web analytics

Archive | June, 2017

The Year without a Summer

by Jaime McLeod

Editor’s note: With the cool weather we’ve had recently, it seems more like Spring or Fall. Mornings have been in the 40s and daytime highs in the 60s. Some people are wondering where summer is. We know the warm temperatures will be back soon, but what if they didn’t come back? What if we had snow in July? That’s what happened in 1816. Read the article below from the Farmer’s Almanac to see what happened.

The infamous “Year Without a Summer” was a weather event so devastating that people are still talking about it some 200 years later.

Referred to by many names, including “the poverty year” and “eighteen hundred and froze-to-death,” the year 1816 was literally a year without a summer across much of the Northern Hemisphere. Throughout not only North America, but also Northern Europe and parts of Asia, an exceptionally cold summer, featuring killing frosts in July and August, crippled food production. Crop failures and food shortages were so widespread that rioting and looting became common in the United Kingdom and France.

On this side of the Atlantic, many residents of New England and the Canadian Maritimes froze to death, starved, or suffered from severe malnutrition as storms–bringing a foot or more of snow– hit hard during May and June. Many others from the region pulled up their stakes and moved to Western New York and the Midwest, where the cold was less severe. In fact, the year without a summer is now believed to have been one major catalyst in the westward expansion of the United States.

Though the northeastern section of the continent was hardest hit, southern states still experienced their share of the cold. On July 4th of that year, for instance, the high temperature in Savannah, Georgia, was a chilly 46° F. As far south as Pennsylvania, lakes and rivers were frozen over during July and August.

So, what caused this tragically cold summer? The likely suspect was a series of volcanic eruptions that occurred during the winter of 1815, in particular, the eruption of Mt. Tambora in Indonesia, believed to be the largest eruption of the last 1,800 years. The volcano ejected a tremendous cloud of fine ash and dust was ejected into the stratosphere, where it remained for a very long time. This ash insulated the earth from the heat and light of the sun, resulting in a cooling effect throughout the Northern Hemisphere.

This ash also gave the sky a yellowish tinge in some areas, which can be seen in many landscape paintings from the era. Fortunately a summer like this has yet to repeat itself and the Almanac’s outlook for this summer is much more enjoyable.

Reprinted with permission by the Farmers’ Almanac, Lewiston, Maine.

To get your own copy of The Farmer’s Almanac with forecasts, stories, helpful hints and more, you can visit them online at https://store.farmersalmanac.com/FARM/product-categories/farmers-almanacs/single-issues.

Posted in Featured, NewsComments (0)

Propane tanks cause explosion at recycling center

An explosion at the Kent County Recycling Center last week was caused by three small propane tanks someone had tried to recycle. Photo courtesy Kent County.

Pictured are thethree small propane tanks someone had tried to recycle that are believed to be the cause of the fire. Photo courtesy Kent County.

By Judy Reed

Three small propane tanks, improperly disposed of, were the cause of an explosion inside a baler at the Kent County Recycling & Education Center at 977 Wealthy SW in Grand Rapids last Thursday morning, June 22.

According to Kristen Wieland, the Communications & Marketing Manager for the Kent County Department of Public Works, the explosion occurred at 7:45 a.m., shortly after they started up the sorting equipment for the day. Grand Rapids Fire Department was dispatched, and one Kent County staff person was taken for medical observation.

Grand Rapids Fire was called to the scene of this explosion at the Kent County Recycling Center last Thursday. Photo courtesy Kent County.

Wieland explained that there are a series of conveyor belts and other equipment that help move the recyclables through the plant. “The belts pass by 26 people around the plant who are each responsible for sorting specific materials. Fairly early in the sorting process, a strong magnet automatically pulls out ferrous metals. That’s where the propane tank would’ve gotten removed from the sorting line.

“The ferrous metals are dropped by the magnet into a storage area where they sit until we have a sufficient quantity to bale. Kent County staff was baling ferrous metals when the explosion occurred. Three of the one-pound propane tanks were found in the residue from the explosion,” she said.

“Though they’re considered disposable, small camping-style propane cylinders are not recyclable. With camping season upon us, it is critically important that these metal tanks be disposed of properly,” said Wieland.

Instead, propane tanks of all sizes should be brought for safe disposal to any of these locations:

  • South Kent Recycling & Waste Center, 10300 South Kent Drive, Byron Center
  • North Kent Recycling & Waste Center, 2908 Ten Mile Road, Rockford
  • Or any of Kent County’s SafeChem household hazardous waste drop off centers, listed at www.accesskent.com/waste.

Wieland added that it was nearly one year ago to the date of their last significant explosion though that one was less severe. A propane tank was also suspected as the cause of that incident.

Posted in Featured, NewsComments (0)

Marijuana wax operation causes fire

Fire crews at the scene of a house fire after an explosion on Lime Lake Dr on June 21. Photo by Cheryl Barrigear on WZZM13.com.

By Judy Reed

Neighbors called 9-1-1 after hearing an explosion on Wednesday evening, June 21, at 13386 Lime Lake Dr.

According to Solon Township’s Deputy Fire Chief Chris Paige, they were called out at 10:59 p.m. The first unit arrived on scene to see heavy smoke, with flames showing in the main floor of the home. The three occupants of the home were already out of the house.

“We had it out within about a half hour, but were on scene an addition 1-1/2 hours checking for hot spots,” said Paige.

Algoma, Kent City, and Sand Lake Fire Departments all assisted at the scene.

The Kent County Sheriff Department also responded to the scene. According to police, a 39-year-old resident told deputies that they were making marijuana wax prior to the explosion. The man suffered severe burns to his hands and feet, as well as cuts from glass, and was transported to Spectrum Butterworth Hospital.

The fire is still under investigation, and authorities have not yet released any more information.

Marijuana wax is also known as Honeycomb, Wax, Butter, and BHO (butane hash oil). It’s made from oils found in pot plants and has a higher concentration of THC than most marijuana products. Highly flammable butane gas is used to extract the THC from the marijuana leaf, and has resulted in home explosions, injuries, and deaths.

Posted in Featured, NewsComments (0)

City to hold special meeting tonight (Thursday)

By Judy Reed

This City of Cedar Springs will hold a special meeting on Thursday, June 29, at 7 p.m. at City Hall, to take care of some last minute business before the new fiscal year starts on July 1.

Action items include voting on purchasing a new radar speed sign for the city; Morley Park pavilion rental and electricity at the pavilion; and a motion to approve the Library Services Agreement, Grant Area District revision.

According to City Manager Mike Womack, the radar sign would be portable and could be moved around the City, wherever there was a need.

“The reasoning behind the radar sign is that we have seen the Sheriff Department’s radar sign in action and it absolutely does result in slower traffic, which is safer for the public,” explained Womack. “By having our own sign, we could be quicker to respond to citizen complaints of speeding traffic and we would also have the benefit of the resulting data that the sign takes in while its measuring traffic speed. This data could then be used to help direct when/where Sheriff intervention might be needed but it could also be used for economic development reasons such as knowing how many cars go past a certain place during a day or week.”

He added that the radar sign is also part of his ongoing initiative to make the streets safer for pedestrians overall. “We are also considering pedestrian crossing signs in the downtown area and we will be repainting the crosswalk paint on the asphalt,” he explained.

The radar signs they will be looking at range from a low of $1,785 to $3,165.

There are also several discussion items on the agenda, including choices of several different logos to use on the Elm Street garage that people walking or riding on the White Pine Trail would see; pedestrian crosswalk signs; and whether they can inscribe “Red Flannel Town” on the new clocktower at the corner of Main and W. Maple, by the library.

 

Posted in NewsComments (0)

Artists, Authors & You!

Alice Norton-Powell

By Claudia Mabie

There are many fun and wonderful things for you at the new Cedar Springs Library! Artists, Authors & You! debuted at the Grand Opening. It brings an ever-changing art exhibit to the beautiful fireplace area. Two local artists who premiered this program are Alice Norton-Powell and Tim Hindenach.

The piece on display by Norton-Powell is titled Jezebel: In Her Easter Bonnet. The 22-inch x 22-inch acrylic on paper was completed in 2012. Norton-Powell has enjoyed enriching her craft by participating in classes and workshops for several years. In 2013 she was recognized locally with an exhibit and reception honoring her talents. In her Artist Statement she says, “I want to tell the world, through my art, that reality is sometimes vastly overrated. From ‘the cradle to the grave,’ I’ve chosen to make my life a dance!  And I want my artwork to dance a wondrous dance! I want it to have mystery and bubble up from joyousness. I want it to tickle my inner well-springs of whimsy and humor…”

Tim Hindenach

Contrasting Norton-Powell’s work is a digital photo on metallic paper by Hindenach titled Gum Drops. The 16-inch x 30-inch work, completed in 2007, draws the viewer to move closer and closer in order to absorb its crisp details and lighthearted subject. In 1972, while in the Philippines, Hindenach purchased his first Nikon camera. In his Artist Statement he says: “Wildlife, landscape, still life—and the curious effect of time on them all—inspires me to always be ready to take the next shot. There is a need in me to see how many ways I can capture ‘the view’—all the everyday things I see—the beauty of nature, the happiness and sadness in faces and the effects of light on objects. I love to print on metallic paper, metal and glass because they create an unexpected vibrance.”

The Artists, Authors & You! program will offer the community new works of art  each quarter of the year.  Please stop in and see these works of art from people in our own community. The Library is located at 107 N. Main St., Cedar Springs, and is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon.

If you’re an artist who is interested in participating in the program, or if you own a piece of art you’d like to share with the community, please send your information to:

Artists, Authors & You!

Cedar Springs Community Library

107 N. Main Street

Cedar Springs, MI  49319

Posted in NewsComments (0)

Blessing of the bicycles

At least 20 bikes were given away at the Blessing of the Bicycles at The Springs Church last Saturday. Photo by Duane Harriman.

By Judy Reed

The 3rd annual Blessing of the Bicycles was held at The Springs Church in Cedar Springs last Saturday, June 24.

The focus of the event is to make sure kids get connected with a bike if they don’t have one. Each year organizer Johna Alexander takes donations of used bicycles and has them refurbished, and they also give away some new ones at the event. Simple repairs and maintenance is offered to kids who already have a bike.

“At least 20 bikes were given away, with four of them being brand new,” said Alexander. “We had new helmets available for all that attended and several other prizes were given away in a drawing.”

The Kent County Sheriff Department and many other volunteers helped make the Blessing of the Bicycles a success. Photo by Duane Harriman.

The Kent County Sheriff Department was on hand, to talk about bicycle safety, and worship Pastor Greig Hess gave the blessing over the bicycles.

Alexander said that she was grateful for the bicycle donations and for all those that participated.

“Seeing all the smiling faces on the children in our community is a blessing for all that took the time to come and help,” she said.

If anyone has a bicycle they would like to donate for next year’s event, please call 616-799-2850 for a drop off or to be picked up.

Posted in Featured, NewsComments (0)

LifeWalk

By Judy Reed

For the first time in 22 years, Alpha Family Center of Cedar Springs had to cancel their LifeWalk, scheduled for June 17, due to inclement weather. But that didn’t stop the team from holding the event that is their biggest fundraiser.

“Thanks to Alpha Family Center’s Board President Sharline Winell’s quick thinking and the help of 18 volunteers we were able to host our first ever LifeWalk open house at Alpha from 9-11 a.m.,” said Executive Director Teresa Hathaway.

“Although our overall numbers were down from last year, we were pleased with the over 100 people who came out in support of Alpha. This was a great opportunity for people to visit the center for themselves to see how their efforts are used to serve families in Northern Kent County.”

Hathaway said they were also appreciated the opportunity to share future remodeling plans for reception area.

LifeWalk brought in just under $15,000 in pledges, which is short of the $20,000 goal. “We still anticipate the final number to go up as pledges continue to come in from those who didn’t venture out in the rain on Saturday,” explained Hathaway.

Alpha Family Center was established in Cedar Springs in 1992 as Alpha Women’s Center, one of several satellite centers of the main one in Grand Rapids. In 2006, they became independent and the name was changed to Alpha Family Center. They offer free and confidential self-pregnancy testing and counseling; important information on healthy relationships, dating, STDs, and self-esteem; abortion alternative counseling; referrals for adoption, medical, and housing; miscarriage and post-abortion support; material assistance; and more.

Alpha Family Center is located at 6 N. First Street in Cedar Springs, and they are open Monday through Wednesday. Please call 696-2616 or visit their website at www.alphafamilycentercs.org for more information.

Posted in NewsComments (0)

U.S. to see lowest average Independence Day gas prices since 2005

 

For first time in GasBuddy’s history, gas prices will be lower on July 4 than New Year’s Day but you could still overpay.

Motorists taking to the road for the July 4 holiday weekend will be benefitting from the lowest Independence Day gas prices since 2005, paying an average of $2.21 per gallon, well under the 10-year average of $3.14, according to GasBuddy, the smartphone app connecting more than 65 million drivers with their perfect pit stop.

In Cedar Springs, the price was $2.34 one week before July 4.

Although average gas prices are at historic lows, the price variance (or “spread” in industry parlance) in gas prices in any given city on July 4 will be at historic highs. This means there is a higher chance consumers will overpay at the pump over the holiday weekend. SUV drivers can save on average $11 per fill-up by stopping at the favorable end of the price spread while smaller cars can save $6. The spread between the nation’s lowest and highest priced gas stations stands at $1.29 per gallon, sharply higher than the 10-year average of 98 cents per gallon for this time of year. Among gas stations in the same state, the spread stands at 51 cents per gallon.

“It’s thrilling to see gas prices falling just in time for the most-traveled summer holiday. Perhaps we can finally get rid of the myth that gas prices go up for the holiday,” said Patrick DeHaan, GasBuddy senior petroleum analyst. “Most importantly, motorists are getting a well-deserved break at the pump after years of high summer gas prices. This is like Christmas in July, instead of seeing fireworks at the pumps like we saw just a few short years ago.”

While gasoline prices have fallen to new seasonal lows just ahead of July 4, that’s not the only record to talk about: for the first time in GasBuddy’s 17-year history of tracking fuel prices, the national average gas price is poised to be lower on July 4 than it was on New Year’s Day by 12 cents. Over the last decade, the national average has been as much as $1.04 per gallon higher on July 4 than New Year’s Day while the average year sees prices 47 cents higher on the holiday.

For more info, visit GasBuddy.com.

Posted in Featured, NewsComments (0)

Simple tips before hitting the road this summer

Stay Safe. Drive Smart. The mission is to move Toward Zero Deaths on Michigan Roadways. The statewide interim goal is to prevent traffic fatalities and serious injuries from reaching 967 and 4,600 respectively in 2018. As of June 27, 2017, 30 people died on Michigan roadways since last week, making a total of 476 this year. In addition, 182 more were seriously injured for a statewide total of 2,554 to date. Compared to last year at this time, there are 36 more fatalities and 569 more serious injuries. www.michigan.gov/zerodeaths

As thousands of Americans begin to plan their summer travels, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) cautions all those who plan to travel by car to think safety first to ensure a safe trip for them and their families.

Prevention and planning takes a little time, but it will give you the added comfort of knowing your loved ones are safe. NHTSA has composed a list of routine safety procedures that drivers and passengers should follow before, and during, their summer travel. Safety tips from NHTSA for safe summer travel

Perform a basic safety check. Routine car care like tune-ups, battery checks, and tire rotations are important and help with preventing breakdowns. That said, if you’re traveling long distances this summer, don’t just rely on your usual maintenance. Be sure to also check your vehicle’s tire pressure, wiper blades, fluid levels, lights, and air conditioning before you go.

Check for recalls. Even the most informed car owner may be unaware that their recalled vehicle is in need of repair. NHTSA’s free VIN Look-Up Tool lets you see if your vehicle has been repaired as part of a safety recall in the last 15 years. Visit www.nhtsa.gov/recalls to find out about possible safety defects in your vehicle, and help protect your loved ones and other motorists.

Protect your passengers. All drivers and passengers should wear seat belts. When you’re traveling with a child, it’s safest for them to ride in a car seat suited for their age and size, and all children 13 and younger should ride in the back seat. If you’re having trouble finding the right car seat for your child’s age and size, you can visit www.safercar.gov/parents for additional tips.

Share the road and stay alert! Warmer weather will attract different types of roadway users, including motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Without the protection of a car or truck, these road users are more vulnerable. So put a safe distance—3 or 4 seconds worth—between you and motorcyclists, and always be mindful of pedestrians or bicyclists. During long trips, take a break when driving long distances. Plan ahead for times to stop and stretch, eat healthy meals and relax, and consider stopping and staying in a hotel to recharge during longer drives.

Store an emergency roadside kit. Even well maintained vehicles can break down, so it’s a good idea to have a few emergency items readily accessible for your family’s road trip. In your kit, consider adding a cell phone and charger, first aid kid, flashlight, flares, jumper cables, water, and blankets. Even if you don’t have to use your kit, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you have these critical items stowed in your cargo.

Don’t drink and drive. An average of 1 alcohol-impaired driving fatality occurred every 51 minutes in 2015. Be responsible, and don’t drink and drive. If you plan to drink, choose a designated driver before going out. You can also get NHTSA’s new SaferRide mobile app from the iTunes store or Google Play. SaferRide allows users to call a taxi or friend for a ride, and will even help users identify their location so they can be picked up.

Avoid distraction. Distraction accounts for approximately 10 percent of fatal crashes and 15 percent of injury crashes. Distracted driving can be anything that pulls your attention away from driving, including cell phone use, texting while driving, eating, drinking, and using in-vehicle technologies and portable electronic devices. Please visit our distracted driving safety website for additional information.

Observe “Move Over” Laws. Move over and change lanes to give safe clearance to law enforcement officers assisting motorists on the side of the road. It’s the law in all 50 states. For more information on summer driving safety tips, visit: Summer Driving Tips 2017. www.nhtsa.gov/press-releases/consumer-advisory-simple-tips-hitting-road-summer.

Posted in NewsComments (0)

Use caution when driving in flooded areas 

As Isabella and Midland counties continue to manage flood conditions due to heavy rainfall last Thursday and Friday, the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMHSD) would like to remind citizens to drive safely and adhere to all road closures due to flooded roads.

Flooding is one of Michigan’s most common hazards. According to the National Weather Service, more than half of flood-related fatalities involved driving. Flooding can weaken roads or cause them to wash out entirely, making driving through flooded areas dangerous.

“Flooding can cause serious hazards when driving,” said Capt. Chris A. Kelenske, Deputy State Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and commander of the MSP/EMHSD. “The safest option is to drive only on main roads and to stay off roads that are closed or barricaded. Driving through water-covered roads is never worth the risk.”

It is difficult to judge the depth of flood waters and only takes six inches of water to reach the bottom of most passenger cars, causing loss of control and possible stalling. Remember: Turn around, don’t drown when encountering a flooded road.

Other tips to stay safe while driving include:

  • Be especially cautious driving at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.
  • Do not take shortcuts, stick to main roads and designated evacuation routes.
  • Remember that it takes only two feet of rushing water to carry away most vehicles. This includes pickups and SUVs.
  • Keep an emergency preparedness kit in your vehicle that includes food, water, a flashlight, a first-aid kit, emergency contact numbers and a help sign.
  • Avoid areas that are likely to flood, including dips, low spots and floodplains; always heed flood warnings and instructions from emergency officials.

For additional flood safety tips, visit www.michigan.gov/miready.

Posted in Featured, NewsComments (0)