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Couple escapes mobile home fire

This home was a total loss. Photo by J. Reed.

This home was a total loss. Photo by J. Reed.

Photo by J. Reed.

Photo by J. Reed.

By J. Reed

A Cedar Springs family made it to safety early Tuesday when their mobile home caught fire on the coldest night of the year.

According to Cedar Springs Fire Chief Marty Fraser, the call came in at 2:11 a.m., on January 5, for a home at 365 Sarah Street, in Cedar Springs Mobile Estates. Fraser said that the homeowner got up during the night and saw smoke, and was able to get his wife and dog out.

Fraser said that the fire started in the hot water heater/furnace room area, but they do not yet know the cause. He said the fire was mostly contained to the room of origin, but some flames, smoke, and heat escaped to other areas. He said that due to the age of the home, it was probably a total loss. “There was some structural damage,” he explained. He added that the home was insured.

The fire did not reach a cargo van parked in the driveway, nor a shed that was next to the home.

The home did have two operating smoke detectors, which Fraser said were going off when they arrived on scene. “Unfortunately some flames that spread across the ceiling melted them,” he said.

The Sand Lake Fire Department assisted Cedar Springs at the scene.

Fraser said that it took about 20 minutes to get the fire knocked down, and a total of 2-1/2 hours before they cleared the scene. “The cold temperatures factored into the cleanup,” said Fraser, who explained that hoses stuck to the ground, and one was impossible to fold. “The cold also takes its toll on the firefighters,” he said. Temperatures dipped to about 10 degrees overnight.

Fraser said that the couple has family in the park that they are now staying with.

The fire is still under investigation.

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Ski resorts try to set/break Guinness Records

You could help set or break a record Friday at a Michigan ski resort if you get a ski or snowboard lesson. Photo courtesy of Crystal Mountain Ski Resort.

You could help set or break a record Friday at a Michigan ski resort if you get a ski or snowboard lesson.
Photo courtesy of Crystal Mountain Ski Resort.

For Largest Ski and Snowboard Lessons

More than 160 U.S. ski areas have registered to host a Guinness Book of World Records event in pursuit of four separate records. The event takes place at 10 a.m. on Friday, January 8, 2016.

For the first time, records will be set for the world’s largest multi-venue ski lesson and the world’s largest multi-venue snowboard lesson. From this group, the largest ski lesson and the largest snowboard lesson record at one particular ski area will be determined. Ski and snowboard lessons are not taught together. The single venue records for both disciplines are approximately 500 people.

“We are not talking about giant lessons at each ski area,” said Mary Jo Tarallo, director for the snow sports industry’s Learn to Ski and Snowboard (Month)/Bring a Friend. “If a ski area has 100 people that may mean 10 lessons with ten people. It depends on the ski area.” Some ski areas are charging a modest fee for the lesson and others are providing this for free.

“It will be fun whether we can set all four records or not. Who wouldn’t want to set or break a Guinness Book of World Records?” Tarallo added.  “We hope current skiers and riders will tell their newcomer friends and family members who want to learn.” Lessons are for true beginners.

Details and a list of participating ski areas are posted at learntoskiandsnowboard.org.

Mickey MacWilliams, executive Director of the Michigan Snowsports Industries Association, suggests that interested participants call one of the ski areas listed at the website above to make a reservation in advance.

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Red Hawks take 7th at Grandville, 3rd at Allendale

The Red Hawk wrestlers took third at the Allendale Falcon Invite. Photo by Jane Ringler.

The Red Hawk wrestlers took third at the Allendale Falcon Invite. Photo by Jane Ringler.

By Barbra Chong

The Cedar Springs High School Wrestling team traveled to Grandville on Wednesday, December 30. They started the day with a loss against Grand Haven, 32-35. Northview was their next opponent with a victory, 40-31. They took a loss to Comstock Park but it was a close dual, 29-33; and the Red Hawks finished the day against Jenison with a win and big lead, 66-12. Out of the 13 teams competing, Cedar Springs finished the day in 7th place. Grandville took the Championship, Hesperia 2nd place, Tri County 3rd place, Grand Haven 4th place, Comstock Park 5th place and Byron Center 6th place.

The individual records are as follows: Heavy Weight Patrick Depiazza, 171/189 lb Ryan Ringler and 125 lb Jordan Ringler all went undefeated with four wins each; 145 lb Lucus Pienton, 140 lb Jacob Galinis, 112 lb Logan Hull all with three wins each; 171 lb Gage Gardner, 160 lb Nate Patin, 152 Anthony Topolski , 145 lb Xavier Anderson , 135 Jesse Empie and 112 lb Austin Emmorey with two wins each; 215 lb Cody McHenry, 135 lb Gonzalo Baladia, 130 lbs Aaron Smith and Jordan Andrus and 119 Patrick Fliearman with one win each.

Spanish exchange student Gonzalo Baladia entered into his first wrestling tournament and won his first Varsity wrestling match against Jenison. “We are short handed at a few weights and lost two close battles today because of it,” said Head Coach Nick Emery. “Hopefully, the boys have learned that every second, every point of each match counts. Moving forward I hope this team can rally around each other and spark the greatness it has the potential to achieve.”

Saturday, January 2, Cedar Springs traveled to Allendale for the Falcon Invite. The tournament attracted 15 area teams and some tough competition. Final team standings were Lakeshore with the Championship and score of 270.5, Allendale took 2nd Place with a score of 180 points and Cedar Springs took 3rd Place with a score of 179.5.

The tournament was broke up into Varsity A and B teams. Cedar Springs entered eleven competitors into the Varsity A division. Final Placements are as follows:

Heavy Weight Patrick Depiazza, who remains undefeated this season, took home a Championship Title; 171 lb Ryan Ringler also took home a Championship title; 145 Lucus Pienton and 125 lb Jordan Ringler with 2nd Place each; 140 lb Jacob Galinis with 3rd Place; 152 lb Anthony Topolski with 4th Place; 119 lb Patrick Fliearman with 5th Place and 160 lb Nate Patin and 112 lb Logan Hull with 6th Place each. The Varsity B Team entered six competitors. 145 lb Xavier Anderson took home a Championship Title; 171 lb Chris Shaffer with 3rd Place; 130 lb Aaron Smith with 5th Place and 135 lb Gonzalo Baladia and 112 lb Austin Emmorey with 6th Place each.

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Dedicated & Talented Middle School Art Student

Eilena Lopez shows off some of her artwork.

Eilena Lopez shows off some of her artwork.

Jennifer Swift, Art Teacher

I would like to take the time to celebrate an extraordinarily talented artist at Cedar Springs Middle School.

Eilena Lopez is an eighth grader who consistently demonstrates dedication, perseverance, the ability to think outside the box, and the artistic skills to create incredibly unique works of art.  She typically takes on more than the project requires, doing multiple projects, adding intense details, and even working from home.  She is thoughtful and reflective in every project and a great inspiration to her fellow classmates.

CSPS-Art2Eilena is skilled in a variety of art mediums, but her passion is drawing with value.  Eilena’s work will be on display at the administration office if you have a chance to see her work in person.  The attention in detail in her portraits is absolutely stunning!  I feel so very grateful to get to work with such an incredible person and artist every day.  Cedar Springs is very lucky to have Eilena here!

CSPS-Art3

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Free youth rabbit hunt Jan. 16 in Belding 

Participants in the Flat River State Game Area’s 2015 youth rabbit hunt. This year’s hunt is set for Jan. 16.

Participants in the Flat River State Game Area’s 2015 youth rabbit hunt. This year’s hunt is set for Jan. 16.

Register by Jan 12

The Department of Natural Resources is teaming up with the Mid-Michigan United Sportsmen’s Alliance, the Belding Sportsman’s Club, the Montcalm County Branch of the Quality Deer Management Association and several other sporting groups and local businesses to sponsor a youth rabbit hunt at the Flat River State Game Area Saturday, Jan 16.

The day will kick off with breakfast at 7:30 a.m. and will conclude with lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Belding Sportsman’s Club, located at 10651 Youngman Road in Belding, Michigan.

There is no fee to participate, and maps of potential hunting hot spots on the 11,000 acres of nearby public hunting land will be available. Participating youths will be eligible for a number of raffle prizes, including several firearms.

“This event is possible thanks to the cooperation of many partners with an interest in keeping Michigan’s hunting tradition going strong,” said DNR wildlife biologist John Niewoonder. “We hope that getting new hunters out in the woods and exposed to the fun and camaraderie of rabbit hunting will encourage them to become lifelong hunters.”

Hunting parties should register by Jan. 12 and must have at least one member younger than 17 years of age. For more information or to register, contact the Flat River State Game Area at 616-794-2658.

Participating hunters must have a valid base license or mentored youth hunting license, available online at www.mdnr-elicense.com or anywhere hunting licenses are sold.

To learn more about youth hunting, visit www.michigan.gov/mentoredhunting.

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TOP STORY 2015

post photo by J. Reed

post photo by J. Reed

New businesses, non-profits bring revitalization and growth to Cedar Springs

BY JUDY REED

The Cedar Springs area received a shot in the arm this year with several new businesses moving in, and even more growth is on the horizon, thanks to the partnership efforts of the Community Building Development Team with the Cedar Springs Library and Cedar Springs City Council.

The big success story of the year is the Cedar Springs Brewing Company, which finally opened its doors at 95 N. Main, in mid-November. It was the culmination of a 25-year-dream for David Ringler, a.k.a “Director of Happiness” at the brewery, and it’s the first time in recent history that a new building has been built on Main Street in the heart of downtown Cedar Springs.

N-Top-Story-CS-Brew2The brewery/restaurant features a variety of craft beers, focusing on German styles, along with a full food menu (which includes German dishes), wine and their homemade Cedar Creek Sodas, which are non-alcoholic beverages.

Since their opening, the brewery is jam-packed every night and it’s amazing to see so many vehicles in downtown Cedar Springs.

“We’ve had a wonderful reception from the community and been very pleased to welcome many people from outside our community who’ve come to visit, often multiple times,” remarked Ringler. “Some of this is to be expected, given that we’re new and over the holiday season, but we’re hopeful that we’ve made a positive impression and people will continue to visit.”

In the beginning it was difficult to keep up with the demand for beer, but people came anyway.

“We’ve remained very busy, which is a blessing,” said Ringler. “As we’ve progressed over the past six weeks, we’ve been able to adjust our inventories to keep up on beer production, which means we’ll be able to fill growlers soon.”

Ringler talked about some things customers can expect in the coming year. “Our beers will rotate and expand regularly, and our food menu will see the addition of daily specials and be updated at least 3-4 times over the course of the year. We will begin hosting live music regularly and we also have a number of events planned throughout the year (with details coming soon).”

He said they will also begin hosting “Community Giveback Nights,” beginning January 11, where they will be giving back 10 percent of food sales to the Cedar Springs Band Boosters on that evening. Other organizations will follow.

He said they will also begin growler sales, and canning their product for sale in the marketplace, so we will be able to find their beers in stores, bars and other restaurants.

“Our spirits line will also be launched, beginning with Wodka and White Lightning products,” added Ringler. “We will also add additional season sodas and soft drinks to our lineup.”

One of the big things will be the outdoor Biergarten, which will open in the spring, and add 70 to 80 seats.

Ringler is grateful to the community for how they’ve embraced the brewery. “Thank you. We’ve been humbled by the warm reception, encouraged by the enthusiasm, and we’re working hard to earn your continued support,” he said.

The brewery is one of several businesses to come to Cedar Springs this year. The brewery bought the Liquor Hut building, which they then leased to Cold Break Brewing, a home supply brewing company; Family Farm and Home bought the old Family Fare building; and Advance Auto built a new building on the site of the old Family Fare gas station. Since Advance Auto had bought Car Quest previously, they took in all the employees from the Car Quest shop on Main Street.

Another company coming to Cedar Springs is Display Pack, who bought the Wolverine World Wide warehouse at 660 West Street. Wolverine’s lease is up in 2017, and Display Pack is slowly taking over the building as Wolverine vacates the premises. Display Pack, employs 225 people, and up to 275 people seasonally. Since many of their employees live in Grand Rapids and those who walk won’t make the commute, they may hire as many as 60-80 people from this area.

Another group who is revitalizing Cedar Springs is the Community Building Development Team, through their partnership with the Cedar Springs Library and the City of Cedar Springs. Over two dozen organizations and businesses in Cedar Springs, along with dozens of individuals, have been working together for the past three years to develop eight acres of land, within the City limits, into “The Heart of Cedar Springs.” This place can be called our own “Town Square,” where the local citizens and visitors can enjoy a new library building, a community building, a recreation center, and an amphitheater, all placed among beautiful rain gardens and sculptures along a board walk on the banks of Cedar Creek.

Donations of land and cash, as well as pledges, as of November 2015, total over $2,555,000. The overall project is expected to cost approximately $10,000,000.  The plan is to raise funds for each individual project and to break ground for each facility when funds are adequate. Donations may be designated.

The Cedar Springs Library building is scheduled to be built first, breaking ground early next spring. A Capital Campaign Committee was appointed by the CBDT and they are in the process of writing grant proposals to large corporations and foundations to raise the funds needed to complete these projects.

Checks can be written to the Cedar Springs Public Library and either sent to Box 280 or dropped off at the Library. They can also be written to the Community Building Development Team and sent to the treasurer of the CBDT, Betty Truesdale, 141 S Main Street, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

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Sparta man dies after ORV accident

Derek Bellows died following an ORV accident Christmas eve morning. Photo from gofundme page.

Derek Bellows died following an ORV accident Christmas eve morning. Photo from gofundme page.

A Sparta man who died following a tragic ORV accident early Christmas eve morning has given the gift of life to others.

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, Derek Bellows, 23, of Sparta, was driving a 2000 Yamaha quad westbound on 14 Mile Road NW, west of Phelps Avenue NW, in Sparta Township, when he hit a tree that had fallen across the road. He was thrown from the quad and found lying in the roadway. He was not wearing a helmet, and suffered a severe head injury.

Police believe the accident occurred between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. He was discovered about 6:25 a.m. It was unknown whether alcohol or excessive speed was involved.

Derek was transported to the hospital, where he was put on a ventilator. He died on December 26.

According to a gofundme page set up in his memory, Derek’s organs were donated to save the lives of several people. It was reportedly close to Derek’s  heart, because his grandfather received a new heart eight  years ago.

According to the gofundme page, “Derek was an amazing young man and full of life. He loved the outdoors, riding horses, snowmobiles, four-wheelers or whatever he could drive fast.  He also had a huge heart for people and animals. Derek loved horses and especially his dog.”

His funeral will be January 2, at 1 p.m. at Ballard Church of Christ. To make a memorial contribution, visit the gofundme page at https://www.gofundme.com/9ygj28qk. Contributions will benefit the Wounded Warrior project.

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Coloring contest winner

N-Coloring-contest-winner-Mollien

Our Christmas coloring contest winner, Kirk Mollien, 9, of Kent City, stopped in Monday morning to pick up his prize—a droid featured in the new Star Wars film—The Force Awakens. Congratulations to Kirk and to all of our winners!

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Busy year for Blue Star Mothers

N-Blue-star-mothers1

N-Blue-star-mothers2As 2015 winds down, the Michigan Blue Star Mothers are looking forward to a busy 2016. The year for our Michigan chapters has been a busy one, and the photos shown here indicate some of the work done by local chapters all around the state of Michigan.

Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc. will celebrate their 74th year operating as a military support organization, on February 1, 2016. Most members are mothers of military personnel working together in an organized mission. Local chapters are the “feet to the pavement.” It’s where the work is done. Our missions include taking care of our troops and veterans, coming along side of the families of our fallen, and supporting each other. We have local chapters all over the state of Michigan.

December proved to be a busy month for our chapters. Chapters continued to collect items to be shipped in care packages to our troops overseas. Stockings were filled to be passed out at the VA hospital in Battle Creek. Fundraisers and donation drives continued to support the mission, and the Ionia, Kent, and Montcalm chapter was honored by WXMI-TV 17, Walmart ,and by folks in the city of Ionia with large donations. Wreaths were laid at cemeteries all over Michigan and Blue Star Mothers were there. We also became family to heroes who had no known family.

Work is being done to start chapters in Muskegon County, Isabella County and mothers are being contacted to start another chapter in Newaygo County. If you read this article and you are a mother of someone serving in the United States Military you can contact me and I’ll put you in touch with our membership chair and she can direct you to the place where these mothers are meeting or help you start a new chapter in the area in which you live.

Thank you to our service members, whereever they are serving. Thank you to their mothers wherever you are. Blue Star Mothers of America is here for you. If you are interested I can be reached at:  989-814-0650 or president.deptmi@bluestarmothers.us.

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Cold weather a hot time for minnow harvesters

 

Cut netting: A seine pulled tight to shore that contains minnows for sorting and harvesting. The net had been positioned in a cut off Saginaw Bay.

Cut netting: A seine pulled tight to shore that contains minnows for sorting and harvesting. The net had been positioned in a cut off Saginaw Bay.

From the Michigan DNR

Falling water temperatures can mean a lot of things to those who enjoy the outdoors.

Cold water increases interest in steelhead fishing, for instance, and decreases the focus on bass fishing. However, to Jeff Slancik of Bay County, cold water means just one thing: It’s time to catch minnows.

Slancik, 49, of Pinconning is a bait dealer whose business heats up when the weather cools down.

In cold weather, the baitfish head inshore from the Great Lakes and that’s when Slancik can catch them in large volume and keep them alive in ponds for the winter.“You have to wait until the water temperature comes down,” Slancik said. “I’d say in a typical year we start around Nov. 1 and you’re lucky to see past Dec. 1. We lost the first week of November this year because it was too warm. Once that water gets down to 40 degrees, you can catch minnows. The colder it is, the longer we can keep the minnows.”

Slancik has operated Jeff’s Bait Co. in Pinconning for 25 years. He’s one of a number of Michigan commercial bait wholesalers who catch minnows and sell them to distributors, who then get them to the bait shops anglers depend upon.

Picking: A worker inspects the contents of a dip net, picking out nontarget minnow species as the crew works a cut off Lake Huron in Michigan’s thumb area.

Picking: A worker inspects the contents of a dip net, picking out nontarget minnow species as the crew works a cut off Lake Huron in Michigan’s thumb area.

Minnow harvesters are licensed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Tom Goniea, the DNR fisheries biologist who oversees the program from Lansing, said there are about 80 licensed minnow catchers in Michigan, but only a handful of large operators like Slancik.

“Most of the catchers’ licenses belong to guys who own retail shops and may catch minnows every now and then to sell to their customers,” Goniea said. “Ninety percent of the state’s bait harvest is coming out of Saginaw Bay, the St. Clair River, the Detroit River and Lake Erie. It’s mostly emerald and spottail shiners. Your fatheads, golden shiners and suckers are largely imported.”

Minnows: A perch is removed from a dip net full of minnows taken from a cut off Saginaw Bay.

Minnows: A perch is removed from a dip net full of minnows taken from a cut off Saginaw Bay.

Minnow harvesters are restricted to the types and size of gear they can use.

“On the Great Lakes, they can use a 125-foot seine,” Goniea said. “Inland waters have different regulations that vary by water type. In Michigan, most waters are open to minnow harvest unless they are specifically closed.”

For Slancik, a recent day began on a cut (a nonflowing man-made channel connected to a larger body of water which aids in getting boats access to open water) along Saginaw Bay not far from home.

Two of Slancik’s employees manned the ends of a seine stretched across the cut, one on the bank, the other in a float tube along the edge of the deeper side of the cut.

Slowly, they pulled the seine toward the inside end of the cut, where Slancik directed them.

When they reached a point a couple yards off the back end of the cut, Slancik sprang into action, bringing dip nets and a larger floating pen net with him.

The trio began scooping up minnows, weeding through them to toss out the non-minnow captives, mostly perch, and transferring the minnows into the net pen.

The fish were then filtered through a grader— a floating device with a slotted bottom that allowed the smaller fish to slip through to the pen, but contained the larger fish.

From there, they again dipped the minnows up with hand nets and sorted, tossing out perch or other non-target species, transferring the minnows into 5-gallon buckets.

Slancik took a bucket to his truck, which is equipped with numerous, oxygenated tanks. There, he sorted one more time, removing any non-minnow fish before he transferred the minnows to the truck tank.

Slancik said sorting takes a lot of time. Had they found many more perch or other unwanted specimens in the seine, he said he would have dumped the whole load back into the cut and gone elsewhere.

Slancik has been catching minnows his whole life. He started working for his great-uncle Frank, of Frank’s Great Outdoors in Linwood fame, who Slancik called “the Fred Bear of minnow-catching.”

Slancik works a territory from Pinconning north and east along the thumb of the state to Port Austin in Huron County. More than half the minnows he takes are used in the local Saginaw Bay area. In a cold winter, with good ice, 75 percent of his minnows are sold locally.

“From November first to December, it’s go, go, go, sometimes 24 hours a day for five days straight,” Slancik said. “On a good day, we’ll get 300 gallons of minnows, about 700 per gallon.” Minnows are sold by the gallon commercially in Michigan. In some others states, they’re sold by the pound.

Like most fishing pursuits, Slancik’s minnow catching luck runs hot and cold.

“I’ve had catches of 1,000 gallons, no problem. One time we caught 10,000 gallons and I only needed 1,000 gallons. I let the other 9,000 gallons go,” Slancik said. “But I’ve had times when I’ve worked all day and only caught 20 gallons.”

Slancik said he puts between 7 million and 10 million minnows in ponds, which he keeps aerated, for the winter season.

“I can keep up to 2,000 gallons in a pond, but I want to back off a little this year because we might have a warmer winter,” he said. “Bigger minnows survive better in the ponds. The smaller minnows don’t have the strength to be caught in warmer temperatures and held until spring.”

State law prohibits minnows caught in Michigan to be exported out of state.

“Any minnow that is harvested in Michigan is meant to meet the local demand of Michigan anglers, without disturbing the food chain for our predator fishes such as trout, walleye and smallmouth bass,” Goniea said.

Goniea said minnow harvesters are not doing any damage to the fisheries resource.

“In almost all cases, human harvest has little to no effect on available resources,” he said. “On a place like Saginaw Bay, a million emerald shiners is a minute part of the population. Walleyes, bass and the other predator fish control the bait population. Human harvest is a drop in the bucket, and minnows are capable of explosive growth and reproduction.”

This fall, Slancik has mostly caught emerald shiners, the minnows anglers call “blues.” Spottail shiners, known as “grays,” were down a little.

“Spottails tend to run larger than emeralds. Lake trout fishermen like spottails, just because of their size. But big emeralds will work just as well,” Slancik said. “We noticed that last year because nobody caught spottails. But people get it stuck in their heads that they want spottails. These days, there are more emeralds than spottails. It used to be the other way around.”

Slancik said there are more baitfish in Lake Huron now than ever.

“Lake Huron is like a big fish tank — you can only put so many fish in an aquarium,” Slancik said. “When one is up, the other is down, but spottails are slowly coming back.”

Slancik said he’s seeing more gizzard shad and alewives lately, too.

The DNR monitors the minnow harvest to make sure invasive species and those that can carry diseases — such as viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS) — aren’t spread.

In the summer months, when minnows can’t be kept in ponds, a lot of minnows are imported.

But in winter, if you’re seeking a Pure Michigan experience—say walleye fishing through the ice–you’re likely using minnows caught right here in Michigan, by commercial bait harvesters like Slancik.

For more information on Michigan minnows, visit the DNR’s webpage at www.michigan.gov/fishing.

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