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Archive | May, 2020

Township cleanups

As the weather warms up and residents begin to spring clean, some municipalities are offering drop off sites to help get rid of the clutter. Check out the list below to see if it’s offered in your area.

Courtland: Spring Clean-Up will be held on June 5-6 at the usual location behind Fire Station #1, 7450 14 Mile Rd. Enter off Berrigan Ave. Hours for both days are from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Appliances, mattresses, and box spring are also accepted at no charge. No paints, liquids, tires, or TVs.

Nelson Township/Village of Sand Lake: Spring cleanup will be held Saturday, May 30 from 8 a.m.-12 p.m. at 5th and Cherry Streets, near the water tower in Sand Lake.  Nelson Township identification required. No liquids, no hazardous waste (no paint, oil, fuel, gasoline etc.) Latex paint may be dumped only if it’s hardened. No brush or yard waste, no cement, no batteries, no refrigerants.

All tires must be cut in four pieces.

Pierson, Reynolds Townships and Village of Howard City: Spring cleanup will be held on Saturday, May 30 from 8 a.m to 12 p.m. at the Central Sanitary Landfill, 21545 W. Cannonsville Rd, Pierson. Visit www.piersontwp.org for more information.

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Flat Smokey aims to raise fire safety awareness

Smokey Bear has been an iconic forest and fire safety figure for 75 years. As Michigan heads toward the hot summer weather and increased fire danger, the DNR is offering Flat Smokey—inspired by the “Flat Stanley” children’s books—a downloadable template that kids can print, color and share. They can take pictures with Flat Smokey, showing friends and family practicing fire safety, and share with the hasthags #FlatSmokey and #PreventWildfires.

With warmer temperatures and increased fire danger, the DNR is getting a little help from a familiar face to boost the publics fire safety smarts: Smokey Bear. But the department is sharing the 75-year-old icon in a new way—Flat Smokey!

Flat Smokey is inspired by the Flat Stanley children’s book series. In the books, a young boy is squashed flat by a falling bulletin board while sleeping, but he makes the best of his flatness and enjoys new adventures that include sliding under doors, flying as a kite and traveling cross-country in an envelope to visit friends.

Kids can experience Smokey in a different way, too. They can download the Flat Smokey at https://www.michigan.gov/documents/dnr/flat_smokey_final_681558_7.pdf?utm_campaign=news+digest+may2020+week4&utm_medium=digest&utm_source=govdelivery, print it on stiff paper like cardstock (or paste onto cardboard) and color. Take pictures and videos of family and friends practicing fire safety with cookouts, campfires, fireworks and more, and then share using the hashtags #FlatSmokey and #PreventWildfires. Share the fire safety fun by sending Flat Smokey in the mail to someone else.

Nine out of 10 wildfires in Michigan are caused by people. Taking simple precautions and using effective fire safety practices can save lives and protect property, wildlife and the environment. When burning, always have a water source, shovel and metal bucket nearby, never leave a fire unattended, and always thoroughly douse a fire until it is extinguished.

Get fire safety tips at Michigan.gov/PreventWildfires

Posted in OutdoorsComments Off on Flat Smokey aims to raise fire safety awareness

Fins and Fish Scales

Ranger Steve

By Ranger Steve Mueller

I wonder how often fish-eating birds experience a bloody digestive tract when eating. If a fish spine has not drawn blood on your hand, you likely have not fished. I am a bit clumsy with my hands but other anglers I know have given blood to a fish. 

I have watched a Belted Kingfisher catch a small fish, carry it to a tree branch and spend several minutes beating it against the branch. I have wondered why. Perhaps the kingfisher is making sure it is dead so when swallowed, a wiggling fish does not pierce its innards with a sharp fin ray. Great Blue Herons carefully manipulate prey so they are swallowed headfirst. This makes the fins lay flat so they do not poke their esophagus in route to the stomach. 

Note the various fins on the rainbow trout. Photo in the public domain.

Scales and thin skin function to protect the fish from injury and infection much like our skin protects us. Scales are attached to the body from the headend and point backwards. The orientation allows water to flow easily with little friction or resistance. In addition to scale protection, fish are covered with a slippery slime that protects them from bacterial and other infections.

Scales are a beautiful sight that most of us miss. In a recent article I mentioned carrying a hand lens in my pocket to use when wanting a close look at small objects. Using a magnifying lens allows examination of different types of scale shapes, sizes, and colors. I seldom concentrate on those fascinating features. I am most interested in fish age compared to size. Scales, like tree growth rings, indicate approximate age. During the warm growing season, a fish adds a ring but two could be added if seasonal growth is interrupted for some reason. 

A reason anglers have been poked by fin rays is because the slime makes a fish difficult to hold. Bravo for the skill of fish-eating birds holding them. Birds like osprey capture fish with talons instead of their beaks like is done by birds in the heron family. 

In addition to sharing thanks and remembrance for others on Memorial Day, we venture with family and friends to lakes and streams to fish for food, fun, friendship, and to find solace and inspiration among nature niches.

It was not fish that interested me most. The early morning calm lake surface that changes to ripples or even waves holds my attention. Views into the depths where plants anchor themselves are of interest not only to me but fish. A favorite fishing lake had a river enter from the north and exit to the south. We would take our rowboat into the river to explore favorite hiding places where fish waited to dart after passing prey. If we cast and handled our lures properly, we enjoyed a good struggle for a coming meal. Often fish measured under the size limit but that was fine with me. I prefer to release most.

When taking a fish off the hook, I examine the membranous fins that have hard and soft spines. On the back are dorsal fins. The front one has hard spines and the rear ones are soft. The presence and character of each varies among types of fish. Along the body line are other unpaired single fins called the tail or caudal fin and anal fin.

Paired fins on the sides of the body are called pectoral and pelvic. The pectoral are behind the gill cover opercula. One can watch the opercula pulsate in and out as water is taken in through the mouth, passed over the gills, and released. Pelvic fins are in the lower rear area of the body. A special type fin, called the adipose fin, is present in trout and some others. It is small, soft, and spineless in front of the tail on the upper back. 

When fishing and waiting for a panfish to strike, examine the fins and scales of bass, pike, trout, and panfish in your catch with a hand lens. I am not a patient angler so I fish for larger game fish where I keep casting and reeling in my chosen lure. Watching a bobber is great for many but not me. Time in a boat allows more than surface ripple watching. We enjoy the shoreline contour, trees, clouds, and movement in the sky. Sounds abound to let us know we are alive. Do not miss the surrounding wonder. That is the reason for being outdoors. 

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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Chippewa County man charged with 125 wildlife crimes following DNR investigation

A Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officer investigates snares that Pickford resident Kurt Johnston Duncan was charged with using to illegally capture animals. Photo courtesy of the Michigan DNR.

A 56-year-old Pickford man was arraigned last Wednesday morning, May 20, in Chippewa County’s 91st District Court, on 125 wildlife misdemeanor charges, following a months-long investigation by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division. 

Kurt Johnston Duncan faces charges that include illegally harvesting 18 wolves over the past 18 months and killing and disposing of three bald eagles. Wolves are protected in Michigan and are on the federal endangered species list. Bald eagles are protected under state law, as well as the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. 

Duncan, who pleaded not guilty to all charges, faces up to 90 days in jail and $1,000 fine for each wolf;  up to 90 days in jail and $1,000 fine for each eagle; restitution of $1,500 per eagle and $500 per wolf; and up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine each for the other wildlife crimes. 

Duncan was served four search warrants in March. Other species involved in the charges include deer, turkey, bear and bobcat. DNR law enforcement detectives said that Duncan was using the animals for a variety of reasons, including crafts, selling, or disposing of them, and stated that he was catching the animals because he could and likes to do it. Conservation officers collected evidence to support the charges and identified additional suspects who are expected to be charged in the near future. 

“We had a team of conservation officers that worked well together throughout this investigation,” said DNR Law Enforcement Division Chief Gary Hagler. “Investigations like this require a long-term commitment from everyone involved. I want to thank the prosecutors in this case who worked with our officers. We are happy with the outcome and hope this case sets an example to prevent future natural resource crimes.” 

The Chippewa County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is seeking $30,000 in restitution to the state for the illegally taken animals. Duncan’s cash bond is set at $500. Other conditions of Duncan’s bond include having no contact with co-defendants, no possession of a firearm or dangerous weapon, and no engaging in hunting or fishing. 

Anyone witnessing a natural resources crime or having information about such a crime is encouraged to call or text the DNRs Report All Poaching hotline at 800-292-7800. 

Michigan conservation officers are fully commissioned state peace officers who provide natural resources protection, ensure recreational safety and protect citizens by providing general law enforcement duties and lifesaving operations in the communities they serve. Learn more at Michigan.gov/ConservationOfficers.

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Versiti Blood Center of Michigan in dire need of blood donations

State’s hospitals experiencing spike in need, particularly for O-negative blood

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—The need for blood donations continues to escalate throughout Michigan. As the state battles conditions caused by coronavirus, including a decline in blood donations, Versiti Blood Center of Michigan (formerly Michigan Blood) indicates the need for life-saving blood is dire across the state.

The historic flooding last week in the mid-Michigan area also adversely affected the state’s blood supply. Versiti lost hundreds of donation appointments, making the need for blood donations even greater.

“Our blood supply is not meeting hospital demand. That is the situation we face today,” said Versiti Blood Center of Michigan Area Vice President Dawn Kaiser. “Hospitals are resuming surgeries and trauma cases are increasing as stay-at-home orders are relaxed. We must be able to provide blood. Lives depend on it.”

Versiti urgently asks generous Michigan residents to donate blood of all types–especially O-negative blood, the universal blood type used in trauma situations–to ensure hospitals have the blood they need to treat cancer patients, trauma victims and those undergoing surgeries.

To ensure ongoing donor safety, Versiti requires all employees and donors to wear cloth face coverings. Donors are asked to bring their own face mask or covering if they have one. Social distancing is being practiced at all donation centers and community blood drives. The temperature of all donors is taken prior to their appointment; employees are also monitored. Versiti has also implemented increased cleaning and disinfecting procedures at all centers and local community donation sites.

Donating blood takes about an hour. Anyone age 17 or older in good health who meets eligibility requirements is encouraged to give. Parental consent is required for donors age 16 to give. Donors should bring a photo ID that includes their birth date.

Appointments are encouraged but walk-ins are welcome. To schedule an appointment to donate blood, call 1-866-642-5663 or visit Versiti online at http://www.versiti.org/Michigan.

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Arvajean I. Stoner age 87 of Sand Lake, died Thursday, May 21, 2020 at her home. Arvajean was born April 30, 1933 the daughter of Archie and Berneice (Hudson) Porter. She was a member of the Church of the Full Gospel, Sand Lake. Surviving are her children, Karen Stoner, Gerrilee (Doug) Morell, Gale Magoon (Julian Balderrama), Jeffrey Stoner, Kevin (Nichole) Stoner; 20 grandchildren; many great and great great grandchildren; brother, Carmon (Wally) Porter; sisters, Shirley (Tom) Sharp, Babe Gust, Linda (Jim) Babylon, Sally Brooms, Susan Trader; many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Jerry; son, Michael; and granddaughter, Miranda. A public visitation was held Tuesday, May 26 from 6-8 p.m. at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs. The family will not be present. A family graveside will be held on Saturday, May 30 at Solon Township Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Spectrum Health Hospice, 750 Fuller Ave, Grand Rapids, MI 49503.

Arrangements by Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs

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Barbara Jean Helsel age 91 of Cedar Springs went to be with her Lord surrounded by her family on Tuesday, May 19, 2020. She was born January 15, 1929 in Cedar Springs, MI the daughter of Roger and Helen (Hanna) Fisk. She grew up on the family farm on Fisk Knob where she and her brothers and sisters spent many happy days working and playing on the knob. She enjoyed crocheting, knitting and growing a large garden. Every year you would find her canning as many jars of fruit and vegetables as she could to prepare her family for the year ahead. She was preceded in death by her husband, Ora; grandson, Jason Rideout; brother, Jack Fisk. Surviving are her children, Dianne (John) Rideout, Linda Shotko, Rodney (Jeannie) Helsel; 3 brothers; 3 sisters; 7 grandchildren; 16 great-grandchildren; 1 great-great-grandchildren. Family services were held at Pilgrim Bible Church with Pastor David Ward officiating. Interment Solon Township Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the Pilgrim Bible Church. The family would like to thank the caring staff of Emmanuel Hospice and her personal care givers for their loving care to Barbara. 

Arrangements by Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs

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Avis Covell age 81 of Cedar Springs died Tuesday, May 19, 2020 at Spectrum Health Blodgett Campus. She was born November 28, 1938 in Wayland, MI the daughter of Raymond (Ruth Wycoff) Schestag. Avis was a social butterfly. She knew people no matter where she went, even out of state. She loved her family, especially the grandchildren and was dearly loved by them. Avis enjoyed Sunday dinners, camping and bonfires and was the bridge that kept everyone together. She is survived by her beloved husband of 65 years Leon; children, Teresa (Rock) Spicer, Tracy (Ted) Spicer, Todd (Sara) Covell; grandchildren, Daniel (Diane) Spicer, Amy Spicer, Randy (Lianna) Spicer; great-grandchildren, Chelsey, Rayann, Megyn, Landon, Cole; great-great-granddaughter, Cecelia; siblings, June Mabie, Harvey Schestag, Margie Ruis, Gary Schestag, Cheryl Schoenborn. She was preceded in death by her parents and granddaughter, Mandy Spicer. It was Avis’ wish to not have a funeral. In lieu of flowers please consider memorial contributions to Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation P.O. Box 4368 East Lansing, MI 48826 or the American Heart Association, 3940 Peninsular Dr. SE Ste 180 Grand Rapids, MI 49546.

 Arrangements by Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs

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Tribute to: Paula “Jeanne” Rau

Oct. 27, 1945 – May 28, 2019

In Loving Memory of our Dear Wife, Mother, Grandmother, Great-Grandmother & Friend

As written by her grandson, Ben Rau

It’s amazing to see how many people my Grandma has touched throughout her life and how much of a bond we all have through her. You may have known her as Paula, Jean, Jeanne, Grandma, Aunt, Cousin, Sister, Mother, or Wife. You may have known her for a few weeks, a few months, a few years, a decade, or a lifetime. But no matter what name you knew her by, or how long you have known her, I can guarantee we all knew the same woman. My Grandma was as genuine as they come. She was the same person around anyone and everyone. What you saw is what you got, so if she was happy, you knew it. If she was sad, you knew it. If she was angry, you knew it. If she was not too fond of the corny joke or borderline inappropriate comment you made at the dinner table, you certainly knew it…Grandpa I’m looking at you with this one.

A few days before she passed, my Dad and I were at the Hospice care facility speaking with a physician in the family room. We got on the topic of how great and wonderful of a woman my Grandma was and my Dad stated that she was the least judgemental or manipulative person he’s ever known. He then proceeded to ask me if I had ever experienced Grandma pressuring me into anything in my life…I thought about it…and the only thing I could come up with was her telling me to eat more brownies simply because she didn’t want to deal with wrapping them up and putting them away. She was one of the most kind, loving and caring people in this world, all she wanted was for others to feel the best they could and be as happy as they could.

During Christmas time I always struggled to find a perfect gift for her. But deep down I knew the thing that would always make her smile was simply for me to be happy. This wound in our hearts may never fully heal, and whenever you feel the pain rising to the surface, remember that time she said something dumb or hilarious, remember the time she was there for you when you needed somebody to lean on, remember the time she gave you her all and expected nothing back. I feel I have not really said much in this short speech because it’s difficult for me to find the proper words to describe my Grandma. She was such an amazing woman to all of us, I simply cannot do her justice. So today, in honor of Paula Jeanne Rau, I’d like us all to give her one final gift and just be happy. Not to dwell on the loss of a wonderful human being, but to remember the memories we gained throughout a lifetime.

Sadly missed but always remembered with a smile. Much love from your entire family and friends as you rest in peace.

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In times like these

Pastor Dick Nichols

Cedar Creek Community Church

2969 14 Mile Rd NE, Sparta, MI 49345

(616) 866-4138

So begins the Christian hymn, “In times like these we need a Savior, in times like these we need an anchor.” A thought I have spent much time with over these past few months is the timeliness of God’s word. Specifically, those three great words we find in Paul’s writing, 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1st Corinthians 13:12-13 NIV).

It is this word hope sitting between the bookends of faith and love.  I don’t think we would dispute what Paul has written under divine inspiration, “the greatest of these is love,” yet this doesn’t default that faith and hope become orphans or poorer attributes of the Christian in life’s journey. We need all three great words in the times we’re in today and always.  

The writer of Hebrews has given us these scriptures to establish how big this little word hope is.  And no, that’s not an oxymoron, let’s see how God lays this out for us, 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 6:19-20). Confirmed by God himself with an oath, his purpose is our encouragement in the hope of being in a relationship with Jesus Christ, now and forever.  

This is a well-known truth of scripture, that God cannot lie, his promises are “yes and amen” for us, unchanging and forever unchangeable, which simply means that our hope today is not based on our circumstances or any life event that presents itself as life altering, the Ancient of Days who created heaven and earth has said so. Hope is not lost, it is right where it belongs, held in place for us by God’s gifts of faith and love. How big is this little word?  Well, it’s only four little letters h-o-p-e, while at the same time, this hope is eternal, given to us for encouragement by God himself. That’s quite a big little word isn’t it?

Now, like faith and love, hope is as big in our lives, as we choose to allow; if our faith is in God, and we believe what is written in scripture that “God is love,” (1st John 4:16), that faith is truly “a gift of God,” (Ephesians 2:8), do we exercise our faith and love by accepting God’s hope even when we may not see the end of our circumstances.  God does!  

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:13 NIV).  Quite frankly, that’s good enough for me.

Posted in From the PulpitComments Off on In times like these

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