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Chamber kicks off summer with Renaissance Faire

The Wonder elixir comedy team kept the crowd entertained at the CS Renaissance Faire. Photo by J. Reed. A woman in Victorian dress and an elf from Middle Earth were seen at the Ren Faire last weekend. Post photo by J. Reed. Kids had a blast playfighting with toy swords and other middle age weaponry. Post photo by J. Reed.

The Wonder elixir comedy team kept the crowd entertained at the CS Renaissance Faire. Photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Area Chamber kicked off their summer events with the third annual Cedar Springs Renaissance Faire last weekend.

The event took place in Morley Park Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Friday’s fun ended with the showing of the 1951 version of “Alice in Wonderland” in the park. Two more movies are planned for July and August.

There was entertainment all weekend, with concessions all day Saturday and Sunday. Actors, vendors, and several attendees were dressed in a myriad of costumes—royalty and swordsmen from the Middle Ages; fairies; Middle Earth; Victorian; and more. There was also a royal dinner on Saturday.

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A woman in Victorian dress and an elf from Middle Earth were seen at the Ren Faire last weekend. Post photo by J. Reed.

About 20-25 vendors attended the event.

The Colony of Larpcraft was a big hit with the kids. They were able to go into a roped off area where they could pretend to fight each other with toy swords and other middle age weapons. They could also buy a toy sword to take home. Knockerball, which was there on Sunday, was also a hit with kids.

Kids had a blast playfighting with toy swords and other middle age weaponry. Post photo by J. Reed.

Kids had a blast playfighting with toy swords and other middle age weaponry. Post photo by J. Reed.

According to Chamber president Perry Hopkins, he was happy with the way the event turned out. “We put the vendors in a circle this year to improve traffic flow, which made the vendors happy, and more people turned out for the event, especially on Saturday.”

Hopkins said they had about 200 on Friday, 350 or more on Saturday, and 200-250 on Sunday. “It’s really hard to tell since we don’t have a gate or admission to enter,” he said.

“I want to thank all the volunteered to make it happen, those that did role playing, and those that came out and took part in it,” said Hopkins.

He noted that they plan to have it again next year, and that several vendors are already signed up to come back.

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Cedar View principal to take job in Hudsonville

Andrew Secor

Andrew Secor

By Judy Reed

Cedar Springs Public Schools is saying goodbye to another administrator. Andrew Secor, principal at Cedar View and an 18-year employee of the district, is leaving to become principal at Jamestown Upper Elementary for Hudsonville Public Schools.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time in Cedar Springs as a coach, teacher, and principal,” said Secor.

He was just 22-years old and fresh out of college when he landed a job at Cedar Springs Public Schools as assistant varsity basketball coach to Dave Schlump.

“I coached for 14 years, six as Dave’s assistant and eight as the head coach. I was fortunate to work with so many great players, as we won 10 district titles and three league championships during that time frame. One of my favorite memories of that time was working with an amazing coach staff that had such deep Cedar Springs pride,” he remarked.

Two years after being hired as assistant basketball coach, Secor was hired as a teacher at Cedar Trails. He taught at Cedar Trails for six years, then Beach for four years. He then became assistant principal at Cedar Trails for two years, and was a principal at Cedar View for four years.

“I have had the opportunity to work with hundreds of educators, and thousands of students and parents,” noted Secor. “The mark they have left on me will last forever. I have had some amazing mentors and role models from within this community that have helped to grow me as a leader and as a man.”

The Post asked what were some of Secor’s favorite moments and what will he miss? “My favorite moments are all about people,” he explained. “This is truly the best profession in the world and it’s all founded on relationships. I will remember the daily interactions with students, the great administrative team I was a part of, and working with teachers to provide the best possible education for students. The people of this community is what drew me in and the people of this community are what I will miss the most. Some of my greatest friends and mentors live right here in Cedar Springs.”

He also had some kind words for the people that work at Cedar View. “I am so proud of the staff at Cedar View. It is a talented, smart, and dedicated group that I am going to miss dearly. They bought into the vision I had for the building, we accomplished some amazing things, and they will continue to accomplish many more.”

The Post also asked Secor what words he might have for the community. “While it saddens me that many outstanding educators have left the district recently, this is a strong staff and community which will continue to serve students to the best of their ability,” he said.

How does Secor want people to remember him? “I pray that I have left a meaningful and positive impact on those around me. Through the celebrations and challenges of the last 18 years, I have always done everything I could to help students and players, both academically as well as emotionally. The reason this profession is the greatest in the world is that it is all about relationships and the daily opportunity you have to make the lives of people around you better. That is what drove me everyday, to help teachers, parents, and students, have a better life and to make Cedar Springs the best school district we possibly could be.”

Andy Secor and family

Andy Secor and family

While sad to be leaving Cedar Springs, Secor is excited about what his  new position has to offer. “It is an amazing opportunity for my family and I. Hudsonville has a dynamic administrative team, I get to work with an outstanding principal who is at Jamestown Lower Elementary, and all I hear about is how amazing the Jamestown teaching staff is. Jamestown is ranked in the 99th percentile for student achievement in the state of Michigan and I relish the opportunity to lead a new team that has already accomplished so much.”

He also said that he and his wife are excited about the academic and athletic opportunities that Hudsonville will provide their children. But he doesn’t take for granted what they have been given here.

“It has been a great place for my children to receive a high quality education, while being cared for and loved, and making lifelong friends. I don’t take for granted the impact that teachers, principals, and community members have played in helping my children to become better people. Thank you to everyone who has played a role in their lives,” he remarked.

“My family and I are excited for the next chapter of our journey as we head to Hudsonville. But Cedar Springs will forever have a place in our hearts.”

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Post travels to Panamá

N-Post-travels-Panama

Mikalah Gribbell, of Trufant, and currently a senior at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, is majoring in premedical preparation and biology with minors in Spanish and chemistry. For one week this May, she traveled with the Ball State chapter of Global Brigades on a medical/dental brigade, and took the Post with her.

“Global Brigades is an international organization that works to bring volunteers to underserved and undeveloped areas of the world such as Africa and central and South America,” she explained. “As an organization, they target communities that are willing to work to become more developed and self-sustaining. The organization sends medical, public health, water, environmental, business, micro finance, and human rights brigades to these communities and eventually the communities are brought up to a self-sustaining level where they have a true economy and individuals have hygienic facilities in their homes, access to healthcare and legal support, and the potential for future growth and development.”

Her brigade worked in the Coclé region of West Panamá. “In three days, (with the help of American and Panamanian doctors and dentists) we provided basic healthcare and dentistry services for 432 people. As needed, we filled prescriptions for blood pressure medicines, anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, anti-parasitic medications, and allergy medicines. We also taught classes about proper hygiene, sexually transmitted diseases, and caring for aches and pains.” She said that as a group, they also spent one day helping families build hygienic latrines and showers. “The experience was incredible and highly rewarding,” she remarked. “The Panamanian people were beyond grateful for our help, and are looking forward to the other brigades that will visit their communities. I hope to expand on this experience as I approach a career in medicine and consider working in rural/underserved communities in America.”

Thank you, Mikalah, 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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United Methodist Church to Celebrate Sesquicentennial 

The original Methodist Episcopal Church built on the corner of Main and Church Streets in Cedar Springs. Its cornerstone was laid August 17, 1870 and the church was dedicated June 7, 1871. This newly built Methodist church cost $6000 and was the tallest building north of Grand Rapids in 1871. The spire with the bell tower could be seen for miles.

The original Methodist Episcopal Church built on the corner of Main and Church Streets in Cedar Springs. Its cornerstone was laid August 17, 1870 and the church was dedicated June 7, 1871. This newly built Methodist church cost $6000 and was the tallest building north of Grand Rapids in 1871. The spire with the bell tower could be seen for miles.

by Sue Harrison

The roots of religious heritage in Cedar Springs are as deep and long as the history of the people who settled it. No group or community can survive long without some common belief or religions commitment to bind them together.

The very first sermon in Cedar Springs was preached in 1855 by a Methodist Episcopal preacher, Rev. W. W. Johnson, a circuit rider. Those services were held in the little log schoolhouse, which was then located on the southeast corner of Main and Muskegon Streets. A class of eight persons formed and continued to be served by Laphamville Circuit riders. (Laphamville was the original name for Rockford, Mich.)

The Methodist Episcopal Society was organized on October 6, 1866, with Preacher in Charge, Rev Burton Smith, along with four circuit riders who served eight other outposts in the North Kent area. Thus, the Methodist Episcopal Church became the second organized church in Cedar Springs.

This year, 2016, marks a milestone for the Cedar Springs United Methodist Church, which will be celebrating 150 years serving Cedar Springs through Christian worship. As part of its Sesquicentennial celebration, the Cedar Springs United Methodist Church has planned the following events open to the public throughout the summer and fall.

June 25 – Following a week of Vacation Bible School, there will be a Field Day held at Skinner Field with games, bounce house, and face painting. Hot dogs, chips and water will be provided.

July 31 – Hymn Sing and Ice Cream Social held at the church.

August 28 – Tent Revival in Morley Park, with hot dogs, chips, and water served afterward.

Oct. 1 – Red Flannel Day. Parade entry of circuit rider and a horse-drawn float.

Oct. 16 – Jubal Brass Concert at the CS United Methodist Church with a reception following the concert.

Nov. 20 – Rededication of the church cornerstone. Former pastors will be invited. A potluck will be held after the morning church service and before the ceremony.

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The Truth about Hot Peppers

 

Golden cayenne peppers are hot with a Scoville heat level of 30,000 to 50,000. Photo credit: courtesy of Bonnie Plants 

Golden cayenne peppers are hot with a Scoville heat level of 30,000 to 50,000. Photo credit: courtesy of Bonnie Plants

By Melinda Myers

Don’t be afraid to add a little spicy heat to your meals this season by growing a few hot peppers in the garden or containers. It’s easier than you think and many of the hot pepper myths floating around the garden are simply not true.

Don’t worry about your hot peppers heating up your sweet peppers. Peppers are normally self-pollinated. If an insect happens to move the pollen from a hot to sweet pepper, it will not affect the flavor or heat of this year’s harvest. If you save the seeds from a cross-pollinated pepper and plant them in next year’s garden, the plants they produce may have hot or sweet fruit (or a little of both), but only time will tell.

And don’t assume all green peppers are sweet or you will be in for a surprise. Jalapenos are typically harvested when green and others, like habanero, Anaheim and Poblano are hot, whether harvested when green or red. You’ll also find that hot peppers can be yellow, orange, brown and, of course, red.

You can turn down the heat when preparing your favorite recipes, too. Contrary to popular belief, all the heat in hot peppers does not come from the seeds. While partially true, the majority of the capsaicin that gives hot peppers their heat is in the white membrane that houses the seeds. When the seeds are growing they may also be coated with extra capsaicin from the membrane. So remove the white membrane and the seeds, just to be safe, if you want to turn down the heat.

The spicy heat of hot peppers is measured in Scoville Heat Units. The ratings are based on the amount of sugar water needed to neutralize the spicy heat in the extracted capsaicin that has been diluted in an alcohol-based extract. A panel of five taste testers decides when the spicy heat has been neutralized and then assigns the rating. Today many companies use a chemical process (liquid chromatography) but translate their results into the popular Scoville heat units.

The Scoville heat unit ratings vary from one type of hot pepper to another, with Poblano rating between 1000 to 2000, jalapenos 2500 to 6000, habaneros at 100,000 to 300,000 and one of the hottest, the ghost pepper, at 1,000,000 to 2,200,000 Scoville heat units.  Check online or the Homegrown with Bonnie Plants mobile app (for iOs and Android) for the Scoville ratings, growing tips and a Pepper Chooser to help you pick the best varieties to grow. Ratings may also vary from individual plants within a specific type based on individual plant differences and the growing conditions.

Whatever kind you grow, be sure to label hot peppers when planting, harvesting and storing to avoid any mix-ups. The sweet banana pepper, for example, can easily be confused with hot banana. This could make for an unwelcome surprise when preparing, serving and eating.

Also, consider wearing rubber gloves and avoid touching your face and eyes when working with hot peppers, as they can burn. Wash your hands, utensils and cutting boards when finished to avoid any future issues.

And don’t worry if you are having a bad day when planting your hot peppers. Contrary to some old adages, planting hot peppers when you’re angry won’t make the peppers hotter, but unknowingly taking a bite of a hot pepper may very well change your mood.

 Melinda Myers has written over 20 gardening books and has a master’s degree in horticulture. She hosts the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV & radio segments and The Great Courses How to Grow Anything DVD series. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine and was commissioned by Bonnie Plants for her expertise to write this article. Myers’ website is www.melindamyers.com. 

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A Smokin’ Celebration

FD-SmokedMeat

(Family Features) If the surge in barbecue and smoking competitions across the country is any indication, grilling has become an art form. This Father’s Day, grab dad and gather around the grill or try a new tech­nique that’s rising in popularity – smoking – to create a masterpiece meal – and plenty of memories – together.

From secret marinades to tricked out grills and smokers, competitive smokers know there is a near ritualistic approach to teasing the perfect flavor out of a pre­mium cut of meat. Follow in the foot­steps of those pit masters and smoke like a pro with these tips from Omaha Steaks Exec­utive Chef Karl Marsh.

Rinse brisket with vinegar, then water.

Rinse brisket with vinegar, then water.

Start with style

The first step is deciding how you’d like to prepare your meat. Consider stepping up your game by smoking your meat. Smoking is a popular choice because it infuses flavor through­out the meat, while extended cook times at low temperatures make it extra tender. Another advantage is the chance to create a wide range of unique flavors using wet and dry rubs, as well as seasoned wood chips and planks.

Dry meat and prepare rub.

Dry meat and prepare rub.

Choose your cut

Virtually any meat can be smoked, but the most popular cuts of meat to smoke are brisket, ribs, pork shoulder or turkey, all of which are typ­ically large in size. Guarantee a great experi­ence with Omaha Steaks Brisket for smoking or Whole Pork Butt, which were created with the competitive barbecue and smoking circuit in mind.

Coat meat generously with rub.

Coat meat generously with rub.

Ready your rub

Rubs are often used to add flavors and surface texture to a cut of meat. For best results, brush meat with cooking oil or another liquid ingre­dient (such as yellow mustard) before adding the rub. Spread the rub on a clean plate and place the meat on it. Coat both sides with the rub by gently pressing the meat on the plate.

Inject brisket with marinade.

Inject brisket with marinade.

Set up the smoker

Some pit masters consider their equipment as vital an ingredient as the meat or flavorings they choose. Preparation varies from one recipe to the next, but one constant is the importance of maintaining a steady temperature. As you prepare your charcoal, be conscious of where you’ll place any wood chips or other flavor enhancers for maximum impact.

Slow and steady

Sensational flavor takes time to build, so plan to dedicate several hours to your task. Often, smoked foods require foil wrapping for at least a por­tion of the cook to retain moisture. Plan to check in at regular intervals to restock wood chips, flip or rotate meat and apply a fresh coat of seasoning or spices.

Find more tips and recipes perfect for a smoking Father’s Day celebration at omahasteaks.com.

Ancho Chile Rubbed Smoked Beef Brisket

Prep time: 1 hour

Cook time: 11-13 hours

Rest time: 1-2 hours

Total time: 13-16 hours

1 Whole Omaha Steaks Brisket for smoking

2 cups white vinegar

2/3 cup yellow mustard

3/4 cup Omaha Steaks Ancho Chile Rub

4 cups Ancho Chile Smoking Spritzer, divided (recipe below)

8 cups apple or cherry wood chips, soaked in water

Remove brisket from bag and rinse with white vinegar then rinse with water.

Dry completely using paper towels.

Slather brisket generously with yellow mustard.

Rub generously with ancho chile rub and inject with 1 cup Ancho Chile Smoking Spritzer.

Prepare smoker using 1 chimney of pure lump charcoal fully lit and one chimney of pure lump charcoal unlit. Make sure water pan is full and adjust vents until smoker maintains a temperature between 225 and 250 F.

Place brisket on smoker fat side up and brush smoking spritzer over top.

Every hour, check smoker temp, squirt with smoking spritzer and add handful of wood chips.

After 3 hours, flip brisket fat side down and squirt with spritzer.

After 6 hours, flip brisket fat side up. Wrap heavy duty foil around the last 3-4 inches of brisket tip to prevent it from drying out. Restock water pan and add lump charcoal as needed. Adjust vents until temperature is between 225 and 250 F.

Beginning at 8 hours, check internal temperature every hour and apply spritzer and wood chips as needed.

Between 11-13 hours, when internal temperature is between 195 and 200 F, if fork slides easily into brisket, it is done.

Let brisket rest for 1-2 hours before slicing and serving.

Ancho Chile Rubbed Smoked Pork Butt

Prep time: 1 hour

Cook time: 8-10 hours

Rest time: 1 hour

Total time: 10-12 hours

1 Omaha Steaks Whole Pork Butt

2 cups white vinegar

1/2 cup yellow mustard

1/2 cup Omaha Steaks Ancho Chile Rub

4 cups Ancho Chile Smoking Spritzer, divided (recipe below)

8 cups apple or cherry wood chips, soaked in water

Score top fat so it will melt into pork while smoking and allow more rub to get into meat. Rub pork with white vinegar then rinse with water. Pat dry with clean paper towels.

Rub pork butt with yellow mustard. Rub pork butt with ancho chile rub. Inject pork with 10-12 ounces of Ancho Chile Smoking Spritzer.

Set up smoker with 1 chimney using unlit lump charcoal and 2 chimneys using lit lump charcoal.

Adjust vents in smoker until temperature settles between 225 and 250 F.

Place pork butt fat side up and add a lot of wood chips.

Every half hour, add more wood chips and spritz pork with smoking spritzer.

After 2 hours, insert remote thermometer probes. Be careful not to let thermometer touch bone to prevent false readings.

After 5 hours, place pork in foil pan and liberally coat with spritzer. Wrap pan tightly with foil.

Continue cooking without adding wood chips or opening smoker until thermometer hits 190 F (for sliced meat) or 200 F (for pulled meat), about 8-10 hours total.

Let rest 1 hour before serving.

Ancho Chile Smoking Spritzer

Makes: 4 cups

2 cups apple juice

1 cup cranberry juice

1 cup canola oil

2 tablespoons red hot pepper sauce

1/2 cup Omaha Steaks Ancho Chile Rub

Combine all ingredients and mix well.

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Break Through

Digital marketing basics for businesses

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

(Family Features) Consumers today increasingly rely on connected devices to research products and services before making purchases – so it’s no secret that small businesses need to focus more of their marketing resources than ever before on online strategies.

As the journey from consumer query to purchase becomes more complex – incorporating multiple devices, websites, apps and offline activities – so too do the options for tracking consumer behavior and leveraging online media for targeted advertising.

There are companies today specializing in almost every aspect of online marketing, leaving business owners with a dizzying array of options. For many the question is not the value of online marketing, but rather where to start and how much they need to do to accomplish their marketing objectives.

Fortunately, there are some foundational activities that are effective, manageable and comprise an important starting point for leveraging digital media to grow your business.

Here are four basics you can focus on right now to promote your business and grow your customer base online:

Mobile mindset

Mobile is quickly becoming the device of choice for consumers to search the web. According to research by International Data Corporation on behalf of YP, nearly one in three consumers uses two or more devices when looking for information about products and services; and in 2015, Google announced that it receives more searches from smartphones and tablets than from computers. Yet many businesses are slow to adapt.

If your website is difficult to navigate from a mobile device, you can lose business to your competitors – especially since mobile searches are often about more than finding information. Consumers are using their mobile phones to take action after visiting a site, including calling a business, checking store hours and mapping directions. Make sure your site is mobile-friendly and easy to use from a variety of devices so you don’t miss out on potential customers.

Simple search

Search marketing is a powerful tool to drive quality leads. At minimum, you need to optimize your web presence to make sure people who are looking for the types of products and services you sell can find you through the major search engines. After that, you can supplement your organic search engine traffic with paid search ads during peak seasons, special promotions or when you have budget to invest. In any case, the first step is to form a clear vision of your target consumers and the keywords that drive searches in your industry. For additional ideas, consult others, such as customers, relatives, competitor websites and industry news.

The time and money you invest in search marketing can be undermined if you neglect the basics such as making sure your company contact information is accurate, consistent and easy to find on your website, in online directories and anywhere else your business appears on the web. Think about what makes your life easier when you’re searching for a product or service that you need and then strive to provide that same experience on your own website.

Social graces

Social media is a great platform to connect and engage with potential customers. The key to making it work for your business is to listen first. Look for social media groups related to your industry, the services or products you provide, or the interests of your target consumers, and observe conversations to find out what’s important to the people you need to reach. Avoid promoting your business in these settings, but look for opportunities to add value and expertise to the discussion. In time, this will help to build a community of followers.

Keep in mind that each social media channel has its own rules and user base, and not all may be a fit for your business. Find the channel(s) that makes the most sense for you and your business, and be sure to incorporate social links in all of your marketing efforts to further grow your network.

Content and character

In the age of information, every small business needs to be a content publisher. Good content serves many purposes, from attracting higher search engine rankings to helping prospects choose your products or services, and reinforcing your brand. A good start is to look for opportunities to educate and share your expertise. How-to videos, FAQs or links to informative resources about your industry are great ways to add value and encourage people to come back to your website. Other content, such as seasonal greeting videos or stories about work you’re doing in the community, may serve to humanize your brand and build authentic connections with your customers.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Does a local business really need a website?

When your business is primarily focused on local clients and you don’t sell products online, you may wonder whether your business even needs a website. The answer is unequivocally yes.

Websites are how local businesses get found via directories and search engines. It’s the “home base” for pertinent information about your business, including hours, location, products, services and more.

Remember that keeping your website information current and correct is extremely important. Inaccurate information can get picked up by other sites and directories, which, in turn, makes it harder for your potential customers to find and engage with your business.

Summit fuels growth

For business owners looking to grow their businesses, the Local Breakthrough Summit organized by YP may deliver the knowledge and tools they need. The series of nationwide events brings together leaders in digital marketing, including Bing, Google, Verve and Yahoo, while also giving small business owners the opportunity to share best practices and gain insights about their communities.

For more information on YP’s Local Breakthrough Summit, visit adsolutions.yp.com/breakthroughsummit.

 

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Visit MCC at the Montcalm County 4-H Fair

 

Written by MCC Communications Assistant Samantha Mack 

Hannah Salisbury, a Montcalm Community College student dual enrolled in Michigan State University’s applied horse science program, and her horse Autumn show off their awards during last year’s Montcalm County 4-H Fair.

Hannah Salisbury, a Montcalm Community College student dual enrolled in Michigan State University’s applied horse science program, and her horse Autumn show off their awards during last year’s Montcalm County 4-H Fair.

Sidney – Montcalm Community College and Michigan State University’s Institute of Agricultural Technology are partnering to support the 81st annual Montcalm County 4-H Fair, which runs June 26 to July 2.

“We are pleased to partner with MSU in sponsoring this year’s 4-H fair,” MCC President Bob Ferrentino said. “The fair is a wonderful part of Montcalm County’s rich agricultural heritage and we at MCC could not be prouder than to be involved in this year’s event. Together with MSU, we are providing education and training programs in the all-important field of agriculture and bringing increased learning opportunities to Montcalm County residents.”

MCC and MSU representatives will be at the fair Sunday through Friday to support the 4-Hers and their achievements.

Samantha Plank, a Montcalm Community College student dual enrolled in Michigan State University’s agricultural operations program, shows her cow at the Montcalm County 4-H Fair.

Samantha Plank, a Montcalm Community College student dual enrolled in Michigan State University’s agricultural operations program, shows her cow at the Montcalm County 4-H Fair.

In 2015, MCC and MSU partnered to bring MSU’s agricultural operations, applied horse science, fruit and crop management and landscape management programs to MCC. Merry Kim Meyers serves as a liaison between the colleges to support students as they complete associate degrees at MCC and receive further certifications and degrees from MSU if desired.

“MCC and MSU sponsoring the Montcalm County 4-H Fair ties perfectly to our agriculture program,” Meyers said. “We want to be there for the 4-Hers because they already know ag, and they already show the dedication and effort to be successful. They’re exactly the people we want in our programs.”

MCC Director of Alumni Relations & Development Melissa Christensen said the co-sponsorship is a fantastic opportunity for both colleges to display their agriculture partnership.

“Montcalm County is one of the largest agricultural producers in Michigan, and it is only fitting that we highlight our four agricultural technology certificate and associate degree programs during the fair,” Christensen said. “Our state offers high demand careers in agricultural technology, and the MCC partnership with MSU brings our community the right training and education for those high-demand jobs.”

Meyers said MCC and MSU embrace this year’s fair theme, “There’s no place like a county fair.”

On June 29, visitors can enjoy the “MCC-MSU Know-place” to experience hands-on science and agricultural activities from 1 to 3 p.m. in the activities tent.

“Since Friday is Kids’ Day, we are planning special treats for the 4-Hers from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.,” Meyers said. “From 3 to 4:30 p.m., 4-H teens can enjoy a ‘Fair Survivor Celebration’ and ice cream social where we’ll hand out discounted tickets to the rodeo and door prizes.”

“MCC is especially excited about Kids’ Day,” Christensen added. “We are planning some fun learning opportunities that will demonstrate agricultural science for the younger crowd.”

MCC students who are dual-enrolled in the MSU agriculture program will be present to offer 4-Hers advice and answer questions.

“We hope to connect to 4-Hers and have them think ahead for their career futures,” Meyers said. “We hope they’re thinking ag.”

The Montcalm County 4-H Fairgrounds are located at 8784 Peck Road in Greenville.

For more information about the MCC and MSU partnership, visit www.montcalm.edu/mcc-and-msu-are-partners-in-ag-education/.

To download The POST’s 4H Fair schedule in this week’s paper click the link below:

Montcalm4H2016.pdf

Posted in Arts & Entertainment, FeaturedComments (0)

West Michigan Hawks improve to 2-0 in conference play

Running back Brant Brooks running to the end zone. Photo by M Crouch.

Running back Brant Brooks running to the end zone. Photo by M Crouch.

Fresh off a 50-8 drubbing of the Kalamazoo Grizzlies to open the conference portion of their schedule, the Hawks welcomed highly touted Southern Michigan Timberwolves to Skinner Field on Saturday. The Timberwolves had scored 84 points in a non-conference game this season, and were coming off a 62-24 victory the week prior. To say the odds were against the Hawks would be an understatement.

With emotions running high, the Hawks took the field on a mission to make a statement. In the end, they did just that. West Michigan squeaked out a 19-18 victory in double overtime, officially putting the rest of the Minor League Football Alliance on notice.

Running back Brant Brooks started the scoring on a 30-yard touchdown catch on a pass from quarterback Charles Manny Hodges, putting the Hawks up 6-0 in the first quarter. From that point on, the game turned into an intense battle for field position. The score remained 6-0 at halftime.

Both teams continued their defensive intensity in the second half. The Timberwolves were finally able to break into the end zone with 12 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, evening the score at 6-6.

Fireworks ensued in the final minute of regulation. With the Hawks pinned down at their own one-yard line, Hodges found wide receiver Monta Swanigan on a deep pass for a 99-yard touchdown with 43 seconds remaining, the longest scoring play in team history. That made the score 12-6 in favor of the Hawks. Southern Michigan responded by marching down the field and scoring the tying touchdown seconds later, but opted to go for the two-point conversion for the win, which was stuffed by the Hawks.

The overtime session was played under NCAA rules, with both teams getting a chance with the ball. Neither team scored in the first overtime. The Timberwolves found the end zone in the second overtime period, pushing the score to 18-12 in favor of Southern Michigan. On the following Hawks possession, Hodges found the end zone on a one-yard quarterback sneak, tying the score at 18, and setting up a dramatic extra point attempt for kicker Dontae Ensley. After missing on his first attempt, a penalty on the Timberwolves gave him another chance to seal the deal. His second attempt was up and good, securing the 19-18 Hawks victory.

“We knew this game was going to be a tough one,” said Ensley.  We were facing the best opponent we have seen yet. We stuck to our game plan, and blocked out all of the predictions saying that we would be blown out. We showed them that we are not a push over team. It may have taken us two overtimes to do it, but we came home with the win.”

Omar Haynes, Robert Bell, and Darnell Madison all had interceptions for the Hawks, and Javon Welch also secured a fumble recovery.

“I think all questions concerning the heart and dedication of the Hawks have been answered,” said head coach/owner David Lange. “We played against a team with a 56-man roster who had fresh legs almost every play, and still found a way to win in. It was very inspiring.”

This week, the Hawks will find themselves playing in enemy territory for the first time this season. The team will travel to Kalamazoo for a matchup with the West Michigan Bulls. For information on this matchup, be sure to follow the team on Facebook.

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Ranger Steve’s Nature Niche: Bowl and doily in your yard

Ranger Steve Mueller

Ranger Steve Mueller

By Ranger Steve Mueller

Look for dozens or hundreds of cups and saucers, as I like to refer to them, tied to vegetation in tall grassy areas of your yard in the morning. They are only visible on special days.

The name one uses is not important unless you try to look up information in books or on the Internet. Scientists use the standardized English name Bowl and Doily Weaver (spider) and Frontinella pyramitela for its scientific name to communicate clearly with Arachnologists around the world. I have not confirmed which species lives at Ody Brook. Two Bowl and Doily Weaver species live in Michigan.

Several bowl and doily spider’s webs wet with dew, on a trail in the Adirondacks, between Long Pond and Bessie Pond, St. Regis Canoe Area. By Marc Wanner

Several bowl and doily spider’s webs wet with dew, on a trail in the Adirondacks, between Long Pond and Bessie Pond, St. Regis Canoe Area. By Marc Wanner

Webs are invisible to us and to prey during most of the day and night. If you take an early morning walk, you are likely to get wet shoes and see massive numbers of two parted webs covered with dew. When the dew evaporates, the webs disappear from view but are still present to capture prey.

The upper portion is largest and looks like a bowl that has many threads stretched to plants above the bowl. The threads create a sloppy appearance but those guy wires cause small insects to collide and fall into the bowl. Beneath the bowl is a flat doily where the spider sits belly up waiting. When an insect falls into the bowl, the tiny spider reaches up, bites the insect and pulls it through the bowl for a meal.

The spiders are about as long as a dog tick. Males are only two tenths of an inch and females are about three tenths of an inch long. Most insects and spiders are tiny but we notice the big ones like honeybees, June beetles, butterflies or big moths that hit our screens at night. Most of the insect world remains hidden to us unless we look for minute organism nature niches. The little Bowl and Doily Weaver is not easily seen on its doily beneath the bowl shaped web. They often stand toward the web’s edge.

My brother and his wife live in a rural area outside of town where a plane flies over and sprays for mosquitoes. Mosquitos are food for many organisms we like to have in our yards. Very few insects are bothersome to people and most are beneficial in a variety of ways. About three of every five bites of food we eat are present because of insect or other pollinators.

More insect pollinators means larger bird, mammal, and wildflower populations.

Some people prefer to live in a sterilized environment. They do not recognize the negative impact pesticides have by reducing necessary insects that pollinate and maintain ecosystem health. I see a commercial on TV showing a man spraying a family’s yard with mosquito pesticide. He is wearing a mask and protective clothing. This is meant to look good for eliminating mosquitoes but many pesticides also eliminate pollinators and organisms like the Bowl and Doily Weavers that eat mosquitoes. Many pesticides are not healthy for people.

If you maintain a portion of your yard as field with grasses and wildflowers growing one to three feet tall, you have ideal conditions for weaver webs. They occur in shrublands and forests but my experience indicates fewer numbers. I’m amazed with the abundance of webs scattered throughout the field on wet mornings and then suddenly there are none seen. They have not gone anywhere but without dew droplets they become invisible.

Their abundance increases all summer but dewy mornings are less frequent in July and August. September and October provide the best opportunity for seeing the webs and finding the spiders. My colleague, Diantha, has focused attention on spiders and she tells me we are never more than three feet from a spider even in the house. Most are so small we never notice. I pick up spiders in the house and carry them outside because I think they will find more food so they can “live and be happy.” Let spiders do the killing instead of poisons. If you do, you should get to see more butterflies and interesting insects.

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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