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Consumers Energy scam

In December 2014, BBB began hearing from consumers who have received calls from someone claiming to be from the “Disconnect Department” of Consumer Energy. The caller stated the consumer was behind on their Consumers Energy bill and that they needed to make payment immediately to avoid disconnection. The company instructs the consumer to purchase green dot money cards for a specific amount due and then to call back once the cards have been purchased. The company provides generic contact names such as Mr. Johnson and Mr. Brown.

BBB contacted Consumers Energy, and they are aware of the scam.  They advised that they do not perform collection in this way and they do not accept payment via green dot money card.  Consumers Energy stated that there is a process that takes place when an account is delinquent:

• Bill is sent to consumer

• If payment not received, second bill is sent to consumer

• If payment is not received, shut-off notice sent to consumer outlining amount due and shut-off date

•If payment is not received, phone call made to consumer

• If payment is not received, service is disconnected

The BBB contacted the company making the calls, and the phone was answered PNG.  When asked what company was reached, we were informed we reached PNG Electric Company. BBB then stated we were trying to reach Consumers Energy and we were informed that they represent Consumers Energy and that we reached the Disconnection Department. When we asked where the company was located, the call was disconnected. During the BBB phone calls to the company, it sounded like a boiler room operations; we could hear several other conversations in the background. BBB has been unable to determine the true identity of the company or individuals making the calls or identify where they are located.

If you receive a call as described above, we suggest you report it to the BBB and the Federal Trade Commission.

Be sure to always research any organization you are considering doing business with by visiting www.bbb.org/western-michigan!

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MS cheer teams place in top 4 at Sparta 

The Cedar Springs Middle School Cheer teams competed at Sparta last week. The red team took first, and the white team (shown above) took 4th place.

The Cedar Springs Middle School Cheer teams competed at Sparta last week. The red team took first, and the white team (shown above) took 4th place.

The second competition of the season brought the two teams representing Cedar Springs Middle School Competitive Cheer to Sparta where eight teams were competing for that 1st Place Championship. This week challenged the two coaches to be more creative with their routines. There were a few illnesses to the team that took out some of the girls. Routines were written and re written and the girls rose to the challenge with all of the necessary changes, including last minute changes right before competition. This effort shows the level of skill the coaches bring to the table and the talented girls we have to work with.

After the completion of Round 2, Cedar Springs White earned a score of 76.74, taking 6th Place and Cedar Springs Red earned a score of 116.12 taking the lead with 1st Place. The completion of Round 3 earned Cedar Springs White a score of 214.1, bringing their total score to 290.84 and ending with a 4th Place overall. Cedar Springs Red earned a score of 259.2, bringing their total score to 375.32. This high score secured their 1st Place victory for the second time in a row.

Congratulations to both teams and their coaches for a job well done! Let’s keep this winning season going.

Our next competition will be held at Allendale Middle School Thursday, December 18 at 6 p.m. Come support a great group of girls doing what they love.  These girls are doing a fantastic job representing their coaches, school and community.

 

 

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Youth wrestling off to a good start

S-Wrestling-YouthThe youth wrestling season has officially begun! And your Cedar Springs Youth Red Hawks continue with a tradition in youth wrestling that has spanned well over twenty years in the Cedar Springs area. Cedar Springs Youth Wrestling club is a not for profit program that offers affordable, developmental wrestling for boys and girls ages 4-15. Coaches and board members volunteer their time for their love of the kids in the community, and of course for their love of wrestling as a sport. They spend their time developing youth wrestlers in hopes that they too will learn to love the sport and continue into high school competition. A fun fact, Cedar Springs also has the largest number of girl competitors of any club in the State of Michigan!

Junior Red Hawks competed well in both the Novice and Open divisions at the Mona Shores Tournament on Sunday, December 7, 2014. Six wrestlers earned medals in the Novice division. Those wrestlers were:

In the 4/6yrs age group was Veronica Tapia 1st at 40lbs. In the 7/8yrs age group were Cora Gonzales 1st at 52lbs, Wyatt Cooper 2nd at 102lbs. and Juan Angel Acosta 3rd at 102lbs. In the 11/12yrs age group was Kamden Klaasen 1st at  90lbs. In the 13/15yrs age group was Fred White 1st at 85lbs.

There were also nine medal winners in the Open division.  These wrestlers have had more than two years of experience in wrestling competitions. Those medals winners were:

In the 7/8yrs age group were Keaton Klaasen  2nd at 55lbs, Gavyn Byxbe 4th at 55lbs and Pistachio Gonzales at 61lbs. In the 9/10yrs age group was Landon Demorest 1st at 59lbs. In the 11/12yrs age group were Zoe Gonzales 3rd at 80lbs and Aiden Bouwens 1st at 119lbs. In the 13/15 age group were Reese Gonzales 2nd at 114lbs, Sam Couturier 1st at 122lbs and Allexis Gonzales 1st at 138lbs.

Registration for this wrestling season will continue until mid January for anyone who may be interested in participating in youth wrestling. You can get more information at cedarspringsyouthwrestling.com or Cedar Springs Youth Wrestling on Facebook. Get started with one of the best developmental youth wrestling programs in the state of Michigan for only $75 for the entire season!

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Young wrestlers shine at East Kentwood

Gage Bowen is in the 7/8 open age group for West Michigan Pursuit.

Gage Bowen is in the 7/8 open age group for West Michigan Pursuit.

The second tournament of the 2014-2015 MYWA Western Region was hosted by East Kentwood. West Michigan Pursuit brought 23 grapplers to compete with eight entering Novice and the rest entering the Open division. WMP also had three enter into the Manton Madness tournament in the North Region. This is an Open tournament only due to the trophies offered. Our team battled 76 times with 47 ending in victory. This past weekend placed 18 of our young grapplers.

“I had a parent, not associated with WMP, ask me why I do what I do,” said Owner and Head Coach, Dave Andrus. “My response was there will be a day when I am no longer able to coach any more. When that day happens, I would like to look back and say that I made a difference in that wrestlers’ life. He or she is where they are because I had a part of that training.”

This week’s placements are as follows:

4th Place medalists include Kaden Schmid in the 9/10 Novice age group in the 75 lb wt class and Brandson Wood in the 7/8 Open age group in the 46 lb wt class.

3rd Place medalists include Hannah Pienton in the 11/12 Novice age group in the 90 lb wt class,  Josh Vasquez in the 7/8 Open age group in the 55 lb wt class and Caleigh Wood in the 4/5/6 Novice age group in the 40 lb wt class.

2nd Place medalists include Lee Braun in the 7/8 Open age group in the 58 lb wt class, Casey Eberspeaker in the 7/8 Open age group in the 64 lb wt class and Bryant Vandermark in the 7/8 Open age group in the 61 lb wt class.

Champions are Gage Bowen in the 7/8 Open age group in the 97 lb wt class, Chayson Eberspeaker in the 4/5/6 Open age group in the 52 lb wt class, Luke Egan in the 7/8 Open age group in the 52 lb wt class Landon Foss in the 7/8 Open age group in the 49 lb wt class, Jayden Marcano-Cruz in the 4/5/6 Novice age group in the 46 lb wt class, Kameron Ogden in the 7/8 Novice age group in the 55 lb wt class, Blake Peasley in the 7/8 Open age group in the 61/64 lb wt class, Lucus Pienton in the 13/14/15 Open age group in the 138 lb wt class, Zak Schmid in the11/12 Open age group in the 133 lb wt class, and Maston Wood in the 9/10 Open age group in the 110 lb wt class.

Congratulations to all of you grapplers for stepping out on the mat and working as hard as you do. You truly are the Pursuit of Champions!

Special recognition to Maston Wood for his honesty and strong moral fiber. He found $350 dollars on the floor and turned it in to the head table. The cash was returned to the very appreciative owner and was given a reward for his actions. Thank you Maston for being such an honest young man! Your parents and your coach are very proud of you.

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DNR’s fire program celebrates 100 years

Historical photo depicts a pull-behind water unit connected to hand lines for fire suppression.



Historical photo depicts a pull-behind water unit connected to hand lines for fire suppression.

Historically, it’s the years with the large wildfires that garner the most public attention. For example, in 2012—the year of the Duck Lake fire—497 fires burned 23,814 acres.

In 2014, Michigan set a new record when it came to wildfires—a record low. This past fire season, 167 fires burned 550 acres across the state.
“The record low numbers for wildfires can be attributed to damp weather conditions,” said Paul Kollmeyer, who oversees the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ wildfire suppression and prevention efforts.
In addition to the wet weather conditions keeping fire numbers low, Kollmeyer said the DNR’s work to spread fire prevention messages has been key in helping to reduce the number of wildfires caused by people.

DNR fire tower near Arnold, Mich., circa 1965.

DNR fire tower near Arnold, Mich., circa 1965.

“Nine out of 10 wildfires are caused by people,” he said. “Our strategy has always been to get an educational prevention message out to folks of all ages. Through our efforts most people now take extra steps to be careful with fire. They also understand that they need to check if the DNR is issuing burn permits before they burn leaves and yard debris.”
Spreading the fire prevention message across the state requires a lot of boots on the ground at schools, parades, fairs and other events. The DNR has 68 fire officers deployed at 48 stations across the state who, in addition to suppressing wildfires on public and private land, join their friend Smokey Bear to remind folks to be careful with fire.
“Fire officers are required to have diverse job skills,” Kollmeyer said. “They might be interacting with elementary school kids one day and building a firebreak the next day. Their jobs require a lot of specialized training. It’s a job that has evolved a lot over the past 100 years.”

The historic low number of wildfires corresponds to another historic event in Michigan: 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of William J. Pearson being appointed as the state’s first full-time forest fire officer. Pearson developed the state’s fire control organization, starting with the aid of a few game, fish and forest wardens and some part-time assistance from a handful of temporary patrolmen, lookouts and fire wardens.
He also developed a system of lookout towers and telephone lines for spotting and reporting fires. These tools and techniques gradually evolved into the fire suppression organization the DNR has today.

Prior to 1914, forest fire suppression and prevention was handled by the timber industry, funded by a fee assessed on their ownership acreage paid to the Northern Forest Protective Association. By 1907, the Legislature authorized the employment of “not more than 10 district deputy game, fish and forestry wardens to employ firefighters, impress labor and enforce the fire laws.” But it was the appointment of Pearson in 1914 that really got the ball rolling. That year, there were 935 fires reported that burned 408,765 acres. The private fire associations began to fall by the wayside as the state stepped up fire prevention and suppression efforts. Tactics for fighting fires began to change at that time, too. When World War I began in 1914, horses were still being used to haul cannons and other heavy equipment; by the end of the war, tanks and other mechanized equipment had proved their value in navigating difficult terrain and began to be incorporated into firefighting tactics replacing horse drawn plows, axes and shovels. This was a turning point in the way Michigan battled wildfires back then and mechanized firefighting remains the most efficient means to combat wildfires today.

“The reason we don’t have million-acre fires anymore like we did in the 1800s is because we have mechanization and a road system to quickly respond with off-road firefighting equipment operated by skilled fire officers,” Kollmeyer said. But it didn’t happen overnight. In 1923, 1,336 fires burned 466,474 acres. Two years later, 3,887 fires consumed 733,750 acres. And in 1930, there were 4,690 fires reported, burning 290,300 acres. But gradually, both the number of fires and the destruction they wreaked were reduced.

A big change occurred in 1944, when Smokey Bear was adopted in a national campaign to engage the public in fire prevention.
“We still message with Smokey’s help, even after 70 years,” Kollmeyer said. “Our fire program is not just about fighting fires, it’s about preventing fires, too. People have changed and their mindset has changed.”
But the mission of fire officers hasn’t. “Fire officers were originally hired for prevention and coordination,” he said. “That hasn’t changed.”

Prescribed fire designed to enhance wildlife habitat or reduce hazardous and invasive vegetation has become a large portion of a fire officer’s duties in recent years.
“This year in Michigan, there were more acres of beneficial prescribed burn treatments than what we responded to for wildfires,” Kollmeyer said. “We conducted 105 burns for 10,488 acres to enhance wildlife habitat, improve forest regeneration, to control invasive plants and to reduce the risk of wildfires.”

When not actively suppressing fires, fire officers spend a lot of time training—maintaining their skills as well as developing new ones. “We cooperatively train rural fire departments in wildfire fighting techniques, maintain equipment and assist with the development of new equipment,” explained Dana Pelton, a DNR forest fire officer supervisor in Gaylord. “Additionally, we write plans outlining parameters that will provide the desired results for upcoming prescribed burns.”
Fire officers will also assist with other forestry activities—marking timber for sale, treating diseases and removing hazardous trees (such as at Belle Isle in Detroit this year), she said. A background in forestry is helpful for fire officers, but it isn’t the only attribute the DNR looks for when recruiting. Ability to communicate with the public, make presentations and mechanical aptitude all come into play.

“It’s a multi-faceted job,” Pelton said. “There’s a lot more to it than just driving around a fire truck.”
And, of course, fire officers will continue to work on enlightening the public to the dangers of wildfires. “You never know about the fire you prevented, but that’s the way we like it,” Pelton said. “And for those that aren’t prevented—we’ll be ready.”

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DNR officers seek info on Baraga County moose poaching

 

Conservation officers with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources are seeking information regarding the illegal killing of a bull moose that occurred in late November in Baraga County.

The moose carcass was discovered on Saturday, Dec. 13. Based on evidence collected at the site, officers believe the moose was killed in late November along Heart Lake Road near Petticoat Lake Road in the Three Lakes area. Logging is occurring along the road and road hunting violations have been reported in the area, according to officers involved in the investigation.

A cash reward is being offered for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible. Anyone with information related to this case, or any other fish, game or natural resources violation, is asked to call the DNR’s Report All Poaching hotline at 800-292-7800; the DNR’s Law Enforcement Division at the Marquette Customer Service Center at 906-228-6561; or may report the information online at www.michigan.gov/conservationofficers. Information may be left anonymously.

Michigan currently does not have a moose hunting season, and moose are protected under state law. Penalties for poaching a moose include up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000, restitution of $1,500, and a mandatory loss of all hunting privileges for four years.

For more information about the Upper Peninsula’s moose population, visit www.michigan.gov/moose.

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Gift of Peace

Pastor Darryl Miller  

Sand Lake UMC, 65 W. Maple, Sand Lake

South Ensley UMC, 13600 Cypress, Ensley Township 

Too often we end the holiday season completely drained, both emotionally and physically. We then tend to call on God to refresh us, to restore our vigor and our lives to “normal.” But what if we were to ask God for restoration along the way? What if we planned into our busy holiday schedules time to draw closer to the reason for our celebrations? What if we were to decide now to have a spirit of peace despite the overwhelming pressure to live up to expectations to get the right gift, make all the parties, host dinners, send the cards, etc? That is what I would like to suggest.

During this special time, let’s decide not to let the pressures mount up but instead let the Child whose birth we are celebrating bring us the gift of Peace. We prepare our homes for the celebration by decorating so why not prepare our hearts for the celebration of our Lord’s birth, not with hectic lives but with hearts of peace and love. After all, the song says: “Love came down at Christmas” not to challenge us to get the right tree, but to have a spirit of peace and love that shows through the craziness of the world. One of my family’s traditions is to have a Christmas ornament hang in the house all year around. This reminds us not just at Christmas time but all through the year of the wonderful gift of Christmas. Sometimes I think we need this reminder in December most of all!

Another good reason for this approach is that many of our neighbors need something from us this time of year and if we are too wound up in our own schedules, we may miss it. Some have lost loved ones; for some this may be their first Christmas without someone close that they have lost. Others may not have heat, or power, or food. It seems every year our Ministerial association finds out about someone who has no heat or food, but hasn’t told anyone. If we checked up on our neighbors, we might learn about the need and find those who can help. But if we don’t check, we don’t know. If you are in need, don’t be too proud to ask for help, it is limited but it is out there. And if you are feeling lonely this season, check out your local church, we would love to spend some time with you! We will not be waiting at the door with a signup sheet for work that needs to be done and we will not hand you a membership form before you sit down. We will however extend to you the love and grace of Jesus and welcome you in God’s name. My family and our church families wish all of you a truly blessed and merry Christmas!

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Peace begins at home

by Ronnie McBrayer

by Ronnie McBrayer

 

 

In December of 2001, the Jews of Afghanistan celebrated their first Hanukah free of the Taliban in almost a decade. It was a small celebration, for there were only two Jews left in the entire country; and each one celebrated alone.

At separate ends of a rundown synagogue in Kabul, Ishak Levin and Zebulon Simantov lit their candles and said their prayers. Both had survived Soviet occupation, Taliban atrocities, and the American-led invasion. Both prayed for the same things to the same God, and yet they could not share the same space.

Neither of the men could accurately remember what started their feud, but it had deepened and endured. Levin said, “For thousands of years our forefathers have celebrated these nights, and now Jews all over the world are celebrating.” And then speaking of his antagonist he said, “But with him, it’s not possible.”

A decade later Levin was dead, leaving Simantov alone. He is the only known Jew left in the country, living in a single room, alienated from his neighbors, estranged from his wife and daughters, cursing former friends, and demanding money or whiskey from reporters who come to interview him. He is a bitter, old man.

Zebulon Simantov may be alone in his dilapidated Kabul synagogue, but he is not alone in his animosities, even as the celebrations of Hanukah and Christmas are upon us. Untold thousands are at war with those around them, be it the army across the border, or their neighbors across the street. These holidays of shalom and peace aren’t enough to break this hold of ill will.

Yet, it will not always be this way. I believe the day will come when such hostilities will be put to rest, when the world will be at peace. Now, “you might say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one,” for this is the assurance of the Jewish prophets, the very hope of Advent, and the promise of all perennial faith traditions: There will be “peace on earth and goodwill toward all.”

Yet, I cannot simply wait for that promised peace to magically arrive. No, I have to practice peace, not allowing this world’s massive levels of toxicity to embitter or isolate me from others. I have to become “an instrument of peace,” as Francis of Assisi prayed, learning to overcome evil with good, beginning, at the place I call home.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, blogger, pastor, and author of multiple books. Visit his website at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.

 

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SUZANNE L. ANDERSON

51C-obit-Anderson-webSuzanne L. Anderson, 80 of Wyoming, Michigan passed away on Tuesday, December 16, 2014 at Faith Hospice – Trillium Woods. She was born July 27, 1934 in Cedar Springs, Michigan the daughter of Edwin and Hazel (Sullivan) Wheeler. She was Red Flannel Queen in 1951 and a member of the Cedar Springs United Methodist Church, Women’s Club and the Red Hatters. She had worked at the Clipper office and was Solon Township Clerk for over 30 years. Surviving are her children, Janell (Keith) Timmer, Kyle (Teresa) Anderson; grandchildren, Solane Jenks, Jacinda Nykamp, Sarah Perez, Kevin Timmer; four great grandchildren; brother, Edwin (Sherry) Wheeler II. She was preceded in death by her parents, husband, Andy in 2005; sister, Phyllis Brantner. The family will greet friends Friday from 4-7 pm at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs where services will be held Saturday 11:00 am. Pastor Steve Lindeman officiating. Interment Elmwood Cemetery, Cedar Springs. Memorial contributions may be made to Faith Hospice, 2100 Raybrook St. SE, Grand Rapids, MI or the United Methodist Church, 140 S. Main St, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

Arrangements by Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home

 

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LOIS JEAN COPELAND

 

 

Lois Jean Copeland of Cedar Springs, 80, born in Grand Rapids Michigan, went home to be with the Lord and her husband December 11, 2014. Together with her husband they raised their family in Flint, Michigan until he retired and moved to their lake house in Cedar Springs, Michigan. Lois was a strong Christian woman. She was known for speaking her mind and for her love of children. She loved long walks, square dancing and spending time with family and friends. Lois was born on April 28, 1934 to Lee and Opal Denton. She married Eugene Copeland and became a homemaker and mother of six. Lois is survived by her children, April (Merill) Stray, Bonnie (Paul) Fleming, Eugene (Carol) Copeland, and Rosie (Jerry) Fleming; eleven grandchildren, twenty great grandchildren and five great great grandchildren. Lois was preceded in death by her parents, husband, Eugene; her siblings, Chuck, Nancy, Cleo, Tesa and Jack; daughter Sandra Copeland and daughter Linda Jenkins. In lieu of a funeral we will be having a life celebration on December 27th at the Oakfield Township Hall, 10300 – 14 Mile Road, Rockford Michigan from 1 to 3 pm.

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