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Squirrels of another color

We are pretty used to seeing the common red squirrel flitting around our yard. But Tim Dykstra, of the City of Cedar Springs, recently took some photos of squirrels of another color he found in his yard.

One of the photos shows what appears to be two black squirrels running around together—one of them with a red tail. The other photo shows a partially white or albino squirrel. Both are unusual sightings here in Cedar Springs. 

Thank you, Tim, for sending us your photos!

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Spring and Summer Azures

Ranger Steve’s Nature NicheBy Ranger Steve Mueller

An azure sky captivates us on clear sunny warm days. Tiny pieces of sky flit nearby as we tend the garden, walk the woods, and field edges. Notice the tiny blue wings carry the Spring Azure butterfly on what might seems like an aimless journey. 

Their multifaceted eyes capture color drawing them to other blue butterflies and to flowers where they feed on nectar. They are able to locate plants essential to feed their offspring. Dogwood and viburnums shrubs are important. Adults lay eggs on developing flowerheads where the eggs hatch to feed. 

Eggs are laid singly and scattered throughout the habitat on host plants. The adult blue is about size of a dime when wings are folded over its back. The underwing appears light gray with black spotting. When it opens it wings, the upper sky azure flashes blue beauty. Males are brighter blue than females. Notice the female has a wider dark band along wing’s edge. 

As June approaches, the spring azure become less abundant and summer azures emerge. Summer azures gray underwing spots are not dark or bold. Spring Azures have a more distinctive zig zag line along the hind wing border. The differences between the two species are minor and make it difficult to distinguish them apart. 

For decades the nearly identical butterflies were thought to be the same species with slightly differing appearing spring and summer forms. Many butterflies have variable spring and summer color forms that differ depending on temperature during development. It was discovered the “spring azure form” did not produce a summer form as a second brood. Instead it stayed in the chrysalis until the following spring. Scientists studying anatomy of wing scales discovered unique wing scale structures differed between the two species. 

Mysteries of inhabitants of our yards abound. We might expect there are just two species of the tiny blue azures but not so. There are additional azures including one in our area called the cherry gall azure. Biodiversity of species with specialized nature niches continue to demonstrate amazing adaptations. 

Beyond the azure complex, the Silvery Blue butterfly has more iridescent deep blue upper wings with tan underwings. Instead of scattered dark spots on the underwing, it has a single row of black spots circled with white that arc across the underside. The Silvery Blues like other blues have a short adult life of about one week. During that time, they seek legumes where they lay eggs. We only get to see these iridescent blues when adults are on the wing during a few weeks of the year. Males emerge first.

The Federally Endangered Karner Blue butterfly resides in our area and has a deep blue upper wing with an orange underwing band along wing’s edge that is absent on Silvery Blues, Spring and Summer Azures. Its larval host plant is restricted to one species—Wild Blue Lupine.

As summer solstice arrives, another blue butterfly appears. The Eastern Tailed Blue has a gray underwing with similar black dotted pattern like azures but bears a small orange patch and a tiny tail projecting from the hind wing. When viewed from above, tiny black dots appear along the hind edge of the wing near the tail. 

It might seem like few butterfly species share habitat with us but about 50 species live at Ody Brook and perhaps dozens share your residence. By encouraging native plants to thrive, you can enhance opportunities for butterfly biodiversity during a time when wildlife are having difficulty surviving. How we behave and promote healthy living conditions around our homes is critical to a healthy environment for life on Earth. 

Manicured lawns are a sight to behold but are sterile for supporting native butterflies struggling to survive where native host plants are excluded. Make the effort to support native plants and animals. Enjoy the beauty and life found in wild habitats by allowing native species to share your yard. Be a force helping wildlife.

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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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.

theTable at The Springs Church

May 23,21: Meals are served every Thursday fom 5:30 to 6:30 pm at The Springs Church on the corner of Oak and Grant. All are welcome to theTable to enjoy this meal that is being shared with us! #tfn

Celebrate Recovery

May 23,21: City Impact, 288 N. Main St. will be holding meetings every Thursday to Celebrate Recovery, a Christ centered, 12 step recovery program for anyone struggling with hurt, habbits or hangups of any kind. 6-6:30 pm – Meet & Greet, 6:30-8pm Celebrate Recovery. For more information call 616-843-2438. #tfn

Historical comedy debuts on Kent stage

May 24,25: The Cedar Springs Community Players is pleased to present “Burr: The One Who Won,” written by Scott Phillips with music by Jill Phillips at the Kent Theatre on  May 24, 25. Performances start at 7:30. You may purchase tickets at the Cedar Springs Public Library in advance for $12 for adults and $6 for children under 18. The box office is open 30 minutes before each performance and tickets may be purchased at that time for $15 for adults and $6 for children under 18. #19-21b

CS Historical Society’s Cemetery Walk

May 26: The Cedar Springs Historical Society is holding its 19th annual Memorial Cemetery walk on Sunday, May 26th at 2 pm to honor veterans of all wars. This year’s veterans will be Leander Jewell, Civil War; Harold Bicknell Gidden, World War I; Leland Dewey, World War II; William Wilson, Korean War; Michael E. Magoon, Vietnam War. Biographical and historical information will be presented at each gravesite. The Glen Hill Post of the American Legion honor guard will assist at the presentation. We will leave from the museum in Morley Park at 1:30 pm and return for refreshments. In case of severe weather warnings we will cancel the event. In case of rain we will do the presentation in the museum. #20,21b

Senior Lunch at Pine Grove Community Church

May 29: Pine Grove Senior Café would be honored for All Seniors age 60 and over to come celebrate our Veterans both those who are still here with us and those who have given the utmost; those who live on in our memory.  We would be honored to share a meal and memories with you as our guest.  We ask our guests who are Veterans to wear your colors.  Guests who wish to display memorabilia may do so.  At Noon Wednesday May the 29th in our Family Life Center on the North West corner of M-82 & Beech. #21

Invasive Plant Meeting @ Nelson Township

May 30: Kent Conservation District and Nelson Township are holding an Invasive Plant Informational Meeting on May 30th, at 6:30 pm at the Nelson Township Hall, located at 2 Maple Street in Sand Lake, Mi. Kent Conservation has been working to reduce the spread of invasive plant species. Kent Conservation will teach you to recognize invasive plants and how to control them. Native plants are strongly encouraged since they pose no threat of becoming invasive. Kent Conservation will have handouts on what invasive plants to watch out for and what native plants to add to your landscape. Any questions can be directed to Susan VanEnk at Nelson Township, 616-636-5332. #20,21b

Red Flannel Pageant Meeting

June 2: Attention all young ladies attending Cedar Springs High School, Creative Technologies Academy, or live in the Cedar Springs school district, (including homeschoolers) who will be in the 11th grade in the 2019-2020 school year. There will be a mandatory parent meeting for any young lady who would like to participate in the 2019 Red Flannel Pageant and her parent(s). The meeting will be Sunday, June 2nd at 2 pm at the Springs Church (135 N. Grant St). For more information or if there is a concern that you can’t make the meeting please contact pageant director Kaleigh Goehler directly at redflannelpageant@gmail.com. #20-22b

Sand Lake High School Alumni Banquet

June 8: The 127th Annual (1892-2019) Sand Lake High School Alumni Banquet will be held on Saturday, June 8th at Resurrection Lutheran Church, Sand Lake. Open to anyone who attended Sand Lake Schools. Social hour – 5 pm, Dinner – 6 pm. Cost of meal is $15.00. Please RSVP by June 1st. Call your reservation in to: Dave Groner 616-557-3098. #19-21p

Explore MCC’s Kenneth J. Lehman Nature Trails

Montcalm Community College’s Kenneth J. Lehman Nature Trails are open to the public from dawn until dusk, 365 days a year. There is no charge to visit these beautiful trails winding through forests, grasslands and wetlands. More than four miles of trails are marked with numbered trail posts and maps are available at most major trail heads. For more information, please email naturetrails@montcalm.edu or call MCC Biology Instructor Heather Wesp (989) 328-1270. #21

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Aeromed drops in for “Show and Tell”

Students with a Kent County Sheriff Deputy and horse from the mounted unit. Courtesy photo.

The students at Cedar Trails Elementary received a special treat Wednesday when School Resource Officer Deputy Tom McCutcheon arranged a little “Show and Tell” for the kids out on the school lawn.

The theme was public safety, and on hand to show and tell the kids about what they do was the Cedar Springs Fire Department, Kent County Sheriff Department Mounted unit, the Grand Rapids Police Department, and even Aeromed dropped in for a visit.

Excited students got an up close look at the Aeromed helicopter. Courtesy photo.

Deputy McCutcheon has organized the Cedar Trails “Show and Tell” for the students the last few years. 

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School board moves ahead on facilities proposal

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Board of Education went over the results of the community survey on their facilities proposals at the their regular board meeting Monday evening, then voted to move forward with option C, a proposal that—if passed by the voters in November—would include building a new 8th-9th grade building adjacent to the high school. 

According to the online survey results, most of the respondents came from Solon and Nelson Townships (just under 20 percent from each township). The rest came from Algoma, Courtland, the City of Cedar Springs, Oakfield, and Spencer Townships. Just over 10 percent said they did not live in the school district. Approximately 480 people responded to the survey.

According to a summary of the survey results, 49 percent of those that responded supported Option C, 23 percent needed more information, and 28 percent did not support it.

As for the other proposals, 51 percent supported Option A, 31 percent needed more information, and 18 percent did not support it. On Option B, 35 percent supported it, 37 percent needed more information, and 28 percent did not support it.

Board members felt that A and C were close enough in support that they chose Option C since less people needed more information to make a decision.

The district did the facilities assessment in 2016, which showed over $42 million in repairs were needed on all eight buildings. Several of the buildings are also at capacity, and they need more space to accommodate the slow but steady growth the district is experiencing.

They held focus groups to talk about the facilities, and eventually came up with the three options that they asked the community to give their opinion on in an online survey.

Under Option C, the one the district will start working on to get on the ballot in November, the preschool program will be moved out of Cedar Trails, and roofing and mechanical upgrades will be done on the building. Beach (grades 2-3): Do a partial demolition and reconstruct the academic wings. Do minor remodeling, site improvements, fixtures, furnishings, equipment, playground. Cedar View (4-5) Work on facilities assessment critical needs. Red Hawk: The 6th graders will move to the Middle School. Red Hawk will become home to the District Administration, Preschool, Cherry Health, and Community Education. Will work on critical needs, heavy remodeling of existing building, fixtures, furnishings and equipment. Middle School: (grades 6-7) move sixth graders to middle school and 8th graders to new building. Work on facilities assessment critical needs. Build a new 8-9 building (adjacent to high school). Do site improvements, fixtures, furnishings, equipment, auxiliary gym. High school (10-12): Do critical needs, fixtures, furnishings, equipment. Hilltop: Building demolition and site restoration. Cost: $78.7 million. About a 1.07 mil increase.

A couple of people spoke during the public comments period, and expressed that they did not want to see Hilltop demolished. The building was built in 1926 to replace the original high school, and has been a fixture on the hill for 93 years.

The board did discuss the topic, and some members expressed surprise at the deterioration they saw when they went on a tour of the facility. Hilltop would need $6.2 million in repairs and renovations. Superintendent Scott Smith noted that in order to use it for students it would also need to be brought back up to the code needed for students. 

Some members of the community have questioned whether Hilltop could be used for something else. Board President Heidi Reed said she at first felt the same way, but if they sold the building to someone else, that’s a cornerstone of the school’s real estate that they wouldn’t get back. She also noted that if it was used for affordable housing, they wouldn’t have control over the vetting process and it would be in close proximity to their students.

Smith said that if the bond passes, Hilltop would probably still be used for about the next five years while work on the other buildings was done.

On the community survey, 73 percent of the respondents were in favor of the demolition of Hilltop.

Now that the board is moving forward with Option C, the school’s architects, GMB, will begin to work on finalizing plans and getting language ready to be submitted for the November ballot.

Superintendent Smith said he would be more than happy to answer any questions that anyone has about the proposal. You can reach him at 616-696-1204, or email him at scott.smith@csredhawks.org.

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Fuel spills, causes fire

By Judy Reed

A Nelson Township man was working on a fuel tank in his garage on Sunday, May 12, when gas spilled and ignited, sending the garage up in flames.

According to Cedar Springs Fire Chief Marty Fraser, they were toned out to the 7400 block of 16 Mile Rd about 3:27 p.m. A firefighter who lives nearby was on the scene within 5 minutes, and helped the man get a vehicle and a boat out of the three-stall garage.

Fraser said that the garage was unattached so the fire was contained to the structure. The roof came down shortly after they arrived on scene. “It burned hot and quick,” he said.

Courtland and Sand Lake Fire assisted Cedar Springs at the scene.

Fraser said the bulk of the fire was knocked down in about 45 minutes. “With the roof down, it made it harder to get to certain spots,” he noted. They cleared the scene after about 1-1/2 hours.

Fraser wants to remind people when they have a fire, do not attempt to put it out yourself before calling 911. He said that the man threw soapy water on the fire in an effort to extinguish the flames before calling for help.

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W.H.A.L.E. program implemented in Montcalm County

In 2018, there were 14 killed and 498 injured people in motor vehicle crashes on Montcalm County roads. If drivers and passengers are unresponsive upon the arrival of first responders, it can be difficult to identify the victims. To help parents protect their children and provide crucial information in emergency situations, Sheriff Mike Williams is implementing the W.H.A.L.E program in Montcalm County. 

W.H.A.L.E stands for “We Have A Little Emergency.” The program is an identification and information package for child car safety seats. An information label is attached to the rear of the car seat to provide information about the child in the seat, such as name, age, medical information, and who to contact in case of an emergency. 

In the event of a motor vehicle crash that incapacitates parents or other adult passengers, first responders can use the label as a source of information to identify the child or his/her special medical needs. Rescue efforts may proceed more smoothly and efficiently if first responders know the name of the frightened child they are treating. 

Kits are available free of charge at the Sheriff’s Office in Stanton. They will also be distributed at the Montcalm County Public Safety Celebration on Saturday, May 18. The celebration will be held at the Montcalm County Complex, 659 N. State St, Stanton, from 9 a.m. to noon.

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The Post travels to Ireland

The Post recently traveled to Ireland with the Bolinger family, of Solon Township. Steve and Tammy and their daughter Juliana, 14, recently returned from a two-week trip to both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. While in Ireland they explored numerous castles, kissed the Blarney Stone, explored Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Coast, crossed a suspended rope bridge, saw where parts of Star Wars were filmed and much more. In the photo above, Juliana is shown holding the Post in front of Cahir Castle.

Thank you, Bolinger family, for taking us with you!

Are you going on vacation? Be sure to take along a printed edition of the Post and get someone to snap a photo of you or your family with it. Send it to us along with some info about your trip (where you went, who went along, what you saw) and send the photo and info to news@cedarspringspost.com. We will print as space allows.

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State representative indicted on extortion/bribery charges

The federal grand jury alleges Rep. Larry Inman attempted to sell his vote on the repeal of the state’s prevailing wage law last June and later lied to the FBI

Larry Charles Inman

United States Attorney Andrew Birge announced Wednesday that a federal grand jury charged Larry Charles Inman, of Grand Traverse County, with three crimes: attempted extortion, bribery and lying to an agent of the FBI. Inman is the elected legislator in the Michigan House of Representatives representing the 104th District in the State of Michigan.

Specifically, Inman is accused of soliciting money via text messages he sent between June 3-5, 2018, to a labor union, the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights (MRCCM), in exchange for voting “no” on the 2018 legislative initiative petition to repeal Michigan’s prevailing wage law. The MRCCM did not respond, as Inman allegedly requested. Inman ultimately voted “yes” on June 6, 2018, to repeal the law, and the Michigan House repealed the law by a vote of 56 to 53. 

The indictment includes the text messages allegedly from Inman to union representatives in the days before the vote, one of which Inman concludes by stating “we never had this discussion.” (See below.)

The grand jury alleges that Inman committed the crime of attempted extortion by using his authority as an elected representative, namely his authority to vote on the petition to repeal the prevailing wage law, to seek to obtain money from the MRCCM with the union’s consent. If convicted of this offense, Inman faces up to 20 years in prison.

The grand jury also alleges Inman solicited a bribe by corruptly soliciting a political campaign contribution of money in exchange for something worth $5,000 or more, namely his vote on the petition to repeal the prevailing wage law. If convicted of this offense, Inman faces up to ten years in prison.

The grand jury further alleges that, when an FBI agent later asked Inman about his solicitation, Inman knowingly made a false statement to the agent denying he had any such communications. If he is convicted of this offense, Inman faces up to five years in prison.

The Lansing office of the FBI is investigating this case. The names of those not accused of a crime, such as witnesses, are redacted from the indictment. And the public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

A date for Inman’s arraignment has not yet been scheduled.

On June 3, Inman sent this text message to a MRCCM labor union rep:

“Hi [Person A], I hear the prevailing wage vote may be on Wenesday. In my opinion, We all need some more help! Carpenters have been good to me, where are the rest of the trades on checks? We only have 12, people to block it. You said all 12 will get $30,000 each to help there campaigns. That did not happen, we will get a ton of pressure on this vote. [Person B and Person

C] will go to the longest neck hold on this one. I have heard most got $5,000, not $30,000. Its not worth losing assignments and staff for $5,000, in the end. They will give you the check back. I am not sure you can hold 12 people for the only help of $5,000. My suggestion is you need to get people maxed out, on Tuesday, I will do my best to hold. [Person C] will pull assignments for next term on this vote. You have no idea the pressure on this one for [Person B’s state] race , to pull this off for the tea party. People will not go down for $5,000, not that we don’t appreciate it. Please get with the all the trades by Monday, I would suggest maxing out on all 12, or at least doubling what you have given them on Tuesday, asap, we never had this discussion, Larry”

He sent the same or a similar message the same day to a lobbyist in Lansing that had been hired by MRCCM.

On June 4, Inman sent another text to the MRCCM labor union rep: “I will text you tomorrow to make sure we have a solid 12 no votes to block prevailing wage , Larry”

And on June 5, he sent another text to the same labor union rep: “Hi [Person A], how are you! I have Breakfast event on Wed morning at Karobe , Governors room, 7:30am to 9am, hope you can make it 🙂 and see if there are checks you can get, thanks! Larry Inman”

MRCCM gave no further campaign contributions after the June 3 text.

The House voted on the prevailing wage law on June 6, and Inman voted “yes” to repeal the prevailing wage law.

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Former medical assistant pleads guilty to prescription fraud

Amanda Sheridan forged prescriptions for pain pills and other controlled substances

U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge announced last week that Amanda Sheridan, 38, of Hastings, Michigan pled guilty to acquiring controlled substances by fraud. She faces up to four years in federal prison for her crime. 

Sheridan, who worked as a medical assistant at a doctor’s office in Grand Rapids, stole a doctor’s prescription pad and forged his signature on 77 prescriptions for Norco, Adderall, and other highly-abused controlled substances. She wrote the forged prescriptions to herself and two other individuals, and obtained more than 4,000 prescription pills before she was caught. 

“This type of crime feeds the opioid epidemic, which we and our partner agencies are committed to fighting,” U.S. Attorney Birge said. “That commitment includes federal prosecutions of individuals who abuse their positions in the medical field to divert prescription controlled substances to the street.” 

The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Assistant United States Attorney Clay Stiffler prosecuted the case.

She will be sentenced at a later date.

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