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Youth wrestlers place at GVSU

Perseverance is paying off for Cedar Springs Youth wrestlers. Photo by J. Troupe.

Perseverance is paying off for Cedar Springs Youth wrestlers. Photo by J. Troupe.

By Jacquie Troupe

Cedar Springs Youth Wrestlers had an exciting opportunity to compete in the GVSU fieldhouse Sunday, February 7, at the GVSU Open and Novice Tournament. Fourteen youths competed in 41 matches, winning 18 and eight wrestlers placing in the top 4. According to Coach Marsman, perseverence in practice is paying off with his wrestlers winning matches against some of their toughest opponents. 

First place champions were Jonathan Libera in the 61lb 4-6 year old All Division, Blake Falan in the 58lb 7-8 year old Novice Division and Logan Troupe in the 85lb 11-12 year old Novice Division.

Second place finisher was Blake Pickard in the 80lb 9-10 year old Novice Division.

Third place finishers were Brandson Wood in the 49lb and Hudson Crystal in the 72lb 7-8 year old Open Divisions.

4th Place finishers were Gavyn Byxbe in the 67lb 7-8 year old Open Division and Trevor Marsman in the 75lb 11-12 year old Open Division.

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WMP wrestlers bring home medals

Logan Galinis placed 4th in the 58/61 lb, 6 & under age group at GVSU. Photo by B. Chong.

Logan Galinis placed 4th in the 58/61 lb, 6 & under age group at GVSU. Photo by B. Chong.

By Barbra Chong

West Michigan Pursuit traveled to Grand Valley State University this past weekend. WMP entered 21 grapplers and placed 16 in the top four. We have two Champions who remain undefeated this season, Chayson Eberspeaker, 6 & under age group and Jayden Marcano-Cruz, 7/8 age group. Out of 68 battles, WMP claimed 44 victories. Individual results are as follows:

4th Place Medalists include 95 lb Gage Bowen, 9/10 age group; 58/61 lb Logan Galinis, 6 & under age group and 46 lb Jacob Howard, 6 & under age group.

3rd Place Medalists include 130 lb Isaac Casey, 9/10 age group; 55/59 lb Josh Vasquez, 9/10 age group and 90/95 lb Dylan Whidden, 13/14 age group.

2nd Place Medalists include 55/59 lb Michael Cannon, 9/10 age group and 64 lb Isaiah Sostenes, 7/8 age group.

Champions are 55 lb Quinten Cassiday, 7/8 age group; 58/61 lb Chayson Eberspeaker, 6 & under age group; 58/61 lb Luke Egan, 7/8 age group; 43/49 lb Jayden Marcano-Cruz, 7/8 age group; 72/77 lb Blake Peasley, 7/8 age group, 52 lb Aiden Vasquez, 6 & under age group; 52 lb Kellen Weckesser, 7/8 age group and 126/133 lb Maston Wood, 11/12 age group.

Each week these kids continue to impress with their own determination to be the best they can be. They truly are the Pursuit of Champions,” said Head Coach Dave Andrus.

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Ranger Steve’s Nature Niche: Itty Bitty Sleeper

Ranger Steve

Ranger Steve

By Ranger Steve Mueller

Being hard to find has an advantage when you are a tasty morsel. Consider how tasty you are to female mosquitoes. Being thousands of times larger than a mosquito makes you an easy target. You make yourself an even easier target by expelling carbon dioxide and by giving off heat. If you quit breathing, mosquitoes will lose interest and your heat will quickly dissipate.

I do not recommend that tactic to avoid mosquitoes. Animals have many adaptations that actually provide improved survival chances. Being small is one advantage. It is difficult to find a creature that is less than one-fourth of an inch long. When the creature does not move for months, it makes it even more difficult to find.

The creature I am describing ties a willow leaf to a twig so, when fall leaf drop arrives, the leaf stays on the shrub. Silk from salivary glands becomes a strong binding thread when exposed to air.

During the summer months, this insect might have three broods of young. Summer broods hatch from a minute eggs and begin eating willow leaves. If fortunate, they are not eaten by Blue-winged Warblers, Indigo Buntings, ants, or stink bugs. It will pupate and transform from caterpillar to butterfly.

People often refer to the pupa as a resting stage but it is not. Tremendous work of changing its body from caterpillar to winged adult is accomplished in the chrysalis (pupa). Little rest takes place. If it is warm, the pupa will transform more rapidly and chances of becoming food for mice or other things is reduced. Less time in the chrysalis increases survival chances. It is likely that less than one percent survive from egg to adult. A primary ecological function of the adult is reproduction to keep its nature niche occupied in willow thickets.

Late season reproduction differs from earlier generations that feed heavily and work to transform to an adult as quickly as possible. The late season animal is affected by changing day length. On hatching, the egg prepares for a long resting sleep. First it must tie a leaf petiole to a twig so the leaf does not fall off as autumn progresses. It then wraps and binds itself in the small leaf with silk.

In its sleep chamber, it waits for new spring leaf growth. If it escapes a multitude of animals looking to eat it, it might get to feed and grow in spring’s warming sunlight. If we have a wet fall or early spring, fungus or bacteria might kill the small upstart. Surviving is tough.

During the long winter months, the caterpillar is actually in a deep sleep called diapause. It is hormone induced caused by shortening days and lengthening nights that bring chemical changes to its body. The hormones result in behavior different from summer broods.

Try to find one of these sleeping Viceroy butterfly caterpillars in a brown coiled leaf that looks like a leaf fragment attached to a willow twig. It is the work of birds to search twigs all winter in an effort to eat the insect. I feed birds all winter in hope of distracting them enough to help some Viceroys survive to grow, pupate, become an adult, and reproduce here at Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary.

The tiny caterpillar, about the size of a pencil’s visible lead, has a big challenge to survive a long winter sleep but its adaptations improve the odds. When it emerges from the crumbled leaf in spring, its color pattern looks much like a bird turd. When disturbed it arches its body and looks even more like a turd.

Develop observation skills and patience with the challenge of finding an overwintering caterpillar in its deep sleep. Take the family to a willow thicket and search the shrubs. My friend Ken is more skilled than me at finding them. The last one he found was on a willow shrub along the White Pine Trail.

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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Free fishing weekend Feb. 13-14

This weekend affords anglers of all ages opportunities to get outdoors and fish for free as part of the DNR's 2016 Winter Free Fishing Weekend.

This weekend affords anglers of all ages opportunities to get outdoors and fish for free as part of the DNR’s 2016 Winter Free Fishing Weekend.

Everyone in Michigan – including residents and non-residents – can fish without a license Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 13 and 14, though all other fishing regulations still apply.

Michigan has celebrated the Winter Free Fishing Weekend every year since 1994 as a way to promote awareness of the state’s vast aquatic resources. With more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, tens of thousands of miles of rivers and streams, and 11,000 inland lakes, Michigan and fishing are a perfect match.

“Michigan offers many enjoyable winter outdoor activities, and fishing is among the most popular options,” said Bill Moritz, DNR director. “We encourage everyone to get outside this February and explore the angling opportunities available throughout the state – on your own, with your family or with some good friends.”

Organized Winter Free Fishing Weekend activities are being scheduled in communities across the state to assist with public participation. These activities are coordinated by a variety of organizations including constituent groups, schools, local and state parks, businesses and others.

A full listing of activities can be found online at michigan.gov/freefishing.

Also, during the 2016 Winter Free Fishing Weekend no DNR Recreation Passport is required for vehicle entry to any state park or recreation area.

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DNR reminds public of ice-safety measures

With warm and rainy weather patterns seen in recent weeks in many parts of the state, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources urges ice anglers and snowmobilers to remember that no ice is safe ice.

“When temperatures reach into the 40s, as they have recently in many areas, thawing will occur and that will definitely weaken ice,” said Sgt. Steve Orange, DNR Law Enforcement Division’s recreational safety, education and enforcement supervisor. “It’s very important to know and follow guidelines to determine how ice looks and feels so that your day of ice fishing or snowmobiling is enjoyable and safe. Ignoring warning signs of weakened ice can result in a life-threatening incident.”

The DNR does not recommend the standard “inch-thickness” guide used by many anglers and snowmobilers to determine ice safety, because ice seldom forms at a uniform rate.

Orange said a warm spell may take several days to weaken the ice; however, when temperatures vary widely, causing the ice to thaw during the day and refreeze at night, the result is a weak, “spongy” or honeycombed ice that is unsafe.

Ice strength can’t be determined by its look, thickness, the temperature or whether or not it’s covered with snow, Orange said.

When venturing onto ice, remember:

  • Clear ice that has a bluish tint is the strongest. Ice formed by melted and refrozen snow appears milky, and is very porous and weak.
  • Ice covered by snow always should be presumed unsafe. Snow acts like an insulating blanket and slows the freezing process. Ice under the snow will be thinner and weaker. A snowfall also can warm up and melt existing ice.
  • If there is slush on the ice, stay off. Slush ice is only about half as strong as clear ice and indicates the ice is no longer freezing from the bottom.

Although it’s a personal decision, the DNR does not recommend ice anglers take a car or truck onto the ice,” Orange said.

Anyone venturing onto the ice is urged to wear a life jacket, wear bright colors, bring a cell phone and bring along a set of ice picks or ice claws, which can be found in most sporting goods stores.

If ice does break, Orange offered the following tips:

  • Try to remain calm.
  • Don’t remove winter clothing. Heavy clothes won’t drag you down, but instead can trap air to provide warmth and flotation. This is especially true with a snowmobile suit.
  • Turn in the water toward the direction you came from; that is probably the strongest ice.
  • If you have them, dig the points of the picks into the ice and, while vigorously kicking your feet, 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, heat, warm dry clothing and warm, nonalcoholic and noncaffeinated drinks.
  • 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 (the life-threatening drop in the body’s core temperature).

Learn more about ice safety on the DNR website www.michigan.gov/dnr.

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Group knits red hats for babies born in Greenville

The Stitchers & More group and some of the hats they’ve made.

The Stitchers & More group and some of the hats they’ve made.

February is American Heart Month and a fellowship group with the informal name of Stitchers & More is celebrating. They are raising awareness of heart disease by knitting red hats for all babies born in February at United Hospital in Greenville.

The Stitchers & More group began twenty years ago as a group of women who gather once a month for fellowship while crocheting, stitching, scrapbooking, and sewing. The group ranges in age from early twenties, up to their oldest member who is turning ninety this year. When asking the group what inspired them to participate in this project, the name Kaylee is spoken in unison.

This project is dedicated to a two year old from Woodlawn Christian Reformed Church who underwent successful open heart surgery,” explained member Mary Brasser.

Heart disease remains the number one killer of Americans and congential heart defects are the most common type of birth defect in the country. Congenital heart disease is a problem with the heart’s structure and function that is present at birth. Some defects will heal on their own, over time, while others will need to be treated. Some are treated with medications and others with surgery.

We work closely with the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Pediatric Cardiology Program when we identify an infant in need. All of our infants are screened for congenital heart disease and we also carefully monitor the cardiac health of women with congenital heart defects who are pregnant or want to become pregnant,” said Dr. Jonathan Windeler, Chief of Pediatrics at Spectrum Health United Hospital.

We are so thankful to the Stitchers & More group for their kindness and generosity. It is our hope that this information will raise awareness of heart disease and will inspire others to participate in similar activies,” said Shelly Westbrook, Foundation Director at Spectrum Health United and Kelsey Hospitals.

For more information about the congenital heart disease, go to http://www.spectrumhealth.org/congenital-heart-disease

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The H Word: When is it time to call hospice?

When is it time to call hospice? While the H word scares people, Hospice of Michigan says that making the call early can enhance quality of life at the end of life.

When is it time to call hospice? While the H word scares people, Hospice of Michigan says that making the call early can enhance quality of life at the end of life.

Jane is suffering from cancer. It started in her liver and has now spread to her lungs and embedded in her bones. The chemo and radiation are not helping. But her doctor is yet to bring up hospice, the H word so many don’t want to hear.

Americans are a death-denying culture,” explains Dr. Michael Paletta, chief medical officer at Hospice of Michigan and hospice physician for 20 years. “Sometimes we don’t want to accept our own mortality. Often, patients wait until a doctor mentions end-of-life before they will even begin to wrap their minds around it. But, if patients don’t ask, doctors may continue to search out treatment options, even if a cure is unlikely.”

Paletta explains that doctors don’t always offer hospice as an option because they don’t want to deny patients a ray of hope. “Doctors take the decline and death of patients very personally,” Paletta said. They don’t want to be responsible for denying a patient the opportunity to recover, and they want to know they have done everything possible to cure their patients of illness.”

In modern medicine, it’s unusual for a doctor to feel there is nothing else to offer. There is always one more experimental drug or treatment to try; the question is what benefit will the treatment offer the patient and at what cost.

While a doctor may not want to deny hope, Paletta says it can be just as harmful to foster a patient’s unrealistic vision of recovery.

Hope comes in many shapes and forms,” Paletta said. “Instead of hoping for a cure that doesn’t exist, patients can hope to manage their pain and symptoms and improve their quality of life. This isn’t giving up hope; this is hoping for something that can actually happen and devoting energy to something that has proven to be valuable.”

Continue to pray for a miracle, but put things in place that will help you and your family. Perhaps the miracle provided is a controlled, dignified and peaceful ending of a celebrated life.

But when is the right time to consider hospice for you or your loved one?

If treatments are not going well, and if the treatment path the doctor initially laid out doesn’t seem to be working, it might be the right time to ask your doctor what’s next and when you should consider hospice,” Paletta explained. “If your doctor says it’s too soon to discuss hospice, try to get a better understanding of what the road ahead looks like in terms of treatment options. Ask when it will be appropriate to consider hospice and request specifics. This will help you gain a better understanding of the path you’re on and if you and your doctor have the same goals.”

If you aren’t satisfied with the plan your doctor has in place, seek a second option. I’m always surprised to hear that people don’t consult with another doctor. They seem to think this will offend the physician, but it’s usually welcomed. Good doctors realize that most of the time their recommendations are reinforced and a second option can actually enhance the faith and trust their patients have in them.”

Paletta notes that considering hospice isn’t a decision, it’s understanding your options. “Hospice is a choice that patients and families can make, but no one should ever be forced to make that decision,” Paletta said. “If you decide you’re not ready for hospice and you want to continue to seek out treatments, you can wait. And then it’s an informed waiting that has a specific end point rather than delaying or avoiding the decision.”

Paletta suggests that those suffering from a severe or terminal illness should contact hospice sooner rather than later, even if they aren’t necessarily ready to begin hospice care.

It’s always better for patients to reach out to a hospice organization early, rather than in a time of crisis. This gives them the time and ability to gather information about the services offered, choose the hospice organization that suits them best and make an informed decision. Hospice can even help with things like advanced directives and selecting a patient advocate.”

And perhaps most importantly, by looking into hospice options early in your illness, you’ve put yourself in a position where you can make the decision that’s right for you and take that pressure off your family.

For more information on Hospice of Michigan and the services it provides, contact 888.247.5701 or visit www.hom.org.

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Cocktail Tips for Winter Entertaining

ENT-Winter-entertainingWinter is the perfect time for entertaining guests in the comfort of your home — and nothing beats cozying up by the fireplace with a delectable winter cocktail.

From warming treats to rich flavor concoctions, vodka can be a terrific ingredient for wintertime cocktails.

A party calls for something special. If you’re going to be serving cocktails, get prepared with creative, festive spirits and mixers. Plan ahead with some simple, fun recipes for a cozy cocktail party without all the hassle.

For instance, check out the more than 40 playful flavors that Pinnacle Vodka offers such as Pinnacle Raspberry and Pinnacle Whipped – as well as its premium Original variety – which are great for any cool weather gathering.

Need some mixology inspiration? This recipe for Hot Cocoa is sure to warm up the crowd:

• 1 part Pinnacle Whipped Vodka

• 2 parts Hot Chocolate

• Pour into a mug and garnish with whipped cream and cherries.

Having friends over for a boozy brunch? Watching the game? Let this Sunday Funday recipe make a splash with partygoers.

• 1 part Pinnacle Original Vodka

• 2 parts Tomato Juice

• Dash of Tabasco Sauce

• Dash of Horseradish

• Dash of Worcestershire Sauce

• Shake, then add celery and other fun toppings.

More information, recipes and entertaining inspiration can be found at www.PinnacleVodka.com and www.TheCocktailProject.com.

Amid the fun, remember, please drink responsibly!

Posted in Arts & Entertainment, FeaturedComments (0)

Landing Check

 

A man was inspecting communications facilities in Alaska. He had little experience flying in small planes, and was nervous when they approached a landing strip in a snow-covered area. The pilot descended to just a couple hundred feet, then gunned both engines, climbed, and circled back. While the man’s heart pounded, the passenger beside him seemed calm.

“I wonder why he didn’t land,” said the nervous man.

“He was checking to see if the landing strip was plowed,” said the man sitting beside him.

As they made a second approach, the nervous man glanced out the window.  “It looks plowed to me,” he said.

“No,” said his seatmate. “It hasn’t been cleared for some time.”

“How can you tell?” asked the nervous man.

“Because,” said the man, “I’m the guy who drives the plow.”

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Seven tips to avoid Presidents Day rush

WASHINGTON—The period around Presidents Day marks the peak busy season for IRS toll-free phone service, but there are faster ways to find answers to your questions. The Internal Revenue Service provides tools and apps on IRS.gov that can help many of taxpayers get answers immediately online.

Traditionally, the Tuesday after Presidents Day is the busiest day of the year for phone calls. The IRS will staff the toll-free lines on Saturday, February 13 and Monday, February 15, the Presidents Day holiday in an effort to answer more taxpayer calls.

The hours of operations are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. local time on Saturday and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time on Monday.

But on IRS.gov, taxpayers can, among many things, check the status of their refund, request a copy of their tax transcript or get an answer to their tax questions around the clock.

The entire week of the Presidents Day holiday marks a peak time for the IRS,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “We’re keeping our phones open over part of the holiday weekend to manage the increased demand.”

To save time and find answers faster, taxpayers should make IRS.gov their first stop. A good place to start is the “IRS Services Guide” for a quick overview of online services and resources. IRS information and some tools also are in Spanish.

Here are some of the most common reasons people call us over Presidents Day holiday week and the faster and easier ways to get answers:

Want to know where your refund is?

More than 90 percent of refunds are issued in less than 21 days. IRS representatives will not provide individual refund information before then. Taxpayers can easily find information about their refund by using the Where’s My Refund? tool. It’s available on IRS.gov and on the Smartphone app, IRS2Go. Where’s My Refund? provides taxpayers with the most up-to-date information available. Taxpayers must have information from their current, pending tax return to access their refund information. Refund information is updated just once a day, generally overnight, so there’s no need to check more than once a day.

Didn’t get a W-2?

Employers are required to send their employees a Form W-2, Statement of Earnings, by January 31. Employees should allow enough time for their form to be mailed to their address of record. If form W-2 is not received by the end of February, employees should first contact their employer to ensure they have the correct address on file.

After exhausting all options with the employer, employees may contact the IRS and we will send a letter to the employer. However, we would urge you to wait until the end of February to avoid long wait times on the telephone.

Need a copy of your tax return or transcript?

Taxpayers can easily order a return or transcript on the IRS.gov website, or by mailing us a completed Form 4506-T. See our Get Transcript application to have a transcript mailed to you. More information on these options is available at IRS.gov.

Ordering a tax return or tax transcript does not mean a taxpayer will get their refund faster. The two are not connected in any way. IRS transcripts are often used to validate income and tax filing status for mortgage, student and small business loan applications and to help with tax preparation.

Wondering how the Affordable Care Act will affect you?

This year almost all taxpayers must do something related to health care reporting requirements. The majority of taxpayers—more than three out of four—will simply need to check a box to verify they have health insurance coverage. For the minority of taxpayers who will have to do more, IRS.gov/aca features useful information and tips regarding the premium tax credit, the individual shared responsibility requirement and other tax features of the ACA. Publication 5201, The Health Care Law and Your Taxes, also provides a snapshot of ACA requirements.

Need answers to tax law questions?

Questions about what filing status means, whether to file a tax return or who can be claimed as a dependent? There’s the Interactive Tax Assistant that takes you through a series of questions just like one of our customer service representatives would. You can also do a keyword search on IRS.gov; use Publication 17, the annual, searchable income tax guide; or the IRS Tax Map, which allows search by topic or keyword for single-point access to tax law information by subject.

Can’t pay a tax bill?

For taxpayers whose concern is a tax bill they can’t pay, the Online Payment Agreement tool can help them determine in a matter of minutes whether they qualify for an installment agreement with the IRS. And for those whose tax obligation is even more serious, the Offer in Compromise Pre-Qualifier can help them determine if they qualify for an offer in compromise, an agreement with the IRS that settles their tax liability for less than the full amount owed.

Need help preparing your taxes?

Free tax return preparation help is available nationwide from volunteers and on IRS.gov with Free File. Local community partners operate roughly 13,000 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) sites nationwide. Find a location nearby by searching “Free Tax Help” on IRS.gov.

IRS Free File is offered by 13 tax software companies that make their brand-name products available for free to the 70 percent of taxpayers who earned $62,000 or less last year. Free File Fillable Forms is available for households whose earnings are more than $62,000 and are comfortable preparing their taxes.

Taxpayers may also use our searchable directory on IRS.gov for help on finding a tax professional with credentials and select qualifications to help them prepare their tax returns.

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