at the The Wittenbach/Wege Agriscience and Environmental Education Center in Lowell. As we plan our 2012 garden, we’ve noticed we have lots of unused seed that we don’t need. Are you in the same boat? Do you have lots of unused seed from summers past that you no longer have a need for? Wouldn’t it be great to get rid of your seed stash and acquire new seeds?

We will be hosting a seed swap on Sunday, April 1, from 2-3 p.m. here at the WWC. Bring out any seeds you have to swap. Seeds can be up to five years old but please don’t bring anything you know isn’t viable. Make sure all packets are labeled with the type and variety name (original packets are appreciated but not necessary). Even if you don’t have seeds to swap, come on out. The WWC will have heirloom and traditional varieties available for a small donation. For more information, please call 616-987-2565 or email Meggan Johnson at mjohnson@lowellschools.com.


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