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Watching like a hawk

OUT-Bird-sighting-Coopers-Hawk-Mike-DeGrootMike DeGroot, of Solon Township, sent us this photo of a bird he saw in his backyard recently. “I spotted this bird closely watching over my squirrel feeder in my backyard on White Creek Avenue,” he wrote.

Mike thought it might be an American Kestrel Falcon. We thought it looked similar to a sharp-shinned hawk. We passed the photo on to our resident expert, Ranger Steve Mueller, and he identified it.

“It looks like an immature Cooper’s Hawk,” said Steve. “Adults have bands across the breast and immature’s have vertical tear-drop markings on the breast. It appears this one has the vertical markings.”

He added that the Sharp-shinned hawk looks nearly identical and can be difficult to separate from the Cooper’s Hawk. “The Sharp-shinned is not as common and is smaller than Cooper’s Hawk,” he explained. “The Cooper’s also has a rounded tail caused by the outer tail feathers being shorter. The tail feathers are equal in length on the Sharp-shinned,” he said.

Thanks, Mike, for sending us your photo, and to Steve for identifying it!

Please send us your wildlife photos. Send them to us at news@cedarspringspost.com, and we will run them as space allows.

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Middle School cheer brings home a victory

S-Cheer-MS1-webCompetitive Cheer season is here! The Cedar Springs Middle School program has two teams representing them for the 2014-2015 Season. Cassandra Chartier is coaching our White Team and is bringing with her 13 years of coaching experience. This is her third year with Cedar Springs and is an excellent addition to our coaching staff. Amy Arnold is coaching our Red Team and has been coaching at Cedar Springs for nine years, with the past four coaching a competitive team.

Our first competition of the season brought us to Kenowa Hills, where there were eight teams competing for first place. After the completion of Round 2, Cedar Springs White earned a score of 88.52, taking 5th Place and Cedar Springs Red earned a score of 118.24 taking 2nd Place. Round 3 is where the girls can show off not only their precision skills but their tumbling and stunting skills as well. The completion of Round 3 earned Cedar Springs White a score of 233.2, bringing their total score to 321.72 and ending with a 4th Place overall.  Cedar Springs Red earned a score of 269.7, bringing their total score to 387.94. This high score secured their first 1st place victory of the season and it certainly won’t be the last.  Congratulations to both teams and their coaches for a job well done! Fantastic way to represent our school and start out our season!

S-Cheer-MS2-webOur next competition will be held at Sparta Middle School next Thursday, December 11 at 6 p.m. Come support a great group of girls doing what they love.  These girls work extremely hard to represent their coaches, school and community.

Posted in Featured, SportsComments (0)

Grieving in the Internet Age

Charlie Waller and his mother Abigail.

Charlie Waller and his mother Abigail.

Charlie Waller loved trick-or-treating, pirates, his kindergarten class at Marble Elementary, his sister, Esther, and so much more during his all-too-brief life.

He died last December from an inoperable brain tumor that slowly robbed him of his ability to play, to walk and to see, but never his kindness. His parents, John and Abigail, have turned to the Internet to help them harness Charlie’s spirit and his kindness by launching a new social media campaign, #CouragetobeKind, in Charlie’s honor.

Charlie, a patient in Hospice of Michigan’s pediatric program, battled his illness for two-plus years, all with the help of family, friends, and a supportive care team. Throughout this experience, John and Abigail relied on social media to keep far-flung family and friends informed of their son’s condition. Abigail launched a blog where she shared imaginary letters to her son, chronicling their journey with courage, profundity and poignancy.

With help of Abigail’s father, they launched the nonprofit Art for Charlie Foundation to raise both awareness and funds for pediatric hospice. Facebook and Twitter accounts were opened to amplify the site and promote its annual art show and sale, as well as this year’s statewide conference on pediatric hospice and bereavement support.

“Social media has become a strong outlet for public mourning,” said Karen Monts, director of grief support service at Hospice of Michigan. “It allows people a medium to express their feelings when experiencing a significant loss, and it also provides an opportunity to ensure the memory of a lost loved one isn’t forgotten.””

When counseling the bereaved, Monts often refers to the Six Tasks of Mourning, as defined by Dr. Alan Wolfelt, grief educator and author of Healing the Bereaved Child. Monts explains that social media can help in achieving each of Wolfelt’s tasks:

Task One: Need to acknowledge the reality of the death. When family members hear word of a loved one’s death, many immediately turn to social media as they process the news. The reality of someone’s passing becomes clear when seeing the details of the death, finality of funeral details, and posts of love and support by family and friends.

Task Two: Need to approach the pain of loss while being supported. Social media not only provides a platform for the bereaved to express pain, but it also gives family and friends the opportunity to offer words of support, which validates and normalizes the grief they feel.

Task Three: Need to remember the person who died. Through blogs, posts and picture sharing, there are countless ways that the bereaved can use social media to share memories of their loved ones. Feedback from family and friends also lets the bereaved know those memories are treasured by others.

Task Four: Develop a new self-identity. This is often one of the more challenging tasks of grief. What role do you play in life now that your loved one is gone? Through open discussion of the deceased life on social media, the bereaved can develop a better understanding of the many roles the deceased played in the lives of others. The bereaved can use that information to determine the new roles they will take on in their own life.

Task Five: Searching for meaning in what has happened: When a loved one dies, it may prompt questions regarding the purpose of life and how such a tragic event could happen. Social Media allows the bereaved to express their questions, concerns and doubts while providing reassurance as one searches for a new sense of purpose or clarity.

Task Six: Experience continued support in future years. Social media provides the perfect medium for the bereaved to share feelings of grief, regardless of how long it’s been since a loved one died. It might be recognition of a birthday or an anniversary of death, or it could be a simple statement like “Really missing my mom today. “Not only does expressing these feelings help the bereaved, but family and friends who see this public expression often respond with encouraging words.

Monts adds that in addition to helping cope with grief, social media can simply provide the bereaved with a needed distraction. However, even with all the benefits, she warns that there can be negatives to using social media in the grieving process.

While publically expressing grief may be helpful to one family member, seeing these reminders on social media may be difficult for a family member who grieves more privately. While Monts advises people to consider others when expressing grief publicly, she believes the benefits of social media in grieving far outweigh the cons.

For the Waller family, social media continues to be a source of solace, education and hope. The launch of their Courage to be Kind social campaign acknowledges Charlie’s gentleness and wisdom in advocating kindness to all.  Wise beyond his years, he argued for tolerance for those who were unkind, explaining that some children (and adults, we would add) have to learn to be kind just as they have to learn their ABCs.

The vision of the campaign is that it will create a system to allow people to report acts of kindness anonymously on social media.  To learn more about Charlie’s story and #CouragetobeKind, visit artforcharlie.org.

Hospice of Michigan offers a variety of grief support and educational services. These programs are available to all families involved with Hospice of Michigan, as well as the community at large. For more information, visit www.hom.org.

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Tree lighting with Santa this Saturday

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Santa parade, tree lighting and more 

Are you ready to have yourself a merry Christmas Cedar Springs-style? Come on out and experience a day of goodwill and cheer on Saturday, December 6, when the Cedar Springs Area Chamber of Commerce presents “Come Mingle with Kris Kringle.”

The day will start at 10 a.m. with families able to create decorations for the Christmas tree at the Cedar Springs Library from 10-1, then decorate the tree at Main and Ash with their ornaments at 1 p.m. There will also be a bake sale, free hot chocolate, a storytime with Mrs. Clause, a Christmas puzzle time with Santa’s Elves, and a petting zoo, all before the mini-parade that brings Santa to the corner of Main and Ash Street at about 4:30-4:45. There will also be time to visit with him afterward, as well as tour the Cedar Springs Museum.

Bring the whole family out on Saturday, December 6, for a fun, community Christmas celebration! See the ad on page 9 for complete details on times and locations.

 

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Opportunity for new pavilion at Morley Park

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This pavilion is an example of what the one in Morley Park would look like.

Kevin Galloway would like to build a covered pavilion in Morley Park.

Kevin Galloway would like to build a covered pavilion in Morley Park.

By Judy Reed

‘Tis the season for giving, and an area teenager is modeling that with his plan to give back to the community while earning his Eagle Scout rank. And he’s hoping other residents and business owners will come alongside him and help him do it.

Kevin Galloway, 16, a sophomore at Cedar Springs High School, spoke with City Manager Thad Taylor last year about repairing the gazebo in Morley Park in order to earn his Eagle Scout rank. When it was deemed structurally unsafe and torn down, he came up with another idea. “My goal is to build a 20 x 36 pavilion,” explained Galloway. “This pavilion will be maintenance free and fit 8-10 picnic tables. The pavilion will be placed behind the Cedar Springs Museum, off of the parking lot for easy handicap access.”

The Cedar Springs City Council approved the project, and Galloway is now trying to raise funds for the project. His budget estimate is $17, 325. He has currently raised $9,000. Gust Construction will be the general contractor overseeing the project, to make sure things are done correctly, explained Galloway. He hopes to build the pavilion in the springs of 2015, but the project cannot be started until all the funds are raised. He is looking for both funding and people willing to help work on the project.

The Cedar Springs Rotary is the Boy Scout Charter, and they have a tax-deductible account for all of the money that is raised. Donation checks can be made payable to the Cedar Springs Rotary Club Foundation. The address is: PO Box 73, Cedar Springs MI 49341. Make a note in the memo section that the money is for Eagle Scout Project.

Galloway said he would be happy to meet with area businesses or community members to explain the project in more detail. He said the best way to contact him is through email at tnbgallo@aol.com.

 

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The Post travels to Gettysburg

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N-Post-travels-to-Gettysburg1Bob and Shirley Hegedus took the Post with them on an American Heritage trip last September to Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and Gettysburg. They visited Arlington Cemetery, Independence Hall, the Flight 93 Memorial site, the cemetery in Gettysburg were President Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg address, many monuments in Washington D.C. and more. They said there was 41 people on the trip, which was for Independent Bank’s Horizon Club.

Thanks, Bob and Shirley, for taking us with you!

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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Truck hits school bus

A truck ran into the back of a school bus last week in Pierson Township.

A truck ran into the back of a school bus last week in Pierson Township.

A teen driver ran into a Tri County school bus last week Tuesday, when he couldn’t stop on the icy road.

According to the Montcalm County Sheriff Department, the accident occurred about 2:30 p.m. November 25, on Lake Montcalm Road near Maple Hill Road, in Pierson Township.

Police said that a Tri County School bus was stopped and letting a student off in front of their home on Lake Montcalm Road when a 1996 Ford Ranger pickup struck the rear of the bus. The Ford, driven by a 16-year-old Sand Lake youth, was travelling eastbound and could not stop due to icy roads.

None of the 25 students on board the bus were injured. They were transferred to a different bus.

Both the 16-year-old driver of the Ranger and his 17-year-old passenger were seat-belted and the airbags in the truck deployed. Neither teen was injured.

Police said that all of the lights on the bus were working at the time of the crash and there appeared to be no other contributing factors in the crash. The driver of the truck was cited for failing to use due care and caution while operating a motor vehicle.

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Holiday Shipping 101

Photo courtesy of Daniel Afzal for U.S. Postal Service

Photo courtesy of Daniel Afzal for U.S. Postal Service

(Family Features)

If one of your holiday tasks is shipping gifts to family and friends across the nation, knowing a few tips and tricks will ensure your packages get to them in time for the festivities.

From shipping deadlines to packaging, there are many factors to consider when sending gifts, especially during a busy time like the holiday season. Fortunately, there are dozens of resources available to help make shipping holiday gifts more convenient than ever.

“Priority Mail is a convenient and affordable shipping option for holiday gifts,” said John Budzynski, consumer advocate at the U.S. Postal Service. “It offers features like package redirect, free package pickup and text update alerts.”

Budzynski offers this advice to help make your holiday shipping simple and stress-free.

Take advantage of services that make shipping more convenient. For example, the U.S. Postal Service lets you order free Priority Mail shipping supplies from usps.com and delivers them right to your door – from boxes to envelopes and stickers.

Be informed about policies for handling fragile gifts or items that may be hazardous, such as perfume, cologne and other liquids.

Always include a return address. It tells the shipper where to return the package if it can’t be delivered.

Pack smart. Pick a strong and sturdy box, cushion contents with packing peanuts, newspaper or bubble wrap, and tape it closed with strong packing tape.

Print postage at home using Click-N-Ship from the U.S. Postal Service at usps.com/clicknship. It not only saves time, but money too; you can receive up to an 11 percent discount by buying postage online.

Don’t get caught in the holiday rush. Schedule a free package pickup from your home or office.

Stay updated on the status of your package. Use Priority Mail to receive tracking to monitor your package’s progress toward its destination. You also can sign up for text and email alerts through my.usps.com to help you track package delivery.

Check key shipping dates to ensure your package arrives in time for the holiday. The U.S. Postal Service provides these deadlines to help you plan ahead for delivery by Dec. 25:

Dec. 2 – International First-Class Mail

Dec. 2 – Priority Mail International

Dec. 10 – Priority Mail Express International

Dec. 15 – Standard Post

Dec. 17 – Global Express Guaranteed

Dec. 20 – First-Class Mail

Dec. 20 – Priority Mail

Dec. 23 – Priority Mail Express

Note: Priority Mail Express postage refund eligibility is adjusted for shipments mailed December 22-25.

“The U.S. Postal Service prepares all year for the holidays,” Budzynski said. “This is our season. We are ready to help customers ensure their packages are packed, tracked and delivered with ease.”

For more shipping tips and online tools, visit usps.com.

 

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Fire Prevention Month

October was Fire Prevention Month. Algoma Township Fire Department stopped by Beach Elementary to talk about Fire Prevention and encouraged the kids to talk with their families to make a plan in case of emergency.

 

Posted in Cedar Springs Public Schools, FeaturedComments (0)

Expect the Unexpected

By Ranger Steve Mueller

The pine siskin is a North American bird in the finch family. Photo credit: “Carduelis pinus CT7” by Cephas - Own work.

The pine siskin is a North American bird in the finch family. Photo credit: “Carduelis pinus CT7” by Cephas – Own work.

 

Identification of some critters is difficult. One needs to have a proper frame of mind to expect the unexpected. On November 17 I saw my first Pine Siskins of the year, and that is the only day so far they have been present this year.

They look somewhat like female House Finches and blend into a group of birds at the feeder. The first thing one might want to look at is the bill. Siskins have a narrowed, sharp, pointed bill compared to House Finches’ thicker, heavy bill used for crushing seeds. Pine Siskins seek conifers with small cones like cedars, tamarack, hemlock and spruce that are easier for extracting seeds. Large cone conifers are not suitable, because the cones are difficult for accessing seeds. The seeds are too large and hard in their diet. Conifers with smaller seeds can be eaten and digested more easily. Some seeds are stored in their crop for digestion during the cold subfreezing nights.

Siskins are nomadic birds and move from location to location and one habitat to another. They are encountered in fields eating weed seeds and gather seeds from a variety of deciduous shrubs, in addition to using pine forest like their name indicates. Seasonally their diet adds insects and this is especially true when feeding young.

At winter bird feeders, these small finches spend time on the ground retrieving seeds that other birds have caused to fall and they feed directly from feeders. The recent foot of snow likely brought siskins to the feeder. It is the only time I’ve seen them this year. Their winter arrival brings my annual total to 255 bird species for the year.

Pine Siskins have yellow banding on wing feathers but it might be hidden until they spread their wings. Their tails have yellow along the side but it also may not be evident until they fly. Females and immature birds do not have much yellow making use of color difficult. The birds at the feeder did not show yellow and led me to first to think House Finch. I knew immediately they were not American Goldfinches because goldfinches do not have streaking on their breast. The siskin has heavy streaking on its breast and back. They lack the characteristic red that is found in male House Finches but female House Finches also lack the red.

Generally siskins are sleeker than other finches. Once when I was leading a birding tour, we encountered a bird in late June when visiting good siskin breeding habitat but I did not have my mind set for encountering this species. I spent twenty minutes trying to identify it while others had given up and were waiting for the “all knowledgeable leader” to come through. I was getting frustrated also and the yellow would have helped. It was not actually the lack of yellow that was the problem. The problem was in my head. I was not considering the Pine Siskin as a possibility. It is always important to expect the unexpected in nature niches. The habitat was great for Pine Siskins and finally after about 20 minutes one flashed a little yellow and identification fell into place. I should have recognized it by other characteristics.

It should not have taken so long to make the identification except I had narrowed my thought process too much. One tour participant also thought it should not have taken so long because she needed a restroom break and did not tell me. Instead she began to anger. Fortunately there was a toilet about a half-mile away in a national forest campground. I hope she has forgiven me and hopefully other participants will voice their needs on tours.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at the odybrook@chartermi.net Ody Brook, 13010 Northland Dr, Cedar Springs, MI 49319-8433.

 

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