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Archive | January, 2021

Anniversary of 1978 blizzard

This photo, taken by Ed Bremer, shows the snow on Main Street in Cedar Springs after the 1978 blizzard.

By Judy Reed

A man tries to dig out his car after the 1978
blizzard. Photo from Bill Steffen’s blog.

We received some snow this week on Monday, January 26—just under three inches in Grand Rapids, and up to six inches in Big Rapids. But that’s nothing compared to the biggest blizzard Michigan has ever seen—on January 26, 1978.

Do you remember THE BLIZZARD? When people who remember it talk about it, it’s usually with a kind of awe. And with good reason—meteorologist Bill Steffen said on his blog that “The Blizzard of 1978 ranks as the #1 snowstorm ever for Grand Rapids and much of Lower Michigan, Indiana and Ohio.” This past Tuesday, January 26, marked the 43rd anniversary of that memorable snowstorm. Steffen said that the 16.1″ of snow that fell in Grand Rapids that day remains the biggest midnight-to-midnight snowfall ever.

Muskegon received 52 inches over four days, and Traverse City 28 inches. Over 100,000 vehicles were abandoned on highways in Michigan, and more than 20 people died, many of exposure. Schools were canceled for two weeks, but the snow lingered well into April, with some drifts 15 feet high.

What do you remember about the blizzard of 1978? Do you know how much snow fell here? Did you or your parents abandon your car? Tell us on our Facebook page, comment on our story on our website, or email us at news@cedarspringspost.com.

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Large-scale vaccine site launched in Grand Rapids

The West Michigan Vaccine Clinic, a collaboration between Kent County, Spectrum Health, Mercy Health and Vaccinate West Michigan, launched Monday, January 25, and provided a first COVID-19 vaccination to approximately 500 people. This week, the group expects to vaccinate more than 8,500 people. 

Kent County—Kent County, Spectrum Health and Mercy Health, in collaboration with Vaccinate West Michigan, have come together to create a COVID-19 vaccination clinic that will allow large numbers of people to be vaccinated at one central location. Vaccinations began on Monday, Jan. 25, at DeVos Place, 303 Monroe Avenue in Grand Rapids, where they provided a first vaccination to about 500 people. They expect to vaccinate more than 8,500 people this week.

The West Michigan Vaccine Clinic will be offering vaccines by appointment only based on vaccine availability. While this is a large-scale facility, current vaccine supply does not allow for full use of this capacity right now. The clinic will begin with a small number of appointments, consistent with the amount of vaccine available. The goal is that as more vaccine becomes available, more people will be scheduled for appointments at this location. At full capacity and with sufficient vaccine supplies, the clinic will be able to provide 20,000 vaccinations per day.

The size and configuration of DeVos Place is well suited for a large-scale undertaking of this kind. The site was selected because it is on bus routes, accessible by multiple interstate highways, has adequate parking and is centrally located. At this time, individuals designated by state and federal criteria are being vaccinated, including those 65+ and certain essential workers such as teachers and childcare workers. Appointments are also continuing for Phase 1a individuals including health care workers, doctors, dentists and their staff.

The Kent County Health Department, Spectrum Health and Mercy Health also will continue to offer vaccine clinics at their respective locations across the region and will continue to increase appointments at those sites based on availability of vaccine.

Scheduling

Vaccines will be provided by appointment only. The first step in scheduling is to register for the COVID-19 vaccine by going to wmvaccineclinic.org. Once you register, they will notify you when you are able to schedule.

 If you are eligible for a vaccine and unable to use the online tools to complete your registration, call  833.755.0696. Call volumes are extremely high. Registering online is the fastest, easiest and preferred method. Only use the phone line if you are eligible for a vaccine and do not have access to the internet or have received a notification to schedule. This will allow those who are most in need to reach their team.

If you previously filled out your COVID-19 vaccine questionnaire through Spectrum Health, rest assured we have your registration, and you are on the list for vaccination. You do not need to complete the questionnaire again.

Visitor Information
In an effort to keep the number of people onsite to a minimum, individuals scheduled for an appointment are asked to come to DeVos Place by themselves unless they need assistance or require a legal guardian or a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare, to accompany them. Vaccine recipients are asked to wait in an observation area for 15 minutes after inoculation. Childcare is not available onsite, however scheduled adults with children will be allowed to enter the vaccination clinic so that as many eligible adults can be vaccinated as possible. Masks and social distancing will be required. Individuals with appointments will be asked to arrive promptly at their scheduled time to avoid unnecessary delays.

Parking

Parking will be available in the ramp under DeVos Place, which is accessible from Michigan St and Lyon St. Additional parking options will be identified as people are contacted with their appointment information.

Bus routes

DeVos Place can be reached by taking the Silver Line, Laker Line and #11 Plainfield bus routes.

Volunteers 

Organizers are looking for volunteers to assist in various roles at the clinic. More information about how to sign up for volunteer opportunities will be coming soon.

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Winter fun in the snow

We asked for your winter fun photos on Facebook and you haven’t disappointed! With all the new snow, kids and pets have been sledding, making snowballs, eating the snow, and more! Here the Passage family is playing in the snow in their back yard near Algoma and 15 Mile, in Algoma Township, where Cedar Creek runs through. That’s a great photo! Thank you for sending it to us!

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Look who visited the Post

Bernie waiting for his POST.

Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders took the internet by storm last week after appearing at President Joe Biden’s inauguration in this coat and mittens. This photo has been made into multiple internet memes and shared on social media hundreds of times. It was something to make all of us laugh and feel a little levity in the dark days of politics and the pandemic.

The Post decided to join in and created our own Bernie meme. Here he is, next to the Post paper box, waiting to find out what’s happening in our neck of the woods! Like many of you, he can’t get enough of our great little paper!

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MHSAA Winter sports statement

The following statement was made by Mark Uyl, executive director of the Michigan High School Athletic Association, on the topic of Winter contact sports – girls and boys basketball, competitive cheer, ice hockey and wrestling – remaining on pause for contact activities including competition until Feb. 21, per the most recent update to the emergency order from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).

“We are unable to provide specific plans yet as we are still evaluating the best options for delivering a memorable experience for 60,000 athletes involved in Winter contact sports. We will continue asking questions and advocating for all of our schools and athletes as we work toward building our next plans for seasons in basketball, competitive cheer, ice hockey and wrestling. We will be ready with specific timelines as soon as MDHHS clears contact sports to begin full activity.

“We have said from the start of the 2020-21 school year that we would do everything possible to have three seasons and play all three to completion. Our strong advocacy for all sports and seasons—and  especially Winter sports—continues every day.”

The MHSAA this past weekend concluded its 11-Player Football Finals, which along with Girls Volleyball, Lower Peninsula Girls Swimming & Diving and 8-Player Football Finals were allowed to conclude this month with competing teams and individuals taking part in an MDHHS rapid testing pilot program. 

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Keep sidewalks and fire hydrants clear of snow and ice

Snow often piles up around fire hydrants, especially after a snowstorm. Post photo by J. Reed.

Kids walking to school, customers shopping, firefighters putting out fires, and postal workers delivering mail all have one thing in common—they depend on residents and business owners to make sure ice and snow are cleared away.

In the City of Cedar Springs, every occupant of every lot is required to remove the snow and ice from their sidewalks.

Area fire departments would also appreciate residents keeping fire hydrants free of snow.

Our firefighters often spend several hours shoveling out hydrants after a snowfall, and if an emergency should arise (such as in the case of a house fire), hydrants need to be in clear view. So if you have one near your house, a few extra minutes shoveling might make the difference! You could save a life.

Postal workers also need help from residents to keep snow and ice from piling up around their mailbox. Your carrier needs a good clear approach and path on leaving the box. Also, if your mailbox needs to be repaired or replaced, ask your carrier or call the Post Office for the required height.

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MDHHS director resigns

Governor won’t say whether she asked him to resign

By Judy Reed

Former MDHHS director Robert Gordon

In a surprise move, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Director Robert Gordon abruptly announced his resignation on Twitter last Friday. The announcement came the same day as the announcement about indoor dining being allowed to resume at 25 percent capacity on February 1.

“Today, I am resigning from the Whitmer Administration,” Gordon tweeted. “It’s been an honor to serve alongside wonderful colleagues. I look forward to the next chapter.”

In a press conference on Monday, Governor Whitmer declined to answer questions by several reporters on whether she had asked for his resignation.

Gordon had implemented a three-week pause of indoor dining on Nov. 17, which turned into 75 days.

New MDHHS director Elizabeth Hertel

Whitmer announced that Gordon will be replaced by Elizabeth Hertel, who had been serving as the MDHHS chief deputy director.

“Elizabeth Hertel has dedicated her career to protecting Michiganders public health, and she is uniquely prepared to lead MDHHS as we continue working together to end the COVID-19 pandemic,” Governor Whitmer said in press release announcing the change. “She has served across multiple administrations from both parties and knows how to bring people together to get things done.”

“As we work to ramp up distribution of the safe and effective COVID vaccine and end the pandemic, I am eager to work with Governor Whitmer and her administration to keep Michiganders safe and healthy,” said Hertel. “I am grateful for the opportunity to lead the department at this time. Michigan is faced with a crisis unlike any we have seen before, but our aggressive action against this virus is working. Let’s finish the job and end the COVID-19 pandemic once and for all.”

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Indoor Dining Reopens February 1

Concessions and personal services also allowed under new MDHHS epidemic order 

By Judy Reed

Following the recent announcement about the plan to reopen indoor dining, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) released another epidemic order last Friday, January 22, which goes into effect on Monday, Feb. 1. The order will allow for indoor dining at restaurants with certain requirements; concessions at casinos, movie theaters and stadiums; personal services requiring mask removal; and non-residential gatherings of up to 10 people from two households. The new order will last three weeks, until Sunday, Feb. 21.

“The pause has worked. The efforts we have made together to protect our families, frontline workers and hospitals have dramatically reduced cases and we have saved lives. Now, we are confident that starting February 1, restaurants can resume indoor dining with safety measures in place,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. 

Restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen at 25% capacity with up to 100 people. Tables must be six feet apart with no more than six people per table. Outdoor tents with four sides are permitted under these same rules. Bars and restaurants must close by 10 p.m. Additionally, contact information must be collected from diners for contact tracing purposes.

While restaurants are happy progress is being made toward indoor dining, opening at 25 percent capacity is just a drop in the bucket of what they need. “With only offering take out, we are down in sales about 80-85 percent,” explained Jody Arp, of Red Bird Grill and Bistro. “Although we are excited to be able to serve our guests in the dining room again, 25% capacity is not enough for us to keep up on all the overhead costs.”

David Ringler, Director of Happiness at Cedar Springs Brewing, is also feeling the pinch. “We thank everyone for their support over the past 11 months, for all local businesses. This has been incredibly difficult on our team and our guests. We’ll ask for your continued patience and understanding as 25% capacity does not mean ‘open.’ It means we still have a fraction of our normal seating and staff, who will continue to work hard to serve you safely and with a smile. We ask for your ongoing cooperation with our license requirements and we promise to work diligently to prioritize safety and continue our mission to make our community a better place.”    

What can customers expect of the restaurants next week?

“For us at The Red Bird, we will remain closed on Mondays until we can seat more capacity,” said Arp. “We have 6-8 tables available and are able to seat 28 people in the dining room. We will seat based on head count at each table to not exceed the capacity limits. We will ask our guests to be kind and only dine with us in 1-1/2 hour time limits to help accommodate other guests. We will offer our full menu that is posted online with some specials. We will continue to do our family meal deals for take-out. We will continue to make sure we are following the guidelines to keep everyone safe.”

Cedar Springs Brewing Company will be open 12-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 12-4 p.m. on Sundays. They will still need to gather phone numbers, for contact tracing purposes of ALL guests. They will be serving in “to go” containers using the existing “Shutdown” menu for now, and will be using glassware again inside. If at seating capacity, guests must wait on the Bierdock or in their car in compliance with state regulations. “We greatly appreciate your understanding,” said Ringler. “We remain vigilant! We’re dedicated to making every reasonable precaution to keep you and our staff safe. Thank you all for being awesome and your ongoing support!”

The restaurant also took an extra step to minimize COVID-19 risks. “We were pleased to participate in the NSF & MIOSHA Ambassador program for COVID-19 readiness and preparations. We were pleased to score 100% on our safety inspection – one of the first to do so!” explained Ringler. “We cannot wait to serve you indoors again, but safety is always our top priority.”

MDHHS had been closely monitoring three metrics for stabilization or declines over the past several weeks. Michigan continues to see improvements in these metrics which has allowed for additional relaxing of protocols and reopening of activities. As of last week:

  • Hospital capacity dedicated to COVID-19 patients has been in seven-week decline, with current capacity at 9.9% for beds with COVID-19 patients. Peaked at 19.6% on Tuesday, Dec. 4.
  • Overall case rates: Currently at 225 cases per million. Peaked at 740 cases per million on Saturday, Nov. 14, plateaued after a decline to 239 on Friday, Dec. 25 and has been in decline for 11 days.
  • Positivity rate: currently at 6.8% and declining.

“This announcement is possible because of our progress over the last two months,” said Robert Gordon, (former) MDHHS director. “Even so, the science is clear that unmasked, indoor activities like dining and drinking are still a source of high risk around COVID-19. The safest course remains to support your favorite restaurant with carryout, delivery or outdoor dining. If individuals choose to eat out, there are two things they can do to make it much safer: go out only with members of their own household and choose a restaurant participating in the MI COVID-19 Safer Dining certification program.”

The voluntary MI COVID-19 Safer Dining program allows food service establishments to become certified by having their ventilation system inspected and submitting their inspection report to the state indicating they are optimizing airflow. Once certified, businesses will be featured on the Michigan.gov/covidsaferdining website and receive a copy of their certification to post at their establishment to alert diners of their participation. Funding is proposed for food service establishments to participate as part of the $10 million included in the recent supplemental budget request for restaurant supports administered by the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

More information will be available at Michigan.gov/covidsaferdining.

Indoor residential and non-residential gatherings are limited to 10 people and two households. MDHHS continues to urge families to avoid indoor gatherings or to pick a single other household to interact with consistent with guidance already released by the department. Families are encouraged to stay home as much as possible to maintain momentum and to protect loved ones. Families are also encouraged to Mask Up, Mask Right, using guidance for what masks to wear and how to wear them.

The epidemic order continues to temporarily pause indoor contact sports and other venues and activities where participants have close physical contacts and are not consistently masked, like water parks. However, as of Jan. 22, stadiums can allow up to 500 people at venues that seat over 10,000 people and stadiums that seat less than 10,000 are allowed to be at 20% capacity, up to 250 people. 

As before, employees who work in jobs that cannot be performed from home can continue to go to work, while employees who can work from home should continue to do so.

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Three northern Michigan men arraigned in 2019 Pigeon River Country elk poaching case

Three men responsible for poaching cow elk in December 2019 were arraigned Monday in the Otsego County 87A District Court after more than a yearlong investigation by Michigan DNR. 

Three relatives responsible for what Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers are referring to as a historic elk poaching case were arraigned on Monday, January 25, in the Otsego County 87A District Court.

Christian White, 29, of Gaylord, Harry White, 70, and Ronald White, 56, both of West Branch, pleaded not guilty to a total of eight wildlife crimes after admitting to poaching three cow elk in Pigeon River Country in December 2019.

  • Christian White was arraigned on four charges: hunting deer without a license, taking an over-limit of elk, failing to make a reasonable effort to retrieve the elk and taking elk in the wrong hunting unit.
  • Harry White was arraigned on three charges: taking an over-limit of elk, failing to make a reasonable effort to retrieve elk and taking elk in the wrong hunting unit.
  • Ronald White faces one charge: taking an over-limit of elk.

Conservation officers began investigating the three relatives more than a year ago after receiving anonymous tips that eventually connected and confirmed the suspects at the location where the three elk were found lying together, 50 yards north of Hardwood Lake Road near Bobcat Trail, east of Vanderbilt.

“This case can be summed up with one word—diligence,” said Sgt. Mark DePew, who supervised the case. “Without our officers’ professional commitment to pursuit of the facts, these suspects would have gotten away with one of the worst elk poaching incidents I have ever seen. By utilizing teamwork, technology and good old-fashioned police work, this case could not have come to a better conclusion.”

During the investigation, the Whites confessed to conservation officers that they poached the three elk.

If found guilty, the Whites will serve a mandatory 30 days in jail, with a maximum stay of 180 days. The misdemeanor charges include a 15-year revocation of hunting privileges and reimbursement up to $5,000 per elk in addition to other costs.

The Whites and their hired attorney are scheduled for a jury status conference Feb. 11.

This was the third elk poaching case within a 30-day period in late 2019. Conservation officers are actively investigating the two preceding elk poaching crimes. The first was a bull elk killed in November 2019, then a second elk killed one week later.

Anyone who witnesses or suspects a natural resource violation should immediately call or text the Report All Poaching hotline line at 800-292-7800. Information can be left anonymously; monetary rewards may be offered for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of violators.

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DNR urges caution on ice after UP fisherman drowns in Lake Michigan

IF YOU DO BREAK THROUGH THE ICE:
• Remain calm
• Don’t remove winter clothing. Heavy clothes won’t
drag you down, but instead provide warmth.
• Turn in the water toward the direction you came from,
this is most likely the strongest ice.
• If you have ice picks, dig the points of the picks into
the ice while vigorously kicking your feet to pull
yourself onto the surface by sliding forward on the ice.
• Roll away from the area of weak ice. Rolling on the ice
will distribute your weight to help avoid breaking
through again.
• Get to shelter and remove your wet clothing, redressing
in warm, dry clothing and consume warm, non-alcoholic,
non-caffeinated beverages as soon as you can.
• Call 911 and seek medical attention if you feel disoriented,
have uncontrollable shivering or have any other ill effects
that may be symptoms of hypothermia, which is a
life-threatening condition.

It’s the time of year when many fisherman can’t wait to get out on the ice, but the Michigan DNR is urging people to be cautious after a Delta County man drowned while ice fishing on Lake Michigan last week.

The body of Edward Carl Lester, 64, of Garden, was recovered Thursday afternoon from the waters of Lake Michigan in what Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers said was an accidental drowning.

Lester’s wife contacted a neighbor to help look for her husband when he did not return from his routine fishing trip at his normal time, around 10 a.m.

Using binoculars to scan the water, the neighbor could see an object floating near Kates Bay on Big Bay De Noc, offshore of Garden. The neighbor called 911 dispatchers at 1:46 p.m.

First responders arrived and could see a body floating in the water near what appeared to be a pressure crack that formed in the ice, exposing about 10- to 15-feet of water.

Using their department-issued equipment to safely get onto the ice, Conservation Officer Chris Lynch and Brett Bednarski, a local firefighter who also works as a DNR fire officer, were able to reach Lester’s body, which was located at arm’s length in the water.

EMS, in consultation with the county medical examiner, pronounced Lester dead at the scene.

Officers said Lester had been operating his off-road vehicle either to or from his ice shanty, which was located on the far side of the ice floe that had been separated by the pressure crack. It appeared he had navigated his ORV into the open water, where his ORV sank 10- to 15-feet.

“Despite the ice in the area of the incident measuring approximately 4- to 5-inches thick, recent high winds caused the crack to open,” said Lt. Eugene “Skip” Hagy, DNR law supervisor for the eastern Upper Peninsula. “Anyone venturing onto any ice is reminded to use extreme caution; ice is never 100 percent safe. Pressure cracks are very hazardous and can occur very fast, particularly on large bodies of water.”

In addition to DNR Conservation Officer Corporal Mike Hammill, assisting agencies included the Garden Volunteer Fire Department, Tri Star EMS, Michigan State Police, Delta County Search and Rescue and the Delta County Sheriff’s Office.

Hagy urges anyone venturing onto the ice to be cautious of how much weight they put on an ORV, snowmobile or sled, carry ice picks that are within reach at all times and to consider wearing a snowmobile suit with built in floatation aids.

Learn more about ice safety at Michigan.gov/IceSafety.

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