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Archive | July, 2014

Residents to vote on proposals Tuesday



Depending on where readers live, they may be required to vote on several proposals in Tuesday’s primary. Everyone will vote on Proposal 1, a proposal of a new statewide tax to reimburse local governments for revenue lost due to personal property tax reforms; the Kent County senior millage is up for renewal, as is the Kent District Library millage; and several townships also have millage questions on the ballot.


Each year, Michigan businesses pay personal property taxes on equipment, furniture, computers, and more—no matter whether they were purchased last year or 50 years ago. Advocates to repeal say this discourages business expansion and job creation, and that it is unfair to tax businesses at the time they buy the equipment, and again on an annual basis.

While legislators have wanted to change this, they needed to come up with a way to replace the money that the tax brings in—money that goes to local municipalities for city services such as police and fire. In 2012 and 2014, the state legislature and governor enacted reforms that bring personal property tax relief to businesses. But local governments have wondered where their revenue was now going to come from. Public Act 80 redirects a portion of the state’s current use tax to create a new local tax. The revenue of this new tax would be distributed to local governments as reimbursement for lost personal property tax. A new special authority would be created to levy the tax and distribute the revenue.

The proposal, already approved by lawmakers, would reimburse local governments through a new assessment on manufacturers and reallocation of existing money from the state “use tax,” which is collected on items brought into Michigan or purchased from out-of-state retailers via mail or internet.

According to the Citizens Research Council of Michigan (a non-partisan think tank on public policy), if the ballot question is approved by voters, the personal property tax reforms will go forward, with local revenue reimbursement implemented as prescribed in the 2014 legislation. If the measure fails, all provisions of the personal property tax reforms will be repealed effective for tax year 2015, meaning that all businesses would once again be subject to any relevant tax levies on personal property.

Vote yes to approve or no to reject this proposal.

For more info, visit election.crcmich.org and read the CRC’s full report.


The Kent County Senior Millage served nearly 17,000 people overall last year with 43 different in-home services. Included in that was more than 1,150 seniors over age 60 in northern Kent County that received in-home services funded by the Kent County Millage, with 243 in Cedar Springs. Services to help seniors live independently in their own homes included home delivered meals, transportation to vital medical appointments, personal care, home weatherization and repairs, and respite for caregivers. First passed in 1998 at 1/4 mill, it was renewed at 1/3 mill in 2006. It is up for renewal for another 8 years at ½ mill, an increase that will cost the owner of a $150,000 home $12.50 in additional tax per year.

Vote Yes to approve, no to reject.


The Kent District Library is asking for 1.28 mills to provide funds for library services. This is a renewal of its former .88 mills, and an additional .4 mills, for 10 years, until 2023. They expect it to raise $20,060,000 in the first year. Residents of the City of Cedar Springs will not vote on this, since they have their own public library.

Vote Yes to approve, No to reject.


Residents of Algoma Township are being asked to vote on a renewal of the current millage that supports the fire department. They are asking for .9854 mills ($.9854 for every $1,000 of taxable value) for a period of ten years, 2014-2023. They expect it to raise $353,335 the first year.

Vote Yes to approve, No to reject.


When a house in Solon Township catches on fire, response is immediate, due to Solon and neighboring fire departments being part of the MABAS system (Mutual Aid Box Alarm Systems). That means that in a fire, neighboring departments will also be dispatched right away. However, that’s not the case in medical calls, and Solon Township has had a hard time getting volunteer firefighters during daytime hours. If firefighters are working, they might not hear the call, and if no one answers by two minutes, dispatch calls it out again, and then finally calls another department. That’s happened a couple of times this year, according to Fire Chief Jeff Drake. But those five minutes could be crucial in a medical call. He said they currently have one firefighter that mans the station for 20 hours/week during the day, but it’s only on a trial basis. With the millage proposal of a half mill (.50), they are looking to fund one for 40 hours. The person would be there to answer calls immediately, maintain equipment, and maintain the facilities.

Drake said he’s taking a three prong approach to address the lack of daytime volunteers: he asked to hire someone, he asked for the funding to pay them (the millage question), and he has applied for a grant for the Michigan Treasury to examine the feasibility of Solon consolidating their fire department with neighboring fire departments, such as Cedar Springs. He sent out letters to neighboring departments, and did receive a response from Cedar Springs City Manager Thad Taylor in favor of the study. Drake has not yet heard anything on the grant.

Drake said that if the millage is not approved, they would remain with the status quo, and that he would try to continue recruiting, but that it’s tough. “People just aren’t available,” he noted.

If the millage is approved, residents would pay 50 cents per $1,000 of taxable value. It would last from 2014 to 2023, and is expected to raise $76,511.15 the first year. While the millage language talks about fire equipment and maintenance also, Drake said the main goal is to support staffing.

Vote Yes to approve the levy of .50 mill and No to reject it.


Sparta Area Schools is looking to renew its operating millage of 18.7 mills on all property except principle residences. This allows for the collection of its foundation allowance to support school operations. The current millage expires in 2015, so this proposal will run from 2016-2025.

Vote Yes to approve, No to reject.


Sparta Township has two millage renewals on the ballot for the fire department. The first one is a renewal of .2409 mills for six years, for the acquisition of fire equipment, and the second is a renewal of .25 mills for renovating and repairing of fire station, and vehicle purchases.

Vote Yes to approve, No to reject.


Tyrone Township is seeking both a renewal and increase to support their fire department. Proposal 1 seeks a renewal of one mill for two years (2015 and 2016) for fire operations. Proposal 2 asks for an increase of .50 mills for the same two  years 2015 and 2016).

Vote Yes to approve, No to reject.


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Kent County Youth Fair

KCYF-header-webKent County Youth Fair and fair grounds 225 South Hudson Lowell, MI 49331


Daily Audacious Hoops; Performances daily at 1 PM, 4 PM & 7 PM., Saturday 1 PM, 3 PM, 5 PM & 7 PM. The Audacious Hoopers are a professional hula hoop dance troupe specializing in high energy, dynamic performances that elevate simple plastic circles into a compelling art form. Handcrafted hula hoops will be available for purchase. Next to children’s barnyard

Daily Back by popular demand, Chainsaw Carving! Take a log, a chainsaw and a very talented artist and what do you get? Beautiful works of art! Watch them be carved, if you like one you can bid on it our silent auction. South Entrance

Daily 1-5 PM, 6-10 PM Bingo Bingo Tent

Daily Meijer Children’s Barn Yard Kids young and old will love checking out the cute animals. By Entrance

Daily Exhibitor Show & Tell Tent By Children’s Barnyard

Daily Draft Horse & Tractor Shuttles Parking Lots

Friday August 1

10 AM Dog Showmanship, Obedience & Rally Klackle Orchards, 11466 W. Carson City Rd, Greenville MI.

Saturday August 1

10 AM-3 PM Still Exhibit Judging Free Entertainment Tent

Sunday August 3

2:30 PM Explorer Recognition (Special thanks to the 4H Council)Free Entertainment Tent

4:30 PM-6:30 PM Pork DinnerEvent Tent

6:30 PM Opening Ceremony and Royal Court CoronationFree Entertainment Tent

7 PM Goat Team Fitting Reath Barn

Monday August 4 – Heros’ Day

All Day Heroes’ park free! Active military, Veterans, Fire, Police and EMT’s show your ID at the gate for free parking

TodayMichigan Association of Veterinary Medicine – Science, Animals, Medicine and YOU!Children’s Barnyard

9 AM Horse Judging: Fitting & Showing Horse Arena

9 AM-1 PM Off Road Vehicle Safety Class – Presented by: Kent County Sheriff Dept.; The class is free, but please register at www.kcfg.org, Seating is limited. King Building

9:30 AM Goat Judging: Showmanship Breed and Market Classes Costume Contest follows Reath Barn

Noon-2 PM Youth Talent Contest Registration,  Free Entertainment Tent

1-4 PM Michigan Blood Center Blood Drive – Get on the bus! Please call 1-866-MIBLOOD to make an appointment or stop in at the bus! South Entrance

1-5 PM Bingo, Sponsored by Lowell Moose Lodge Bingo Tent

1 PM Audacious Hoops South Entrance

1 PM Cavy Breed & Showmanship Rabbit Tent

2 PM Horse Judging: Grand & Reserve Showmanship Horse Arena

3 PM Horse Explorers: Explorer Fitting & Showing Horse Arena

3:30 PM Horse Explorers: Explorer 7 & 8 Year Old Riding Pattern Horse Arena

4 PM Audacious Hoops South Entrance

4 PM Horse Judging: Horseless Showmanship Horse Arena

5 PM Antique tractor pull weigh in Track

5 PM-Close Carnival Rides Open Midway/Carnival

5 PM Rabbit Breed Judging Rabbit Tent

6-10 PM Bingo, Sponsored by Lowell Moose Lodge Bingo Tent

5 PM Rabbit Breed Judging Rabbit Tent

6 PM Swine Showmanship Reath Barn

6 PM Horse Judging: Senior/Horsemasters Presentations Horse Arena

6:30 PM Youth Fashion Show Free Entertainment Tent

7 PM Audacious Hoops South Entrance

7 PM Antique tractor pull: Open event Track

7 PM Youth Talent Contest – Contest open to kids 19 or under on January 1st, 2014. Cash prizes. Note you must sign up between noon and 2 pm to take part in the contest. Free Entertainment Tent

7:30 PM Horse Judging: Contesting: Down & Back; Poles Horse Arena

Tuesday August 5 – Reading for Rides Day 

Today Michigan Association of Veterinary Medicine – Science, Animals, Medicine and YOU! Children’s Barnyard

8 AM Horse Judging: Jumping Horse Arena

9 AM Poultry Judging Poultry Barn

9 AM Swine Judging: Market Class Explorer Showmanship Following Reath Barn

9 AM-2 PM Boating Safety Class- Presented by: Kent County Sheriff Department; The class is free, but please register at www.kcfg.org, Seating is limited. King Building

10 AM-11 AM Grand Parents Coffee and Donuts Community Tent

Noon Horse Judging: Hunter Hack Horse Arena

Noon-4 PM Reading for Rides – Go to www.kcyf.org to print your registration form. Midway/Carnival

12:30 PM Performing Arts Vocal & Instrumental: Registration Free Entertainment Tent

1 PM Audacious Hoops South Entrance

1-5 PM Bingo, Sponsored by Lowell Moose Lodge Bingo Tent

1 PM Performing Arts Vocal & Instrumental Judging Free Entertainment Tent

Noon-4 PM Free Blood Pressure Check Event Tent

1:30 PM Horse Judging: Hunt Seat Ground Poles Horse Arena

2 PM Cattle Fitting Clinic, Team Fitting Contest Beef Arena

2 PM-3 PM Grand Parents Coffee and Donuts Community Tent

2 PM-Close Carnival Rides Open: Wristband Ride Special $18.00. $3.00 off Carnival coupon available at many locations in Kent County or visit http://kcyf.org to print coupon; Carnival coupon is good for Tuesday ONLY. Midway/Carnival

3:30 PM Horse Judging: Hunter Hack Horse Arena

4 PM Audacious Hoops South Entrance

4 PM Dog Agility Registration Football Field

4 PM Goat Trail Class Reath Barn

4 PM Horse Judging: Bareback Horse Arena

4:30 PM Horse Explorers: Stick Horse Construction King Building

4:30 PM Dog Agility Judging Football Field

5 PM Rabbit Judging: Showmanship Rabbit Tent

5:30 PM Horse Explorers: Stick Horse Parade Midway to Horse Barns/Arena

6-10 PM Bingo, Sponsored by Lowell Moose Lodge Bingo Tent

6 PM Team Tractor Pull 4-person teams will pull a tractor and race against the clock. In front of the Free Entertainment Tent

6 PM Horse Judging: Saddle Seat Pattern Horse Arena

6 PM Horse Explorers: Stick Horse Jumping Practice Arena

7 PM Horse Judging: Pleasure: Saddle Seat, Hunt Seat, Western Horse Arena

7 PM Audacious Hoops South Entrance

7 PM Draft Horse DemonstrationTrack

7 PM Club KCYF with the Mid-west Dueling Pianos Free Entertainment Tent


Wednesday August 6 – Community Day 

Today Local non-profits join us at fair from 3 PM to 7 PM

8 AM Beef Steer Market Classes Beef Arena

8 AM Horse Judging: Hunt Seat & Dressage Seat Equitation Horse Arena

8:30 AM-10 AM Performing Arts: Storytelling, Puppetry & Theater Judging Free Entertainment Tent

9 AM Goat Milking Contest Goat Barn

9 AM Dairy Market Judging: Showmanship, Market, Explorer Reath Barn

10:30 AM-12 Noon Performing Arts: Dance and other evaluations Free Entertainment Tent

11 AM Horse Judging: Hunt Seat, Western & Saddle Seat Riding Patterns Horse Arena

12:30 PM-2 PM Performing Arts: Clown Judging Free Entertainment Tent

1-5 PM Bingo, Sponsored by Lowell Moose Lodge Bingo Tent

1 PM Audacious Hoops South Entrance

1 PM Feeder Beef Judging & Beef Breed Heifer Show (time approx. following lunch break) Beef Arena

2 PM Rabbit & Cavy Individual Quiz Bowl and Breed Identification Rabbit Tent

2 PM-Close Carnival Rides: Wristband Ride Special $18.00 Midway/Carnival

3 PM-7 PM Visit local kid oriented non-profits Main Street

4 PM Audacious Hoops South Entrance

4 PM Horse Judging: Saddle Seat Pattern & Equitation Horse Arena

4 PM Sheep Judging: Market, Showmanship & Breed Reath Barn

5 PM Dodge ball Tournament! Teams of 5 will work their way to the top! Get more rules and entry form at http://kcyf.org Football Field

5 PM Alpaca Obstacle Course Football Field

6-10 PM Bingo, Sponsored by Lowell Moose Lodge Bingo Tent

6 PM Rabbit & Cavy Costume Class & Adult Showmanship Rabbit Tent

6:30 PM Horse Explorers: Explorer Stick Horse Keyhole Event Practice Arena

7 PM The Brian Randall Band – come on down for some great rocking country music. Free Entertainment Tent

7 PM Horse Judging: Contesting: Speed & Action; Keyhole Horse Arena

7 PM Audacious Hoops South Entrance

7 PM Draft Horse Pull (Using Barnyard Rules) Track


Thursday August 7 – Agriculture Day 

8 AM Horse Judging: Dressage Tests Horse Arena

8 AM Beef Showmanship Beef Arena

9 AM -11 AM Goat Quiz Bowl Free Entertainment Tent

10 AM Rabbit & Cavy Explorer Rabbit Tent

Noon Horse Judging: Equitation: Dressage Seat; Western; Gymkhana Horse Arena

1 PM Audacious Hoops South Entrance

1-5 PM Bingo, Sponsored by Lowell Moose Lodge Bingo Tent

1 PM-3 PM Youth Variety Show Free Entertainment Tent

2 PM-Close Carnival Rides: Wristband Ride Special $18.00 Midway/Carnival

2 PM Livestock Sale: Small Animals followed by the Sale of Champions Reath Barn

3:30 PM Livestock Sale Sale Order: Swine, Sheep, Feeder Calf, Gallon of Milk, Beef followed by the Sale of Champions, Buyers dinner  Reath Barn

4 PM Audacious Hoops South Entrance

4 PM Horse Judging: Reining Horse Arena

6-10 PM Bingo, Sponsored by Lowell Moose Lodge Bingo Tent

6:30 PM Horse Explorers: Stick Horse Reining Event Practice Arena

7 PM-9:45 PM West Michigan Bluegrass Music Association Presents Steam Powered Blue Grass & The Patchwork Band Free Entertainment Tent

7 PM Horse Judging: Reining Horse Arena

7 PM Extrication Demonstration: Presented by: Lowell Fire Dept. Next to Foreman Building

7 PM Horse Judging: Contesting: Flag; Cloverleaf Horse Arena


Friday August 8 – Handi-Capable Day

Today Flush Tank Check the schedule on Main Street to see who will be getting dunked.

8 AM Horse Judging: Trail Horse Arena

10 AM Dairy Showmanship Classes Dairy Type Classes immediately following Reath Barn

11 AM Rabbit Agility & Cavy Obstacle Course Rabbit Tent

11:30 AM Horse Explorers: Stick Horse Trail Event Horse Arena

11 AM-2 PM Handi Capable Day – Carnival Rides & Luncheon for Special Needs Individuals. Lunch is from 11 AM to 1 PM, rides are from Noon to 2 PM. Attending is free but please register at www.kcyf.org so we can get a head count for lunch. King Building & Carnival

1-5 PM Bingo, Bingo Tent

1 PM Audacious Hoops South Entrance

1 PM Horse Judging: Grand & Reserve Equitation Horse Arena

2 PM Goat Parent “Fun bowl” Class Rabbit Tent

2 PM-Close Carnival Rides: Wristband Ride Special $18.00 Midway/Carnival

2 PM-4 PM Teen Leadership Judging Event Tent

2:30 PM Tractor Driving Judging Track

3 PM Alpaca Showmanship (including Explorers) Reath Barn

3 PM Horse Judging: Versatility Horse Arena

4 PMAudacious Hoops South Entrance

6-10 PM Bingo,  Bingo Tent

6 PM Horse Explorer Stick Horse Team Games Horse Arena

6 PM Cow Pie Bingo Ticket Sales Beef Barn

6:30 PM-10:30 PM Country Karaoke With Diva Productions Free Entertainment Tent

6:30 PM Horse Judging: Team Performance Games Horse Arena

7 PM Audacious Hoops South Entrance

7 PM Extrication Demonstration Presented by: Lowell Fire Dept. Next to Foreman Building

7 PM Cow Pie Bingo, Silent Auction Beef Arena

8 PM-11 PM Family Line Dance with Lia’s Line Dancing & Dance MovesReath Barn


Saturday August 9 – Meijer Kids Day & Dollar Day

All Day Scavenger Hunt Get your official scavenger hunt page at guest services or print it here. Everyone who completes the hunt will be put into a drawing to win one of several bicycles. Sponsored by “Fry Guy”! All Over

9 AM-Noon $1 parking with 3 or more non-perishable food items from 9 AM to Noon, they will be donated to the food pantry at F.R.O.M.

Noon-6 PMLook for $1 food specials through out the fairgrounds. Food vendors will have $1 specials, carnival rides just $1 each from noon to 6 PM !

8:30 AM Showmanship Sweepstakes Reath Barn

9 AM Horse Award Ceremony Free Entertainment Tent

9 AM Sidewalk Chalk Artist Richard Francisco, creates a masterpiece

Noon Sidewalk Chalk FunShow off your creative abilities and get some help from Richard Francisco! Next to the Foreman Building

Noon-6 PM Carnival Rides:$1 per ride from Noon to 6 PM! Special Food & Game Discounts Midway/Carnival

Noon-4 PM Disc Golf Fun! Football Field

Noon-11 PM Carnival Rides: Wristband Ride Special $18.00 Midway/Carnival

1-5 PM Balloon Animals and creations, by the Balloon Guys Picnic Area

1-5 PM Bingo,  Bingo Tent

1 PM Audacious Hoops South Entrance

2 PM Ice Cream Social – Free, While supplies last Midway

2 PM Project Animal Expo Learn about showing livestock at the Fair! Exhibitors from each livestock area will explain how they care for and show their animals Horse Arena

2 PM Alpaca Costume Classes Reath Barn

2:30 PM Field Day Mixer & Photo Booth Have fun and celebrate with team games! All kids are welcome to join the 3-Legged Race, Blind-Folded Wheel Barrow Race, Relay Obstacle Course Race and Tug of War! Horse Arena

3 PM Audacious Hoops South Entrance

3 PM Princess Tea Party King Building

3 PM Puff the Dragon Pedal Pull: Youth Classes Midway

5 PM-8 PM Release of horses Horse Arena

5 PM Audacious Hoops South Entrance

5 PM Dodge ball! *** NOTE: THE DODGE BALL TOURNAMENT HAS MOVED TO WEDNESDAY AUGUST 6TH AT 5 PM ON THE FOOTBALL FIELD *** Get more rules and entry form http://kcyf.org

6-10 PM Bingo  Bingo Tent

7 PM Off the Radar You will be amazed at this Cover/Christian Rock band made up of very talented young people. Opening for Off the Radar will be Maya Eaton with her original and cover songs and The Preservers with their classic rock covers and original tunes. Free Entertainment Tent

7 PM Audacious Hoops South Entrance

9 PM Release of breeding stock

9 PM Release of still exhibits

10 PM Release of market animals

11 PM Kent County Youth Fair Closes for 2014 Release of all other Exhibits



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Fresh Market: Zucchini


BLOOM-ZucchiniBy Vicky Babcock


Save your grocery bags.  Practice your stealth.  It’s nearly upon us!  August 8 is “sneak some zucchini onto your neighbors porch day”.   Non-growing neighbors are likely to appreciate the shared largess—-that first time.  Okay, maybe the second.  Wait!  They’re locking the car and leaving the light on.  And they’ve just acquired a big dog.

All kidding aside, this prolific grower is a tasty and nutritious treat.   One medium fruit provides about 58% of your daily requirements of Vitamin C and about 14% of potassium.

Small, tender squash are best and can be consumed uncooked in salads and cut into sticks for dips.  Or skip the dip—it’s not needed.  And one medium fruit contains only 33 calories, a dieter’s dream!  Leave the skin intact for a healthy snack—much of the nutrition is concentrated within the peel.  It can be sliced and stir-fried for a tasty side.  (I use salt, pepper and garlic)  But pick often.  Larger fruit are only good shredded for breads, cakes and soups, as the skin becomes tough and the fruit seedy.

Zucchini fruit is more versatile than most people realize.  It can be fried, baked, broiled or consumed raw.  Try zucchini fries or quiche, cookies or pancakes.  Zucchini fritters are another way to use up the squash.  For some tasty zucchini recipes, check out www.MomOnTimeout (Google zucchini recipes)

Zucchini is Native American and was cultivated by the Indians long before Columbus set sail on his monumental voyage.  Much lore abounds with its medicinal value.  Toothache suffers could chew on a piece to find relief and it was said that a paste of the boiled fruit could sooth the sting of running eyes.  Consumption of great quantities, it was said, would prevent the deadly consequences of snakebite.  To remove a troublesome wart, touch the affliction with the cut end of a zucchini by the light of a full moon and bury the squash in a field that faces north.  While we can’t guarantee the results, you’re likely to get a good crop of zucchini!  Linda Jean Morris— The Times Weds. 9-2-1987.

That excess of squash can be shredded and frozen for later use.  Or maybe its time to start a new tradition.  How about, “bring some zucchini to work, day.”

Easy Garden Lasagna

1 lb. Italian bulk sausage

3 1/2 cups chopped zucchini

1 cup chopped onion

2/3 cup chopped carrot

1 cup corn kernels

1 cup chopped fresh basil

1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided

1/4 cup flour

3 cups skim milk

1 cup ricotta cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

8 or 9- no-boil lasagna noodles (such as Barilla)

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. In a large skillet, cook bulk sausage until browned through.  Pour off excess grease—remove sausage and set aside.  Add zucchini, onion, and carrot to the pan; sauté over med-high heat about 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from heat; stir in reserved sausage, corn, basil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

3. In a large saucepan, combine flour, ¼ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.  Gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in ricotta cheese, Parmesan and nutmeg.

4. Spread 1/3 of the sausage mixture in the bottom of an 11×7-inch baking pan.  Layer half the noodles, 1/3 sausage, ½ white sauce, remaining noodles, remaining sausage and remaining white sauce.  Cover tightly with foil and bake at 400° for 25 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with mozzarella, and bake an additional 25 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes.

Fresh Market is brought to you by Solon Market located at 15185 Algoma Avenue.  For more information call 616-696-1718.  Like us on facebook for updates.

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Charles Moore, the captain who discovered an ocean trash gyre roughly the size of Texas swirling around in the ocean between Hawaii and California, told the Associated Press: “It’s like a toilet bowl that swirls but doesn’t flush.” Pictured: Some trash that made it back to shore, from where it should have never left. Photo by John Schneider.

Charles Moore, the captain who discovered an ocean trash gyre roughly the size of Texas swirling around in the ocean between Hawaii and California, told the Associated Press: “It’s like a toilet bowl that swirls but doesn’t flush.” Pictured: Some trash that made it back to shore, from where it should have never left. Photo by John Schneider.

E – The Environmental Magazine


Dear EarthTalk: Recent news coverage of the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 reminded us all again of how much debris, including plastic, is in our oceans. To what extent is this a real problem that threatens ocean or human health?           — Margaret Ainsworth, Philadelphia, PA

The so-far in-vain search for Flight 370 has indeed stirred up interest in the growing problem of ocean debris as objects thought to possibly be plane parts have repeatedly turned out to be just floating trash.

“The ocean is like a plastic soup, bulked up with the croutons of these larger items,” Charles Moore, the captain who discovered an ocean trash gyre roughly the size of Texas swirling around in the deep ocean currents between Hawaii and California, told the Associated Press. “It’s like a toilet bowl that swirls but doesn’t flush,” he added. Moore’s “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” is one of five such debris vortexes in the world’s oceans. Last April, searchers for MH370 stumbled onto the eastern edge of one of them in the Indian Ocean, at first mistaking some of the larger bobbing objects for airplane wreckage.

While this floating flotsam may be a time-wasting distraction for MH370 searchers, green leaders are worried about it for other reasons. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), trash and other ocean debris can cause direct harm to wildlife that ingests or gets caught in it and can break or suffocate coral reefs that are key habitat for many of the world’s marine species. Marine debris can also contribute to the movement of harmful invasive species that hitch rides from one body of water to another.

Another issue is that so much marine debris is comprised of plastic, much of which takes hundreds of years to break down and ends up in the digestive systems of everything from whales to plankton, including much of the seafood that ends up on our dinner plates.

The 2011 report, “Plastic Debris in the California Marine Ecosystem,” by the California Ocean Science Trust, California Ocean Protection Council and Sea Grant found that plastic debris in the ocean not only leaches some chemical pollutants that were added during manufacture but also absorbs and accumulates others. This includes many persistent organic pollutants (so-called POPs that have been used extensively for things like pest control, crop production and industrial manufacturing) from surrounding seawater and marine sediments. These POPs have been linked to population declines, diseases and behavioral or physical abnormalities in many wildlife species. Researchers are still not sure how these chemicals, as well as others (Bisphenol A, phthalates, phenanthrene, etc.) may affect marine ecosystems in the long run.

In the meantime, we can all play a role in reducing the amount of plastic and other debris that end up in our oceans. “The most effective way to stop plastic pollution in our oceans is to make sure it never reaches the water in the first place,” says the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a leading environmental non-profit. According to the group, individuals need to take care to recycle and never litter, while manufacturers should reducing packaging and design more of it to be fully recyclable. NRDC and others are also working on the legislative front to try to institutionalize such measures.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E – The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com.

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Catch of the Week

OUT-Catch-of-week-Winchel-webDylan Winchel, 9, the son of Brock and Kristen Winchel, caught this 10-inch bluegill at his grandma’s house on Lincoln Lake, on Saturday, July 26, 2014. Dylan is a student at Cedar View Elementary.

Congratulations, Dylan, you made the Post Catch of the Week!

It’s backget out those cameras!

It’s that time of year again when anglers big and small like to tell their fish tales! Send us a photo and story of your first, best, funniest, biggest, or even your smallest catch. Include your name, age, address, and phone number, along with the type and size of fish, and where caught.  We can’t wait to hear from you! Photos published as space allows. Photos/stories may be sent by email to news@cedarspringspost.com with Catch of the Week in the subject line, or mail to: Catch of the Week, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.


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Newaygo Butterfly Count

By Ranger Steve Mueller



The Newaygo Butterfly Count was held in the Manistee National Forest on July 11, 2014 between 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Thirty-two species with 221 individuals were observed. Table 1 lists butterflies and the number sighted for each species. There was a slight breeze with good sunlight during both morning and afternoon. The temperature was between 70 to 82 F. It is always a pleasant day to be exploring nature niches with others. Everyone notices things of interest to share from flowers, trees, birds, mammals, and more. Though our focus was butterflies, we take time to enjoy the natural wonders around us. Consider contacting me if you would to participate next year. Other counts in the area you might enjoy include the Allegan State Game Area, Muskegon State Game Area, and Rogue River State Game Area counts.


Rogue River Butterfly Count Sightings

Spicebush Swallowtail – 1

Cabbage White – 3

Clouded Sulphur -2

Orange Sulphur – 1

American Copper – 6

Coral Hairstreak – 26

Banded Hairstreak – 9

Edward’s Hairstreak – 9

Gray Hairstreak – 2

Eastern Tailed blue – 4

Karner Blue Butterfly – 9

Great Spangled Fritillary – 5

Aphrodite Fritillary – 1

Eastern Comma – 1

American Lady – 7

Red Admiral – 3

Red-spotted Purple – 3

Northern Pearly Eye – 2

Appalachian Brown – 20

Little Wood Satyr – 8

Common Wood Nymph – 30

Monarch – 6

Silver-spotted Skipper – 2

Tawny-edged Skipper – 2

Little Glassywing – 2

Northern Broken Dash – 29

Delaware Skipper – 3

Crossline Skipper – 2

Dion Skipper – 1

Least Skipper – 1

Dun – 21


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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One-stop shop for trail maps and information

Hikers, bicyclists, off-road vehicle users, horseback riders, and other trail enthusiasts can now more easily locate and enjoy the vast network of trails and other points of interest in northern Lower Michigan by using the interactive website upnorthtrails.org, recently launched by the Up North Trails Collaborative.

The collaborative, a partnership of more than 50 organizations and agencies led by the Northwest and Northeast Michigan Councils of Governments and Department of Natural Resources, designed the new website to connect the public with more than 5,300 miles of motorized and non-motorized trails in the northern Lower Peninsula.

The Up North Trails website allows users to search for trails based on type of use and/or location, and also serves as a source of information on trail systems throughout the state.

“There are more miles of trails in the northern Lower Peninsula than the distance from Anchorage to Miami,” said Kerry Wieber, DNR liaison to the Up North Trails Collaborative. “The website will help customers find information on all of these trails in one place, regardless of whether it is a state trail or managed by another organization or local unit of government.”

The user-friendly features of upnorthtrails.org include:

An interactive trails map that can be filtered for type of use and location

Detailed information about each individual trail, including any changes in type of use for specific segments of trail

Trailhead locations and points of interest near each trail

A mobile-friendly design, which is fully functional on tablets, mobile phones and other devices

“We wanted to give users a one-stop-shop for information about our trail systems,” said Denise Cline, GIS specialist for the Northeast Michigan Council of Governments. “Up North Trails is a valuable new tool for everyone looking to get outside in northern Michigan.”
The goal of the Up North Trails Collaborative in creating the new website was to promote northern Michigan’s abundance of trails to all user groups, driving recreational and economic activity in the region.
“Up North Trails is the first website of its kind in Michigan, providing information about all trail systems in the region, whether you are a bicyclist, snowmobiler, hiker or horseback rider,” said Matt McCauley, Director of Regional Planning and Community Development for the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments. “We hope it will provide a fun, engaging, and useful way for residents and visitors to locate new outdoor adventures.”
Up North Trails Collaborative member groups include the DNR, NEMCOG, NWMCOG, Top of Michigan Trails Council, Land Information Access Association (LIAA), Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation Trails (TART Trails), Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy and Cheboygan County.

The collaborative is supported financially by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Rotary Charities, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For more information about the Up North Trails Collaborative, visit www.upnorthtrails.org and click on “About”.


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Celebrate 40 years of Michigan’s Endangered Species Act


OUT-Celebrate-40-years-Piping-Plover-webAt state parks Aug. 4-10

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Michigan’s Endangered Species Act, the important legislation that has been critical to the recovery of many different species. The Department of Natural Resources is celebrating this milestone with a week of programming in several of Michigan’s state parks.

Threatened and Endangered Species Week, running Aug. 4-10, will feature opportunities to learn more about some of Michigan’s threatened and endangered species through hikes, guided activities and much more. These fun, educational programs are great for the whole family.

On July 11, 1974, Gov. William Milliken signed the Endangered Species Act into law, and it took effect Sept. 1, 1974. The law has been immensely beneficial to the DNR and its conservation partners by enabling protection and management of rare species across the state.

Since the act was signed into law, the DNR has partnered with many other conservation organizations and federal agencies to help recover listed species. Important species that have been recovered and removed from the state’s threatened and endangered species list include the gray wolf, bald eagle, peregrine falcon and osprey.

Threatened and Endangered Species Week programs will be offered at many state parks and recreation areas around the state. To find a program near you, visit www.michigan.gov/natureprograms and click on “Threatened & Endangered Species Week August 4-10.”

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Weekly Fishing Tip: Time for Skamania!


Skamania are a strain of steelhead that run rivers in mid to late summer. When Lake Michigan turns over, typically after an east wind, cold water and Skamania can be found close to shore. Piers are a great place to target these summer steelhead. Try fishing alewife or shrimp under a bobber or cast orange Cleos and Kastmasters. St. Joseph, Grand Haven, Muskegon and Manistee piers are good choices.
Once Skamania enter the rivers, target the mouths of coldwater creeks with spinners or Hot-N-Tots. The St. Joseph, Kalamazoo, Grand, Muskegon and Manistee rivers all get decent runs of summer steelhead. For more information on steelhead, check out their Michigan Fish and How to Catch Them page at www.michigan.gov/dnr. Click on fishing, then “fishing in Michigan,” then “Michigan fish and how to catch them.”

This tip was written by Jay Wesley, Southern Lake Michigan Management Unit manager in Plainwell.

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Vote Yes on Solon Township Fire Millage

I am writing to encourage my fellow residents of Solon township to vote yes in support of the fire millage on August 5. As the former township clerk from 2004 until 2012 and currently one of your township trustees I have witnessed firsthand the changes that have occurred within Solon Township fire department.

In recent years our staffing levels have changed. As a result of fewer fire fighters being available during the week days some calls for medical help have gone unanswered, only to be picked up by neighboring community fire departments. In an effort to better serve the community the Board recently authorized a paid part time firefighter to be available 20 hours per week on a trial basis. While there may be support for a full time fire fighter (40 hours per week) this probably can only happen if this millage is approved. I believe we owe it to our residents to insure that adequate first responder protection is available for those with medical emergencies.

We can all talk about the wonderful things we would like to see happen in Solon Township however, I for one place knowing that my loved ones are protected in case of a medical emergency at the top of that list.

The Solon Township Fire Department is staffed by a dedicated group of men and women and they deserve our support.

Vote YES on the Solon Township Fire Millage


John W. Rideout

Solon Township Trustee

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