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Archive | December, 2017

Brison Ricker passes away

Brison Ricker (left) playing soccer for the Red Hawk Varsity Soccer team in the fall of 2015, before he began showing symptoms of brain cancer. Courtesy photo.

By Judy Reed

By all accounts, Brison Ricker, 16, was a fighter. But his fight with DIPG, a rare and deadly childhood brain tumor called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine glioma (DIPG), came to an end Saturday morning, December 23, when he passed into the arms of his Lord and Savior.

Brison, the son of Brian and Kim Ricker, of Nelson Township, and brother to Preston, 14, was a happy, athletic, well-liked teen with a strong faith in Jesus Christ. Before his symptoms began in the fall of 2015, he loved riding dirt bikes with Preston, and playing soccer. According to Kim, Brison raced motocross and supercross, and came in second place in the state for the two classes he raced in. He also was on the Varsity soccer team as a freshman that fall and voted offensive player of the year.

Brison Ricker at age 9, with his father, Brian. He played soccer and was training for the Riverbank Run. Courtesy photo.

Brison also loved to run; the Post ran a story on Brison in 2010 when he was nine years old and a third grader at Beach Elementary. He was training to run the Riverbank run—and his dad was going to run with him. 

In 2012, we reported he won first place for boys in the 55m dash at Cedar View, as well as first place in the 100m dash for 11-12-year old boys at the Hershey Track and Field meet that summer.

Brison’s symptoms started around Thanksgiving 2015—dizziness and blurred vision. By January he had a diagnosis of DIPG, which is nearly always fatal and lacks an effective treatment, according to Stanford University. 

According to a news article from Stanford’s medicine news, DIPG affects 200-400 school-aged children in the United States each year and has a five-year survival rate of less than 1 percent; half of patients die within nine months of diagnosis. Radiation gives only a temporary reprieve from the tumor’s growth. In addition, it is inoperable.

By June of 2016, their oncologist advised them to bring in hospice because there was nothing more they could do. It was then that Kim and Brian sought alternative treatment for Brison through the Burzynski Clinic. However, it was not covered by insurance. And the community then began to put on numerous fundraisers to try to help the Rickers fund the expenses related to Brison’s treatment—fundraisers which continued through this Christmas season.

Brison and his younger brother, Preston.

By December 2016, the Rickers found that Preston also had cancer—not DIPG but thyroid cancer, for which he underwent conventional treatment.

Brison had a lot of ups and downs medically, but the treatment did shrink the tumor and the area where it was located (the pons) eventually became scar tissue. Unfortunately, the cancer eventually spread to his spleen and other parts of his brain.

Toward the end, he could not hear or see, and had become unresponsive. The Rickers called in hospice last week, and a prayer vigil was held at their home on Friday evening, December 22. Brison then passed away on Saturday morning.

“He fought so hard until the end, he had big dreams with the determination, perseverence, and talent to make those dreams come true and he did not want to leave this earth,” Kim wrote on her Facebook page. “Brison had unwavering faith until the end and believed he would be healed. Now he is playing soccer and racing dirt bikes in heaven.”

She also thanked those who have supported them. “Thank You to everyone who has provided love and support to our family over the past 23 months since Brison was diagnosed. Our mission to save him did not end with success, but because of so many of you who selflessly gave we were able to provide treatment that extended his life and time with us for an extra 18 months. We made so many memories during that time. He celebrated is 16th birthday, he went to high school dances, we went on vacations, and became closer than ever before. That is time our family will always be grateful for.”

Brison’s funeral will be held on Saturday December 30 at Resurrection Life Church in Rockford at noon, with visitation from 10 to noon. See his obituary here.

Brison is the third Cedar Springs student to pass away this year. Earlier this fall, Emma Orr, a student at Beach Elementary passed away from terminal neuroblastoma; and Cora Gonzalez, a 5th grader at Cedar View, passed away after being hit by a car.

 

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School board fills vacancies

by Judy Reed

Tim Bauer

Traci Slager

The Cedar Springs Board of Education held a special meeting on Tuesday, December 19, to interview applicants for two vacancies left by the resignations of Michelle Bayink and Ted Sabinas at the last regular board meeting Monday, December 11.

The board advertised for applications for the positions in last week’s paper, and the deadline was Monday December 18. The advertisement did not say there would be a special board meeting on December 19, and the Post was not present because we were not notified that a special meeting had been scheduled for the interviews.

The board did video the meeting, although some of it was hard to hear due to quite a bit of background noise and some board members not speaking into the microphone.

The board interviewed 10 candidates for the position, and chose Tim Bauer and Traci Slager to fill the two open seats through the end of this year. Bauer is replacing Bayink, and Slager is replacing Sabinas. 

The board liked the answers provided by both candidates, although Heidi Reed did express some concern that Slager had not been around the board. She did still vote yes, however.

Bauer and Slager can run as candidates in the fall if they would like to for one of four open positions. There will be two six-year positions open with Brooke Nichols and Patricia Eary’s seats coming up for reelection; one four-year seat (for Ted Sabinas’ seat); and one two-year seat for the one vacated by Michelle Bayink.

The two were sworn in at the end of the meeting. The board will hold their reorganizational meeting in January 15 at 6:45 p.m.

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Police seek info in hit and run

The Michigan State Police Post in Rockford is looking for information on a hit and run that injured a pedestrian last Thursday, December 21, on 17 Mile Rd near Meijer.

Alex Michael Maas, 18, the son of Al and Ann Maas, was walking to Meijer on 17 Mile Rd, when he was struck by a vehicle across the street from Auto Zone. A man who witnessed it happen said the vehicle was a white SUV similar to a Cadillac Escalade. The vehicle then reportedly turned on to Edgerton.

Another couple also stopped right after it happened and tended to Alex while someone else dialed 911.

According to his dad, Alex suffered a concussion, bruised kidneys, a broken tooth, multiple scrapes and cuts, and required some stitches. He is home recovering from his injuries.

If anyone has any info on this hit and run crash, please call the Michigan State Police Post at 616-866-4411.

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Post travels to California

Solon Township residents Ken and TJ Norris got a great gift from friends in Southern California over the Christmas weekend: a visit to warm weather! The daytime temperatures were in the low 70s but it got cold (by Southern California  standards) at night—the low 50s. This photo is taken at Point Magu beach, just south of Ventura.

Thanks so much to Ken and TJ for taking us with you!

Are you going on vacation? Take the Post with you and snap some photos. Then send them to us with some info to news@cedarspringspost.com or mail them to Post travels, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319. We will be looking for yours!

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Kent County could lose Toys for Tots program

By Judy Reed

It was the biggest year ever for the Toys for Tots program here in Kent County, according to Kelly VanderLaan, a volunteer with Toys for Tots. But that high point could be a bittersweet end to the program that has brought so much joy to thousands of underprivileged children here in Kent County.

Next year the headquarters for A Col, 1st BN, 24th Marines is moving to Battle Creek, an hour and a half away, which means there will be no Marines here to help with the Marine-based Toys for Tots program. 

So the Kent County Toys for Tots is turning to the community for help.

“It is certainly not unusual for a Toys for Tots program to be run exclusively by a community committee, under the direction and scrutiny of the National Toys for Tots Foundation,” it says in a post on their Facebook page. “Our Committee contains several members who have been doing this program for well over 20 years, and some over 30 years. However, the fact is that we face some huge hurdles to continue this program. The Marine manpower and a permanent home are the biggest hurdles, but there are others. The Marines generate a lot of support that civilians do not. We also struggle with the desperate need for a permanent home. We need a lot of space (10,000 square feet and a loading dock) for a short period of time (8-10 weeks). It has been our biggest challenge every year.”

If you would like to see Toys for Tots continue, share your ideas to help them meet the challenges they are facing. You can send them an email at kentcountytoysfortots@gmail.com or comment on their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Kent-County-MI-Toys-for-Tots-179441572083482/.

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Jumpstart those resolutions 

 

Financial resource fairs coming to Michigan

By Mona Shand, Michigan News Connection

For those who list getting into better financial shape among their goals for 2018, experts are coming to communities across the state to help connect people with the resources they need to be financially fit.

The Community Economic Development Association of Michigan is organizing 39 different “Show Me the Money Day” events around the state in January and February. 

They’re offering free assistance on a variety of topics from applying for college financial aid to budgeting to buying a house. 

The closest event to us is one in Greenville on Thursday, February 15, from 4-8 p.m. at Greenville High School, 111 N. Hillcrest, Greenville, Mich. 48838.

Allyson Brooks, a financial empowerment associate with CEDAM, said they’re a way to kick off tax season and promote opportunities to increase income and build assets.

“Even getting free tax assistance can save a low-to-moderate-income family thousands of dollars per year,” Brooks said. “And that’s really what it’s all about, is putting the money back in Michigan families’ wallets.”

Information on where and when to find these events is at ShowMeTheMoneyDay.org

Brooks said the goal is to put all the financial resources people will need at different stages of their lives in one place, because she said in a financial pinch, it’s too easy to make the wrong decision. 

“Payday lending, using pawn shops as a resource,” she cited as examples. “So one thing we want to do is make sure that everything is in one spot, the financial mainstream is accessible for everyone.”

Last year, more than 3,000 Michiganders attended Show Me The Money Day events.

For more information or to RSVP to the Greenville event, you send an email or visit the facebook event. Email Darcy at darcy.brown@liveunitedm-i.org or Nikki at nkwiatkowski@liveunitedm-i.org for more information or visit https://www.facebook.com/events/839611289551822/.

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Armed robbery suspect arrested

Antoon Defrens

A man suspected of committing four armed robberies in three counties during the month of December was arrested last week by police.

According to F/Lt. Kevin Sweeney, the Michigan State Police Lakeview Post has been investigating a series of armed robberies in Montcalm and Ionia Counties over the last few weeks. Investigations by detectives led to the arrest of the suspect in the early morning hours of December 22, after a short vehicle pursuit.

Antoon Defrens, 41, of Sheridan, was arrested and lodged in the Montcalm County jail. He is suspected of robbng the Belding Party Store in Ionia County on Saturday, December 9; the Sheridan Marathon Gas Station in Montcalm County on December 12; the Gowen General Store in Montcalm County on December 16; and the Rockford Marathon Gas Station in Kent County on Thursday, December 21.

Defrens is charged with two counts of armed robbery and two counts of fleeing and eluding for the robberies in Montcalm County. Charges in the third and fourth robberies, in Ionia and Kent Counties, are still pending.

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Michigan legislators missed fewer votes in 2017

 

Michigan’s 38 senators and 110 representatives missed 1,153 roll call votes in 2017 according to the Missed Votes Report compiled by Jack McHugh, editor of MichiganVotes.org.

Six senators and two representatives each missed 50 or more votes in 2017, led by Coleman Young II in the Senate and LaTanya Garrett in the House, who failed to vote 144 times and 95 times, respectively. There were 15 senators and 85 representatives who missed no votes this year, including Rep. Rob Verheulen and Sen. Peter MacGregor, the Representative and Senator for the Cedar Springs area.

The 1,153 missed votes in 2017 is down from 1,228 in 2016, but is up in percentage terms because fewer roll call votes were taken.

Excluding purely procedural votes, the Senate voted 570 times in 2017 and the House 511 times, for a total of 1,081 roll call votes by the entire Legislature. In 2016 there were 1,614 roll call votes taken by both bodies.

The number of missed votes has fallen dramatically since the 2001-2002 Legislature, which was the first session covered by MichiganVotes.org. Over that two-year period, individual Michigan lawmakers failed to cast a roll call vote 21,162 times.

“Legislators’ habits changed almost immediately when MichiganVotes.org began making this information easily accessible to voters,” McHugh said.

The full Missed Votes report can be viewed at www.michiganvotes.org/missedvotes.aspx and can be sorted by name or by the number of missed votes. By clicking on a legislator’s name, users can see a brief, plain-English description of the actual votes he or she missed. Missed vote totals for previous sessions can be viewed by entering a different date range.

McHugh noted that in most cases, missed votes occur when other demands within the legislative process call a lawmaker off the floor for a few minutes or when serious family or personal issues require an absence of an entire day or longer.

“Legislators are people, too,” McHugh said. “No one should jump to conclusions or assume bad faith, but voters have a right to ask why a lawmaker missed a large number of votes.”

While the missed votes report is a popular year-end feature, McHugh notes it is just a small piece of MichiganVotes.org’s capabilities.

“MichiganVotes.org was excited this year to add a new ‘golden button’ feature that gives users one-click access (plus entering their zip code) to a list of how the lawmakers who represent their community voted on the most meaningful measures of the current legislature,” McHugh said. “This is something users always said they wanted, and now it’s here.” McHugh added that the site produces a free weekly roll call report for reporters showing how their own local state legislators voted on key bills (also posted on Mackinac.org every week). Power-users can subscribe to free emails every session day showing actions taken on issue areas they indicate.”

MichiganVotes.org is searchable and sortable by legislator, category, keyword and more. It contains descriptions of more than 30,000 bills introduced since 2001 and more than 25,000 record roll call votes. The service was started to give citizens more information to help make democracy work better, and its main benefit has been increased transparency and accountability. The site’s database now contains 17 years’ worth of legislators’ votes—complete records of the full legislative careers of many lawmakers.

See the full report with each legislators’ missed votes totals at: http://www.michiganvotes.org/MissedVotes.aspx

SOURCE: MichiganVotes.org, a free, non-partisan website created by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, providing concise, non-partisan, plain-English descriptions of every bill and vote in the Michigan House and Senate. Please visit www.MichiganVotes.org.

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Winter is here: sign up for incident notifications


The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) partners with law enforcement, first responders and dispatch centers to provide quick and effective response times for traffic incident management and notification. One of the goals of the West Michigan Traffic Operations Center (WMTOC) is to alert drivers about lane-blocking incidents on US, M and I routes as soon as possible. Well-informed drivers can make better decisions to ease congestion and increase safety. In addition to providing traffic impact information on MDOT’s Mi Drive website and roadside message signs, the WMTOC provides county-by-county notifications. To sign up for free county-tailored traffic alerts, which can also include alerts for traffic restrictions due to construction and maintenance activities, go to: http://bit.ly/14ucwY2.

“Our objective is to reduce everyone’s exposure to lane-blocking events,” said WMTOC Operations Manager Suzette Peplinski. “We constantly monitor our notification process with the unending goal of improving our response times for the motoring public. Since 2015, we have improved our notification response time by 22 percent.”

MDOT’s Mi Drive traffic information website www.michigan.gov/drive provides 78 traffic cameras in Allegan, Barry, Kent, Osceola, Ottawa, and Mason counties. This offers motorists a chance to view weather and traffic conditions in real time before they get behind the wheel.

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A New Beginning

By: Rev. Mike Shiery

Pilgrim Bible Church

 

One of the most beautiful promises found in God’s Word comes late in the Bible. In Revelation 21:5 God says, “Behold, I make all things new.” Obviously He is speaking of a coming time in Heaven when the curse of sin is abolished and all the imperfections of time are replaced by the perfections of eternity in God’s Presence. And certainly, to every believer, that is a glorious promise. There will be no more sin, sorrow, or suffering. Pain and problems will be replaced joy and jubilation. 

But in the meantime, we are still ensconced in a world of woe. There are many things which trouble and confound us which are out of our control. Old age and death are an inevitable challenge which lurk in the future mists of our life. Other troubling concepts loom over us which we would like to avoid, but are powerless to change.

However, at this time of the year when many people are taking stock of their lives and finding themselves dissatisfied, there is hope for change in at least one area.

God does not have to wait for Heaven to make a new person out of us. The message of the Gospel is that Christ came to give us abundant life and that starts in the here and now. He came down to our level in order to lift us up to His. Ephesians chapter 2 says that God has raised believers up together in Christ. And all of those believers were one time sinners in need of a Savior. This act of salvation is not achieved in our own strength but rather in Jesus. 

Perhaps someone reading these words is taking inventory of their spiritual life and feeling hopeless. Allow me to point you to Jesus. He can step into your life and fix the things that are broken. This can be the moment when you become a new person in Christ. After all, he specializes in things thought impossible, and that includes fixing the mess we’ve made out of our lives.

As Gloria Gaither wrote years ago: 

Something beautiful, something good —

All my confusion He understood; 

All I had to offer Him

Was brokenness and strife, 

But He made something beautiful of my life.

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