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Health advisory issued regarding PFAS in foam on Rogue River

Photo of foam at Rogue River on April 6, 2018. Photo taken by AECOM during the sampling event.

by Judy Reed

An unusual foam has appeared on water bodies in Michigan located near known sources of PFAS, including the Rogue River near the Rockford dam. And if you are someone who likes to swim in or use the Rogue River for recreational purposes, you’ll want to make sure you don’t swallow that foam floating on the water.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHH) and Kent County Health Department (KCHD) issued a health advisory on Tuesday, June 5, with that warning after testing came back from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) on June 4.

According to a report from the MDHH, surface water samples from the Rogue River and its tributary Rum Creek were collected in October 2017, and a sample of foam observed on the Rogue River near the Rockford Dam was collected in April 2018. Concentrations of PFAS in the foam were high relative to concentrations in the surface water.

Because of the amounts of PFAS found in that foam, MDHHS and KCHD have concluded that swallowing the foam may pose a human health risk. Therefore, the two agencies are advising people to take precautions against swallowing the foam while using the river recreationally.

The MDHHS advised that neither contact with skin, nor incidental ingestion of, PFAS-containing water during recreational activities in the Rogue River are expected to pose a risk to human health. It was mainly ingestion of the foam that posed the health risk.

The report noted there are other potential exposure pathways of PFAS near the Rogue River, including the consumption of locally-caught non-migratory fish or the drinking of water from wells that have an elevated concentration of PFAS. So avoiding contact with river foam alone may not ensure you won’t be exposed to PFAS.

The MDHHS has issued Eat Safe Fish guidelines for the Rogue River due to a variety of chemicals, including PFOS and mercury. See Michigan.gov/eatsafefish for more info on that.

In the meantime, the MDEQ will continue to monitor the foam on the Rogue River.



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Feeding the hungry this summer

By Judy Reed

Summer is finally here, and it means lots of carefree days for kids all over the area. But with kids no longer in school, it also means a good number of kids won’t have access to a nutritious meal. But there are some ways to combat that hunger.

Meet Up and Eat Up

Cedar Springs Public Schools hopes to help the hunger problem by hosting the Meet Up and Eat Up program, a free breakfast and lunch program from the Summer Food Service Program that they have hosted for several years now. The program runs Monday through Thursday, June 11-August 16 (except July 2-6) and is hosted at Red Hawk Elementary. Breakfast is served from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., and lunch from 11 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Children 18 years or younger can participate, as can those who are disabled, regardless of age, who participate in a public or non-profit private school program established for the mentally or physically disabled.

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) was created to ensure that children in lower-income areas could continue to receive nutritious meals during long school vacations, when they do not have access to the National School Lunch or School Breakfast Programs. Please call Holly Haywood, Director of Food Services, at 696-0372 with any questions. 

Mobile Food Pantry

Another way for families to get food this summer is through a mobile food pantry coming to the Hilltop Administration building’s south (lower) parking lot on the second Monday of each month. The first one will be this next Monday, June 11, at 12:30 p.m. The other two dates are July 9 and August 13.

According to Jodi West, of the Kent School News Network (KSSN), Feeding America offers fresh produce (usually local and seasonal), dairy products. and other food and grocery products. She visited one recently that foods such as asparagus, cabbage, potatoes, onions, apples, breads, pastries, milk and craisins.  

West said there are no requirements to receive the food, other than the person must deem they are in need. No proof of income is required. “They do need to register with us before they get the food. We can start registering folks at noon at the site,” she explained.

She also said it’s best if people come prepared with their own boxes and/or bags.

Lean on Me

Lean On Me, a ministry of Resurrection Life Church, is another agency that will give food and other items to those in need. It is located at 11555 Edgerton Ave NE, Rockford, MI, just south of 14 Mile Rd. Office hours are 9 a.m.–Noon, Monday-Saturday. Food distributions are 5 p.m.–8 p.m., Monday; and 9 a.m. to Noon, Wednesday and Friday. If you need help or would like to help, please give them a call: (616) 866-3999. Or you can email them at info@leanonmeoutreach.org.

North Kent Connect

Another agency that is instrumental in helping the needy in northern Kent County is North Kent Connect, near the corner of Northland Drive and 12 Mile Rd. According to Katie Hop, of NKC, clients can visit The Market (their food pantry) once a month. But they do need to be clients of North Kent Connect and check in with a Case Manager before visiting. Potential clients need to fall within 200 percent of the poverty guidelines to qualify for our services. Individuals who are interested in learning more about becoming a NKC client can reach out to a Case Manager at (616) 866-3478.

Clients can be sure they will be getting healthy food at NKC. “We have a Healthy Food Policy that influences what we put in The Market,” explained Hop. “We’ve eliminated highly-processed, high sodium, high fat, and high sugar foods from our food programs, and we focus on providing whole food options. Some of the items available in The Market are fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, and lean meats; we are working with donors to provide wholesome foods to our community. We also are working toward offering more gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan items.”

For more information on all of the food programs they offer, including Senior Pantry, Senior Commodities, Federal Commodities, Meals on Wheels, and referrals to their five support pantries, visit their website at www.nkconnect.org.

For those that would like to help, North Kent Connect currently has several needs. Please pick up one or more of these items the next time you’re at the grocery store:

  • mandarin oranges
  • pineapples
  • spinach
  • mushrooms
  • beets
  • collard greens
  • peas and carrot mix

They are also in need of flour, shampoo and conditioner, and feminine hygiene products.

Donation hours are Monday-Thursday from 8:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. and Friday-Saturday from 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.

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“Three Free” weekend coming June 9-10

Grab a fishing rod, ride Michigan’s off-road trails and/or pay a visit to your favorite state park for free – all in the same weekend. During two back-to-back days, June 9-10, we invite residents and out-of-state visitors to enjoy Free Fishing Weekend, Free ORV Weekend and free entry into state parks.

All fishing license, ORV license, trail permit and Recreation Passport costs will be waived. All other regulations still apply.

For more information, visit michigan.gov/freefishing (fishing), michigan.gov/recreationpassport (state parks) or michigan.gov/orvinfo (ORV).

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Ranger Steve lives up to promise

Cedar Springs seniors were led by the Cedar Springs marching band in a Red Hawk parade on Wednesday, May 30, as eager elementary students cheered them on. Some of these seniors are students that Ranger Steve Mueller spoke to 10 years ago, and promised he’d live long enough to be at their graduation. Post photo by J. Reed.

Ranger Steve Mueller, our local expert on nature and all manner of wildlife, made a promise ten years ago to students in his wife Karen’s second grade class that he would see their graduation. The problem was that he had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, and given only a few short years to live. But he is still here, 10 years later, and ready to make good on his promise. Those students graduate tonight, May 31. See his column here for the full story.

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Memorial Day services 

The Glen Hill American Legion Post #287 Honor Guard as they walked through the Avenue of Flags at Elmwood Cemetery. Post photo by J. Reed.

Blue sky, sunshine, and hot weather welcomed area residents on Monday, May 28, as they gathered in cemeteries and parks for the annual Memorial Day services.

The ceremony at Elmwood Cemetery ended with a 21-gun salute followed by taps. Post photo by J. Reed.

Here in Cedar Springs, the Glen Hill American Legion Post held services at Elmwood Cemetery, where the Avenue of Flags memorialized veterans laid to rest there. There were names at each of the flags along the walkway, and flags on all the veterans graves, dating as far back as the Civil War. The American Legion also held services at Solon Cemetery; East Nelson Cemetery; and at Veterans Memorial Park on Oak Street. Nelson Township resident Col. Tom Noreen was the guest speaker. 

Memorial Day services were also held at Algoma, Sand Lake, Pierson, and Sparta.

The Cedar Springs Historical Society held their annual cemetery walk honoring veterans on Sunday, May 27.

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CTA celebrates 20th anniversary

L to R:  Dan George, CTA School Leader/Superintendent; Ron Rizzo, Director, Ferris State University Charter Schools Office; Lexie Coxon, former Superintendent; Dr. Richard Halik, Consultant for Board Policy, National Charter Schools Institute; and Dan Quisenberry, President of Michigan Association of Public School Academies. Courtesy photo.
This ceiling in the auditorium at CTA (which was formerly Jordan Chapel) is made up of planks from area barns. Post photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

This ceiling in the auditorium at CTA (which was formerly Jordan Chapel) is made up of planks from area barns. Post photo by J. Reed.

When Lexie Coxon was told in May of 1998 that Ferris State University was going to issue a charter to Creative Technologies Academy to become a school for grades 7-12, she wasn’t sure how they were going to get the 120 students they needed to open. But they did it by the skin of their teeth—and opened with 122 that September.

“It was a tremendous challenge,” she said.

Coxon and others spoke about the school’s journey during CTA’s 20th anniversary celebration on Friday, May 11.

The property at 350 Pine Street, in Cedar Springs, was originally the home of Jordan College, founded by Lexie and her husband DeWayne. In 1966, they bought the property, and in 1967 they built their first building. Coxon explained how back then, they got building materials from area farmers who were tearing down their barns. A good example is in the planking in the chapel roof—it all came from area farmers.

In those early days of charter schools, Lexie and DeWayne’s son, Rob Coxon, told them to get a charter, they would need to have something unique. So they decided to go into being a computer based program. “We were one of the first schools to have computers for all students,” said Lexie.

She also noted that while most charter schools were for-profit, they wanted to remain a non-profit. And needing to have 120 students was tough—they had no money and no resources. But they made it work.

As time went on, they added in grades K-6. This year the school had 319 students K-12.

Lexie was also proud of the fact they have had 100 percent compliance with all of the paperwork that is needed. Ron Rizzo, with FSU, backed her up on that. “I don’t think there is any other academy that has had 100 percent compliance for 17 years,” he said. “It’s amazing. That means every document turned in on time.”

Rizzo said CTA was one of their original class of nine academies. “I’ve been here for 16 of those 20 years. It’s very welcoming. You truly are here for kids, doing what’s best for the trajectory of their lives. You should very proud of what you have accomplished here,” he said.

Dan Quisenberry, President of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies noted that CTA feels like family. “Charters were intended to be that—partnerships. Think of the kids’ lives you’ve impacted here. You are doing something important.” He also noted that charter schools are the “R&D” (research and development) of education. “Dan (George, current school superintendent) doesn’t view CTA as a competitor, but as a partner,” he said.

He noted that CTA teacher Kayla Campbell, who was recently named one of the top 5 charter school teachers in the state by MAPSA, represented CTA well. “We did a Facebook live announcement and I think you had every student in here. When we announced it, I thought this place was going to fall down,” he said.

Former teacher and coach Gary Bailey shared both some funny stories and some more serious thoughts. “Most coaches know that our success is measured by #s (winds and losses) after our name. But we know success is more than that.” He went on to share how a former student had sent him a video at 1:40 a.m. that morning, thanking him for being a mentor.

Kurt Mabie, a former educator who retired five  years ago from public education, said he’s been involved with CTA for 15 years. And he has been happy to work with Dan George and CTA via the Community Building Development Team. “Through collaboration, great things can happen,” he said. “Nothing happens on its own.”

One of those things is the recent donation of 10 acres to CTA by Fred and Carolee Gunnell. The property will be the future home of a new gymnasium for the school with a soccer field, and a couple of classrooms. And when it is not being used by the school, it will be open to the community, which fulfills one of the goals of the CBDT—to have a recreation center. 

George said that the planning, fundraising, and construction of that facility would be a major undertaking and their biggest project over the next five years.

The Post asked George what he is most proud of accomplishing at CTA. “I can answer that in two ways, institutionally and personally. First, we are proud to be able to give the families of the communities we serve a quality choice for the education of their children while partnering, not competing, with our neighboring traditional public schools. That produces a shared focus on doing what is best for kids. Personally, I’m proud of the staff that has become my team over the last 8+ years. Their dedication, love of kids, professionalism, and pursuit of learning is unsurpassed,” he said.

For more on CTA, visit www.ctachargers.org.

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The Post travels to Africa

Paul and Judy Stark, of Cedar Springs, and Dave and Jan Malmo, of Howard City, had an amazing opportunity to visit an African Masai tribe as part of a 2-1/2 week trip to Tanzania, Africa in May. 

“These people live today the same as their ancestors did hundreds of years ago,” explained Jan.

The friends spent nine days on safari in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater viewing dozens of indigenous animals and birds. “The wildebeest migration was awesome as thousands of these animals ran for miles and miles in lines,” said Jan. 

They also saw herds of zebra, cape buffalo, lions, elephants, baboons, rhinos, leopards and giraffes. And a curious cheetah jumped up on their safari vehicle to have a look around! “That was beyond exciting since the roof and all the windows were open!” she remarked.

The Starks and Malmos felt blessed to have such an awesome opportunity.

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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Team competes at Odyssey of the Mind World finals 

By Linda Blackmore

We really had no idea what to expect as we hit the road for our trip to Ames Iowa. We packed pins to trade, costumes to wear and some nervous energy, piled in our decorated mini van and took off!  Upon arrival at Iowa State University we immediately noticed knots of students gathered and chatting, heads bent together interacting and pin trading. We entered Odyssey of the Mind World Finals and what a world it was!  Thousands of people, everyone smiling, trading pins and wishing each other good luck! Crazy costumes, unique props, color, chaos and creativity everywhere you looked. Our World for the next 3 days and we embraced it all! We had a few nerves as we prepared for our long term presentation but we are a team and together we did the best we could competing against 64 teams in our division—the best of the world! When we completed our spontaneous challenge our parents waited outside to cheer us on and drown us in silly string! Very fun and sticky too!

During our time at World Finals we watched numerous teams perform, check out the rock climbing, world finals food options, the Creativity Festival, the International Festival, Float and Banner Parade, pin trading, team bonding swimming talking and a lot of laughter! Our teammates and their families became both friend and family!

In the end we placed 26th out of 64 teams, and we are very proud of that for a first world finals adventure, but what we learned in Odyssey of the Mind goes way beyond the final results; it goes deeper into our life. We learned to never give up, to always look for another solution; that your team doesn’t mean you all have the same skills but means you all bring your skills to the team; we learned self confidence; a firm handshake; how to set our nerves aside to do the work; how to use power tools; hot glue guns; how to look at useless materials to repurpose them into something amazing; and we learned that having a team means someone always has your back.

A few thoughts from the team:

Jade Yowtz (8th grade) – World Finals was a great competition, a great experience and something I will never forget! Working with the best team in the world was amazing and I loved every minute of Odyssey of the Mind!

Nate Slager (6th grade) – This was my third year doing OM and I have always wanted to go to World Finals. Going to Iowa this year was one of the best experiences of my life!

Annalise Elliot (6th grade) – I had a lot of fun meeting students from around the world and to know that they had been working hard on the same problem as our team, I’ll never forget this experience and I’m very  thankful we got to go!

Coryn Wiles (6th grade) – Trading pins and meeting people from other countries was so much fun! Besides going to World Finals to compete, Odyssey of the Mind has given me a more creative brain, helped me in school projects and become closer friends with my teammates which pushes me to trust others!

Thank you to our wonderful sponsors who helped financially to make this possible and thank you to all our community who ate spaghetti, donated cans, bought crafts—we are grateful for you!

Our team:  Coaches Michelle Wiles and Traci Slager; team members Nate Slager, Coryn Wiles, Jade Yowtz, Annalise Elliot, Brielle Sarniak, and Aiden Lake. 

Odyssey of the Mind is open to all students K-12th Teams are divided by grade groups for competition.  For more information you can check out Miodyssey.com or oddyseyofthemind.com. You can also contact Linda Blackmore, regional coordinator at region13mi@gmail.com  or contact any team coach.

Cedar Springs Public Schools will be holding information/hands on presentation meetings for Odyssey of the Mind in early to mid September 2018   Hope to see you there!

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Day camp in Howard City to open for summer

Camp Scottie (Howard City) was founded in 1975 by the Osterink family. For over forty years, Camp Scottie partnered with Eastminster Presbyterian Church of Grand Rapids, serving churches, Scouts, and others on its 85-acre campus. In December 2014, conversations began between 100-year-old Camp Roger (Rockford) and Camp Scottie, dreaming of a new way to ensure the continued vitality of Camp Scottie.

In the fall of 2015, Camp Scottie officially became part of Camp Roger’s ministry. Camp Roger would now be able to provide an expanded reach, north of the Grand Rapids corridor, through summer camp, outdoor education, and retreats and rentals.

This beautiful haven at 8181 Newcosta Avenue in Howard City has had some exciting new developments and growth within the last couple of years. Camp Scottie’s Day Camp started in 2017, and Camp hopes to double its numbers this summer. This summer, the first five-day session will begin on June 11 for students in Kindergarten through fifth grade, with weekly sessions scheduled until mid-August. 

Matt Zwiep, director of Camp Scottie, says, “We are so excited to be in our second full year of operation at Camp Scottie. It has been fun getting to know community leaders in nearby towns, as well as building relationships with area schools and churches. I am amazed at the transformation of the property, and it is incredibly heartwarming to see campers and students exploring creation!”

Each session of day camp is filled with a variety of activities and experiences that give children a sampling of a typical overnight summer camp experience. A different theme is integrated into each session, catering specific activities and adventures to each age level. Developed by educators and field experts, Camp Scottie’s programming encourages children to be curious about God’s creation, develop friendships, and become more independent. Counselors also enjoy leading children in camp activities such as games, swimming, archery, singing songs, chapel, and hiking.

Camp Scottie is still taking reservations for day camp. Opportunities for financial aid are available. Daily fees could be as low as $25 per day! Bus transportation is available for $40 per session with four handy stops along US-131. 

The expansion of outdoor education at Camp Scottie for science-based, hands-on learning is another great opportunity for kids during the school year. This program is open for homeschoolers and area schools including a curriculum-based approach with interactive learning, team-building, and fun adventures.

The Camp is also available for retreats and rentals. There is a 40-person retreat center with a full-kitchen, two bunk rooms, gathering places, and a center fireplace. This would be a great option for churches, organizations, family reunions, and other events. Other buildings on site include a smaller cottage with a stone fireplace, as well as a rustic 100-seat outdoor chapel that is perfect for weddings.

Camp Scottie is an amazing addition to our community. For more information and to register for day camp, visit www.camproger.com, call 616-874-7286 or email office@camproger.org. 

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Former coaches to speak at Sand Lake reunion

Sand Lake High School Girls Basketball team 1957. Back row (L to R): N. Boyztat; L. Hawley; J. Shears; M. Pierson; J. Elder; N. VanKirk; S. Bryant; Agnes Szflarski. Center row: R. Simpson; Mrs. Hackbardt (coach); M. Morris; K. Taylor; S. Stinson; M. Grimes; S. Nagelhout; J. Shears. Seated: B. Ludtke; S. Rau; L. Patin; M. Fry; B. Dickerson; D. Hanes.

Two former coaches will speak at the Sand Lake Alumni banquet on June 9, 2018. 

Jane Hackbart started as an elementary teacher, girls basketball coach, and cheerleading coach in Sand Lake. Later, she was a teacher and guidance counselor at Tri County Schools.

1963 NCAA Jr. Varsity League Champs. Won 13 lost 3. Front row (L to R): Bob Miller; Pat Bush; Fred Nix; Dale Inman; Aire Ryno; Dewight Perkin; Rocky Deboer. Back row (L to R): Manager Jim Kuhlman; Tom Pressley; Bill Ludtke; Mike Princer; Greg Patin; Don Anderson; Jack Miller; Bob Moore; Ken Kruger; Darrell Croff; Coach Wayne Watts.

Wayne Watts graduated from Sand Lake High School in 1945. For 47 years he was a high school teacher and a coach. He taught at Tri County and Morley-Stanwood and was a summer American Legion baseball coach. Watts also coached at both Alma and Ferris State. He spent 9 years as a scout for the Detroit Tigers, covering all the schools west of U.S. 131 in Michigan.

Coach Watts is in twelve Hall of Fames. Currently, he and his son, Bruce Watts, own an orchard and produce store in Howard City.

Both teachers will share their memories at the banquet, which will be held at Resurrection Lutheran in Sand Lake. Social hour is at 5 p.m,, with dinner at 6 p.m. The meal is $13. If you are interested in attending, please call Dave Groner at 616-557-3098.

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