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Labor Day gas prices lowest since 2004

Gasbuddy reveals a 19 percent drop in amount of “labor” needed to fill up the tank

BOSTON (September 1, 2020) – Gasoline prices this Labor Day are set to be the lowest since 2004 according to GasBuddy, the travel and navigation app used by more North American drivers to save money on gas. The company predicts a national average of $2.19 per gallon, down nearly 37 cents from last year and the lowest priced Labor Day since 2004’s $1.82 per gallon average. Here in Cedar Springs, it was $2.01 at press time Wednesday.

“With Hurricane Laura now behind us and many refineries returning to service, gas prices will begin to head lower just in time for the Labor Day weekend,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis. “This will be the lowest Labor Day weekend gas prices since 2004, closing out an incredible summer at the pump with the most stable and lowest overall price from Memorial Day to Labor Day since 2004 as well. For motorists, the good news doesn’t end with

Labor Day: gas prices will likely continue falling as seasonal factors kick in, reducing demand, and in addition, we switch back to cheaper winter gasoline in just a couple of weeks.”

Given the drop in gas prices, GasBuddy’s study on how many hours motorists need to work to pay their annual gasoline expenses found that U.S. motorists can work 19 percent fewer hours on average to pay their annual gasoline bill (72.3) compared to 2019 (88.9).

“Despite the drop in amount of labor needed to fuel the car, it is sadly juxtaposed with historic unemployment rates,” said De Haan. “Fewer hours of work required to fill a gas tank does not offer much relief for millions of Americans without jobs across the country.”

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Red Hawks off to great start

The Red Hawks get their first win of the 2020 season.

In a world full of uncertainties, there was one thing for certain—the Red Hawks Boys’ Cross Country team was ready to race. In a dual meet, the team beat Kent City in their season opener with a score of 22 to 37. The race took place at Long Lake Park on Tuesday, August 25. 

In what is typically a slow course, senior Corey Bowers led the way from the start of the gun finishing first in a time of 17:16, a finish over two minutes ahead of the first Kent City runner. Gabe White, junior, showed just how talented of a runner he is finishing 2nd in a time of 18:49. Junior Carter Moleski was right behind White until the finish line but was unable to finish secondary to an injury. Senior Austin Mann finished 5th (19:24), and sophomore Espen Wood finished 6th (19:25), both displaying their strong summer training is payed off and secured the win for Cedar Springs. Senior Justin Voskuil (8th, 19:37), sophomore Eli Malon (9th, 19:41.03), and freshman Jack Sherburn (10th, 19:41.78) all got a taste of what varsity running is like. 

Freshman Zach Reed (13th, 20:15) got his first taste of a cross country 5K with an impressive performance followed closely by junior Gabe Minnich (14th, 20:22) who ran 1:09 faster than he did last year on this course. Freshman Eli Kleyenberg (17th, 20:48) ran a strong race and proved he is an extremely talented young runner. Senior Caleb Menefee (20th, 21:17), junior Cayden Steinebach (24th, 21:50), and freshman Elliott Moleski (25th, 22:14) each put in some strong solid racing. Alex Cole (junior) ran his first XC race ever, competing strong and finishing 26th with a time of 22:15.  Sophomore Jonathon Reed finished a crazy 4:30 seconds faster than he did a year ago on this course with a time of 22:25, finishing 27th.  Sophomore Matthew McQueen finished 30th at 23:31 followed by sophomore Luke Price (31st, 27:04) and sophomore Clayton Auwema (34th, 35:07) each running their first 5ks. 

“It’s a blessing to have an opportunity to compete during these uncertain times; not everyone can say the same,” said Coach Justin Jones. “The new race environment is an adjustment we are all getting used to but it’s worth doing whatever it takes to give our young men the life opportunities that sports provide. It’s been nearly a year since our boys have raced. We were a little over-anxious at the start and got out a bit quick. A great learning experience to get out of the way early on as our team is much younger than it has been in recent years. Our strong off-season was our saving grace and carried us to a nice win against a Kent City program with a long tradition of putting out some solid teams.”

The Red Hawks take to their home course Thursday, September 3, for a quad meet against Greenville, Belding, and Grand Rapids Covenant Christian with a race time start of 5 p.m. 

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Invasive European frog-bit found in Mid-Michigan

European frog-bit resembles small water lilies, with white, three-petaled flowers visible between June and August.

Boaters, waterfowl hunters and anglers can help prevent further spread

EGLE Aquatic Biologist Tom Alwin removes European frog-bit from a backwater area in Pentwater River State Game Area.

The Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy recently confirmed the presence of European frog-bit, an aquatic invasive plant, in four lakes within the Waterloo Recreation Area in Jackson and Washtenaw counties and one impoundment in the Dansville State Game Area in Ingham County.

Aquatic invasive species have the potential to harm Michigan’s environment, economy and human health. European frog-bit, which resembles a miniature water lily with leaves about the size of a quarter, can form dense mats on the surface of slow-moving waters like bayous, backwaters and wetlands. These mats can impede boat traffic and alter food and habitat for ducks and fish.

Spreading across Michigan

European frog-bit was first detected in southeast Michigan in 1996 and has since spread along the coastal areas of lakes Erie and Huron up to the eastern Upper Peninsula.

In 2016, the plant was discovered in Reeds and Fisk lakes in East Grand Rapids. It was found in several small bodies of water in Oakland County in 2018 and in the Lower Grand River in Ottawa County and Pentwater Lake in Oceana County in 2019.

While waterfowl, currents and stream flow can spread the plant and its seeds, European frog-bit, like most invasive species, travels farther and faster by human movement. Plant parts and seeds can become attached to boat motors, trailers, decoys and other recreational gear in an infested body of water and be transferred unintentionally to another location.

What is being done

To date, EGLE staff has completed surveys of bodies of water in the Dansville State Game Area and Waterloo and Pinkney state recreations areas, as well as most lakes with public access in the area, finding no additional infestations.

All visible frog-bit plants were successfully removed by hand from Mills Lake, but due to heavy infestations, Mud, Green and Winnewanna lakes and the Dansville State Game Area impoundment require more intensive response options that cannot be completed in 2020.

Survey and removal efforts are ongoing in West Michigan, where crews from the West Michigan Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (CISMA) and the Gun Lake Tribe are working with EGLE to remove or treat infestations around heavily used boating access sites and to protect culturally and ecologically significant sites like wild rice beds in the Lower Grand River.

The Oakland County CISMA is continuing its survey of lakes and wetlands and has begun controlling the invasive plant in some infested areas. 

What you can do

To prevent further spread of European frog-bit, boaters, waterfowl hunters and anglers should clean, drain and dry boats, trailers and gear before moving them to a new location.

State law now requires boaters to do the following before transporting any watercraft over land:

Remove all drain plugs from bilges, ballast tanks and live wells.

Drain all water from live wells and bilges.

Ensure the watercraft, trailer and all conveyances are free of aquatic organisms, including plants.

If you spend time on or around the water, learn how to identify European frog-bit and report any sightings using the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network website at MISIN.MSU.edu or the MISIN downloadable app. When reporting, be sure to note the date, time and location of the sighting and take photos if possible.

Reports also can be made to EGLE’s Aquatic Invasive Species Program by email to EGLE-WRD-ANC@michigan.gov or by calling 517-284-5593.

To find out more about European frog-bit and other aquatic invasive species, visit Michigan.gov/Invasives.

Michigan’s Invasive Species Program is cooperatively implemented by the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture & Rural Development

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Predictable Harvester

Ranger Steve

Animals have mysterious routines we know little about to keep their bodies and minds fit. From early to late afternoon the Harvester visits selected roosting locations. It is a small butterfly with brown and tan undersides of wings that are visible when it stands on a leaf with wings folded upward over its back. A number of irregular silver lines or circles loop on the wing outlining brown speckles.

The top of wings can be viewed when the butterfly partially opens them. The upper wing has large patches of orange bordered in black. How color patterns aid survival is mostly unknown to me. Colors help with mate or rival recognition. 

Observations indicate predictable activity periods. I do not see the Harvester in the roosting area until afternoon and it continues a presence into late afternoon. The butterflies perch on shrub leaves about five feet above the ground along the north side of a forest clearing where sun glistens on leaves. There it stands patiently waiting. Later in the day it perches at the east border of the clearing when sun rays brighten leaf landing pads.

Apparently the butterfly has business elsewhere in the morning. Perhaps it travels to speckled alders and ash trees on the floodplain where wooly aphids suck juices from tender stems. Harvesters lay eggs among the white wooly wax covering aphids create and use it to cover their bodies. When the caterpillar hatches, it covers its body with the waxy fluff and begins eating aphids. It is concealed and camouflaged from its predators by the wax and eats peacefully controlling aphid numbers. 

The caterpillar develops rather quickly, pupates and soon emerges as an adult butterfly. 

I visit the butterfly’s afternoon roosting site daily on walks. When a second one flies near, it darts toward it. It could possibly be a suitable mate or rival male. 

Last year there were three broods. Spring, summer, and fall broods were present. The spring brood flew 31 May through 21 June. The summer brood flew from 19 July through August and the fall brood began in August and overlapped with the summer brood. Harvesters were present through 26 September. This year the spring brood began flight on 31 May and was only noticed until 6 June. A long gap occurred until the summer (or fall?) brood began on 5 Aug. That brood continues at this writing in late August. 

The Harvester is the only predatory caterpillar found in the United States and it aids rapid development. Others are vegetarians and mature more slowly. Every species has something uniquely special.

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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Back-To-School with a New Look

Students in elementary through high school quickly settled into classroom routines and interacted with peers and teachers safely.

On Monday, August 24, 2020, Creative Technologies Academy welcomed back its students for the 2020-21 school year. For this school year, CTA is offering students an in-person or virtual option.

CTA spent time the first week on campus practicing policies, protocols, and procedures around campus and also building relationships and team-building with students. Students and staff adapted well to the new guidelines, maintaining an atmosphere of respect and positivity.

CTA staff has also been connecting with virtual families, monitoring their progress with online platforms, and holding informational Zoom meetings to build community relationships. Whether online or in-person – it’s been a great week to be a Charger!

Virtual students remotely dove into their online coursework on the same day as face-to-face students returned to the classroom.

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Old postcards from a bygone era

By Judy Reed

Karen Hayden, of Ensley Township, sent us photos of three old postcards that showed pictures of local areas here in the early 1900s.

“My cousin and I were going through family memorabilia yesterday and we found these cards featuring area attractions or locations. Most of the cards in the album were from the very early 1900’s, ie. 1912, ’10, etc.,” she explained.

Colorized postcard of Hartts Resort, Whitefish Lake.

Did you know that Whitefish Lake was once the site of a popular vacation resort? One of the postcards Karen sent was an early colorized postcard from Hartts Resort, located at Whitefish Lake. Hayden said she remembered her dad talking about it but didn’t know anything else about it.

We did some online research and found that Hartts Resort is one of the places listed in a 1913 publication called Michigan Summer Resorts Including the Michigan East Coast Resorts: a Guide to the Summering Places in the Lake and River Region of the State of Michigan. It is listed on page 37.

Hartts is also listed in Polk’s Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory, of 1921. It lists businesses in Pierson, and lists Hartt, C W., hotel at Whitefiesh (sic) Lake and also lists another hotel belonging to a Martin, J E at Whitefiesh (sic) Lake.

Clarkes Historical Library, of Mount Pleasant, has another old postcard of Hartts Resort on their facebook page with a bit of info. It says that “Hartts Resort was a known summer escape for residents of Michigan. At only $2 a day and $10 a week families could afford to return year after year. As a young girl Betty Ford spent her summers here with her family.”

Boating on Baptist Lake, Ensley Township.

Another photo Hayden sent us was of Baptist Lake. “(This is) Baptist Lake taken from the north end where the Simcoe family has lived for 150 years,” she said. She added that the photo was probably one of the Simcoe boys. “My maiden name was Simcoe, and my husband and I have a portion of the original Simcoe acreage and a bit of lake front on the nw part of the lake. Been here 51 years,” she said.

TS&M Railroad depot in Cedar Springs.

The final postcard photo she sent was of the old TS&M railroad depot here in Cedar Springs. It was one of two railroads that ran through town. The Grand Rapids & Indiana line ran north and south, and the TS&M ran east and west. The depot was located on the south end of town. The Cedar Springs Historical Museum has a book you can purchase that tells the history of the railroad here, and is full of photos, such as this one.

Thanks so much, Karen, for brightening our day with your photos!

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School bond proposal results certified

Passes by 13 votes

By Judy Reed

The election results of the Cedar Springs Public Schools bond proposal have been certified, and the results show that it did indeed pass, although by less votes than originally indicated.

The bond election was the closest contest in the August primary, and initial (unofficial) results showed the Cedar Springs Public Schools bond proposal passed by only 20 votes with 2,369 yes (50.21 percent) and 2,349 no (49.71 percent). 

In a letter from Kent County Clerk Lisa Lyons, dated August 18, the certified results show that it passed with 2,371 yes votes to 2,358 no votes—a difference of 13 votes.

The $68,000,000 bond proposal for school improvements is not expected to raise residents’ taxes. Instead, it will extend the District’s current tax levy of 7.0 mills through 2036.

The Post asked Superintendent Scott Smith when they expect to start making improvements. 

“We will start the design work immediately on the High School classroom addition and the secure office at Cedar View. Other projects will fall into the queue based on level of priority,” he explained. 

He added that he would keep us updated on the timeline and hold quarterly project updates for staff and community members.

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Dancing the night away

Lucille Middleton, 95, dancing with Jim Tol.

Even during a pandemic you can’t keep Lucille Middleton down.

Lucille Middleton, 95, of Cedar Springs, loves life, people, and a nice party. In the photo above, she is “trying to teach an old guy with two left feet how dance while having the patience of a saint, the smile of an angel, and enough energy to get the old chicken coop re-opened,” explained Jim Tol, who sent us the photo. 

This was last Thursday evening at the Tol home, with a four-piece band. Rick Eyers on keyboard and his band played on, while Lucille tired out all the guys.

 The old “chicken coop” where Lucille Middleton used to dance.

“Lucille and her late husband Clare wore out the floor of the old chicken coop (located on 19 Mile Rd, east of Algoma). Both enjoyed dancing very much. Cedar Springs has a winner in Lucille and everyone around her seems to have a brighter smile. Thank you, Lucille!” said Tol.

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Court of Appeals rules in favor of Whitmer in GOP-led legislature lawsuit

Republicans vow to continue fight

By Scott McClallen | The Center Square

(The Center Square) – The Court of Appeals in a 2-1 decision Friday, Aug. 21, ruled in favor of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency powers.

The Court of Appeals upheld the Court of Claims’ decision three months ago that Whitmer could act through the 1945 Emergency Powers of Governor Act (EPGA) without the Legislature’s approval in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whitmer has used the power to issue over 160 Executive Orders impacting almost 10 million Michiganders, some of which carried the threat of misdemeanor charges and up to 90 days in jail.

Judges Kirsten Frank Kelly and Jane Markey signed onto the majority opinion, penned by Markey. Judge Jonathan Tukel dissented.

The dispute hinges over two laws that authorize emergency powers: The Emergency Management Act (EMA) of 1976 requires the governor to get legislative approval after 28 days, while the EPGA has no such restraint.

Markey wrote the Legislature, through the EPGA, gave the governor “broad power of action.”

“We hold that the governor’s declaration of a state of emergency, her extension of the state of emergency, and her issuance of related executive orders fell within the scope of the governor’s authority under the EPGA,” the court wrote.

The majority ruled the EPGA constitutional and declined to address whether the EMA authorized Whitmer’s actions, calling the matters “moot.”

Republicans had argued the 1945 law only applied to local emergencies.

The court ruled “the plain and unambiguous language” of the two laws didn’t support that argument.

“We find it more than a bit disconcerting that the very governmental body that delegated authority to governors to confront public emergencies – and holds and has held the exclusive power to change it – steps forward 75 years later to now assert that it unconstitutionally delegated unconstrained authority,” the majority wrote in the opinion.

Tukel dissented, citing the EMA, which specifically names “epidemic.” The EPGA doesn’t.

Whitmer’s press secretary Tiffany Brown said in a statement that the “Court of Appeals handed the governor a complete and decisive win in her efforts to protect the people of Michigan from this once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic. This decision recognizes that the Governor’s actions to save lives are lawful and her orders remain in place.”

The fight isn’t over yet.

Whitmer could lose her powers through an appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court or through the Unlock Michigan campaign seeking to repeal the 1945 rule.

House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, tweeted Friday that the “The Court of Appeals got it wrong today.”

“Our Constitution is clear, and separation of powers is real,” Chatfield said. “No Governor, Republican or Democrat, can have unilateral control over a state based solely on their judgment. This precedent is extremely dangerous. We will now go to the MSC.”

Unlock Michigan spokesman Fred Wszolek told The Center Square that within five weeks, they have gathered 200,00 signatures out of the 340,047 required to repeal the law.

“The Court of Appeals has made it clear that the only way to add checks and balances in government is for the people to take charge and insist upon it with this petition,” Wszolek said. “COVID is still a problem, but the emergency has ended. What hasn’t ended is the governor’s state of emergency that allows her to rule by decree.

“That’s not the right way to govern. We have to get back to the normal order where elected representatives debate laws, and the public gets input.”

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy also criticized the rule.

“The separation of powers prevents the governor from having unlimited, unilateral and indefinite power,” Patrick Wright, vice president of legal affairs at the Mackinac Center, said in a statement. “Contrary to the Court of Appeals decision, the Legislature cannot pass laws that effectively amend this doctrine, which is established in the Michigan Constitution. The separation of powers doctrine has existed for centuries to enhance liberty, protect freedoms and lead to better policy decisions.”

You can read the official decision at https://content.govdelivery.com/attachments/MIEOG/2020/08/21/file_attachments/1523443/COA%20Ruling.PDF.

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Three ways families can better prepare for the school year

Identify the right resources 

One thing in high demand for teachers this year is support from communities. It’s important to ensure teachers have the resources they need to lead student learning for both online and in-person settings. Everything from basic supplies to materials that promote learning and overall well-being can help kids manage stress, but teachers often need help acquiring those supplies. That’s why Kleenex® brand is donating up to $1.2 million in 2020 to fund requests from teachers on the education nonprofit crowdfunding site DonorsChoose.

“When students have the resources they need to learn and stay well, achievement can thrive,” said Charles Best, founder of DonorsChoose. “This upcoming school year holds many unknowns for educators, and we’re grateful for this support from Kleenex® brand, which has helped equip over 2,500 teachers and 176,500 students with materials they need to continue learning.”

Prepare for a new routine 

A big part of going back to school is getting into a new routine as a family and being flexible knowing things will continue to change. Gilboa recommends introducing a similar school schedule weeks before school starts, so parents are able to help children adjust and make changes as needed.

“Having kids practice what is expected of them with these new guidelines will help them feel more prepared when it’s time for school to start,” says Gilboa. “Whether it’s packing their backpack or starting the morning with structured activities such as reading or coloring, having this routine will help kids transition better into the school year.”

Don’t underestimate a child’s stress 

Research shows that most elementary school children report some symptoms of nerves or anxiety around returning to school each year. In these unprecedented times, those numbers are expected to rise dramatically. According to Gilboa, the biggest signs of stress to look out for in kids include behavior, sleep and appetite changes, difficulty with normal communication, or not enjoying things they normally do.

“Kids will pick up on their parents’ stress leading up to the school year, so it’s important to remember to manage your stress and reactions appropriately,” said Gilboa. “To help understand your kids’ true feelings, ask questions to encourage them to share good and bad experiences. This way, when your child is going through something stressful, they have the practice and expectation that they can talk about it with their parents.”

Parents can start by encouraging kids to share a couple of good things that happened in the day, and also a challenge. Questions could include “what moment made you smile today” or “tell me about a moment you wish you could erase.”

The upcoming school year will feel overwhelming but taking extra time to understand and communicate with kids and their teachers will help everyone feel more in control and prepared for the school year. To join Kleenex® brand in funding the resources needed for students and teachers this year, please visit DonorsChoose.org/Kleenex.

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