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Missing Form W-2? IRS can help

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Most people get their W-2 forms by the end of January. Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, shows your income and the taxes withheld from your pay for the year. You need it to file an accurate tax return.

If you haven’t received your form by mid-February, here’s what you should do:

• Contact your Employer. Ask your employer (or former employer) for a copy. Be sure they have your correct address.

• Call the IRS. If you are unable to get a copy from your employer, you may call the IRS at 800-829-1040 after Feb. 23. The IRS will send a letter to your employer on your behalf. You’ll need the following when you call:

**Your name, address, Social Security number and phone number;

**Your employer’s name, address and phone number;

**The dates you worked for the employer; and

**An estimate of your wages and federal income tax withheld in 2015. You can use your final pay stub for these amounts.

• File on Time. Your tax return is normally due on or before April 18, 2016. Use Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, if you don’t get your W-2 in time to file. Estimate your wages and taxes withheld as best as you can. If you can’t get it done by the due date, ask for an extra six months to file. Use Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to request more time. You can also e-file a request for more time. Do it for free with IRS Free File.

• Correct if Necessary. You may need to correct your tax return if you get your missing W-2 after you file. If the tax information on the W-2 is different from what you originally reported, you may need to file an amended tax return. Use Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return to make the change.

Note: Important 2015 Health Insurance Forms

Starting in 2016, most taxpayers will receive one or more forms relating to health care coverage they had during the previous year.

If you enrolled in 2015 coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, you should get Form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement by early February.

If you were enrolled in other health coverage for 2015, you should receive a Form 1095-B, Health Coverage, or Form 1095-C, Employer Provided Health insurance Offer and Coverage by the end of March. You should contact the issuer of the form – the Marketplace, your coverage provider or your employer – if you think you should have gotten a form but did not get it.

If you are expecting to receive a Form 1095-A, you should wait to file your 2015 income tax return until you receive that form. However, it is not necessary to wait for Forms 1095-B or 1095-C in order to file.

Each and every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. These are your Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Explore your rights and our obligations to protect them on IRS.gov.

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Allendale Conference Tri and Shelby

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By Barbra Chong

Cedar Springs High School Wrestling had a successful evening at Allendale’s Conference Tri Meet last Wednesday, January 27. The Red Hawks went undefeated, starting off against Forest Hills Eastern 57-9, and ending with West Catholic, 60-12.

The team is currently in first place with a 4-0 record in the OK Bronze Conference.

At our Junior Varsity level, 125 lb Aaron Smith and 130 lb Anthony Brew went undefeated. 140 lb Gonzalo Baladia and 171 lb Billy Hammer each scored a victory. On the Varsity level 112 lb Logan Hull, 125 lb Jordan Ringler, 130 lb Jordan Andrus, 135 lb Jesse Empie, 140 lb Jacob Galinis, 145 lb Anthony Topolski, 152/160 lb Nate Patin, 160/171 lb Gage Gardner, 171/189 lb Ryan Ringler and Heavy Weight Patrick Depiazza all went undefeated. 119 lb Patrick Fliearman and 152 lb Xavier Anderson also claimed a victory for the evening.

Saturday, January 30, the Red Hawks traveled to Shelby for their Team Challenge. The Varsity team is still missing a 103 lb wt class, causing a void and 6 point deficit each dual. With an impressive start to the day, the Red Hawks defeated Holt with a victory, 78-0; Grand Rapids Catholic Central gave us more of a challenge but the Red Hawks were on their game and came away with their second victory, 42-34. Keeping the momentum going, Hart was our next opponent and Cedar Springs continued the winning streak, 48-22. Shelby proved to be our toughest competitor but again the Red Hawks had their game faces on and remain undefeated, 36-30. The Championship round concluded our day against Mason County Central and the Red Hawks proved to be the best team performing with a final score, 52-22. Fourteen teams were attracted to the competition and Cedar Springs brought home the coveted Championship Title.

Individual records are as follows: 119/125 lb Jordan Ringler, 171/189 lb Ryan Ringler and Heavy Weight Patrick Depiazza went undefeated. 135/140 lb Jacob Galinis, 145 lb Anthony Topolski, 160 lb Gage Gardner and 171/189 lb Chris Shaffer claimed four wins each. 112 lb Logan Hull, 119/125 lb Patrick Fliearman, 130 lb Jordan Andrus and 135/140 Jesse Empie claimed three wins each.  152 lb Nate Patin  claimed two wins and 130 lb Anthony Brew, 215 lb TJ Brecken and 215 lb Cody McHenry claimed a victory as well. Freshmen, Anthony Brew made his Varsity debut and won his first match by fall. Freshmen, Ryan Ringler is still turning heads with his impressive performance over Senior Spencer Knizacky of Mason County Central, who is currently Division 4’s #1 Ranked Wrestler in the state of Michigan. Ringler won his match by regular decision 13-10.

“Senior Captain Ant Topolski stepped up his leadership game and told the boys, ‘if we can upset Catholic Central and get by these other teams we will be Champions and that would feel pretty good’ and so they did. Each dual twist and turned with unique matchups therefore each player was afforded an opportunity to test their skill. The boys proved they are a team and teamwork makes the dream work,” said Head Coach Nick Emery.

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Homegrown flavor from an indoor garden

Photo courtesy of Gardener’s Supply Company Energy efficient and long lasting high intensity grow lights will provide the greatest yields when growing tomatoes and other fruiting plants indoors.

Photo courtesy of Gardener’s Supply Company
Energy efficient and long lasting high intensity grow lights will provide the greatest yields when growing tomatoes and other fruiting plants indoors.

By Melinda Myers

Add some homegrown flavor to your winter meals. From microgreens to tomatoes, it is possible to grow produce indoors.

Microgreens are a quick and easy way to add some flavor and crunch to your plate. Just plant seeds labeled for sprouting or microgreens in a shallow container filled with a sterile potting or seed starting mix. Within two weeks you will be harvesting nutritious mini vegetable and herb leaves for salads, sandwiches or snacking.

Take it one step further and grow a few of your favorite herbs on a warm sunny windowsill. Select a container with drainage holes and set on the appropriate size saucer to protect your woodwork. Fill the container with well-drained potting mix and plant seeds or transplants.  Purchase basil, chives, parsley, oregano and rosemary plants from your local garden center or the produce department.

Greens, like lettuce and spinach, will also grow in a sunny window or better yet under artificial lights. Grow them in a container filled with a well-drained potting mix similar to your windowsill herb garden.  Plant seeds according to the seed packet. Continually harvest the outer leaves when they are four to six inches tall.

Those that like a bit of a challenge may want to try growing a compact tomato, pepper or eggplant. You’ll get the best production with a combination of natural and artificial light or full spectrum lights.

Natural sunlight and full spectrum lights contain the variety of light plants need to grow, flower and fruit. Blue light promotes leaf and stem growth, while red combined with blue promotes flowering. Consider investing in energy efficient and long lasting high intensity grow lights for the greatest yields when growing tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and other fruiting plants indoors.

Leave lights on for 14, but no more than 16 hours each day. Plants need a dark period as well as bright light each day to grow and thrive. Use a timer to ensure the plants receive the right duration of light.

Most flowering and fruiting plants need a high intensity of light, so keep the lights six to twelve inches above your plants. Use reflective surfaces under and around the plants to bounce light back into larger plants.

Increase your indoor growing space by going vertical. Shelf units with built-in light fixtures like the Stack-n-Grow Light System  (gardeners.com) provide multiple layers of growing space.

And once your tomatoes, peppers and eggplants start flowering, you will need to shake things up a bit.  Gently shake the plants several times a week, better yet daily, to move the pollen from the female to the male parts of the flower so fruit will develop. A gentle breeze from a fan or vibrations from a battery-operated toothbrush work well.

Indoor gardening won’t yield the same results as a sunny outdoor garden, but the flavor can’t be beat when gardening outdoors is not an option.

Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author & columnist Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books, including Small Space Gardening and the Midwest Gardener’s Handbook. Myers’ web site, www.melindamyers.com, offers gardening videos and tips.

 

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Winter wonders

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N-Outdoor-photo-Northern-Harrier-hawk-Chris-BellChris Bell sent us these winter weather photos she took when they traveled from Sand Lake to Muskegon. One is of a back road, and the other she said is a northern harrier hawk and its prey.

Thanks, Chris, for sending us your photos!

Do you have winter scenes or winter fun photos you’d like to send us? We know the weather has been a bit warmer than normal, but we’d love to see your snowmen and other fun outdoor shots. Send them to news@cedarspringspost.com. Tell us a little about the photo and give us your contact information in the email. We will print them as space allows.

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North Country Trail to run through area

Kurt Mabie (right), Chair of the Community Building Development Team, signs the document for the National Country Trail to come through our area. Christopher Loudenslager from the National Park Service is on the left.

Kurt Mabie (right), Chair of the Community Building Development Team, signs the document for the National Country Trail to come through our area. Christopher Loudenslager from the National Park Service is on the left.

By Judy Reed

It’s no longer a question of “if” the North Country Trail will run through Cedar Springs—it’s only a question of exactly where.

Representatives of the Community Building Development Team, the City of Cedar Springs, Solon Township, National Park Service, North Country Trail Association and Michigan DNR met last Thursday for the signing of the document solidifying the North Country Trail route through Cedar Springs.

All of these representatives had to sign the documents for the intention of the White Pine Trail to come through the Cedar Springs area. From left to right: Christopher Loudenslager, National Park Service Trail Planner; Bob Ellick, Supervisor of Solon Township; Jerry Hall, Mayor of the City of Cedar Springs; Scott Slavin, of the Michigan DNR; and Kurt Mabie, Chairman of the CBDT.

All of these representatives had to sign the documents for the intention of the White Pine Trail to come through the Cedar Springs area. From left to right: Christopher Loudenslager, National Park Service Trail Planner; Bob Ellick, Supervisor of Solon Township; Jerry Hall, Mayor of the City of Cedar Springs; Scott Slavin, of the Michigan DNR; and Kurt Mabie, Chairman of the CBDT.

“Cedar Springs is now home to a State Trail (White Pine Trail) and a Federal Trail (North Country Trail) crossing each other in our town, and we have a National Park that runs through town and through Solon Township out to the Rogue River State Game Area! It feels so good to have achieved this milestone!” said CBDT secretary Carolee Cole.

The North Country Trail is one of 11 National Scenic Trails, and stretches 4,600 miles, across seven states, from the New York/Vermont state line, to North Dakota. It is the longest of the 11 trails.

An optimal location review was done to connect the National Country Trail from the Russell Road and White Pine Trail intersection, to existing trail off Red Pine Drive in the Rogue River State Game area. The review noted that points of interest along the trail route include Long Lake County Park, Howard Christensen Nature Center, Duke Creek, Cedar Creek, Solon Township Hall and the park they are planning, and the City of Cedar Springs, with the planned boardwalk along Cedar Creek and other attractions. Several alternative routes were mapped.

The new part of the trail will be approximately seven miles long. But the exact route is not yet established since easements have to be obtained before the trail is officially certified.

However, certain sections of the trail may not be certified. “At this time the trail will not be able to be certified on the White Pine Trail, as the trail can only be certified in locations that are free of motorized vehicles,” explained Cole. “The Michigan DNR is in the process of approving the possibility for a parallel walking trail that could then allow the trail to be certified. It’s not unusual to have parts of the trail all along the route remain uncertified because a section must share with a motorized trail.”

So what’s next? “Well, a lot more work!” said Cole. “We have to secure easements (talk to people), then build the trail (clear a narrow, hiking only trail to certain specifications) and then maintain it (be willing to go out after a wind or ice storm and clear debris). So we need more people to get on board. A lot more people to get on board!”

If you would like to contribute to this piece of history in Cedar Springs, please contact Amy Anderson at a2andy@yahoo.com and let her know you would like to help with the creation of the North Country Trail.

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Trout Unlimited study finds Rogue River vital to economy

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Spending by visitors engaging in river-related recreation activities leads to more than $7 million in economic activity during the four-month summer season.

Spending by visitors engaging in river-related recreation activities leads to more than $7 million in economic activity during the four-month summer season.

A recent study showing the value of the Rogue River to the area economy bodes well for what can happen in Cedar Springs in the near future.

“The Rogue River is a treasured resource for many communities, offering a variety of recreational opportunities from first-class trout fishing to hiking and wildlife viewing,” wrote Jamie Vaughan, Rogue River Home Rivers Initiative Coordinator. “However, the river’s monetary value to the local economy has never been completely quantified. For this reason, Trout Unlimited’s Rogue River Home Rivers Initiative commissioned a study and teamed with researchers Erik Nordman, Ph.D. and Paul Isely, Ph.D. from Grand Valley State University to estimate the economic development impact of recreation within the Rogue River watershed.”

Vaughan said that the economic impact of river-related recreation was assessed using on-site surveys at several locations in the Rogue River watershed in the summer of 2015. Survey locations included: The Rogue Golf Club, Rockford Dam and canoe launch, Grand-Rogue River Access Site and Campground, White Pine Trail trailheads in Comstock Park, Belmont, Rockford, and Cedar Springs, as well as events such as Praise in the Park, Art in the Park, and the Rockford Farmers Market.

The analysis of the surveys focused on visitors who 1) were primarily visiting the area because of the Rogue River; and 2) live outside of the watershed. Twenty-five percent of survey respondents indicated that they live outside the watershed and the primary reason for visiting the Rogue River watershed was to participate in river-related recreation activities. Most of these visitors were from the greater Grand Rapids area, including Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon, Newaygo, Allegan, and Ionia counties. About 20 percent of the respondents reported living in Rockford.  Other visitors reported residences in Lansing and Ann Arbor Michigan and as far away as Iowa.

“Our results found that the total direct spending for the four-month summer season, including both day users and overnight visitors, was more than $4.1 million. The total economic activity, which includes indirect spending, was more than $7.3 million. This led to additional earnings of more than $1.7 million and supported the employment of 64 full time jobs, which is substantial in a small city like Rockford,” noted Vaughan.

And it’s not just Rockford that benefits, or will benefit in the future. Cedar Springs is part of the Rogue River watershed, with Cedar Creek being an important tributary to the overall health of the coldwater fishery in the Rogue River. The Community Building Development Team, in partnership with the Cedar Springs Library and the City of Cedar Springs, has several projects planned for the areas bordering Cedar Creek, including a new library, community center, ampitheather, and boardwalk along the creek.

“As part of this study, surveying was done all around the Rogue River area, including the White Pine Trailhead in Cedar Springs, so this report does include the river’s impact to Cedar Springs,” said Vaughan. “With all of the incredible work that the CBDT is doing, I think this report shows just how valuable that work will potentially be to Cedar Springs. Taking into consideration the trail, the Cedar Creek projects, the brewery, etc. and how those will attract many different users of the Rogue River to Cedar Springs, I would expect to see that economic value become even greater.”

Vaughan noted that this study shows that the Rogue River and its scenic and recreational amenities attract visitors from across West Michigan and beyond. “It’s important for the quality of life of local residents and is a significant amenity that drives economic development in the region. Trout Unlimited hopes that these results will enable communities and businesses to better understand the contribution of the Rogue River to local economies and make its protection and restoration a highest priority in decision-making so that these high-quality recreation activities can continue to take place,” said Vaughan.

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Time is short to apply for marketplace health insurance

N-Deadline-for-health-insuranceBy Mary Kuhlman, Michigan News Connection

The deadline is looming for uninsured Michigan residents to enroll in the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Sunday, Jan. 31, is the last day of the 2016 open enrollment period. But as Erin Knott, Michigan director of Enroll America, says folks don’t have to go it alone.

Trained navigators are available in every community, and they can guide people through their coverage options.

“There’s in-person assistance and events going on across the state,” she explains. “We encourage everybody to take a look, to shop the plans, and to hook up with an expert who can walk them through the process.”

Knott adds that nearly eight out of 10 people who apply for insurance through the marketplace will qualify for financial assistance to help pay the monthly premium.

Those who do not have health coverage this year will face a federal penalty of either 2.5 percent of their income or $695 per adult, whichever is higher.

Knott points out that some people may qualify for a special enrollment period.

“That’s when you have a qualifying life circumstance that would make you eligible to obtain insurance through the marketplace outside of the open enrollment period,” she says. “And those types of things are marriage, birth, adoption, job change, things like that.”

Knott adds as a result of coverage options between the Healthy Michigan Plan and the marketplace, the number of uninsured people in Michigan fell from 11 percent in 2013 to 8.5 percent in 2014.

“Around 900,000 folks have been insured,” she points out. “And what’s really exciting is this year, HHS has reported that more young adults, those critical 18-to-34-year-olds, are enrolling in the marketplace at higher numbers than previously.”

Those who enroll by the end-of-January deadline will have coverage starting March 1.

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What a difference a year makes

 

DNR biologists discuss effects of milder winter on wildlife

Canada geese and mallards enjoying a stretch of open water in Ingham County are shown. During this milder winter so far, waterfowl have been able to find more areas of open water for feeding.

Canada geese and mallards enjoying a stretch of open water in Ingham County are shown. During this milder winter so far, waterfowl have been able to find more areas of open water for feeding.

Looking out your window, do you find yourself saying, “This winter is different?”

Remembering last winter, areas of Michigan had not inches, but feet of snow on the ground by mid-November. In stark contrast, this winter, many parts of Michigan didn’t receive any significant snowfall that stayed on the ground, until after Christmas.

With the effects of one of the strongest El Nino weather patterns on record—warmer Pacific Ocean waters producing atmospheric changes in weather thousands of miles away—this winter certainly is different.

Moose are built for cold conditions, with long legs for deep snow and thick fur coats for winter temperatures.

Moose are built for cold conditions, with long legs for deep snow and thick fur coats for winter temperatures.

As a result, weather forecasters are predicting above-average temperatures and drier than normal winter conditions across the northern tier of the country, including Michigan.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologists have been fielding inquiries about how the milder conditions might be affecting wildlife this winter.

“The 2014-2015 Michigan winter had record low temperatures for numerous days,” DNR Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason said. “Along with those cold temps, winter brought snow depths that challenged even the most adapted wildlife.”

Waterfowl

Less than a year ago, waterfowl were being negatively affected across Michigan by lakes, rivers and streams freezing completely, or more extensively than usual, leaving smaller areas of open water for ducks and swans to feed. After the last two hard winters, this winter is providing many open water locations.

“Instead of ducks being concentrated in small areas, ducks and swans have good amounts of open water in a mild winter, giving them room to forage and find the food they need,” said Barbara Avers, a DNR waterfowl and wetlands specialist.

The last two winters resulted in some malnourished or dead waterfowl being trapped on the ice, unable to fly. Not this winter.

Smaller mammals

Squirrels never take a break. They are active all year long, and this mild winter provides an easier hunt for food. Less snow to get through equals less energy needed to find food and stay warm.

With a milder winter, snowshoe hares are likely to be under a bit more pressure from predators. Their fur is light brown in the fall and molts to white as the amount of daylight changes. Until snow is on the ground, the white fur stands out, allowing hawks, owls and other predators better opportunities to benefit.

Alternatively, hares this winter should have plenty of food they can easily access.

Skunks and raccoons go into an inactive or dormant state in the winter. This is something they are naturally wired to do to conserve energy. This won’t change with the mild winter. Their late winter mating seasons, won’t be affected. As usual, they will be out and more visible for brief periods of time looking for a mate.

Large mammals

Black bear have this same instinct; their internal clock is telling them they need to conserve energy, regardless of temperature, find a place to den and go into a deep sleep.

What is frequently referred to as a bear hibernating is really a bear in a very deep sleep. Even with the warm fall and warm December, a bear will still den. Black bears also den in southern states, where temperatures and snow levels are much more moderate compared to even a mild Michigan winter.

Bears are triggered to enter their dens by a combination of things, with the amount of daylight being an important main factor. Bears are able to survive the denning period because they bulk up during the fall, gaining 1-2 pounds per day.

Not all animals will benefit from this mild winter.

“Moose are a species that are just built for the cold,” said DNR wildlife research biologist Dean Beyer. “Moose are at their southern extent of their range in the Upper Peninsula.”

Moose, with their long legs and thick winter coat, are built for deep snow and cold temperatures. When moose have their winter coat, and temperatures are warmer than 23 degrees, they become stressed and need to take action to cool down.

“When an animal is stressed, its heart and respiration rates will increase, in turn increasing the amount of energy they are using,” Beyer said. “This December was probably stressful on Michigan moose, as temps were warmer than they normally experience.”

Deer, on the other hand, will find some relief with a mild winter.

For winter survival, deer reduce their movements by about 50 percent and their food intake by about 30 percent. Mild temperatures allow deer to survive on the layer of fat they’ve built up the previous fall.

Just like with moose, the more deer move in the wintertime, the more energy they use. However, deer, with their shorter legs, should be able to find the little food they need in the winter accessible, above and below the snow.

In the Upper Peninsula, the effects of three consecutive harsh winters, combined with the contributions of predators, have been tough on deer populations. Though wildlife biologists caution that one mild winter will not be enough to allow the herd to quickly rebound, the moderation in conditions is beneficial and welcomed.

Birds

Wild turkeys will also have an easier time in a mild winter. Typically at higher snow depths or when a hard snow crust is formed, turkeys rely solely on fruits, nuts and catkins on trees and shrubs—food found above the snow.

When possible, turkeys will continue to scratch through the snow in farmed fields, getting the valuable crumbs left behind by farming equipment, and can even find acorns and beech nuts in the woods.

Ruffed grouse may be more susceptible to predators, without several feet of snowy insulation. These birds can almost dive into the snow and burrow, staying warm and concealed. They typically do well during those hard winters.

Migrating birds generally started leaving and heading south months ago. Therefore, this unseasonably warm winter is something they’ll realize only when they return in the spring.

Some migrating birds that leave relatively late, like sandhill cranes, may stay behind as long as they can find the food they need to make it through the winter, but will continue south if temperatures drop.

Birds like American robins, eastern bluebirds and hermit thrushes may remain in the state in small numbers, because of the mild weather and availability of berries and seeds.

Resident backyard birds, like blue jays, American goldfinches, northern cardinals and black-capped chickadees will use less energy keeping warm during a mild winter, which can result in better body conditions and larger egg clutches or broods of chicks in the spring.

Outlook

So far, the milder winter we’ve experienced has been a welcome break for many people and some wildlife that have had a hard go the last few winters. Although we may think this relative lack of snow and warmer temperatures make this winter different or easier, the winter is certainly not over.

For many animals, the next couple months could still be challenging. However, animals have habits or instincts and are hard-wired to survive. They will adapt.

For more information, visit the DNR’s webpage at www.michigan.gov/wildlifeactionplan.

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Plank to bowl at Spring Arbor

Cedar Springs senior Jarod Plank signed with Spring Arbor University bowling last week. The signing took place at The Springs Church. Seated (L to R): SA head bowling coach Michael Hall, Jarod  Plank, and Jarod’s mother, Lorie Plank.

Cedar Springs senior Jarod Plank signed with Spring Arbor University bowling last week. The signing took place at The Springs Church. Seated (L to R): SA head bowling coach Michael Hall, Jarod Plank, and Jarod’s mother, Lorie Plank.

Spring Arbor University men’s bowling head coach Michael Hall is excited to announce the signing of Jarod Plank from Cedar Springs High School in Cedar Springs, Michigan.

Plank helped guide Cedar Springs to the state tournament three years in a row as the Red Hawks earned either first or second place at regionals in all three years.

While attending SAU, Plank intends to pursue a degree in youth ministry.

The 2016-17 academic year will be the inaugural season of competition for the Spring Arbor men’s and women’s bowling programs. The teams will practice and compete at Airport Lanes Bowling Center in Jackson, Michigan.

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Cold weather wake-up call

 

CAR-Cold-weather-wakeup-call(NAPSI)—The next nip in the air should be a wake-up call to motorists who have not yet gotten their vehicles set for the cold weather, say car care experts.

“Subzero temperatures can stress out a vehicle, as well as its driver,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Motorists should invest a little time to check over their vehicles so they have one less worry when arctic temperatures strike again.”

Here’s how:

  • For good visibility, make sure that exterior and interior lights work and headlights are properly aimed. Also check to see that heaters, defrosters, lights and wipers work properly. Consider winter wiper blades and use cold weather washer fluid. Wiper blades that are cracked or torn, or that chatter, streak and don’t properly clean your windshield, should be changed.
  • Very cold temperatures reduce a vehicle’s battery power so it’s important to keep the connections clean, tight and corrosion-free. Batteries don’t always give warning signs before they fail completely, so if your vehicle’s battery is more than three years old, it’s wise to replace it.
  • Be diligent about changing the oil and filter at recommended intervals. Dirty oil can spell trouble in cold weather. Consider changing to “winter weight” oil if you’ll be driving in a cold climate. Check the fuel, air and transmission filters at the same time.
  • Have the brakes inspected and check the tire tread depth and tire pressure. So snow and ice are not a problem, consider special tires designed to grip slick roads. During winter, tire pressure should be checked weekly.
  • Rough weather magnifies existing problems such as pings, hard starts, sluggish performance or rough idling, so if you’re due for a tune-up, have it done before the temperatures drop. Also, clean, flush and put new antifreeze in the cooling system and have the exhaust system checked for carbon monoxide leaks, which can be especially dangerous during cold weather driving when windows are closed.

Motorists should keep the gas tank at least half full at all times to decrease the chances of moisture forming in the gas lines and possibly freezing.

  • Lastly, stock an emergency kit with an ice scraper and snow brush, jumper cables, flashlight, flares, blanket, extra clothes, candles/matches, bottled water, dry food snacks and needed medication.

Learn More

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For a copy of the council’s “Car Care Guide” or for more information, visit www.carcare.org.

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