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Archive | March, 2017

Library sets opening dates

The new Cedar Springs Community Library is nearing completion, and will be opening in May. This is a view from the back, with the retaining wall where the plaques will be. Post photo by J. Reed.

The new Cedar Springs Community Library is nearing completion, and will be opening in May. This is a view from the back, with the retaining wall where the plaques will be. Post photo by J. Reed.

May 8 soft opening; May 13 grand opening celebration

By Judy Reed

It won’t be long, and Cedar Springs area residents will be able to enjoy a brand new library. Work will soon be completed on the 10,016-foot structure, which is 8,000 feet bigger than the current library.

The Library is shooting for a May 8 soft opening, with a May 13 grand opening celebration from 2-5 p.m.

The Library, which is designed to resemble a train depot, promises to be a main attraction in the heart of Cedar Springs.

Besides the area housing all the adult books, there will also be 12 public computers, a classroom, three tutoring rooms, an enclosed children’s area with glass panels, and a playroom area. There will also be four stations for children’s computers. Teens will also have their own area.

Another draw will be the community room, which will hold up to 75 people with the tables and chairs, and 100 without. A complete kitchen will open up into the community room. People can walk out of the community room to a patio, which will be facing the creek, where the retaining wall will be.

“There is also an area with a beautiful fireplace, which will be very warm and welcoming, comfy chairs, a table, and two more chairs on either side,” remarked Library Director Donna Clark.

In front of the library, at the corner of Main and W. Maple, will be a locally built clock tower, soon to be installed. Behind the library is a beautiful metal sculpture of dragonflies created by metal artist Steve Anderson.

The Library is still selling bricks. For $50 you can get a 4×8 brick with 3 lines, or an 8×8 brick with 6 lines for $100, and inscribe it as you wish. Bricks will be placed at the Library entrance and a few other places, as needed. They will also soon offer benches as a fundraiser. More info to come on that. Pick up a brochure to order a brick at the Cedar Springs Library or visit http://cedarspringslibrary.org/news/bricks-and-blocks-for-new-library/ to print one out.

The Library will close the week of April 24 to pack up and move. They need around 250 boxes of a standard size, easy to move and not too heavy. If you have boxes you would like to donate, please call the library to coordinate drop off at 616-696-1910.

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Prosecutor upholds deputy’s decision in shooting

Jonathan David Sper (Facebook photo)

Jonathan David Sper (Facebook photo)

By Judy Reed

N-Shooting-pullquoteThe Kent County Prosecutor released his opinion Tuesday on whether a Kent County Sheriff Deputy acted reasonably in the January 24 shooting death of Jonathan David Sper, 30, in Algoma Township.

Based on all of the events that led up to the shooting, Becker feels that Deputy Jason Wiersma acted reasonably when he discharged his firearm, killing Sper. But using his gun was not Wiersma’s first attempt to subdue Sper; he had also used a taser, which had no effect.

Sper was released from the Kent County Correctional Facility on January 24, after having spent six days in jail for failing to pay for food he ordered at a Grand Rapids restaurant. He suffered from bipolar disorder and bipolar schizoaffective disorder, and had been trying to rehabilitate himself for the last 10 years.

Jonathan reportedly had a plane ticket to fly out to California later that night, and asked his roommate to drive him to his brother Jarred’s home on Summit Avenue in Algoma Township to drop off a box. They arrived at approximately 5:15 p.m., and were met by another brother, Stephen, who was staying at Jarred’s home. Jarred was in Florida at the time.

Stephen thought Jonathan was only dropping off a box, and not staying. The roommate thought he was dropping Jonathan off and that his brother would get him to the airport, so he drove away.

Stephen had a work conference call happening at 5:30 p.m., and Jonathan was not allowed at the home because he had become more and more unstable over the last 6-8 months. The two agreed that Jonathan would stay in the garage, since he wasn’t allowed in the home, and Stephen went in and got him a cup of coffee. When he brought it out, Jonathan was drinking one of the beers in the garage. When Stephen suggested he shouldn’t be drinking, Jonathan got belligerent with him. Stephen went inside and did his work conference call, which he cut short when he heard Jonathan ranting in the garage.

He tried several times to talk to Jonathan, but each time, he said Jonathan acted like he wanted to fight him. Stephen called his brother Jarred to find out what to do. He also called Jarred’s wife, Sara, who was due home with the children at 7 p.m. and told her not to come home. She suggested he call 911.

Before calling 911, Stephen went back into the garage to talk to him, and this time they struggled. Jonathan pushed past Stephen to get into the house, and Stephen pulled him back by the shoulders. During the struggle, Jonathan ripped Stephen’s coat nearly in half. Stephen managed to get back inside the house and call 911.

After he hung up, he realized that the keys to his brother’s truck had fallen out of his coat pocket during the struggle in the garage, and that there was a handgun in the console of the truck, which Jonathan would have access to. He called 911 to report that fact, and reiterated to them that he felt his brother was having a manic episode.

During that second call, Deputies John Tuinhoff and Jason Wiersma arrived on scene. Deputy Tuinhoff indicated that after listening next to the closed garage doors, he could hear keys jingling. So the two deputies entered the house from the front and spoke with Stephen, who told them that Jonathan had told him to get a gun and shoot him with it.

When the deputies approached Jonathan in the garage, he had nothing in his hands. Deputy Wiersma holstered his gun, and Tuinhoff had his taser pointed at him. Jonathan was mumbling to himself, appeared disoriented, and would not respond to verbal commands.

Jonathan walked toward the door of the home, and Deputy Wiersma asked him if was ok, and told him that he needed to check him for weapons. Deputy Tuinhoff said Jonathan began to swing his arms violently, beating Deputy Wiersma repeatedly on his head and body. Deputy Tuinhoff could not deploy his taser because of the struggle and instead tried to help physically restrain Jonathan.

But Jonathan was tall and quite strong, and the three of them stumbled towards the door to the house, with Jonathan still beating Deputy Wiersma, while trying to push him down the stairs. Deputy Tuinhoff tried to stop it, but the two went tumbling down 15 stairs to the basement. The fight continued at the bottom of the steps, and Wiersma deployed his taser at Jonathan, but it had no effect, most likely due to the clothing he was wearing.

Broken bottles and glass at the bottom of the basement steps may be the sharp object Jonathan Sper used to try to stab one of the deputies on the scene.

Broken bottles and glass at the bottom of the basement steps may be the sharp object Jonathan Sper used to try to stab one of the deputies on the scene.

During the struggle at the bottom of the steps, Jonathan went unsuccessfully for Deputy Wiersma’s duty belt, and then struck the deputy on the back of the head with some unknown hard object. Deputy Tuinhoff attempted to grab Jonathan’s arm, and Jonathan jumped up on boxes, then struck Tuinhoff on the top left side of the head with a hard object, stunning him. Jonathan then jumped on him and tried to grab his gun as well. He then slashed at the deputy with a sharp object across his chest while laughing. The deputy tried to protect himself with his hands, and then Jonathan ran up the steps.

Deputy Tuinhoff told Wiersma he had been hit with something sharp, possibly a knife. Wiersma ran up the steps, and then Tuinhoff told him it might be a broken bottle instead. Evidence found later showed broken bottles at the bottom of the steps and a broken coffee cup.

Wiersma said that they ran towards the doorway leading to the house, which he could see was open. He said that Jonathan was just inside the house and turned to look at him, and gave him a crazed smile. Wiersma was about eight feet away, and said Jonathan was holding a sharp object of some kind at waist level. He said he backed up slightly and drew his pistol, and told Jonathan to drop the weapon. “At this point I knew the suspect’s brother’s life was potentially now in danger as well because the suspect now had access to the home once again,” said Wiersma. He went on to say that the suspect did not drop the weapon, but reached over with his left hand and slammed the door closed.

Becker said that Deputy Wiersma now felt that Stephen was in immediate danger of being attacked by Jonathan. Jonathan had struck him with some weapon, had attempted to stab Deputy Tuinhoff with something, and had attacked his brother previously, which led them to be dispatched to the home. Deputy Wiersma indicated that what was going through his mind was that Jonathan was in “a manic state of mind, my knowledge that he had used drugs and alcohol, his previous statement about having his brother shoot him, and currently being still armed with a dangerous weapon and possibly a gun, I had no other option than shooting to stop the suspect.” After the suspect slammed the door, Wiersma immediately fired four shots through the door, three of which struck Jonathan, with two of them being fatal.

“Applying the law to the facts as they occurred in this incident, it is clear that Deputy Wiersma was justified in using deadly force in the defense of another person,” stated Becker.

He said it was not surprising that the two officers could not subdue Jonathan, since it took four officers to subdue him in an incident at his parents home in May 2016.

While Tuinhoff was stabbed with something sharp, and Wiersma believed Jonathan had a weapon while at the top of the steps, he did not. Right in the area where the shooting occurred, keys were found in some shoes. This may be what the deputy mistook for a sharp object. They also did not know if he had the gun. He did not. It was found in the console of the truck.

“Under the law, the fact that the deputy was wrong about Jonathan being armed does not impact the decision. Based on the evidence, when he acted, Deputy Wiersma honestly and reasonably believed that Stephen was in danger of being killed or seriously injured. Because his belief was honest and reasonable, Deputy Wiersma could, and did, act at once to defend Stephen,” wrote Becker.

Both officers were injured during the struggle. Deputy Wiersma had a cut on the back of his head and a red mark on the back of his head near his left ear. There were abrasions on his knuckles, a large bruise on the front and inner portion of his thigh, and contusion on his elbow. He was treated for a closed head injury. Deputy Tuinhoff, had cuts on his hand, as well as cuts on his left forearm and abrasions on his hairline. He was also treated for a closed head injury.

“There is no question that this incident is directly attributable to the fact that Jonathan had suffered from severe mental illness since the time he was 18 years of age,” noted Becker. “By all accounts, he was an intelligent, much loved son and brother, who would not engage in the sort of violent behavior he exhibited that night if he was not suffering from the effects of his severe mental illness combined with the consumption of alcohol. These manic episodes had occurred over Jonathan’s lifetime, he was impacted that night, and clearly was not in his correct state of mind when all of this occurred. This is a complete tragedy for everyone involved.”

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Post travels to Fort Myers, FL


The Post traveled to Fort Myers, Florida recently with Nancy Hatch, of Sand Lake.

“There’s nothing like a long road trip with the one you love to bring you closer together or tear you apart!” wrote Nancy. “Fortunately it brought us together.”

“We left the frigid cold weather from Sand Lake at the stroke of midnight on Monday the 31st (of January) and arrived on Wednesday in Fort Myers, Florida, to 80-degrees and sunny weather, warm wind in our hair, and sand between our toes. People are so, so friendly there, the fresh seafood, the cocktails, the sunset. I would highly recommend Fort Myers. Just tell them Nancy sent you!”

Thanks, Nancy, for taking us with you!

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CTA Campaigns to stomp out the R-word 

Second grade students rocking their socks on World Down Syndrome Awareness Day.

Second grade students rocking their socks on World Down Syndrome Awareness Day.

Creative Technologies Academy, a K-12 Charter School in Cedar Springs, takes pride in character education in their 300 students, which is why they saw the great importance of promoting the Spread The Word To End The Word (STW) Campaign.

The STW campaign is a youth-driven campaign that was founded in 2009. It was created to build awareness for society to stop and think about its use of the R-word. Use of that R-word—retard or retarded—can be hurtful and painful, and whether intended or not, is a form of bullying. The STW campaign is an ongoing effort to inspire respect and acceptance through raising the consciousness of society about the R-word and how hurtful words and disrespect can be toward people with intellectual disabilities.

Special Education Administrator Lori Dulak made a to CTA Middle School and High School Students on March 20. Dulak believes, “Language affects attitudes and attitudes affect actions.” She shared two brief videos about the wide spread effect of the R-word and invited students to sign to take the pledge to not use the word—but only when they were ready to make that commitment. The poster was put up in the high school building and many students have signed. The campaign had such a profound impact on students that the National Honor Society at CTA is planning on expanding the school-wide campaign and will be planning additional activities throughout the remainder of the school year.

The Kindness Hearts are displayed in the elementary building as a visual reminder to use kind words.

The Kindness Hearts are displayed in the elementary building as a visual reminder to use kind words.

Similarly, Sarah Classen, Elementary Special Education Teacher, presented to Kindergarten through 5th grade students. She kept the 4th and 5th grade students a bit longer to have a more candid conversation with them. At the end of the presentation, the elementary students received a large heart, to which they were either to write kind words on them or sign their name pledging to use kind words – regardless of differences. They also received smaller hearts so they could write a kind word about a classmate and share it with them to wear for the day.

“I enjoyed hearing students around the school and in the hallways complimenting and encouraging one another throughout the week,” shared Classen.

STW events typically take place on March 1, but CTA took the opportunity to promote World Down Syndrome Awareness Day  on 3/21 (for three copies of the 21st chromosome) in conjunction with the Spread the Word to End the Word, as CTA has two elementary students with Down syndrome. World Down Syndrome Awareness Day uses a “Rock Your Socks” theme as an opportunity for conversation starters throughout the day about the abilities of those with Down syndrome. Many students and staff participated by rocking bright, mismatched, knee-high or other fun socks.

“Respectful and inclusive language is essential to the movement for the dignity and humanity of people with intellectual disabilities,” it said in a press release from CTA. “However, much of society does not recognize the hurtful, dehumanizing and exclusive effects of the R-word. The STW campaign is intended to engage schools, organizations and communities to rally and pledge their support at www.r-word.org and to promote the inclusion and acceptance of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

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Cedar Springs Fire barn: will it stay or will it move?

The current Cedar Springs Fire Station, at W. Maple and Second Street. Photo by J. Reed.

The current Cedar Springs Fire Station, at W. Maple and Second Street. Photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

With all the talk of the opening of the new library at N. Main and W. Maple Streets, the question arises: what is happening with the Cedar Springs Fire barn? Will it stay where it is, or will it be relocated?

Chances are, it will be relocated close to the very same area it started in.

“We are strongly looking at the area behind the old library building (between Elm and Cherry fronting on 2nd) as the location,” said Cedar Springs City Manager Mike Womack. “We are trying to figure out what the fire department’s future needs will be and have put together a couple of potential renderings about what the building will look like. Once we are satisfied with the basic design of the building we will take it to an architect and get a cost estimate.”

According to The Cedar Springs Story, by Sue Harrison and Donna DeJonge, a new fire station was built at the corner of Cherry and Second Street in 1874. When the book was published in 1976, the Fire Department also had a station at that same location, 43 W. Cherry. It later became the home of the current Cedar Springs Library.

According to Fire Chief Marty Fraser, they shared the building for a time with the Cedar Springs Library. The Fire Station had the west part of the building, and the library had the east side. Then a new fire station was built on W. Maple in the late 70s or early 80s. That’s where the fire department is today.

Come May, when the new library opens at Main and W. Maple, the fire department and library will once again be sharing the same property, although not the same building. That is, until a new fire station is built.

The new location would be just behind the old library, in the area where the Cedar Springs Community building used to stand.

Womack said that another idea was to share a building complex with the county, on property they own on 17 Mile, behind Taco Bell, but the timing wasn’t right.

“That project is 3-5 years in the future and we want to break ground in the next 1-2 years,” he explained.

Stay tuned! The Post will pass along more info on the building of the new fire barn as we get it.

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KDL board and Fire commission needs volunteers


Are you a citizen in northern Kent County that is interested in the Kent District Library? Or an elected township official interested in serving on the county Fire Commission?

The Kent County Board of Commissioners is seeking citizens who are interested in serving the community through appointment to the following Boards and Committees:

Kent District Library Board Region 1 – to fill an unexpired four-year term ending December 31, 2018. Applicants must live in Nelson, Oakfield, Spencer or Tyrone Township. The Kent District Library Board meets monthly at the District Headquarters, 814 W. River Center, Comstock Park, as well as at other participating libraries.

Fire Commission – to fill an unexpired two-year term ending December 31, 2018. Applicants must be a township elected official from a unit of government that participate in the Fire Commission. The Fire Commission meets monthly on the second Friday of the month (does not meet in April, July and October) at 8:30 a.m. at the Kent County Road Commission, 1500 Scribner, Grand Rapids (with the exception of the October meeting).

Applicants must complete an online application form via the County’s website at www.accesskent.com/boardappointments. Resumes and cover letters are encouraged and may be attached. The deadline to apply is Friday, April 28, 2017.

Please call the Board of Commissioners Office at 616.632.7580 if you have any questions.

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March maple syrup making is good family fun


Michigan DNR and DEQ partners make maple syrup

A “sugar stove” used by the LeSages to boil down maple sap.

A “sugar stove” used by the LeSages to boil down maple sap.

There’s an old saying that goes, “From tiny acorns grow mighty oaks.” In this case, it was maple trees and the seed that was planted was that of inspiration.

Last March, Christian LeSage, a Michigan Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist, and his family went to Fenner Nature Center in Lansing for its annual Maple Syrup Festival.

That glimpse into how sap is turned into treats like syrup and maple cream sparked an interest in starting his own sugar bush at home in Holt, where LeSage has 1.5 acres and seven nice maple trees.

He bought a book about maple sugaring and $30 worth of gear from the local store that sells sugar-bush supplies, and his syrup-making endeavor was off the ground.

“Last year we tapped five trees and got 40 gallons of sap in one week, which boiled down to almost a gallon of syrup,” LeSage said.

LeSage has since learned that his trees are big enough to tap multiple times.

“I thought we could double production this year by placing two bags for sap collection on each tree,” he said.

In one week’s collection time, the seven trees he’s tapped yielded 85 gallons of sap.

Gather: Leona and Silas LeSage out on a maple sap gathering outing.

Gather: Leona and Silas LeSage out on a maple sap gathering outing.

The process of making maple syrup usually begins months before spiles (taps) are knocked into tree trunks in February or March. The first steps are to identify trees for tapping and collecting supplies.

Next comes the actual tree tapping, followed by boiling of the sap to kill bacteria and evaporate excess water, which turns the sap into syrup.

Last year, LeSage did some Internet research and figured out how to create a wood-powered outdoor “oven,” using cement blocks, to boil down the sap. This year, he made the stove 30 percent larger and is now running three steam trays, versus two last year, to aid in reducing the sap boiling time.

“We had to resort to using a turkey fryer for part of the boil-down this year, when the stove malfunctioned due to an electrical issue,” he said. “It’s not really a good idea to boil a lot of sap down in the house, as it will turn your house into a sauna.”

While he enjoys his family’s new hobby, LeSage admits that it can be labor-intensive.

Boiling maple sap nearing the finishing point.

Boiling maple sap nearing the finishing point.

“It takes about eight hours to boil down 40 gallons of sap,” he said. “We did 60 in one day earlier this year and that added several more hours. I ended up having to bring some lights outside after it got dark.”

It’s a process that requires constant sieving—so that the sap that burns when it bubbles up doesn’t end up giving the syrup a bad flavor—and stoking the stove with wood.

“My lower back was screaming at the end of that day,” LeSage said.

One tricky part about making syrup is determining at which point in the boiling process it is finished.

“My wife, Sarah, has that tough job. When do you have syrup? If you go too far, it crystalizes. Barometric pressure and elevation factor in too,” he said.

But LeSage’s nose helps tip him off when it’s close to syrup stage.

“It smells like cotton candy when it’s almost done,” he said.

Finding the right window of time for tapping trees can be complicated too.

“It’s a race against time,” LeSage said. “Since the temperature has to be above freezing for sap to flow but sap gets bitter when the trees start to bud.

“And once you tap trees, they’re good for only six to eight weeks before they seal up or start to develop bacteria, from what I read.”

The syrup-making hobby has become a special family affair, with Sarah, the kids and in-laws helping. Sarah works as the aquatic invasive species coordinator for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

“It’s fun to get in touch with one of the first signs of spring that’s happening right outside our backdoor,” she said.

The LeSage kids get a kick out of being involved too.

Silas LeSage demonstrates one way to eat maple cream.

Silas LeSage demonstrates one way to eat maple cream.

“My son talked about it in his kindergarten class when they were learning about trees,” he said.

Besides syrup, the family has tried making maple cream, a thick confection also known as maple butter or maple spread.

“My kids each ate a jar of that in about two days,” LeSage said.

Sarah LeSage said her kids help empty the containers of sap, but by far their favorite part of the process is enjoying the “maple cream.”

“It’s a specialty product you won’t find in grocery stores and is delicious spread on just about anything,” she said.

The family makes the syrup mostly for their own consumption. As the weekday breakfast-maker, LeSage uses a lot of it on waffles and pancakes. What he doesn’t use, he gives away.

“It’s neat because you did it in your own backyard,” he said.

Interested in getting an up-close look at maple sugaring?

Check out Maple Syrup Day at Hartwick Pines Logging Museum in Grayling on Saturday, April 1—with tree-tapping demonstrations, information on how to start your own sugar bush and kids’ activities—or visit one of the other local maple syrup festivals around the state.

Find out more about making maple treats from maple trees at several online websites, including www.tapmytrees.com.

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Living in bear country


Remove bird feeders now to reduce conflicts with bears later

Longer daylight hours, warming temperatures and new green plants have wildlife moving and sightings increasing. Michigan’s black bear is a species that attracts a lot of attention when spotted. Michiganders love black bears—this  up-north icon decorates walls and coffee mugs, homes, restaurants and hotels. However, spring also brings increased phone calls to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources from home and business owners who have issues with bears.

“Everyone has a different point when they are going to pick up the phone and call us,” said DNR wildlife communications coordinator Katie Keen. “The majority of calls we receive about bears involve a bird feeder that has been visited multiple times. Taking the feeder down before it’s found by a bear can eliminate future problems. A bear doesn’t forget a free meal.”

Keen said that the easiest thing people living in bear country can do to avoid problems is remove bird feeders during the spring and summer months. Black bears are found throughout more than half the state. With an estimated 2,000-plus adult bears in the northern Lower Peninsula and almost 10,000 in the Upper Peninsula, there are a lot of bears searching for food, even with plenty of natural food sources available.

Bears find bird seed and suet especially attractive because of their high fat content compared to other natural food sources, and these foods draw bears out of their natural habitat, where normally they would be eating roots of early spring plants and insect larvae.

Once a bird feeder is discovered, a bear will keep coming back until the seed is gone or the feeder has been removed.

“Bears that receive a food reward when around homes, yards and neighborhoods typically lose their natural fear of humans and can become a threat to humans and pets,” said Keen. “If a bear walks through your property and no food reward is given, the bear will move along on its own. Help your community and keep bears at a distance. Bears are smart, so be smarter, and remove your bird feeders so you don’t attract bears to your property.”

For your safety, never intentionally feed or try to tame bears—it is in your, and the bear’s, best interest.

Learn more about Michigan’s black bear and how to prevent potential bear problems by visiting http://tinyurl.com/michiganbears and watching “The Bear Essentials” video or visiting mi.gov/bear.

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Whipping Willow Tree


Ranger Steve Mueller

Ranger Steve Mueller

By Ranger Steve Mueller


We have a favorite willow tree at the intersection of US 131 and I-96. As one exits from east I-96 to enter north US 131, a weeping willow lives in the cloverleaf. Three decades ago, I saw what looked like a chicken in the tree. I could not safely take an extended look to determine what was in the tree. It was winter and it seemed extremely odd for a dark brown chicken to be in a tree along the highway.

I watched on future passages when I used the off ramp. It turned out to be a dark phase of the Rough-legged Hawk that was using the willow as a favorite perch for hunting. I told my naturalist friend, Greg Swanson, about the “chicken in a tree.” We laughed and he said he knew the bird. He had seen it during previous winters. This bird had found a good winter hunting location and it returned winter after winter.

When human “snowbirds” head to Florida or Arizona for the winter, many arctic birds come to this balmy winter feeding area in Michigan to escape the barren arctic where finding food is a winter challenge. Our family enjoyed looking for what I originally thought was a chicken a tree. It helped us remember to look for interesting animals wherever we drove. After thirty plus years, we still talk about the bird but it has not been seen in decades. It likely died sometime in the 1990’s.

The weeping willow tree also experienced life challenges. Julianne, our youngest daughter, called it a whipping willow. What fun! Ever since, the family refers to it as a “Whipping Willow.” It has become a family friend.

One day when we were circling around the tree on the off the ramp, we were dismayed to see the tree had been blown down and was laying on the ground. Fortunately, a portion of the trunk was still attached to the base and the tree refused to die. It sprouted vertical stems along the prostrate trunk. Before the new leaves expand, you can see the old trunk on the ground and several large stems growing upward.

Once leaves grow and obscure view of the stems, one would not recognize its hard life recovery from being blown down. Neither can one see into the past to witness a “chicken in a tree.” We each need to aware of our surroundings and make family discoveries as we travel together.

For thirty years, the dark phase Rough-legged Hawk and the “Whipping Willow” have given us joy and family moment connections with nature niches. We have many moments to reminisce. Such moments strengthen family relationships. We all love each other and the natural world helps us maintain that love in a simple way.

Experiencing the outdoors does not need to be an elaborately planned outing. Take notice of things natural to enjoy and share with parents, spouses, kids, grandkids, and friends.

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

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CS Youth wrestlers at Border Wars

Cedar Springs Youth wrestlers and their medals. L-R: Coach Jake Marsman, Wyatt Dickinson, Deegan Pike, Gabe Gair, Cole Haack, Cade Troupe, Chasyn Winchel, Dakota Winchel, William Dickinson. Photo by J. Troupe.

Cedar Springs Youth wrestlers and their medals. L-R: Coach Jake Marsman, Wyatt Dickinson, Deegan Pike, Gabe Gair, Cole Haack, Cade Troupe, Chasyn Winchel, Dakota Winchel, William Dickinson. Photo by J. Troupe.

By Jacquie Troupe

Three CSYWC grapplers joined 334 others to try to win a plate sized Monster Medal at the first Border Wars tournament of the season in Brighton, Mich. on Saturday, March 25. Coached by their dads, the boys experienced some great competition from all over the state.

In the 2008-2009 49lb class, Tucker Crystal placed 3rd after 3 matches, scoring 6 match points. In the combined 67/72lb class, Jonathon Libera placed 4th after 3 matches, scoring 6 match points.

In the 2006-2007 80lb class Hudson Crystal wrestled 3 matches, going 1-2 for the day and scoring 7 match points.

CS Youth wrestlers were some of 356 first and second year wrestlers that competed for top spots at the Novice Championships in Saline, Mich. This is the third year the club has travelled to this tournament and it is a fantastic way for the novice wrestler to end their year. The eight local wrestlers finished the day 21-10.

“I’m really proud of these kids. They are out here every week learning new moves and driving themselves just as hard as the more experienced wrestlers. They are using that knowledge from those tough losses and pushing themselves to win matches. I can’t wait to get them back on the mat next year!” said Coach Jake Marsman.

The team placed 10th out of 76 in Most Pins/Least Time with 10 pins in 14:22. Chasyn Winchel was 41st over all with 2 in :44. Dakota Winchel placed 43rd over all with 2 in :57. Deegan Pike was 64th over all with 2 in 2:55. Cade Troupe placed 93rd over all with 1 in :42. CSYWC was 17th in over all match points with 106. Wyatt Dickinson came in 2nd over all in Single Match Points with 19. Cole Haack was 44th over all with 13.

In the 2010-2012 55lb class Chasyn Winchel placed 1st after 4 matches.

In the 2008-2009 58lb class Deegan Pike placed 3rd after 7 matches.

In the 2006-2007 110lb class Dakota Winchel placed 3rd after 4 matches.

In the 2004-2005 100lb class Cole Haack placed 1st after 2 matches. In the 105lb class, Gabe Gair placed 1st after 3 matches, 54th over all in Most Pins/Least Time with 2 in 5:45.

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Secrets smart investors use year-round to save on their taxes


(BPT) – Come tax time, many people work to locate tax breaks. While this is always a smart financial move, a little-known way to help build your net worth is to keep taxes top of mind throughout the entire year.

Reducing taxes means you keep more of what you earn, according to Nick Holeman, a financial planning expert at Betterment.com.

“You can’t control the stock market, but you can control some of your taxes,” Holeman said. “Knowing how your investments affect your tax bill can help you save money not just on April 15th, but for years to come.”

Check to see whether your long-term investment strategy is running efficiently with these tips from Holeman.

Invest your tax refund: One smart place to invest your tax refund is in an IRA. Normally, investors might divert a portion of the refund into this account as part of a well-rounded investment strategy and claim the deductions for next year’s tax time. Invest your refund, and you may get a portion of that back in tax savings. Stay in the habit of investing that refund if you can and watch those small returns add up over time.

Think several moves ahead: Investing is complex and from time to time you will have to sell some of your investments; everybody does. It might be to rebalance your portfolio or maybe your goals have changed and your investments no longer match their intended purpose.

Still, smart investors need to think ahead before blindly selling parts of their portfolio. This is because selling could potentially lead to taxes. By carefully choosing which investments to sell, you can help minimize that hefty tax consequence.

One way to do this is to partner with an investment company that has the tools to make this information easy to access and understand. Betterment.com, for example, offers Tax Impact Preview, which lets investors see estimated potential tax on a sale before making the trade. If you don’t think the pros outweigh the cons, don’t do it.

Reorganize your investments: Another way to potentially leverage even small tax advantages into long-term growth is to build your portfolio like an energy-efficient engine, built to run for more miles with less need to refuel. You can help accomplish this by reorganizing your portfolio. Move inefficient investments like international stocks and other assets that are taxed more often into a tax-deferred account, such as an IRA or a Roth IRA. That way, you can enjoy the high growth for less tax. Then, move less-taxed assets, such as municipal bonds, into taxable accounts.

Benefit from losses: Help keep your portfolio in balance by selling off the laggards and replacing them with a similar investment. You can receive a tax deduction from your losses that can help cancel out the taxes you owe on assets that have gains. This is done automatically for investors at many automated services through a strategy called tax loss harvesting. Smart investors should always remember that investments involve risk and may result in loss.

Give to a worthy cause: While it’s important to secure your future, many investors see community support as an important goal. Consider donating a to a nonprofit organization in your community. Not only are you helping to improve the quality of life in your locale, you can potentially claim a deduction from your income tax. It can pay to do the right thing.

Posted in Tax TimeComments Off on Secrets smart investors use year-round to save on their taxes

The Separation of Church and State

Rockford-Springs-Church-webRev. David Vander Meer

Rockford Springs Community Church

5815 14-Mile Rd. • 696-3656


At Rockford Springs Community Church we have an adult Sunday school class that meets after our morning worship.  What I have grown to really appreciate as their pastor and leader of the class is everyone’s willingness to struggle with real life questions.  We try to take on topics that are relevant to our lives even though sometimes they are difficult issues.  Our goal is not to just share our own opinions but to determine what God’s Word, found in the Old and New Testament, says about a given topic.

Please join us as we seek to share with the Cedar Springs community our humble study on the topic: “The Separation of the Church and the State.”

We have concluded that the scriptures teach the following…

God is the author of three institutions: the government, the church, and the family; and uses them, among many other things, to maintain safety for individuals and communities so they can thrive, to promote good order, and provide justice.  God delights to bring us good laws so that we will be blessed.

We found that these three institutions bring blessing to each other, and to the society they were intended for, when there is collaboration and not alienation.

God, in His good providence, communicates His way for His creation to function through His Word.  His Word, when obeyed, brings order, joy, and liberty to a society.  But when ignored a society heads towards chaos.  We have seen in history where societies moved away from the teaching of God’s Word and stepped into this kind of chaos.  To restore order societies have turned to human authorities to decide what was right and wrong but in so doing ended up only limiting or even forfeiting freedom.  We thought of Hitler, or even the current leadership in North Korea as examples.  Think of other dictatorships, socialist control, or communistic dominance. So, the primary function of the church, in its relationship to government and society, is to communicate God’s Word so that God’s created world knows good law and is blessed, and liberty is promoted.  Other governments that have sought to remove the voice of God have less liberty, not more.

Another truth we discovered is that the voice of the church must not be separated from government since all creation is damaged by sin and hence needs the authoritative voice of God to bring about morality.  Who will decide morality if not God?  The only other answer is Humanity.  But Humanity is not able to since it is morally broken in the core of its nature.  We need God’s true standard like a carpenter needs a true ruler.

The United States of America has a history where the voice and work of the Christian church has brought blessing.  But we saw in our study that at times this was not true.  Where this was not the case we admit that the problem was not God and His Word, but rather the failure and sin of Christians to faithfully communicate and live out God’s Word.  For this we are sorry.

And finally we believe that everyone must be subject to the government, pay taxes, hold its representatives in honor and respect, obey them in all things that are not in conflict with God’s Word, and pray for them that the Lord may be willing to lead them in all their governing.  Hence instead of separation there must be support for the government from the church.

Therefore, we believe that the government would be blessed to hear and obey God’s Word to bring the greatest blessing and liberty to her people.  And we believe that the voice of God through His church should influence the conscience of our government.

We hope that our attempt at dealing with this question is of some help to our community as we wrestle with such an important issue.

May the Lord bless our Cedar Springs government, and the United States of America.

Posted in From the PulpitComments Off on The Separation of Church and State



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