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Iconic Rockford eatery destroyed by gas fire

The Corner Bar burned for hours Monday

by Beth Altena and Kellie Lamphere, Rockford Squire

UP IN SMOKE: What started as a dumpster fire progressed into a gas meter explosion and fire fed by gas from the fuel line which consumed The Corner Bar on Monday.

It wouldn’t be the first time all of downtown Rockford went up in flames, but thanks to the persistent efforts of five fire departments, the fire damage was contained to just one building, Rockford’s most iconic structure and business, The Corner Bar. The building was one of few in downtown that survived the fire of 1898, but did not survive the fire of 2017.

Dave Jones, Chief of Rockford Public Safety said his department received a call at about 5 a.m. about a fire in the dumpster behind the building at 31 N Main Street on the west side next to Kimberly’s Boutique. Firefighters put that fire out within five or ten minutes.

Firefighters had just left the building where they had been in the basement evaluating any damage when an explosion occurred that lifted the roof off the building.

“That was the angel on our shoulders,” Jones said. “Four or five firefighters had just walked away from that area.” The heat and pressure from the dumpster fire had damaged the gas meter outside the building and caused the huge explosion. Fed by gas from the fuel line, fire raged for the next four hours as firefighters fought to control the flames.

Firefighters from Rockford were joined by crews from the townships of Algoma, Cannon, Courtland and Plainfield. “We are lucky Rockford is in the center of those four townships,” Jones noted. Unlike the fire of 1898, the firefighters were able to limit the fire damage to just the one structure, although neighboring businesses, closed for the duration.

Jones said first responders put millions of gallons on the structure as DTE Energy tried to locate a shutoff for the gas. “It was like a blow torch,” Jones said of the blaze. Firefighters were unable to shut off gas to the building through the meter, which was the epicenter of the fire, and crews from the energy company were unable to locate a remote shutoff that ran to the building. Eventually, after three hours of gas fed fire, a fuel line under Courtland Street was located and DTE was able to crimp the line and shut down the gas.

“For three hours gas fed that fire, it was like a big blow torch up in all that timber. We were fortunate no one was hurt.” Jones also described to reporters how close together all the downtown buildings are, with some connected to each other.  He said the efforts of the departments contained the fire.

Owner of The Corner Bar business, Jeff Wolfe, said the building will be rebuilt and Jones repeated that at City Council that evening. He called the loss of the building devastating and the business the heart of Rockford.

Owner of the building Andy Tidey, who currently resides in Colorado, was flying in Tuesday to see the damage himself and collaborate with Wolfe on a game plan moving forward. He said the building was insured, but he is surprised by the extent of the damage.

“I never imagined it could all go,” he said. “It’s only a half block from the fire department.” He said he has good insurance on the structure and it is his intent to rebuild and reopen The Corner Bar, which reports say dates back to the 1930s. The business is best known for its chili dogs and its chili dog eating contest, with the record of 43 dogs in four hours.

The restaurant featured Hotdog Hall of Fame names engraved with customers who were successful in eating twelve chili dogs in four hours. According to Mark Bivins of Creative Concepts, who engraves the names, there are records of the people on the plaques and how many dogs they ate.

Tidey said it was his expectation that he and Jeff will put their heads together and plan how to rebuild. “There are a lot of questions and a lot of numbers. I hope that is something we are going to work out.” He said part of what made the restaurant the icon it is the ambiance, the names on the wall and the wooded interior. “That’s what we want to recreate.”

Tidey said he received a phone call from his mother in the early hours of Monday morning and she told him the building was on fire. He was afraid to google it and instead sent a text to Jeff, who told him the whole building was in danger. “He said ‘It’s burning up and they can’t stop it, they can’t stop the gas.’” Tidey said it is shocking to think how different things would have turned out if the meter had not blown.

“It would have been just a little fire, it would have been easy to repair.”

Rockford firefighters said the same thing. Ken Phillips Jr. said first responders were thrilled when they put the smaller fire out. “We’re going to look like heroes because we saved the Corner Bar,” he said. Then the explosion happened. “It was just like in the movies, the windows all blew out.”

He said his fellow fire fighters were on the scene for over 20 hours and were grateful for the assistance of the other departments, who worked well with each other and were very professional.

Phillips said the outpouring from the community was overwhelming. Throughout the day over 5,000 people went to the scene and many thanked the firefighters for their efforts. He reported that restaurants brought them food and water throughout the day and night as the structure continued to smoke and smolder.

“That’s Rockford, that’s why people come back or stay in the first place.”

That sentiment was repeated at City Council with members of the public thanking Chief Jones for the hard work of his team and Jamie Davies’ crew, along with the other departments.

The building was purchased from Donald Berg by Corner Bar LLC on March 16, 2001 for $435,000. In 2017 its taxable value was $295,700 for an estimated total value of $591,400, according to the Rockford assessors office.

Phillips said he heard there was speculation about preserving the front façade of the structure and that restoration companies can number the bricks of historic buildings and recreate them.

Tidey said it was too early to even estimate a timeline for rebuilding the structure, “I’m still reeling like everybody else he said the day of the fire.” He did seem confident the business and building would survive even this. “You know it would be great to come back even bigger and more successful.”

On Tuesday evening Jones said that it would be five to seven days before streets surrounding the burned out Corner Bar can safely reopen.

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The Post travels to Disney World

The Pellerito family traveled to Disney World, in Orlando, Florida, the first week of August, and had a great time. Dominic, 12, Kate, 10, and Deno, 8, made sure to take the Post with them, and sent us their photo. Thanks so much for taking us with you on your trip!

Are you going on vacation? Take the Post with you and snap some photos. Then send them to us with some info to news@cedarspringspost.com or mail them to Post travels, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319. We will be looking for yours!

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New sports turf installed at Red Hawk Stadium

Fall sports have kicked off, and one of the new items greeting athletes, the high school marching band, and fans, is the new sports turf at Red Hawk Stadium.

“We are excited to kick off the 2017-18 school year with a beautiful new Red Hawk Stadium turf,” said Cedar Springs Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn. “As our Cedar Springs Public Schools campus is the center point of this great community, it is our honor to shine for all to see our Cedar Springs pride with this new look.”

Replacement of the turf was identified as one of the needs in a 2011 bond issue study for the sinking fund millage. The cost at that time was estimated at $750-850,000. However, Shaw Sports Turf came in with a cost of $406,990.

The turf was replaced this summer, in time for the marching band to hold their annual band camp.

“We are grateful for the research, experience and work our Athletic Director, Mr. John Norton, and our Director of Operations, Mr. Ken Simon did to prepare and oversee this project,” said VanDuyn. “We are also grateful for our Board of Education supporting the purchase and installation of our new turf as well as for our principals, maintenance department, coaches and music directors for their input.”

VanDuyn said she hopes the community will come out to various events to see the new turf, such as at soccer and football games, the CSPS fundraiser walk-a-thon, the Red Flannel Festival Marching Band Invitational and the annual Powder Puff football game.

She also thanked the community for their part in making it happen. “On behalf of our Board of Education, Administration, staff and students, thank you Cedar Springs residents for investing in our schools, by providing for a sinking fund that made this beautiful new stadium turf possible.”

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Solar eclipse on August 21

By Judy Reed

People across the nation are getting ready to witness a rare total solar eclipse on Monday, August 21. According to the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids, this happens when the moon passes between the sun and the earth, and blocks our view of all or part of the sun. This is a rarer event to observe compared to a lunar eclipse, which is when the earth’s shadow falls on a full moon.

Only a narrow path across the United States from Oregon to southern Illinois to South Carolina will witness a total eclipse. West Michigan is not in the path of totality, so will only see a partial eclipse. The time will be about 2:10-2:30, depending on where you are in Michigan. As much as 70 to 85 percent of the sun will be covered by the moon. But just because it will only be a partial eclipse here doesn’t mean it’s safe to look at without protective eyewear—and sunglasses are not safe.

“Even though a big chunk of the sun will be covered in West Michigan during the eclipse, there will still be enough sunlight to cause major eye problems if you risk anything more than a glimpse unprotected. Sunglasses are not safe,” said WOODTV-8 meteorologist Ellen Bacca. Eye problems may not be apparent immediately after staring at the sun. Experts say blindness or vision problems may not appear for hours or even a day after the damage has been done.”

Shannon Murphy, the instructional support and outreach coordinator for the U-M Department of Astronomy, hopes people will not write off this celestial event, even if we don’t get to see it in its totality.

“Although the eclipse is only partial here in Michigan, it’s still totally worth watching,” she said. “Just don’t look at the sun directly. There are plenty of ways to safely watch it. If you’re using eclipse glasses or solar filters to look at the sun, make sure the only thing you can see through it is the sun. If you can see other things, it’s not good enough. If you’re using projection, like a pinhole projector, remember you’re supposed to look at the image of the sun, not through the pinhole.”

The NWS said that to prevent serious eye damage, you should only look directly at the sun through solar filters that are ISO 12312-2 compliant. There have been reports of some fake and unsafe eclipse glasses being sold, so the American Astronomical Society has created a list of reputable vendors at https://eclipse.aas.org/resources/solar-filters. You can use indirect methods of viewing the eclipse, such as a pinhole projector. Crescent patterns in the shadows of trees will also be apparent if there are no clouds. More information can be found at eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety.

And if you are thinking about recording the event with your phone, you might want to reconsider that. Bacca said that quick pictures of the sun during the eclipse should be fine with your phone, but extended use during the solar eclipse could permanently damage it.

The NWS said the next total solar eclipse in Michigan will be April 8, 2024, when a small sliver of southeast Michigan will see a total eclipse, though the duration of totality will last longer in Ohio (a 75 to 99 percent partial eclipse will be seen from the rest of Michigan on this day). Southwest Michigan will see a total solar eclipse on September 14, 2099. There will be annular (ring of fire) eclipses over northern Michigan in 2048 and 2057.

To learn more about the eclipse, visit https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/.

There a couple of area events going on that day if you’d like to join others for a solar eclipse party.

The Grand Rapids Public Museum will be holding a special Eclipse Part from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. that will include hands-on activities, safe eclipse viewing and more. Hands on activities for the day will include making solar system bracelets; decorating personal eclipse shades; designing and building space craft; making eclipse projectors; and more. The party will also feature a meal deal, multiple shows on the half hour of “Eclipses and Phases of the Moon” in the Chaffee Planetarium ($4 per person), and a live stream of the total eclipse will be shown in the Meijer Theater. Visitors can also be part of a WZZM broadcast from 12 to 1 p.m. Activities as part of the Eclipse Party will be included with general admission to the Museum, and FREE to Museum members. Tickets may be reserved in advance.

A limited number of eclipse glasses will be available at the Eclipse Party, on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 10 a.m. Member adults and member children are free; Kent County adults are $5; Kent County children are free; and all other adults are $8, and $3 for children. For more info and to order tickets go to www.grpm.org/events/eclipse-party/.

You can also join Montcalm Community College’s Kenneth J. Lehman Nature Trails committee members for a solar eclipse viewing from 2 to 2:45 p.m. near the greenhouse on the college’s Sidney campus. When viewing from Montcalm County, the partial eclipse will begin around 1 p.m., peak around 2:25 p.m. and end around 3:45 p.m. At the eclipse’s peak, the sun will be about 80 percent covered. Wear eclipse glasses, not sunglasses. Bring your own blankets or chairs.

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MHSAA announces concussion report findings

2016-17 school year

The Michigan High School Athletic Association has completed its second year of collecting head injury reports from member schools and continues to build data that will assist in identifying trends and progress being made to reduce the incidence of head injuries in school sports.

Following a first mandate to do so in 2015-16, member schools again were required to report head injuries to the MHSAA identifying the sport that each student-athlete was participating in and whether the injury was sustained during practice or competition. As reporting for the 2017-18 school year is now underway, schools again are required to designate if potential concussions occur during competition or practice and at which level—varsity, junior varsity or freshman.

The full report of all head injuries experienced during 2016-17 by student-athletes at MHSAA member high schools—including percentages by sport (per 1,000 participants), gender and team level, as well as data tracking when athletes returned to play—is available on the Health & Safety page of the MHSAA Website at https://www.mhsaa.com/portals/0/Documents/health%20safety/concussionreport1617.pdf.

As with the first year of reporting, the MHSAA received data from more than 99 percent of its member high schools after the fall, winter and spring seasons and continued to track each injury report through its conclusion this summer. Member junior high and middle schools also were allowed, although not mandated, to report their potential head injuries; and those findings are not part of the published report.

The 2016-17 concussion report found an 11-percent decrease in the number of confirmed concussions from the previous year. Student-athletes at MHSAA member high schools encountered during 2016-17 a total of 3,958 head injuries—or 5.2 per member school, similar but lower than the 2015-16 average of 5.9. Total participation in MHSAA sports for 2016-17 was 283,625, with students counted once for each sport he or she played and only 1.4 percent of participants experienced a head injury; that percentage in 2015-16 was 1.6.

Although the total number of confirmed concussions was significantly lower in 2016-17, a number of findings detailing those injuries fell in line with results of the 2015-16 survey.

Boys experienced 2,607—or 66 percent—of those injuries, nearly the same ratio as 2015-16 and as boys participation in sports, especially contact sports, remained higher than girls. More than half of head injuries—55 percent—were experienced by varsity athletes, which also fell within a percent difference of last year’s findings.

A total of 2,973 head injuries—or 65 percent—came in competition as opposed to practice. More than half took place during either the middle of practice or middle of competition as opposed to the start or end, and 52 percent of injuries were a result of person-to-person contact. The largest percentage of athletes—27 percent—returned to activity after 6 to 10 days, while 23 percent of those who suffered head injuries returned after 11-15 days of rest. All of these findings were within 1-4 percent of those discovered from the 2015-16 data.

Contact sports again revealed the most head injuries. Ranking first was football, 11 and 8-player combined, with 44 head injuries per 1,000 participants—a decrease of five head injuries per 1,000 participants from 2015-16. Ice hockey repeated with the second-most injuries per 1,000, with 36 (down two injuries per 1,000 from 2015-16), and girls soccer was again third with 28 head injuries per 1,000 participants (also down two from the previous year).

In fact, after football and hockey, the next four sports to show the highest incidences of head injuries were girls sports—girls soccer followed by girls basketball (23 per 1,000), girls competitive cheer (22) and girls lacrosse (20). Although girls basketball moved up from fifth to fourth for highest ratio, it did see a decline of six injuries per 1,000 participants from 2015-16.

Startling indications of another potential trend were seen again in the number of reported head injuries suffered by girls and boys playing the same sports. Soccer, basketball and baseball/softball are played under identical or nearly identical rules. Just as in 2015-16, females in those sports reported significantly more concussions than males playing the same or similar sport.

Female soccer players reported double the concussions per 1,000 participants as male soccer players, while female basketball players reported nearly triple the number of concussions per 1,000 participants (23 to 8). Softball players reported 11 concussions per 1,000 participants, and baseball players reported four per 1,000. The numbers from all three comparisons remained consistent from what the survey found in 2015-16.

It is the hope that Michigan’s universities, health care systems and the National Federation of State High School Associations will take part in analyzing the data and questions that have arisen during the past two years. Michigan State University’s Institute for the Study of Youth Sports submitted a paper titled “Gender Differences in Youth Sports Concussion” based on the 2015-16 results, and that subject will remain closely monitored in 2017-18 and beyond.

“The Institute’s research concluded that there is merit for believing females may be more susceptible than males to having concussions because of structural differences to the neck and head, and also due to neurological differences in the brains of females and males. But the findings also show merit for believing females may be more honest in reporting concussions,” said MHSAA Executive Director John E. “Jack” Roberts.

“We need to find out why. Are girls just more willing to report the injury? Are boys hiding it? These are some of our most important questions moving forward, and they will be critical in our efforts to educate athletes, their parents and coaches on the importance of reporting and receiving care for these injuries immediately.”

Roberts said that while it’s significant to note the similarity in statistics over the first two years of injury report collection, the lower percentages in 2016-17 don’t necessarily represent a trend; that conclusion can only be made after more data is collected in years to come. Some differences in data from the first year to the second could be the result of schools’ increased familiarity with the reporting system, the refinement of the follow-up reporting procedure and other survey error that is expected to decrease with future surveys.

“Our first survey in 2015-16 raised some initial themes, and the data we collected this past year and will continue to collect will help us identify the trends that will guide our next steps in reducing head injuries in interscholastic athletics,” Roberts said. “However, the necessity for more data to determine these trends should not delay our efforts to experiment with more head protection and modified play and practice rules in contact sports like ice hockey, soccer, wrestling and lacrosse, which all ranked among the top 10 sports for numbers of head injuries per thousand participants.

“We will continue to look for ways to make our good games better and our healthy games safer, and the collection of this data will continue to prove key as we work toward those goals.”

Schools report possible concussions online via the MHSAA Website. Reports are then examined by members of the MHSAA staff, who follow up with school administrators as those student-athletes continue to receive care and eventually return to play. Student privacy is protected.

The reporting of possible concussions is part of a three-pronged advance by the MHSAA in concussion care begun during the 2015-16 school year. The MHSAA completed this past spring (2017) the largest-ever state high school association sideline concussion testing pilot program, with a sample of schools from across the state over the last two years using one of two screening tests designed to detect concussions. The second year of the pilot program (2016-17) allowed participating schools to use the sideline detection tests in all sports but mandated they be used in sports (11 total over three seasons) showing the highest prevalence of concussions.

The MHSAA also was the first state association to provide all participants at every member high school and junior high/middle school with insurance intended to pay accident medical expense benefits—covering deductibles and co-pays left unpaid by other policies—resulting from head injuries sustained during school practices or competitions and at no cost to either schools or families. During 2016-17, a total of 139 claims were made—20 fewer than in 2015-16—with  football (44) and girls basketball (27) the sports most cited in those claims for the second straight year.

Previously, the MHSAA also was among the first state associations to adopt a return-to-play protocol that keeps an athlete out of activity until at least the next day after a suspected concussion, and allows that athlete to return to play only after he or she has been cleared unconditionally for activity by a doctor (M.D. or D.O.), physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner.

In addition, the MHSAA’s Coaches Advancement Program, which includes courses that must be completed by all varsity head coaches hired for the first time at a member school, has augmented for this fall its already substantial instruction on concussion care. Separately, rules meetings that are required viewing for all varsity and subvarsity head and assistant coaches at the start of each season include detailed training on caring for athletes with possible head injuries.


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Study tips for busy college students

PHOTO SOURCE: (c) cristovao31 – Fotolia.com

(StatePoint) With seemingly endless reading, lengthy term papers and make-or-break exams, the academic life of a college student can be nothing short of demanding. What’s more, many students hold down part-time jobs and participate in extracurriculars during the semester.

While there are only so many hours in a day, students can make more of the time they do have by studying smarter, not harder. Here are a few tips to keep your head above water.

• Take smarter notes. Gone are the days of taking furious notes in class by hand. However, merely typing up class notes is also an antiquated notion for today’s tech-savvy students. There are many note-taking apps on the market that can help you organize, sort and share multimedia notes. The good news is that some of these are free. While each app has its own set of features, all of this tech can make the lecture hall a friendlier place and make study time more convenient.

• Find your sweet spot. Whether it’s a study carrel in the library, the student lounge of your dormitory or a shady spot in the quad, finding locations that inspire you to buckle down is crucial. Knowing your own study habits and needs can help you situate yourself wisely.

• Leverage campus assistance. Most colleges offer a wealth of student resources that can help you make the grade, from tutors to writing centers that offer helpful feedback on papers. At the very least, students should visit advisors and professors during their office hours, as well as be sure to visit the reference librarian’s desk when lost or overwhelmed in the stacks.

• Use new resources. New resources are helping students succeed in their courses. For example, every student who takes out a Sallie Mae Smart Option Student Loan or Graduate Student Loan gets free, exclusive access to Study Starter, an online tutoring and studying portal from the experts at Chegg, a leading provider of textbooks and student services. Available 24/7, it can quickly provide help to students when they need it most, whether it’s 2 a.m. or 2 p.m.

Students can select between 120 minutes of free online access to tutors or four months of free online access to step-by-step solutions to problems and study questions and answers. There is also a combination option as well. The results are proven — 88 percent of students who use Chegg Tutors say it helps them feel less stressed about schoolwork and 94 percent of Chegg Study users say it helped them get homework done with less stress.

“Making college affordable so students can enroll is only the first step. Up-front, in-school benefits can help them succeed in classes and graduate on time,” says Martha Holler, senior vice president at Sallie Mae.

For more information, visit SallieMae.com/StudyStarter.

If academic performance weights heavily on your mind, use all the available resources you have at your disposal, from on-campus advisors to online tutors and study aids, and add them to your own resolve to succeed.

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Knee deep death trap

Rough waves on Lake Michigan. Photo from Wunderground.com by unobtrusive troll10.


By Ranger Steve Mueller

Enjoying the big waves has always been fun but poses life threatening challenges for many species. If you happen to be a duck you are probably safe. Big waves were rolling on shore at Traverse City State Park shortly after mallard ducklings hatched from eggs. The hen led fledglings to water. People concerned for the safety of the little ones approached and caused the mother to move away from young and shore.

She disappeared among the tall waves with most of the ducklings but a couple lost sight of her and became separated. The people that frightened the mother picked up two ducklings and brought them to me at the ranger station. They should have left them to the mother’s care. At the beach, we could not locate the mother or her other young.

One-fourth of a mile away, a stream entered Grant Traverse Bay and provided an inlet where water was calm. We took the two ducklings there and found several adult ducks with young. We released the ducklings with hope the mother was present in the protective cove. If not, the young should be safe and might join another family.

The big waves did not pose a death threat to them but people causing the mother to move away from young did.

When I was a “young duckling” so to speak, I had my own death threat among big waves. Our family was at a beach on a giant wave day. It was exciting and fun in the waves. I waded into the water and stood in knee deep water between waves. When a wave arrived, the water was over my head. I rode up on the wave and came back down when it passed to stand on the bottom again.

All was going well until one time when I rode high on the wave and came back down, the undertow of water returning along the bottom knocked my feet from under me. I thought no big deal and stood up. It happened that I stood up in middle of a tall wave. Almost immediately the undertow knocked my feet from under me again. Quickly I stood and found myself in the middle of another wave. This repeated.

By now I was out of air, frightened, and desperate to inhale.  A breath would flood my lungs with water and begin the drowning process. My folks had no idea I was in danger in knee high water. They hadn’t even noticed I had disappeared. I was only underwater a short time.

It seemed impossible to stand up between waves and I could not get my head into the air. Finally, I managed to get my head out of water but was knocked down by the undertow. A push off the bottom allowed me to ride up and down on a big wave. I discovered the danger of knee deep water between large waves and survived. Many people do not and several times each year, families lose a member to the power of water.

It is not just people whose lives get threatened by water. Fall bird migration season has arrived. Massive avian numbers from songbirds to hawks encounter the Great Lakes migration water barrier. They pile up on the north end of the lakes on their southbound journey and move along the shoreline searching for safe crossing sites. I’ve watched hundreds of Broad-winged Hawks move west along northern Lake Michigan to go around the lake. Others moved east towards Mackinaw Bridge where crossing the straits is shorter. Once there, they wait for proper weather and wind conditions to venture safely over water.

Migration over water is one of many life-threatening challenges for species in nature niches. Not all survive. I have found small birds washed dead to shore after being knocked into the water by storms or winds. People and wildlife lives depend on respect for the power of water. Have fun in turbulent water but remain safety conscious.

Consider a trip to Whitefish Point Bird Observatory north of Paradise on Lake Superior to witness bird migration from Canada to the US this fall. Michigan Audubon staff can assist with species identification.

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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Two new businesses hold grand openings


Ryanne Donahue State Farm held their ribbon cutting on July 15.
Photo courtesy of the Cedar Springs Area Chamber of Commerce.

State Farm

Ryanne Donahue State Farm Agency, located at 60 N. Main Street, held their grand opening and ribbon cutting on July 15. Donahue believes in the “good old days” approach to business. “In the world of 15-minute insurance quotes, we want to take the time to get to know the people we serve,” Donahue told the Post earlier this summer. “We try to always remember that people need their insurance agent most when something bad or scary has happened, we don’t want to be a stranger in those times; we want to be a trusted friend.”

Ryanne and her employees are all local residents from Cedar Springs, to Kent City, to Sand Lake. “We know the community and have the same worries, goals, dreams, and fears as our clients. We offer a wide range of services to help cover every day risks, all backed by State Farm!” she said.

They are open from 8 am to 5 pm on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and 9 am to 6 pm on Tuesday and Thursday. You can check them out at ryannedonahueinsurance.com or give them a call at 616-696-1329.

My Community Dental Center

The Kent County Health Department (KCHD) and My Community Dental Centers (MCDC) partnered to open a new dental facility at 14111 White Creek Avenue in Cedar Springs earlier this summer. They held their grand opening on July 20, with a ribbon cutting.

According to the Kent County Health Department, gaining access to dental care is an issue for nearly 72 million children and adults who rely on Medicaid or other public insurance. The issue disproportionately affects seniors, minorities, people who are economically disadvantaged and those who live in rural locations.

The Cedar Springs location is the second MCDC location in Kent County. In 2014, MCDC opened a dental center at the KCHD South Clinic in Kentwood. More than 15,000 patients have made nearly 32,000 visits since. “Many of those patients tell us that they are from northern Kent County and have been forced to travel to find affordable dental care,” says Adam London, Administrative Health Officer at KCHD. “Studies have found that people often list income and transportation barriers as factors that inhibit their ability to see a dentist. This new MCDC facility in Cedar Springs will help address both of those issues for many people.”

“When dental health is ignored or neglected a person’s overall health suffers” says Dr. Zachary Brian DMD, MCDC, Cedar Springs. “With the pain comes societal costs. People tell us that their job opportunities have been limited and many times they have gone to emergency rooms when the pain has become too intense. Emergency rooms are unable to do anything for the underlying causes but carry a high price tag for individuals and taxpayers through increased healthcare costs.”

My Community Dental Center provides an array of services, and can provide care to the entire community. They are accepting new patients, and accept most insurance, including Medicaid, HMP, Delta Kids, and most private insurance.

“Our mission is to improve the lives of our patients and enhance community health by setting the highest standard of oral care,” send a MCDC spokesperson.

The center is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. To register as a new patient, call 877.313.6232 or visit mydental.org and fill out a form.

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Toddler needs life-saving kidney

Jase Tompkins, 2, needs a kidney donor as soon as possible to beat end stage renal disease. Courtesy photo.

By Judy Reed

When you look at Jase Tompkins, the toddler son of Kelly and Brian Tompkins, of Solon Township, he looks like most other two-year-olds: a cute, happy, energetic, and curious boy that’s full of life. And while Jase is all those things, he is also a toddler living with a death sentence: end stage renal disease.

And the only thing that will save him is a new kidney.

The Tompkins are seeking an adult donor with either type O or type B blood that will come forward to donate one kidney to replace Jase’s two non-working child-sized kidneys. It doesn’t matter if they are positive or negative.

“We are super excited to find a living donor for Jase so that when he is ready for his transplant, we have a kidney waiting for him. Our goal is to find a kidney before the end of 2017 with transplant sometime in 2018,” said Jase’s mom, Kelly.

“We are working on getting him on the deceased donor list (commonly known as UNOS), and we would certainly take a donation from a deceased donor. However, living kidneys tend to last longer and are screened more thoroughly since there is time to do so. If Jase received a good living donor kidney, it would likely last him up to 20 years,” she explained.

The Tompkins family at the Detroit Zoo. Courtesy photo.

Jase was born in China in March 2015 and adopted by Kelly and Brian in January 2017. “Although we don’t know exactly what happened to him when he was born, we suspect he was born with a condition called post-urethral valve (PUV),” said Kelly. “The way it was explained to me is a valve in both his kidneys was closed. As such, urine backed up into kidneys and could not be released, so his kidneys failed. This would have probably been easily detected and fixed here in the U.S., because hospital staff would have noticed he was not having wet diapers. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, in China this was missed. The damage to his kidneys is irreversible.”

Kelly said they are doing at-home peritoneal dialysis every night for 11 hours. “This dialysis does the job of the kidneys, filtering out impurities in the body. If we did not do this, he would die. We will continue dialysis until he has a kidney transplant,” she said.

Parenting a special needs child is not new to the Tompkins. Together they have six children, with five at home, and two of the five are special needs children they adopted. Those at home include their three biological children, JR, almost 9; and twins Ainsley and Autumn, 6. Their adopted sons are Peter, 4, and Jase, 2. Brian has an older son, Nick, 19, who attends college at GVSU.

What led Kelly and Brian to adopt a special needs child? “People often ask me why I chose adoption, and I don’t have a great answer for them,” said Kelly. “It wasn’t like one day God just spoke directly to me telling me to adopt two little boys from China with special needs. It was much more of a nudging. Our biological twin daughter, Autumn, was born with cleft palate. As a parent, I guess I never really felt like my children would be born with any special needs. I am pretty healthy and took care of myself during my pregnancies and yet I still had a child with a severe birth defect. I wasn’t angry about it but I certainly didn’t understand it either. Now I understand this time was preparing me for adopting two more children with special needs. God seriously blows my mind when I think about how He works in our lives every single day. Throughout Autumn’s surgeries, therapies, and hospital stays I started reading about the orphan crisis in China for boys with special needs. I talked about it with my husband Brian. Same as me, he spoke of how sad it was, but we didn’t seriously think we could help in any tangible way. But, God nudged me to talk further with Brian about it. At first, he said no to adoption. And, of course, if you’re going to entertain adoption and its costs and its commitment, we needed to be all in—together. So, I waited and prayed. And, one night on his way home from work he called me and said to move forward. So, I did! In less than a year, we were the proud parents of Peter, a 20-month old with severe bilateral cleft lip and palate and severe hearing loss.”

For the Tompkins, the adoption of Peter and Jase is a natural way to show their faith. “Although I had probably read John 14:18 many times in my Bible reading, it never meant much until the last few years. I will not leave you as orphans it says. This is now one of my favorite Bible verses and carries so much more significance than before we adopted. And, isn’t that really what we all are…orphans in this world…waiting for God to adopt us into His family!”

For those interested in the possibility of donating a kidney to Jase, you should contact the living donor transplant coordinator at Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, Lori Copeland. She can be contacted by phone at 616-391-2802 (option 1, then option 4) or via e-mail at lori.copeland@spectrumhealth.org. Possible donors will be asked screening questions to see if they fit the criteria. “People with high blood pressure and diabetes would not be able to donate since these diseases can affect the kidneys,” explained Copeland.

The Spectrum Health transplant fund and the Tompkins’ health insurance will pay for the testing. Spectrum Health will only cover necessary evaluation testing for the living donor to determine candidacy.

The living donor surgery is covered by both Spectrum Health and Tompkins’ insurance.

Copeland said they do require donors to have medical coverage for medical issues found through testing that may require treatment and for any post-surgical complications.

Copeland said that there are currently 96,986 people (adult and children combined) on the national waiting list for a kidney.

To follow Jase’s transplant journey, check out the Tompkins Facebook page called Calling All Kidney’s for Jase.

For more info on donating a kidney, visit https://transplantliving.org/living-donation/being-a-living-donor/ or https://www.kidney.org/transplantation/livingdonors#livingdonation.

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Two charged in drive by shooting

Victoria Groth

Jose Perez

By Judy Reed

Two suspects with prior criminal records were arraigned on several felony charges Monday afternoon related to a drive by shooting near Howard City over the weekend.

According to the Michigan State Police Lakeview Post, they were called to the scene on Howard City/Edmore Rd in Reynolds Township about 3:50 a.m. Sunday morning, August 6. While police were there, the victim, a 37-year-old Howard City resident, was receiving text messages from the suspect. They determined the suspect was at a gas station in Howard City.

Bolt, the MSP K9 that was injured by a suspect early Sunday, was treated at the MSU Veterinary Hospital. He is shown here with his handler, Trooper Cardenas.

Troopers located the vehicle and attempted a traffic stop, but the suspect fled. The pursuit ended a few miles away behind a residence, where two suspects fled into a wooded area. A Michigan State Police K9 was brought in and tracked down the suspects. One of the suspects injured the K9 when he attempted to stab the dog with a pocketknife. The suspect was then tased by police and taken into custody.

According to Lt. Rob Davis, police believe the shooting was over a financial dispute.

Troopers recovered what they believe is the original firearm used in the shooting. The serial number had been removed.

The two suspects, Jose Antonio Perez, 33, of Grand Rapids, and Victoria Jean Groth, 29, of Grand Rapids, were arraigned Monday afternoon in front of Magistrate Eggleston in Montcalm County’s 64B District Court.

Perez was arraigned on eight counts: Serious injury to a police animal, a five-year felony; weapon, felon in possession; ammunition, felon in possession; carrying a concealed weapon; felonious assault; fleeing and eluding, 4th degree; resisting and obstructing; and felony firearm. Bond was set at $250,000 cash/surety. He previously served time for home invasion, safe breaking, and possessing a weapon while a prisoner. He was paroled in 2015.

Groth was arraigned on felony probation, detainer, Kent County; and two counts of resisting and obstructing. Her bond was set at $40,000 cash/surety. She was on probation for one count of larceny in a building, and one count of uttering and publishing.

Bolt and Trooper Cardenas.

Bolt, the MSP K9 that was injured, was taken to the MSU Veterinary Hospital, where he was treated. Police initially thought he only suffered a minor cut, but once at MSU, it was discovered his injury was more serious. Bolt was released from the MSU Veterinary Hospital Tuesday, and returned home with his handler, Trooper Cardenas, to continue his recovery. It will still be a couple of weeks before he is ready for duty.

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