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Boy meets goal to get service dog

Pictured is six-year-old Ian Unger and his sister Alexia. Courtesy photo.

By Judy Reed

A six-year-old boy with type one diabetes who decided to sell pumpkins to raise money to get a service dog exceeded his goal after his story went viral last weekend.

Ian Unger, 6, is the son of Jeff Unger and Katrina Christensen, of Pierson, and a kindergartner at McNaughton Elementary in Howard City. A week before he turned four, he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. 

Type 1 diabetes, once known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Insulin is a hormone needed to allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells to produce energy. The cause is unknown, but usually, the body’s own immune system mistakenly destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.

There is no cure, and treatment focuses on managing blood sugar levels with insulin, diet and lifestyle to prevent complications. Ian has an insulin pump and a Dexcom CGM, which reads his blood glucose 24 hours a day. 

Like most kids his age, he wants to ride the bus to school with his friends, but would need an aide to ride with him, and there isn’t one available. So Ian decided that he would begin to raise money to get a service dog to ride with him. A service dog will be able to alert him when his blood sugar is too high or too low; but unfortunately, a service dog is not covered by insurance, and the cost could be $20,000 or more.

After doing some brainstorming, he decided to start by selling pumpkins. So he planted the pumpkins, raised them, and then sold them on the side of the road. 

Last Friday, October 12, his story began to hit the airwaves, and people began coming from all around to buy Ian’s pumpkins. He even ran out—and had to get more. “Ian would like to thank Tony Hawley for his donation of a whole truckload of pumpkins, and Jamie Bucholtz for his donation as well,” said his dad. 

Between the sale of pumpkins and a facebook fundraiser for those who couldn’t get there to buy pumpkins, Ian has exceeded his $20,000 goal and has now ordered his service alert dog. It will be at least a year before it’s trained. Any funding in excess of what’s needed will be donated to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).

People are still coming to buy pumpkins from Ian, and the family has had phone calls both from local and national media outlets—even from Good Morning, America.

“I couldn’t be prouder of my son,” said his dad. “This all happened because of him.”

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Pierson man grows largest pumpkin in state

Joshua Larsen, of Pierson, has something to be proud of—he has grown the heaviest pumpkin in Michigan for 2018. He took it to the official weigh off in Ohio last weekend, where it came in at a whopping 1901.5 pounds.

Josh and his wife, Michelle, own Sticks and Stones in Pierson. It was there that Josh grew his pumpkin. According to Michelle, he started off with two, but one of them died at the end of August. “All pumpkins are weighed at an official weigh off location. Pumpkins must be in excellent condition (no cracks or other damage) or they will be disqualified. To make it grow so big it takes a lot of water, time and good fertilizers,” she explained.

The pumpkin he grew last year weighed 1886 pounds, and ranked as the fifth all time biggest in Michigan. This year’s gave him another spot, so now he has the fifth and sixth place spots. The record in Michigan is 2,043.5, grown last year by Mark Clementz, of Holly, Mich. The record in the U.S. is 2,528 pounds; the world record is 2,624 pounds. That’s a lot of pumpkin pies!

The pumpkin will be on display at Sticks and Stones until October 28, which is the last day of the season for them. They are located at 21723 W Cannonsville Rd, Pierson.

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Two injured in Sparta crash

Two people were injured in this crash at 13 Mile Rd and Alpine Avenue in Sparta Township on Friday, October 12. Photo from woodtv.com.

Two were sent to the hospital last Friday, October 12, after a crash involving a car, a jeep, and a Road Commission truck in Sparta Township.

According to the Kent County Sheriff’s Office, the crash occurred about 10:44 a.m. The investigation revealed that a 2000 Toyota driven by John Vanbaren, 30, of Grand Rapids, was facing northbound at the stop sign on Alpine Ave at 13 Mile Rd. He pulled out in front of an eastbound 2018 Jeep Cherokee driven by Amber Morton, 23, of Sparta who had the right of way. The Toyota was struck on the driver’s side and pushed into a Kent County Road Commission vehicle that was stationary on west bound 13 Mile Rd waiting to turn southbound on to Alpine Ave.

The driver of the Toyota was transported to St. Mary’s by Rockford Ambulance with serious injuries. The driver of the Jeep was also transported to St. Mary’s by Rockford Ambulance with minor injuries.

Both drivers were belted. Alcohol and speed were not a factor.

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Halloween and Harvest Happenings

Check out some of the fun, fall activities going on in our area in the days leading up to Halloween night.

Free Harvest Party

Oct. 20: Cedar Creek Community Church, 2969 – 14 Mile Rd NE, Sparta, 616-866-9829, will be hosting a FREE Harvest Party on Saturday, October 20 from 5:00 to 7:30 p.m. We will have hayrides (straw – due to allergies), pumpkin painting, dunking for apples, pumpkin bowling, bounce houses, cake walk, games for all ages, face painting, soup and hot dogs (from 5–6 pm), popcorn, lots of fun and fellowship. All are welcome.

Fall Fest at Spencer Township Library

Oct. 23: Celebrate the season with Autumn crafts, games and process art activities that focus more on the process and less on the final product. Tuesday, October 23, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Spencer Township Library, 14960 Meddler Ave, Gowen, MI 49326. For families with children.

Pumpkin carving and spooky walk

Oct. 26: Nothing says Halloween like pumpkin carving and a spooky trail walk at Howard Christensen Nature Center. Join us for a thrilling and ghoulish night on Friday, October 26, from 6-8 p.m. The cost is $5 for non-members and $3 for members. Price includes a pumpkin and everything you need to carve it. The event is open to kids of all ages (even the grownup ones). Donuts, cider, and coffee provided. Come in costume if you like! Please register online at www.howardchristensen.org.

Salvation Army Monster Mash

Oct. 26: The Salvation Army Kroc Center is holding its sixth-annual “Monster Mash” Halloween event on Friday, October 26 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. The Center is located at 2300 S. Division in Grand Rapids. This free event will feature “trunk-or-treating” in the Kroc’s east parking lot, giving families a fun and safe alternative to trick-or-treating in their own neighborhoods. Multiple Kroc Center and other Salvation Army groups will be distributing candy and other information, along with other local businesses.

Trunk or Treat at Courtland-Oakfield UMC

Oct. 27: The early bird gets the (Gummy) worm on Saturday, October 27, from 4:30 to 7:00 pm at Courtland-Oakfield United Methodist Church, 10295 Myers Lake NE, Rockford. Safe, friendly and fun. We’ll also be serving a free hot dog supper. 

Trunk or Treat at East Nelson UMC

Oct. 27: Trunk or Treat at East Nelson Church, 9024 – 18 Mile Rd., Cedar Springs, on Saturday, October 27 from 5-7 p.m. Come and join the scary good fun!

Fall Fest at Nelson Twp/Sand Lake Library

Oct. 30: Celebrate the season with Autumn crafts, games and process art activities that focus more on the process and less on the final product. Tuesday, October 30 at 10:30 am at KDL – Nelson Twp/Sand Lake, 88 8th St, Sand Lake. Come in costume for a parade around the library!

Cedar Springs Halloween Spooktacular

Oct. 31: The City of Cedar Springs Halloween Spooktacular will be on October 31, 2018 from 5 p.m.-6:30 p.m. on Main Street. Local businesses will be handing out candy and there will be police on duty to assist with crossing main the street. Residential trick or treating is from 5-8 p.m.

Halloween Warm Up Station at Cedar Springs UMC

Oct. 31: Be our guest at Cedar Springs United Methodist Church for some hot chocolate and popcorn during your Trick or Treat fun in Cedar Springs from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at 140 S. Main Street. 

Trunk or Treat at The Springs Church

Oct. 31: Join us for our annual Trunk or Treat at The Springs Church, 135 N. Grant Street, from 6-8 p.m. on Halloween night. Our aim is to provide a safe and fun alternative to Halloween for people of all ages. Everyone is welcome! 

Last House Party at Solon Center Wesleyan

Oct. 31:  “Last House” Party at Solon Center Wesleyan. Make the church your last stop Halloween evening or simply come and hang out in a friendly and safe environment. There will be games, refreshments and candy, of course! The church is located at 15671 Algoma Ave., Cedar Springs, and will be open from 7-8:30 p.m.

Trunk-R-Treat at Hillcrest Community Church

Oct. 31: Stop by Hillcrest Community Church, 5994 18 Mile Rd, Cedar Springs, for their annual Trunk-R-Treat on Wednesday, October 31, from 6-8 p.m. Just 2 miles from downtown Cedar Springs. Call 696-9333 for more info.

No trunks, just treats at Resurrection Lutheran

Oct. 31: Stop in to Resurrection Lutheran on Wednesday, October 31, from 6-8 p.m. There you will find No Trunks, Just Treats! The church is located at 180 Northland Dr., Sand Lake from 6-8 p.m.

Zoo Keeper gets lost at the farm

Oct. 31: Trunk or Treat at the Boat n Canoe Club, 401 North Park St. in Grand Rapids from 3 to 5:30 p.m. on Halloween, Oct. 31. Mary’s Farm Critters will be there for young and old; there will be games and candy for all; and costume prizes as well. 

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Cedar Springs shuts out Ottawa Hills 48-0

Cedar Springs ran away with the game against Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills last Friday, 48-0. Courtesy photo.

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Red Hawks varsity football team won their seventh straight game last Friday, October 12, when they traveled to Houseman Field to take on GR Ottawa Hills Bengals.

The Red Hawks controlled the game from the very first quarter, limiting the Bengals to only 47 yards and one first down the entire game. 

“I was pleased with the way our guys went out and took care of business,” said Red Hawks Coach Gus Kapolka. “We were focused and executed well, which sometimes is hard to do when you are playing an opponent who has a 1-6 record.”

Cedar scored early in the first quarter when Ryan Ringler ran up the middle for a 49-yard touchdown with 11:32 left on the clock. Ethan West’s run into the endzone for the two-point conversion was good.

The Red Hawks scored again in the first quarter with 4:43 left when Sage Serbenta ran left for a one-yard touchdown, and Kolby Swank then ran in the extra points.

They scored again with 2:09 left in the first when Ryan Ringler blocked a punt from Ottawa Hills, and Cedar scored a safety. The score at the end of the first was Cedar Springs 18, Ottawa Hills 0.

The Red Hawks scored three times in the second quarter. With 10:07 left on the clock, Ben Shaw ran up the middle for a 23-yard touchdown and Kolby Swank ran in the extra points. Three minutes later they scored again when Sage Serbenta ran one yard into the endzone for the touchdown and then Ethan West ran in the two-point conversion. They scored again at the 2:20 mark when Landon Totten ran left for a 10-yard touchdown, and took the ball into the endzone again for the two-point conversion. The score at the end of the half was Cedar Springs 42, Ottawa Hills 0.

Neither team scored during the third quarter, but the Red Hawks scored one more time in the fourth. With 2:11 left on the clock, Jeremy Champione ran up the middle for a 2-yard touchdown, then Champione attempted a pass to Zack Shcmid for the extra points, but it was no good.

The Red Hawks accumulated 380 yards rushing, with Ryan Ringler (92), Sage Serbenta (77), and Landon Totten (63) leading the way. Ben Shaw added 44, Jeremy Champione 30, Lucus Pienton 21, Gage Gardner 16, and Zack Schmid 14. Swank added 4 yards rushing, and 4 yards passing.

On defense, Kaden Liggett led in tackles with 6 and Miles Cartwright had 5. The rest of the team had 3 or less each.

The Red Hawks sealed at least a share of the conference title with the win, and as they are now only one game away from the playoffs, Kapolka was happy to give some of the younger players a chance to get some experience on the gridiron.

“We were able to play a lot of young guys in the second half, and those game reps are invaluable for them moving forward,” he said.

This Friday Cedar Springs (7-1, 5-0) hosts Forest Hills Northern (5-3, 3-2) in their last regular season game. Come on out and cheer them on!

Please note that according to Cedar Springs Athletic Director John Norton, the MHSAA has raised District Ticket prices to $6 moving forward. So be prepared as you head off to post-season events. This will include all playoff football games as well. And remember, even if the event is at Cedar Springs, no passes are accepted during post-season play.

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CTA Float Bridges Eras and Wins 2nd Place Trophy

A group of Charger students and parents spent two days working on the Lego-themed float for the Red Flannel Festival Parade and took second place for their creativity and hard work. The motto they used for the design was “The Past is the Building Block of the Future.” 

Stacy Keuhs spearheaded the project and used her creativity to develop the float and theme to help promote CTA and what it stands for to the community. “Legos came out the same time that the Red Flannel Festival Parade started and I thought it would be a great way to tie the two eras together,” shared Keuhs. “Our school likes to keep things fun and interesting and it was a lot of fun to build and design!” Thank you to those who contributed to the float building, decorating and driving, walked in the parade and to the family friend who opened her home and garage to host the float-building – it was a true reflection of the CTA spirit!

The CTA float is piled high with “Legos” and the handprints of the students helping to build the future.

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Hustle and Heart Set the XC Team Apart

L to R: Gabi Fahling, Faith Watson, Ethan Slock, Ethan Watson, Jordan Brown, Collin Bishop, Dawson Ingersoll, Kevin Miner, Hannah Hofstra, Karly Fisk, Head Coach Todd Bowmar.

This year’s Charger Cross Country teams are led by Juniors Collin Bishop and Faith Watson. Collin was awarded as a member of the All-Conference team this year. Faith, missed the team by one place. Senior Dawson Ingersoll works to lead the team into the State Championship, a meet where the team ran their season best last year. Junior veteran, Hannah Hofstra has worked with newcomer Gabi Fahling to create a competitive environment at practice, working toward career bests. Rounding out a young team, underclassmen Kevin Miner, Jordan Brown, Ethan Slock, Ethan Watson and Karly Fisk have all achieve several season bests and a few career bests. The team completes their final two races on 10/20 in Shepard at the Class D State Championship; and on 10/27 in Allendale at the West Michigan Independent State Championship.

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Largemouth bass virus re-emerges 

Largemouth bass virus affects the fish’s swim bladder, making it difficult for them to swim correctly. Photo from Michigan DNR.

After a 15-year hiatus, largemouth bass virus has re-emerged in a new northern Lower Peninsula water. This virus has been confirmed as a factor in a fish kill in Cedar Lake in Alcona and Iosco counties, Michigan, with additional lakes in the area being examined. This virus previously affected adult largemouth bass in the early 2000s in southern Michigan lakes.

Largemouth bass virus is one of more than 100 naturally occurring viruses that affect fish and is closely related to viruses found in frogs and other amphibians. Its origin and how it is spread are unknown, but anglers are considered a likely path for transmitting the virus through the movement of live, infected fish from one water to another, or by using contaminated and uncleaned gear or boats in uninfected waters. LMVB is not known to infect humans, and infected fish are safe to eat as long as the fish is thoroughly cooked.

LMBV usually causes fish kills during periods when fish are most stressed. Potential stressors include very hot weather, intensive recreational fishing, and possibly aquatic weed or other treatments made during hot weather. Anything that can be done to minimize stress on fish will reduce the effects of this virus and subsequent fish deaths.

There are few outward signs that a fish has LMBV. The virus has been found in lakes with no reports of disease or mortalities of fish. Affected fish usually appear normal, although they may be lethargic, swim slowly and be less responsive to activity around them. Dying fish often are seen near the surface and have difficulty remaining upright. Upon internal examination, infected fish usually have bloated and yellowish swim bladders.

“Largemouth bass virus appears to infect other related fish species, including smallmouth bass, bluegill and black crappies, but to date is only known to kill largemouth bass,” said Gary Whelan, the DNR’s fisheries research manager. 

“The disease typically kills large adult fish and die-offs affect approximately 10 to 20 percent of these fish in a given lake.”

LMBV cannot be eradicated from lakes, nor can infected fish be treated. The best way to halt the virus is by anglers and boaters properly cleaning their equipment and doing their part to prevent the spread:

  • Clean all fishing equipment between trips.
  • Do not move fish or fish parts from one body of water to another.
  • Handle bass gently if you intend to release them.
  • Don’t keep bass in live wells for long periods of time if you plan to release them.
  • Minimize the targeting of largemouth bass during very hot weather
  • Report dead or dying adult largemouth bass, particularly when they are in numbers of 25 or more. Reports can be made online at michigan.gov/eyesinthefield.

For more information on fish diseases, visit the DNR’s website www.michigan.gov/dnr. 

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An introduction to geocaching

Looking for a fun, family-friendly way to exercise both mind and body? Try geocaching (“jee-oh-cash-ing”), the fast-growing sport that’s akin to a modern-day treasure hunt.

Instead of a worn map marked with an X, you use a GPS receiver, a set of coordinates and (optionally) clues. And instead of hunting for a buried chest, you’re looking for a cache of goodies hidden in an eco-friendly site above ground.

Coming to the Cedar Springs Library, Saturday, November 11 at 5 p.m. Join your hosts Merlin1392, Kneel More and GHBuccaneers as they present an Introduction to Geocaching.  There may even be a geocache or two to find!

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Red Flannel Day 2018

Post photo by L. Allen.

It was the first Red Flannel Day for this cute little munchkin. Rylee Dines, just one-year-old, and her mom, Rita, had something special to celebrate—Rylee was born on Red Flannel Day last year! All dressed up in long johns and a granny cap, Rylee had a good time taking it all in. 

Although it was a little wet at times, thousands of people still descended on Main Street and the surrounding area for the day and had a great time visiting the many shops, booths, food vendors, marketplace, lumberjack show, carnival rides, playing games, watching the parades and much more. Click here to see more Red Flannel photos.

 

CORRECTION

On last week’s front page, we ran a photo of a beautiful baby girl, one-year-old Rylee Dines, who was enjoying her first Red Flannel Day. We said that she and her mom, Rita, had something special to celebrate—Rylee was born on Red Flannel Day last year! And it was true, they did have something to celebrate, and she was born on Red Flannel Day last year. However, the woman in the photo, named Rita, was not Rylee’s mom, but her grandma! How were we to know? She looked young enough to be her mom. Has she discovered some type of miracle face cream that melts away the years? We want some of whatever she’s using! We might even invest in this miracle elixir. At any rate, we do apologize to Rita, and to Rylee’s parents—whose names we just learned—Kelly and Matt Dines. Thank you for sharing Rylee with us!

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