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Glowing Sparks on Sleeping Bag

OUT-Nature-niche-Ranger-Steve-Head-ShotBoy scouts hiked two miles to Mr. Cook’s farm woodlot to set up camp. First, selecting a proper tent site was important. Then collecting adequate firewood to cook dinner was essential and additional wood was gathered for an evening campfire.

Once the essentials of camp construction like making a latrine were completed, games, exploration, and mischief followed. We practiced tying knots and completed other camp skill activities for rank advancement or merit badges.

In those days, we packed in heavy food. It predated most freeze-dried food. The food was good. After removing apple cores, we packed cinnamon sugar in the center and cooked them in aluminum foil on the fire. We made meat, potato, and vegetable stews.

We explored Mr. Cook’s farm woodlot for animal signs hoping to find deer, bears, and cougars. Well the bears and cougars were not present. The deer were good at avoiding us. Squirrels would chatter and scold us from high in tree branches.

Desirable insects were fun to observe. We found it necessary to wear insect repellant and lightweight long sleeve shirts and pants for protection from biting insects. When we were in sunny areas, the mosquito problems were minor but deer flies could be bad in season. We learned Native American practices to fool the flies. We cut a bracken fern and wore it so the stem held the frond over our head causing the flies to circle the leaf-like frond instead of circling our head.

Scout and Native American skills helped us live in harmony with nature niches. We discussed some or these around the campfire after dark and, of course, told scary stories to put others on edge before turning in for the night.

Some scouts sneaked away during the campfire and collected sparks. After collecting one or two hundred, they went to my dad’s tent, opened the flap and released the sparks inside. They quickly closed the flap and returned to the fire.

After bed check, my dad as scout leader went to his tent expecting a good night’s sleep outdoors. When he opened his tent, he saw glowing embers covering his sleeping bag. Immediate shock and thoughts of getting a water bucket surfaced until he realized the embers were lightning bugs or fireflies.

They were not flies at all. Fireflies are actually beetles that have highly efficient light production, with little heat production. Our incandescent light bulbs are inefficient and produce excessive heat. New style light bulbs will save energy and money without the excessive heat production like the firefly light. They are more expensive but you will probably save enough money within a year to offset replacing the old incandescent bulbs and it will also lower your harmful carbon imprint.

Once dad determined the blinking embers were insects, he realized the scouts pulled a good joke on him. Interestingly, where I grew up the Saginaw area, we had lightning bugs (fireflies) that glowed amber red. Most places, like where we live now, have green glowing fireflies. It is a mystery that I still do not understand. Maybe scouts today will become scientists of the future that explain this mystery. There is so much to discover and learn.

I became an official “Girl Scout” leader when my girls were of age and enjoyed learning with them. Find ways to enjoy the outdoors often with your kids and grandkids.

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 49319-8433 or call 616-696-1753.

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Want to teach your children to be good stewards? 


Time to get your hands dirty

(BPT) – Growing your own garden is a popular pastime that cuts grocery bills and puts fresh produce within arm’s reach. But to parents it’s so much more than that. Gardening is a trending family activity that provides plenty of teachable moments, and it also promotes positive characteristics like self reliance and stewardship of the earth.

“You don’t have to be a green thumb to start a garden at home,” says Kevin Bryant, a garden enthusiast and director of national marketing at Tractor Supply Company. “It’s a fantastic activity for families to do together that also lets parents teach valuable lessons to their children. Whether it’s just a few garden boxes on the deck or a full plot with backyard chickens, families everywhere are embracing the adventure of gardening together and learning so much about nature and each other in the process.”

BLOOM-Garden2The recent self-reliant movement sweeping the country is highly appealing to families. Plus, growing basic vegetables, fruits and herbs at home is a viable option whether in the city, suburbs or rural areas. In fact, 29 percent of Americans obtained locally grown food in the past year from a home garden, according to a national Tractor Supply survey – and interest appears to be on the rise.

Furthermore, many families have a deep desire to improve their children’s comprehension of nutrition and food resources. A whopping 89 percent of American parents agree with the statement “My children need a better understanding of where their food comes from,” the survey found.

Now is the ideal time to start planning your garden. Consider these four steps to ensure your family gets the most out of their gardening time together:

1. Research plants

The region where you live will dictate which seeds you should plant and when. It’s best to select high-yielding plants that you know will be successful, particularly if you have a small garden. Your local extension service is a great resource.

2. Decide on size

If you have a large backyard, a bigger plot might be a good option and allow you to grow a wider variety of plants. If you live in the city or a restricted area, container gardens or garden boxes are a great option for herbs, flowers and some vegetables. Don’t bite off more than you can chew during the first year; starting small increases the likelihood of success, and you can always increase the size next year.

3. Go shopping

Once you have a general idea of your garden’s size, location and types of plants you’d like to grow, it’s time to take the family shopping. Visit a store, such as your local Tractor Supply, for seasoned advice, tools, soil, seeds, fertilizers and pest control. You can also find all the supplies necessary for raising backyard chickens, which offer a great way to eliminate backyard pests and boost the health of your garden. Additionally, the kids will love tending to the flock.

4. Make time together

Children love to get their hands dirty, so involve them in every step of the gardening process, from tilling the soil to harvesting the produce. Set a schedule for watering and weeding to teach kids responsibility. Be sure to keep an open conversation about their observations and try to answer their questions. If you don’t know all the answers, explore and learn together.

“Getting outdoors, growing a garden and learning about the land is one of the best things families can do during the warm-weather months,” says Bryant. “Plus, kids are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables when they help grow them in their own backyard. That’s a win all around.”

Gardening tips for every season are available online at TractorSupply.com/KnowHow.

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Putting pet safety first over the 4th of July


Every year Michigan families look forward to celebrating the Fourth of July with picnics, time on the Great Lakes and the traditional fireworks. However, the furry members of your family might not look forward to the holiday as much as you do.

Did you know more pets are lost or run away around the Fourth of July than any other time of the year because of the anxiety loud noises cause?

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is asking pet owners to follow these simple tips from the American Veterinarian Medical Association to help put pet safety first over the holiday:

* Make sure your pets have identification tags with up-to-date contact information and consider talking to your veterinarian about micro-chipping your animals.

* Keep pets indoors and leave them at home when attending firework displays, parades and gatherings.

* Consider housing your pets in a crate or escape-proof area during the fireworks.

* Avoid feeding your pets food intended for humans and keep charcoal out of reach.

* Be conscious of the temperature, leaving your pets in vehicles can be dangerous as car interiors heat up quickly and pets can overheat while spending time outdoors.

* Remember fireworks can also affect livestock and horses, make sure they are in a safe place and consider adding your identification to your horses’ halters.

For more information, visit the AVMA’s website at http://bit.ly/AVMA_4thofJuly.

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Buy a verdict


Murphy, a dishonest lawyer, bribed a man on his client’s jury to hold out for a charge of manslaughter, as opposed to the charge of murder that was brought by the state.

The jury was out for several days before they returned with the manslaughter verdict.

When Murphy paid the corrupt juror, he asked him if he had a very difficult time persuading the other jurors to see things his way.

“Sure did,” the juror replied, “the other eleven wanted to acquit.”

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Hometown Happenings

Hometown Happenings articles are a community service for non-profit agencies only. Due to popular demand for placement in this section, we can no longer run all articles. Deadline for articles is Monday at 5 p.m. This is not guaranteed space. Articles will run as space allows. Guaranteed placement is $10, certain restrictions may apply. You now can email your Hometown Happenings to happenings@cedarspringspost.com please include name and phone number for any questions we may have.

AA Meetings at Rebos House 

Rebos House, 10 N. First St., Cedar Springs is open on Sunday, 9 am, 2 pm and 7 pm. Monday, noon, 7 pm Big Book, 8:15pm, Tuesday, noon, 5:30 women’s, 7 pm men’s & women’s. Wednesday, noon, 7 pm 12X12, 8:15 pm. Thursday, noon, 7 pm, Alanon 7 pm. Friday, noon, 7 pm and Saturday, 8:30 am, 10 am, 2 pm and 7 pm. #26

Dinner at the Legion

July 6: American Legion, 80 Main St. Cedar Springs, is hosting a baked chicken dinner on Monday, July 6th, from 5 – 7 pm. Included will be mashed potatoes, stuffing, salad, rolls, drink and desserts. The cost is $9 for adults, children (15 and younger) $4.00. Come and enjoy home cooking. Take out is available. 616-696-9160. #26

God’s Kitchen in Cedar Springs

July 7: Join us for dinner every Tuesday. God’s Kitchen – Cedar Springs welcomes families from Northern Kent County and the surrounding area to a Tuesday Evening Meal. No charge – no registration required!  Served from 5:30 – 6:30 pm at the St. John Paul II Parish, 3110 – 17 Mile Rd., Cedar Springs. For more information, call the Church office at 616-696-3904. #26

Hooper Heroes

July 7: Grab your magical lasso and learn how to hoop! Audacious Hoops will teach you basic hooping techniques for both fun and fitness. For families. Tuesday, July 7th at 4 pm at the Spencer Township KDL Branch, 14960 Meddler Ave., Gowen. #26

Super Science

July 7: The World’s Coolest Nerd returns to delve into the SCIENCE behind all things super. Join us for hands-on fun that will unlock the scientific secrets behind the cape. For ages 6 and older. (This program is not recommended for children under age 6.) Tuesday, July 7th at 1:30 pm at the Nelson Township/Sand Lake KDL Branch 88 Eighth St. #26

Flag and Rocket Football Signups

July 7-30: Stop by Skinner Field between 6 and 8 pm on any of the following dates and sign up your football players! Last chance for Flag football is July 7th. Cost is $25 for ages 4-7. Rocket Football Signup dates are: July 7, 9, 14, 16, 21, 23, 28, 30. Cost is $65 for grades 2nd thru 8th. You may also sign up during business hours at Take Two Game Stop at 43 N. Main St., Cedar Springs. For more information, practice/training dates and sign up sheets go to www.leaguelineup.com/welcome.ask?url-cedarspringsyouthfootball or www.facebook.com/cedarspringsyouthfootball. #26

Secret Garden Tour

July 11: The Friends of the Timothy C. Hauenstein Reynolds Township Library will present their 4th annual Secret Garden Tour on Saturday, July 11th from 10 am – 4 pm (rain date July 18th). Tickets are $10 in advance or $12 the day of the tour. For more information and to purchase tickets call TCH Reynolds Township Library – 231-937-5575 or Kindel & Company – 231-937-9090. #26

AYSO Fall Soccer Registration

July 14: Registration is open through July 14th. All players must be registered online at www.eayso.org. Registration fee is $65/player, $60/player for 3 or more from the same family. First time players need to provide a birth certificate for age verification. Players must be 4 by August 31, 2015. There will be a registration event for those having trouble online at Burger King in Cedar Springs on Tuesday, July 14th from 6 to 8 pm. For more information see our website: www.ayso902.org. #26

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Earthquake shakes Michigan

No Reported Injuries or Damages; Assessments Ongoing

The U.S. Geological Survey confirmed that a 3.3 magnitude earthquake occurred in Michigan today, June 30, seven miles northeast of Union City at 11:42 a.m.

Assessments are still ongoing, but there are no reported injuries or damages at this time. Anyone with earthquake-related damage is encouraged to report it to local emergency management officials.

“Even though they don’t happen often in Michigan, earthquakes are a threat our emergency management officials are prepared and trained to handle,” said Gov. Rick Snyder. “Today’s event should serve as another reminder for Michiganders of the importance of personal preparedness for all kinds of emergencies and disasters.”

The state, via the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division, continues to closely monitor the situation and will act as warranted. The public is encouraged to monitor local media for up-to-date reports and emergency information.

On May 2, 2015, the U.S. Geological Survey confirmed a 4.2 magnitude earthquake 5 miles south of Galesburg. There were no injuries, but minor structural damage was reported.

For more information about preparing before, during and after an emergency or disaster, follow the MSP/EMHSD on Twitter at @MichEMHS or go to www.michigan.gov/beprepared.


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Shelter reduces pet adoption fees through Thursday


If you are thinking about adopting a cat or dog, the Kent County Animal Shelter will have reduced adoption fees from now until Thursday, July 2.

From now until Thursday July 2, the Kent County Animal Shelter (KCAS) is lowering adoption prices in order to grant more of its pets the opportunity to pursue the American dream of having a home to call their own. People adopting dogs will automatically save $50, and rescuing an adult cat (over four months old) will cost nothing.

“This is a hectic time of the year for us,” says Carly Luttmann, program supervisor at KCAS. “We have many adoptable dogs who have been dropped off and we have been forced to take in additional strays. When you combine that with the fact that people do not normally adopt much this close to the Fourth of July Holiday, the shelter fills up pretty fast.”

Shelters across the country face similar issues in the summer but particularly around the Fourth of July, as many dogs will run away to escape the noise of fireworks. Often those dogs will be taken in as strays, potentially displacing other adoptable dogs.

“This is especially true if those dogs are not properly licensed or do not have a microchip.” said Luttmann. “We cannot stress enough the importance of having your dog licensed and chipped. If your pet does get away from you this is the quickest way to get them back. That means they spend less time here and that opens the doors for the other animals we have to serve.”

Cats are also breeding more actively in the spring and early summer months. “It is not uncommon for people to drop off litter after litter day in and day out this time of year,” said Luttmann.

The Kent County Animal Shelter is located at 740 Fuller Ave. NE in Grand Rapids. Adoption hours are 9:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m.-5:30p.m. The shelter is closed on weekends. You can see some of the pets available for adoption online at http://awos.petfinder.com/shelters/kcanimalshelter.html.

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Robert Allen Johnson

Robert Allen Johnson, 76, passed away peacefully in his sleep early Thursday, June 25, 2015.  Bob was born January 28, 1939.  Bob lived most of his life as a resident of Courtland Township.  He graduated from Cedar Springs High School in 1957.  He retired in 1992 after 30 years at General Motors Fisher Body plant on 36th Street.   He loved farming and his family.  Bob had a stroke in January, 2000.  Although life was never easy after that, he always had a smile on his face.  He was the kindest and gentlest person you would ever meet who cared deeply about others.   He was preceded in death in 1997 by his father, Wesley.   He is survived by his mother, Elna, whom he loved dearly.  She was his primary caretaker.   He is also survived by his children, Bob and Paula Johnson, Tim Johnson and Kathy Kay, and Kathy and Ken Coleman.  Bob has three grandchildren, Ryan Coleman, Kate Coleman and Logan Armstrong.  He is also survived by his sisters Joyce and Dick Kastas and Judy and Jim Idziak and their families. The family thanks the Green Acres of Standale family who took care of dad the last few months of his life.  And also the Porter Hills home health care nurses who took care of dad at home before Green Acres.  The family greeted friends on Sunday, June 28 at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs where services will be held Monday, June 29. Pastor Robert Eckert officiating. Interment Courtland Township Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to Paws With A Cause, 4646 Division St, Wayland, MI 49348.

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

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Bear sightings in Algoma, Solon 

This bear, caught on camera in Algoma Township, is one of two bear sightings in the area in the last two weeks. Photo courtesy Luke Tonneberger.

This bear, caught on camera in Algoma Township, is one of two bear sightings in the area in the last two weeks. Photo courtesy Luke Tonneberger.

By Judy Reed

Bear sightings have continued in northern Kent County in the last two weeks.

The most recent sighting reported to the Post was last Saturday, June 20, at 19 Mile and Algoma, in Solon Township.

Russ DeBoer, of Solon Township, said he was traveling north on Algoma about 1:00 p.m. last Saturday, June 20, with his son, Nick, and grandson, Ethan, when a bear crossed the road at Algoma 19 Mile. He said it ran behind Solon Center Wesleyan Church, on Algoma, toward the Solon Fire Department to the west.

“I saw a lot of cars in the church parking lot, so I pulled in, and saw a playground in back, so I went inside and told people. They were having a baby shower, and they had young kids, so I wanted to tell them so the kids didn’t go out on the playground,” he explained.

DeBoer said that he thinks it was a younger bear because it was smaller. “It wasn’t a cub, but it wasn’t full grown,” he said.

The Post called the church to talk about the bear, and while talking with Kathy Mabie, she told us about a parishioner who had also recently caught footage of a bear on his game camera.

Luke Tonneberger, who lives on 13 Mile near the intersection of Algoma, said that they had been gone on Saturday, June 13, and when he came home, he found a note taped to his door that said a neighbor across the street had seen a bear cross his driveway.

“I think the bear headed toward 13 Mile, then went back along my fence, by my house, and by my garden and compost pile,” said Tonneberger. He also has woods behind his house with trail cams.

Friday, June 19, he decided to check his game cameras, and sure enough, there was the bear. “If I was standing there, it couldn’t have been any clearer that it was a bear,” he said.

Tonneberger said that he has seen evidence in the past—6 to 8 years ago—of bears on his property, but nothing recent. “I see pictures on my camera of other wildlife, such as deer, raccoon, skunk, etc., but it’s pretty cool to get pictures of a bear,” he remarked. “It’s pretty exciting.”

The DNR recommends removing birdfeeders and putting garbage cans inside to keep bears from visiting your yard to feed.

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Man killed in motorcycle crash


A Courtland Township man died last Friday, June 19, when his motorcycle collided with an SUV in Courtland Township.

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, Taylor Miedema, 23, was traveling eastbound on 10 Mile Road on his 2007 Yamaha motorcycle just before 10 p.m., when he collided with a westbound 1998 Chevrolet Tahoe, being driven by Dawn Batchelder, 49, of Grand Rapids.

Miedema was pronounced dead at the scene.

Batchelder was not transported to the hospital.

Alcohol is believed to be a factor in the accident, and the investigation is ongoing.

Courtland Fire and Rescue and Rockford Ambulance assisted at the scene.

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