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Morning Hiccups


By Ranger Steve Mueller


Hic hiccup, hic hiccup can be heard in your yard early in the morning but not as likely later in the day. I refer to the blue jay’s morning call as a case of the hiccups but have not heard anyone else use that descriptive term. We each experience the world differently but hopefully it is with joy.

I told a friend blue jays are a rare sighting at Ody Brook during the winter. Some people see them in yards year-round but it is impossible to know if they are the same birds that are here in summer. Banding studies have shown summer residents migrate south. That indicates winter jays in the yard are northern migrants. 

Now that spring migration is underway, large flocks of blue jays are moving north. It implies jays are moving to breeding territories. Hopefully, your yard provides suitable nesting areas to meet their needs. Wilderness areas are essential for survival of many native species but they are not enough. We can provide living space on the small piece of Earth we inhabit that is equally important for species we consider common. 

A Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) perched on a tree branch. Photo by Ken Thomas (KenThomas.us).

Spend time in the yard relaxing and listening to the sounds of insects, birds, mammals, and frogs that add intrigue to our lives. Only one or two blue jays are currently guests at our bird feeder. Instead of a large flock passing through on their way to breeding sites, these birds have selected this site for summer breeding. 

I do not know what the hiccup call in the morning means to other jays or why it is used in the morning. A variety of calls are used and some I understand. Jays “like” to notify others of their displeasure with some neighbors. That might even be you. They give alarm calls to announce your presence.

When they locate a sleeping owl or see a hawk they will make a loud alarm call that attracts many bird species to see what is happening in the neighborhood. They gather near the perched predator and do their best to roust them. If the predator takes flight, jays and other species fly in from behind and peck the pursued bird on the back of the head. I have witnessed such attacks where the predator has blood streaming from its head. 

People, birds, wasps, and a great many life forms are protective of their living space and offspring. Birds are a good example of species that do their best to successfully protect and raise a family. I suspect the jay’s morning case of the hiccups has important meaning for its species but it will remain as secretive as our conversations are with dogs, cats, or birds that share our homes. Some phrases are understood but many are not. 

Some sounds give us pleasure and some warning. We like to sit on the porch enjoying a world filled with nature but sometimes it is not easy. There are those who try to kill neighbors. That is a sad commentary. People go to the store and purchase poisons to eliminate what are considered unsuitable neighbors. It is better to learn to be a good neighbor and adjust our behavior to share the world. 

We sit on our porch in spring sunshine and mosquitoes leave us alone. We have cleared the area around the house to allow good sun penetration to lounge chair areas. When it is cloudy, the buzzing sound of mosquitoes lets us know those females want our blood to nourish developing eggs. Male mosquitoes ignore us except as an indicator that females are likely present. The males could care less about our blood. They have amorous interests concerned with procreation. 

Various species have sounds we enjoy or use as warning. I have never liked the idea that the world is for me only. No trespassing signs are offensive but I understand that human visitors do not always comply with stewardships goals of people holding property titles. We allow people to walk Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary but request they call or email first to learn expected neighborhood behavior that protects the livelihood of other species claiming the property as their home. Our mission is primarily to protect and increase biodiversity. It gives me the hiccups when people are not good stewards of nature niches for the world we inherited with our birth. Use chemical killers sparingly, care for creation, enjoy, and protect life that surrounds us. 

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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JV Baseball improves record to 9-4

The JV baseball team played a three game series against Ottawa Hills last week. The Red Hawks won all three games, scoring 50 runs in the series. Jerome Patin and Willy Zain each had four hits in the series. Gage Haywood, Trenton Snoeyink, and Colton Moore each had three hits, while Connor Ellison, Dylan Knauf, Clyde Dykhouse and Kyle Wise each had two. Dylan Greenland, Caden Vandenberg, Lucas Secord and Jeremy Campione also had hits. Kyle Wise, Colton Moore, and Dylan Greenland each earned victories on the mound, not allowing a single run.

On Thursday, April 26, the JV team made the trip to Fremont. In the opener, Dylan Knauf threw a two hit shutout, striking out 10 and walking only one in a thrilling 2-0 victory. Trenton Snoyink and Jeremy Campione had 2 hits each and each scored runs in the final inning to get the win.  

In the second game of the double header, Kyle Wise earned the victory on the mound, striking out four and walking one. The Red Hawks were more efficient at the plate. Trenton Snoyink continued driving the ball, landing two hits, while Campione, Knauf, Zain, Ellison and Greenland each added a hit in the 11-0 victory.  

It was a great week for pitching and defense. In 5 games the boys committed only 3 errors and pitchers didn’t allow a single run. The JV team is currently 9-4-1 on the season.

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CS Museum to feature bridal gowns in annual tour


Spring Into the Past Tour of Museums May 5 and 6

This 1940s style wedding dress, worn by Arlene (Shick) Wesche on her wedding day in 1950, will be on display at the Cedar Springs Historical Museum May 5 and 6. Post photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

Beachwear, bustles, and bridal gowns! A variety of timeless “Fashions Through the Ages” will be visible in the museums of the Tri-River Historical Museum Network during their annual “Spring Into the Past” tour May 5 and 6. 

The Cedar Springs Historical Museum, which is part of the Tri-River network, will feature bridal gowns and wedding attire from 1890, 1910, the 1940s, and the 1970s.

“Last year we featured clothing from different time periods,” said Museum Director Sharon Jett. “But when this new wedding dress came in, we thought it might be a good time to feature the wedding dresses we have.”

The dress Jett referred to is a beautiful 1940s era wedding dress donated by the Wesche family. It was worn by Arlene (Shick) Wesche when she said, “I do!” to the love her life, August (Bud) Wesche, on June 23, 1950, at the First Baptist Church in Cedar Springs. They resided in Cedar Springs for 64 years, where they raised four children, Daniel, Linda, Gregg, and Sandra. The dress became a family heirloom, and was worn by both of Arlene’s daughters and a sister-in-law as well.

This 1890s era wedding attire doubled as a dress that could also be worn to church. Post photo by J. Reed.

The museum will also be showing two wedding dresses from 1890, both black. One was worn by the grandmother of Mike Race, and the other is a simple dress which could also be worn to church. “If a family wasn’t especially wealthy, they often bought a dress that was dark so they could also wear it as their Sunday best,” noted Jett.

The 1910 dress being featured is white. “It is reminiscent of the type often wore at graduation, and they also often got married in it,” explained Jett.

A 1910 wedding dress (hanging) and a 1970s wedding dress are also part of the display. Post photo by J. Reed.

A wedding dress from the 1970s will also be on display.

The museums on the tour are as versatile as the fashions, located in former vintage meeting halls, homes, stores and depots in small communities throughout the Tri-River Network in Barry, Eaton, Ionia, Kent and Montcalm counties. All are eager to share the history of their community both past and present. 

During this annual event, all museums are open the same days and hours for visitor convenience. Scheduled tour hours are Saturday, May 5, from 11 am to 5 p.m., and Sunday, May 6, from 12 to 5 p.m. 

Informational booklets are available at any museum or download from commoncorners.com. A handy map is included so you can pick an area and tour several museums on the same day. (Ada’s Averill museum is closed in 2018 for expansion and renovations.) 

Museums are free, but donations are always welcome! Visit TriRiver on Facebook, too.

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Kids giving back to kids

Cedar Springs Girl Scout troop 4815 worked hard to earn enough money through cookie sales to donate $1,000 and 14 “Build-a-Bears” to DeVos Children’s Hospital last weekend. Courtesy photo.

Girl Scouts donate $1,000 to help kids

When customers buy Girl Scout cookies every year, they are thinking of all that delicious, mouth-watering goodness inside the box. But what they may not realize is that by purchasing those cookies, they are helping our local Girl Scout troops help someone else.

Last Saturday, April 21, Girl Scout Troop 4815 of Cedar Springs donated $1000 and 14 “Build-a-Bears” to patients at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. All of the money was earned from cookie sales. They sold a total of 7,814 boxes of cookies from January-March.

The troop is made up of 14 Brownie Scouts (2nd and 3rd graders) and nine Daisy Scouts (K and 1st graders). Troop leaders are Angie Hazen (Brownies), Susan Tagg (Brownies) and Erin Meredith (Daisies).

“The girls voted at the start of Girl Scout Cookie Season in January 2018 on what charity they would like to donate to. It was important to us as Troop leaders to exercise the lesson of Give, Spend and Save. They girls raised enough money this cookie season to give to the hospital, buy all their badges for next fall, and to plan a fun party,” they explained. 

If you would like to learn more about Girl Scouts, visit the Girl Scouts of Michigan Shore to Shore website at http://www.gsmists.org/.

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1,000 books before kindergarten

Farrah Shamoon, 3, with Children’s Librarian Heidi Fifield.

Some people may not read 1,000 books in their life. But Farrah Shamoon, age 3, is the first graduate of the “1,000 books before kindergarten” program at the Cedar Springs Public Library. 

Parents can sign up their child from birth to before kindergarten. The program is divided in to 10 levels, with 100 books on each level. Kids can color or mark off each book read in their reading log. After reading 100 books, the log is turned in kids receive a sticker for their reading chart and a new log.

Once all the levels are complete, the child will receive a certificate of completion and a bag with a book and a matching stuffed animal.

Books do not have to be from the library and can be counted more than once.

To learn more about the program or to pick up a brochure, please visit the Cedar Springs Public Library at the corner of Main and W. Maple or call 696-1910 for more information.

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Sand Lake Elementary receives Excellence award

Students investigating how elevation and pressure affect the flow of water.


The STEM class for third, fourth and fifth graders at Sand Lake Elementary, in the Tri County Public Schools District, is one of the five programs in schools across the state selected to receive one of the 2018 Education Excellence awards for their work to create opportunities and help build stronger, brighter futures for their students.

Each school will receive a $2,500 grant from the SET SEG Foundation, in partnership with the Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB). 

“It’s an honor for us to recognize these schools and educators, and help support and advance their efforts,” said Lisa Truscott, SET SEG Foundation Executive Director. “Dedicated, passionate teachers and staff in public schools are what help provide opportunities to learn, grow and build brighter, stronger futures for students and our communities and state.” (more below)

According to Sand Lake STEM teacher Polly Bolt, the mission of the STEM class is to provide project-based, authentic learning experiences in which students incorporate science, technology, engineering and math. “ Each year, all of our district’s 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students attend STEM class as a ‘special’ (similar to art, music, and physical education), which runs the full year. Teaching students for all three years they are in our building, I have the opportunity to build on and enhance the students’ learning experiences from previous years,” she explained.

“Through this grant, our STEM program has the opportunity to be proactive in offering our elementary students greater access to computer science in an engaging, social, and interactive way,” said Bolt. “Funds from the Education Excellence grant would allow us to purchase Dash robots and accessories to expand students’ exposure to computer science through coding beyond what they can learn at online site like code.org.”

Other programs/schools that were awarded grants were:

Kent Intermediate School District’s program, MySchool@Kent, a student-centered, teacher-driven school, featuring online instruction with extensive support.

Be True 2 You at Greenville Public Schools, a program that inspires girls to develop and maintain healthy relationships, create a keen sense of self, and recognize the impact they can have on their community.

Ionia Public Schools After-School Panther Learning Club at Twin Rivers Elementary School, focuses on homework completion and reading for students that are falling behind.

 The Bulldogs Bookin’ Bus through Otsego Public Schools encourages students to read over the summer by visiting key neighborhoods in the district, allowing students to check out books twice a week.

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Earth Day clean up


Rose Powell helped clean up on Earth Day. Courtesy photo.

Denny Benham helped stack brush and limbs during Earth Day clean up. Courtesy photo.

On Saturday, April 21 from 9 am to noon, about 20 volunteers, as young as 1 year old, gathered to clean up the park area off Pine St and along Cedar Creek behind the library. Brush was cleared and put in a pile for the Cedar Springs Fired Department to burn at a later date. Logs were hauled out and cut up as well as debris put in garbage bags. It was a beautiful sunny day for community volunteers being led by the Community Building Development Team to participate in a local Earth Day cleanup. 

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Police seek info in Leppinks breaking and entering

The Leppinks Food Center in Stanton was broken in to between April 1-2.

Reward for info

Leppinks is offering a reward up to $5,000 for any information leading to the arrest of the suspects involved in the breaking and entering of their store in Stanton.

According to the Michigan State Police Lakeview Post, Leppinks Food Center in Stanton was broken in to between the evening hours of Sunday, April 1, and the early morning hours of Monday, April 2. The suspects gained entry into the safe located in the office of the store and left with an undisclosed amount of money. 

Anyone that has any information regarding this crime is asked to please call the Michigan State Police Lakeview Post at (989) 352-8444.

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Hunting Michigan morels with Mi-HUNT

Gathering morel mushrooms is a gratifying pursuit whether with friends and family or alone. This photo was taken during a 2015 morel mushroom hunt in Windsor Township in Eaton County.

By Andy Evans, Michigan Department of Natural Resources

It was early May, and a certain spring activity was on my mind—looking for some tasty morel mushrooms in the beautiful hardwood forests of northern Lower Michigan.

As that Friday’s work shift was drawing to a close, I thought about places on state-managed land that I might find a new “honey hole” – a spot covered with morels.

A new weekend adventure would soon be at hand, and an amazing forest with rolling hills awaited. We are quite fortunate here in Michigan, having over 4.6 million acres of state land to explore.

The next morning, I grabbed my compass, jackknife and mesh bags and then headed for the woods. That hunting spot I had in mind turned out to need one more warm rain, so no mushrooms had popped up that night. I did find a nice deer run, however.

Truth be told, every morel hunt is ultimately a success, as you always find plenty of fresh air and sunshine in Michigan’s great outdoors.

More than a handful of beautiful Michigan morel mushrooms.

Aiding the hunt

The key to putting me in the right area was an interactive map application maintained by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources called Mi-HUNT (www.mi.gov/mihunt).

I learned about Mi-HUNT through my work at the DNR’s customer service center in Gaylord, and I often recommend it to our customers. This mapping tool delivers a wealth of information right to your computer or mobile device.

When looking for morel mushrooms, I often target hilly areas covered in hardwoods, along with burn scars from recent forest fires. Mi-HUNT provides customized maps of state-managed land, showing ash and other upland deciduous tree cover types.

Mi-HUNT has topographic maps and maps that show what types of trees are on state-managed land, as well as aerial photography for any area you zoom in on. You can also find more DNR information to target morel mushrooms at Mi-MOREL.

The Mi-HUNT tool lets users include or exclude layers of information on the maps they view. These layers include recreational facilities, trails, hunting lands, cover types, township, range and sections.

Base maps include 7.5-minute topographic quadrangles and aerial photos depicting leaf-off conditions from 1998, provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, and 2009 leaf-on images from the National Aerial Imagery Program.

To help a user’s research, a guide on the left side of the Mi-HUNT page indicates how densely wooded a place will be, indicated by numerical value, and what type of trees dominate the area, shown with a color.

Mi-HUNT maps also show contour lines to help users find the hills and other elevation highs and lows. From viewing the Mi-HUNT map screen, I was able to locate hillsides with ash and other hardwoods.

Sliced morel mushrooms ready for the pan are shown.

A morel primer

If you have never tried morel mushrooms, you might want to explore their culinary power. Some people describe them as nutty, some say meaty – but most agree the morel truly is unique.

They can be added to many dishes, sauteed in butter and onions, or fried. You will be rewarded with a great dish to share with family and friends, from Michigan’s natural wild bounty.

If you have never collected morels before, here are some tips for the first-timer:

Remember to bring your compass or GPS unit, and plan a route that will bring you back to your vehicle. Remember to let someone know where you will be that day – let’s call that filing your “mushroomer plan” for safety.

Always cut or pinch the mushrooms off at ground level, to protect the lower portion of the fungus and ensure mushroom regrowth in future years. Pulling them out can do permanent damage. This is where a jackknife comes in handy.

For that same reason, and to maintain a good nourishing layer of leaf litter, you should never rake an area for morels or drive an off-road vehicle cross country. For more information on using ORVs in Michigan, you can visit  www.mi.gov/orvinfo.

Using a mesh bag (such as an onion bag) will allow your collected morels to stay drier, versus using a paper or plastic bag.

Most important of all, know what you are eating! You will need to know the difference between a “true” morel and the “false morels,” such as beefsteak mushrooms, which are poisonous.

Try to work with an experienced morel mushroom hunter. In addition, there is a very good mushroom identification booklet available on the U.S. Department of Agriculture website. Note that the true morels are hollow when sliced open lengthwise, and that the bottom edges of their caps are attached to the stem.

More Mi-HUNT help

Are you new to using interactive maps, or are you new to Michigan? Mi-HUNT is ready to help you plan all kinds of outings.

The Mi-HUNT webpage has video tutorials to help users quickly get up to speed on using the application, whether they are mobile users or using a desktop or laptop computer.

The webpage also provides useful links to other information on wildlife viewing, public hunting land maps, game areas, waterfowl hunting, and downloadable geographic data.

For those looking to improve their chances while on the hunt, be it for morels, deer, fish, camping, hiking and more, a good place to start is Mi-HUNT.

Let this application help make your expedition for morels memorable, just like it helped me with my hunt.

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JV Baseball battles weather to complete games

Dylan Knauf got the win against the Red Arrows in game one of a doubleheader last week.

The JV baseball team was able to get two games in on April 11 before Mother Nature decided to play a joke on us with another touch of snow and ice over the weekend.

On Wednesday April 11, the Red Hawks played a double header against the undefeated Huskies of Forest Hills Northern. In the first game, Connor Ellison pitched a great game, striking out 3 and walking none. He allowed 6 hits over his six-inning outing. His defense didn’t help him much, committing 7 total errors. In the 10-3 loss, only 2 of the Forest Hills runs were earned.

At the plate, Trenton Snoeyink, Dylan Knauf, Lucas Secord, Jeremy Campione and Caden Vandenberg all recorded a hit. As a whole, the Red Hawks left a dozen runners on base and weren’t able to get hits when they needed them.  

In the second game, Kyle Wise struggled throwing strikes, walking 7 and hitting one batter, while allowing 6 runs. Colton Moore was able to hold the Huskies to just one run in his two innings of relief.  Offensively, the Red Hawks were able to draw several walks, which were brought around to score with hits from Connor Ellison, Lucas Secord and a big double from Caden Vandenberg. With aggressive baserunning and these timely hits the score was tied at 7-7 when the sun went down and the game was called due to darkness.  

Last week the JV baseball team played a three-day set against the Red Arrows of Lowell.  

On April 19, they played a doubleheader. In game one, the Red Hawks were led on the mound by Dylan Knauf. In six innings of work, he allowed 4 runs on just three hits, while walking one. Trenton Snoeyink pitched the seventh inning to earn his second save of the season in the 7-4 victory. 

At the plate, Jeremy Campione had a pair of hits. Dylan Greenland, Willy Zain, Trenton Snoeyink, Caden Vandenberg, Dylan Knauf and Gage Haywood each had a hit as well.

In game two, Sophomore Colton Moore struggled throwing strikes on the mound, and allowed 8 runs, though only 3 of them were earned. The defense also committed several errors that sunk a few innings. Dylan Knauf had two doulbles batting in the leadoff spot. Willy Zain had a pair of hits as well, one of them a double. Lucas Secord hit a double as well. Trenton Snoeyink and Clyde Dykhouse each added a hit. The game 2 final was 12-5.

In game three, on April 20, our boys ran into a tough pitcher from Lowell and were only able to scrape together one hit each from Willy Zain and Jeremy Campione. Defensively they committed six errors as a team in the 10-0 loss.

The JV team is 4-4-1 overall. This week they are scheduled to play a trio of games against Ottawa Hills and a double header against Fremont.

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