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Year in Review 2016: WWII Vet gets diploma

Erwin Duane Empie, 90, celebrates as he receives his diploma at the Cedar Springs High School graduation. Cedar Springs Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn is next to him. Photo by K. Alvesteffer.

Erwin Duane Empie, 90, celebrates as he receives his diploma at the Cedar Springs High School graduation. Cedar Springs Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn is next to him. Photo by K. Alvesteffer.

By Judy Reed

A lot of things happened in the Cedar Springs area in 2016, but the story about WWII Veteran Erwin Duane Empie, 90, finally getting his high school diploma last June was one of the most heartwarming. Empie left Cedar Springs High School in 1944 at the age of 18 to enlist in the Navy and serve his country during WWII. He was a sophomore at the time, so never got his diploma.

Erwin’s son, Mike Empie, got the ball rolling when he heard about Public Act 180 of 2001, which says that a high school diploma can be awarded to a veteran who enlisted or was drafted into WWII, Korea, or Viet Nam. He spoke with school registrar Susan Andrzejewski, who found Erwin’s transcript in an old box in the basement of the school, and verified that he had been a student. Empie then graduated with the rest of the Class of 2016 at Cedar Springs High School.

The photo above, taken by photograher Kelly Alvesteffer, perfectly caught the emotion of the moment.

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Year in Review: City to soon have new library

The groundbreaking of the new Cedar Springs Library took place Saturday, July 9 at the corner of Main Street and W. Maple. Photo by J. Reed.

The groundbreaking of the new Cedar Springs Library took place Saturday, July 9 at the corner of Main Street and W. Maple. Photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

It’s been an exciting year for those helping to bring a new library to the Cedar Springs area. The CS Library board, Community  Building Development Team, the City of Cedar Springs, Solon Township, Friends of the Library, and community members have all worked together the last few years to get the project off the ground, and they finally realized their dream on January 9 with a celebratory groundbreaking at the corner of Main and Maple Streets.

“I’m only one, standing on the foundation prepared from the 1800s to this present day by a long line of educators, professionals, town folk, volunteers – enthusiastic people of vision and hope,” remarked Librarian Donna Clark.

“Our goal is to make the Library a central hub, providing an open environment to enhance access to the world of knowledge through mentoring, networking and collaboration, and to provide quality resources for personal growth and lifelong learning,” she added.

After the speeches, several people from area boards moved dirt with the golden shovels provided by Nugent Builders, the builder on the project. The project is expected to be done late spring.

A unique metal sculpture, made by artist Steve Anderson, of Anderson’s Metal Sculpture, was installed on the property behind where the new library is being built. The sculpture is a stainless steel, artistic representation of cattails among dragonflies.

“This sculpture, donated by the Community Building Development Team, will add the cultural touch that enhances the educational nature of all the projects planned for this ten-acre site,” said Library Director Donna Clark. “It will add culture and beauty within the areas of the rain gardens and near the planned library building.”

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Year in Review: Cedar Springs community is #rickerstrong

Ricker Family: L to R Preston, Brian, Brison, and Kim.

Ricker Family: L to R Preston, Brian, Brison, and Kim.

By Judy Reed

Another amazing story in 2016 is the way that the Cedar Springs community has embraced a local family and supported them in their fight against a rare brain tumor. Before symptoms began last fall, Brison Ricker was a happy, well-liked and athletic teen, who loved riding dirt bikes with his younger brother Preston, and playing soccer. In January 2016, Brison was diagnosed with a rare and deadly childhood brain tumor called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine glioma (DIPG), which is nearly always fatal and lacks an effective treatment, according to Stanford University. The tumor is inoperable because it grows through the brain stem, and half of patients die within 9 months. A gofundme page was set up to help the Rickers with expenses, and groups began holding fundraisers—and praying. Then, in the late spring, Brison’s family was told to take Brison home and call in hospice because he didn’t have long to live.

But Brison’s parents, Brian and Kim Ricker, are strong in their faith in God, and believed there was another way to beat it. They sought alternative treatment at the Burzynski clinic in Texas—a treatment that had reportedly had some good results in other patients, but was not covered by insurance—and would run $17,000 a month for the treatments alone, not including loss of income from the parents staying home to take care of Brison. The community has continued with fundraising drives to help the family meet the costs, and continued to pray, and though Brison has gone through some tough stretches, his MRI shows he is making progress. Unfortunately, on the same day last week that they received the good news on Brison’s progress, they were hit with the news that Brison’s younger brother Preston, has thyroid cancer. He is due to be operated on next month. If you would like to help this family, you can donate through their gofundme page at https://www.gofundme.com/rickerstrong.

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The Post travels to Montana

n-post-travels-montana-art-smith

Art Smith brought along his Cedar Springs Post while on an elk hunt in Montana with his brother Steve Smith and other family members. Art rode 8 miles on a mule to a tent camp, and hunted in the Lewis & Clark National Forest in the Bob Marshal Wilderness. He said that one elk and two deer were taken in the camp.

Thanks, so much, Art, for taking us with you!

This year the Post has traveled all over the world with our readers, visiting locations with our readers such as various cities in Arizona; the Adirondack Mountains; Atlanta, Georgia; Bay City, Mich.; Boston, Mass.; California; China; Colorado; Florida; Hoover Dam; Makcinac Island; Montana; New York City; Pictured Rocks; the Ryder Cup; South Dakota; Washington D.C.; West Virginia; Wyoming; Colombia; the Caribbean, Panama; Germany; Italy; France; Greece; Turkey; Haiti; Japan; Iceland; Nepal; Scotland; and Sweden.

Where will we go next year? It’s up to 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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Year in Review: Veteran’s memorial stolen and then recovered

The Kent County  Sheriff Department found the stolen monument and arrested suspects in the crime within days of its disappearance. Photo courtesy of the Kent County Sheriff Department.

The Kent County Sheriff Department found the stolen monument and arrested suspects in the crime within days of its disappearance. Photo courtesy of the Kent County Sheriff Department.

By Judy Reed

The monument dedicated to the memory of fallen hero SPC. Timothy Brown was stolen in October from Veterans Park, and suspects in the case were arrested within days by the Kent County Sheriff Department.

The Brown family discovered the monument was missing Saturday, October 22, and called police. Thieves broke the statue, taking the helmet, rifle, and dog tags. Only the boots were left on the memorial stone. The family appealed to the public to have the suspects return the statue, no questions asked, but it did not appear.

The monument dedicated to SPC. Timothy Brown has been repaired and restored to its rightful place in Veterans Park. Post photo by J. Reed.

The monument dedicated to SPC. Timothy Brown has been repaired and restored to its rightful place in Veterans Park. Post photo by J. Reed.

Police suspected the same culprits took the statue as broke into concessions at Skinner Field just a day prior. They posted surveillance footage of the break-in, featuring three young males, and asked media to share the photos. Within days, suspects in the thefts were arrested.

Police found the statue in a shed on the property of Tracy Lyn Coleman, 45, in the 100 block of E. Muskegon, along with several items in the home from the Skinner Field break-in.

Police arrested David Edgar Sommerville, 17, Austin Lee Coleman, 20, and Justin Lynn Rossman, 27, all of Cedar Springs, on Thursday, October 27. All three were charged in the Skinner Field break-in, and Sommerville and Rossman were charged with the monument theft. The older Coleman was arrested the next day on receiving and concealing stolen property. He reportedly admitted to police that he knew the rifle and helmet were stored in his shed, and that he had told one of the defendants to get it out of there. Rossman reportedly told police that Sommerville stole the rifle and helmet and hid them in the storage shed.

“We are proud of the work of our investigators as they worked tirelessly to bring SPC Brown’s Monument back into safe hands,” said the Kent County Sheriff Department in an announcement on their Facebook page.

Once the statue was recovered, DPW Director Tom Stressman had it repaired by a business in Minnesota that specializes in bronze monuments and memorials honoring law enforcement, fire/rescue, and the military.

City Manager Mike Womack said it would cost the city about $500 to have the $10,000 monument repaired, and they would probably seek to recover that cost as part of restitution on the part of the suspects.

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Year in Review: Fatal crashes

The fire spread from the pole barn to an adjacent RV. Photo by J. Reed.

The fire spread from the pole barn to an adjacent RV. Photo by J. Reed.

The Post ran stories on 17 different fatal crashes or accidents that occurred in the greater Cedar Springs area this year, including the one in the photo left, that occurred on Northland Drive at 15 Mile Road, on Tuesday, March 1. According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, a 1963 Ford Fairlane was headed north on Northland Drive about 4:12 p.m. Tuesday, when it crossed the centerline just north of 15 Mile Road, and was struck by a southbound Ford F150 truck.

The driver of the Ford Fairlane, Duane Schwartz, 68, of Sand Lake, and his passenger, Cathy Sutton, 57, of Gaines Township, were both ejected from the car and died of their injuries at the scene. The Ford Fairlane was not equipped with seatbelts. The driver of the truck, a Kentwood woman, was not injured. Slippery roads may have played a part in the crash.

This is just an example of one of the crashes that occurred this year. Please drive safely out there!

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Meaningful New Year’s resolution

Ranger Steve Mueller

Ranger Steve Mueller

By Ranger Steve Mueller

 

When making a New Year’s Resolution, make it fun and emotionally meaningful for you and family members.

I have been reading research studies on how informal learning spaces like your yard provide the opportunity to make life experience connections. They have long-term impact for family understanding about the environment that support a healthy and sustainable future. Create a pesticide free butterfly garden with native plants to entice insects, birds, neighbors, and friends. Let’s get everyone outside.

Creating a pesticide-free butterfly garden helps children learn about nature, while helping the insects and birds in your own backyard.

Creating a pesticide-free butterfly garden helps children learn about nature, while helping the insects and birds in your own backyard.

To develop an interest in nature and natural history research suggests a need for frequent and recurring experiences over many years. Last week’s nature niche was about our family’s Christmas tree experiences that continued throughout the kids’ entire growing up adventure.

Involvement with local fauna and flora instill emotional feelings that create responsibility for the local natural and human community. It is an experiential place-based education. When local plants and animals like insects are discovered and valued, conservation and re-wilding our neighborhoods becomes feasible. One research paper focused on the ecological importance of insects for our own healthy living.

When considering a New Year’s Resolution, select activities where the family explores outdoors on trails at county parks, nature centers, or has excursions in the yard. I recall one family experience when Jenny Jo saw dots high in the sky when she was about three. She asked what birds were flying. I looked and said I missed them. She asked again and I looked more intently. I was looking too close. The birds were very high in the sky.

We went outside and saw about 250 Broad-wing Hawks soaring in a heat thermal as they migrated south one October. It was an amazing experience that took about five minutes. It provided an emotional connection with the natural world. Reading and showing pictures of hawks riding thermals in books or on the Internet does not create an emotional connection that effectively builds appreciation for the natural world.

Perhaps your childhood experiences did not include similar events but it is I time to create new meaningful family traditions with emotional nature connections. Walking in natural areas, exploring wild things in your yard, or growing a butterfly garden will persist in the mind and heart of child for a lifetime.

Outdoor experiences help organize knowledge in the brain by what I call “hook” placement. It provides a hook in the mind to place experience knowledge in your own mental file cabinet. Once sorted and stored in a meaningful manner, book knowledge has a good place to be combined for rapid recall. It prevents searching unsuccessfully for things that get misplaced somewhere deep in memory recesses. Classroom book knowledge becomes more effective when connected with real world experiences like field trips to nature centers.

We learn best when we connect emotional outdoor experiences with new knowledge gained from what we hear, read, or see when surfing the Internet. We can compare a multitude of misinformation we are bombarded with from other people or see on the Internet. Nature exposure helps us make better sense of our surroundings.

Make the best New Year’s resolution ever. Explore outdoors with the family to build connections with each other and with the nature world during the coming year. It is more fun than resolving to lose weight.

The research paper concluded that intellectual messages detached from direct real world experiences in the outdoors are often impotent.

My friend Bob Pyle, a nature writer and butterfly field guide author, states that the butterfly net is perhaps the cheapest, simplest and most effective environmental tool ever invented.

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 and Varsity Cheer finish in top three at Mona Shores

Varsity: The Cedar Springs Varsity Cheer team finished 3rd out of 15 teams at Mona Shores.

Varsity: The Cedar Springs Varsity Cheer team finished 3rd out of 15 teams at Mona Shores.

This weeks competitions brought the Cedar Springs High School Varsity & JV teams to Mona Shores High School. It was a long night for the girls, due to there being 33 teams at this competition.

Starting in round one, Cedar Springs Varsity scored a 218.5 with a 4-point penalty bringing their score to a 214.5 and placing them in 4th place at the end of round one.

JV: The Cedar Springs JV team finished first out of six teams at Mona Shores.

JV: The Cedar Springs JV team finished first out of six teams at Mona Shores.

Cedar Springs JV scored a 195.7 placing them in 1st place at the end of round one.

Continuing on to round two Cedar Springs Varsity scored a 218.7 making their subtotal for round two a 433.28 bringing them up to second place at the end of round two.

Cedar Springs JV scored a 163.6 bringing the subtotal to a 359.3 and holding their first place standing.

Lastly, in round three Cedar Springs Varsity scored a 280.1, bringing their overall total for all three rounds 713.38. This gave them a third place finish out of 15 Division 2 teams, with less than a one-point difference for second place.

Cedar Springs JV finished round three with a 248.7, bringing their overall total to 608 and securing a first place finish out of six JV teams.

Great job to all the girls.

The next High School competition will be Saturday January 7 at Comstock Park High School.

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5 Steps For Easy Entertaining

ent-entertaining

(Family Features) Hosting a large group of family and friends can be overwhelming, especially if entertaining isn’t something you do often. No matter the occasion, these tips can help you avoid common party pitfalls so you can keep the focus on having fun.

Offer an assortment. Rather than attempting to plan the menu around a wide range of likes, dislikes, allergies and other considerations, simply create a menu that satisfies everyone’s cravings. If you’re serving a buffet, provide a mix of hot and cold dishes in a variety of tastes and textures. For a plated meal, offer several robust sides so if the main dish misses the mark for one or two guests, there’s no chance of anyone going hungry.

Create a beverage cart. The kitchen is likely to be a hotbed of activity, but setting up a remote beverage cart can help redirect some of that traffic. A cart or table with multiple shelves is ideal. Stock the cart with an ice bucket and tongs; garnish such as lemons, limes, olives and cherries; and an assortment of glasses. Offer a couple of bottled beers on ice (one light and one with a bolder flavor), at least one white and one red wine, and a couple of liquors that work with a wide array of mixers, such as vodka and rum. Round out the cart with a few mixers, including fruit juice so non-drinkers can enjoy mocktails as well.

Never compromise on wine. Lots of times, guests have wildly different tastes in wine and it can seem impossible to select a couple bottles that everyone will like. If you want to please everyone but worry you’ll end up with a stash of partially poured bottles, there is an alternative to pulling all those corks. The Coravin Wine System lets you serve wine without removing the cork, allowing your guests to pour as much or as little wine as they like (you can save the rest or what’s left for another day). Using a Coravin System is like having a wine bar in your house. Rather than settling for what is open, everyone can drink whatever they like, even if the entire group has dramatically different tastes. If someone wants to taste lots of different wines, they will have the freedom to do just that. Learn more at coravin.com.

Plan ahead for refills. Clear as much space as possible in the refrigerator for extras so you can easily replenish anything that runs out. Make extra pitchers of punch, and have bowls of popular items ready to replace as needed. For warm items, use the warming feature on your oven to hold dishes at serving temperatures, or simply leave the oven off and contain the precooked dishes’ warmth.

Remember to enjoy yourself. Your guests can easily sense when you’re frazzled or stressed, so plan ahead and get all your preparations completed well before anyone arrives. Then you’ll be ready to mingle, visit and set a warm and inviting tone for an event that everyone can enjoy.

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Santa sighting!

Above: Ethan Gerhardt, 7, tells Santa what he wants for Christmas. Post photo by J. Reed.

Above: Ethan Gerhardt, 7, tells Santa what he wants for Christmas. Post photo by J. Reed.

With only a few days left until Christmas Eve, Santa Claus made a special stop at the Cedar Springs Library on Tuesday, December 20, to hear what kids in Cedar Springs want for Christmas. In the photos, Ethan Gerhardt, 7, and his brother, Zach, 10, tell him what they want for Christmas this year.

Right: Zach Gerhardt, 10, thinks about what he wants from Santa. Photo by J. Reed.

Right: Zach Gerhardt, 10, thinks about what he wants from Santa. Photo by J. Reed.

And don’t forget that you can track where Santa is on Christmas Eve by visiting www.noradsanta.org. Watch as he delivers toys around the world! You can also visit the North Pole and explore Santa’s Village on the website. Have fun!

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