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Community raises funds for Ricker family

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

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

By Judy Reed

Cedar Springs Brewing Company was the place to be Monday evening, as the community came out to show its support for brothers Brison and Preston Ricker, who are both battling cancer, and their parents, Brian and Kim.

CS Brewing donated 10 percent of sales proceeds and had a donation box set up for extra donations for the family. With sales and donations combined, they raised $3,300 for the Ricker family’s medical fund.

Cedar Springs Brewing Company was packed Monday evening as people flooded in to support the Ricker family in a fundraiser. Photo from CS Brewing Facebook page.

Cedar Springs Brewing Company was packed Monday evening as people flooded in to support the Ricker family in a fundraiser. Photo from CS Brewing Facebook page.

“The place was packed and everyone was very patient as our crew worked their tails off to serve as many people as possible,” said owner David Ringler, in a Facebook post. “Thank you to our wonderful community for your generous support!”

Kim was also thankful. “We feel incredibly blessed to live in such an amazing community with so many caring and kind people,” she said. “We are grateful to Cedar Springs Brewing Company for holding the event, all the employees who worked so hard, and everyone who showed up to support our family and make it such a successful night!”

Brison was diagnosed a year ago with an inoperable brain tumor – DIPG. Conventional treatment did not work, and doctors here had nothing left they could do. The Rickers then sought alternative treatment at the Burzynski Clinic in Texas. His treatments cost $17,000 per week, but the tumor has shrunk, and the medication is working. “Brison is continuing to push hard with physical therapy and getting stronger and more mobile everyday,” remarked Kim.

Then, as the Post reported back at the end of December, Brison’s brother, Preston, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. He recently had surgery to remove his thyroid and several lymph nodes on each side of his neck. “Preston is doing well and will do radioactive iodine in three weeks or so,” said Kim.

It’s been a big blow to a family that has already had to endure more than their share of trials. But their faith in God and support of the community is what carries them through. (Also see the WM Pursuit story on page 10 to see how the wrestling community has recently raised funds for the Ricker family.)

If you would like to help this family, you can donate through their gofundme page at https://www.gofundme.com/rickerstrong and follow the Team Rickerstrong page on Facebook for fundraising updates.

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The Post travels to St. Jude Children’s Hospital

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The Post recently traveled with Jim, Kelsey, Tyler, Chris and Trevor Ruark to St. Jude Children’s research hospital, in Memphis Tennessee. Kelsey (who is holding the Post newspaper in the photo) is a patient there. “We traveled there for her 10-year (last) check up,” explained Kelsey’s mom, Chris. “She was diagnosed with leukemia AML in 2006 and received a bone marrow transplant on Dec. 1, 2006, from her younger brother Tyler. Kelsey has gone back for yearly visits for 10 years. We were celebrating 10 years cancer free!”

Thanks so much for letting us celebrate with you! We are happy that Kelsey is cancer-free!

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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Gas prices fell in GR area

N-Gas-18-month-chart

It might be hard to believe, but at this time last year, gas stations in Houghton Lake waged a price war that had gas prices fall well below $1 a gallon. Gas in Cedar Springs was $1.67 at that time.

We are seeing higher prices than that this year. Over the past week, average retail gasoline prices in Grand Rapids fell 10.1 cents per gallon, averaging $2.37/g Monday, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 246 gas outlets in Grand Rapids. This compares with the national average that has fallen 2.5 cents per gallon in the last week to $2.34/g, according to gasoline price website GasBuddy.com. As of Wednesday, this week, gas prices in Cedar Springs were $2.38/g.

Including the change in gas prices in Grand Rapids during the past week, prices Monday were 60.7 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 13.0 cents per gallon higher than a month ago. The national average has increased 10.3 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 43.0 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.

According to GasBuddy historical data, gasoline prices on January 16 in Grand Rapids have ranged widely over the last five years: $1.77/g in 2016, $1.96/g in 2015, $3.32/g in 2014, $3.17/g in 2013 and $3.59/g in 2012. Areas near Grand Rapids and their current gas price climate: Kalamazoo- $2.30/g, down 13.9 cents per gallon from last week’s $2.44/g. Lansing- $2.39/g, down 8.0 cents per gallon from last week’s $2.47/g. South Bend- $2.16/g, down 11.9 cents per gallon from last week’s $2.28/g.

“For the first time since November, the national average price for gasoline has fallen over the last week, helped by weak demand and rising gasoline inventories,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy. “This downward trend is evident in over two-thirds of states but may take additional time to materialize in others, yet is a familiar pattern for late winter as refiners build inventories prior to the late-February start of refinery maintenance season and thanks to the year’s weakest demand occurring over the next four weeks. However, motorists shouldn’t expect the trend to last long. After the sweetness of Valentine’s Day roses and chocolates is gone, they will be in store for a jump at the pump as maintenance season begins and the long transition to summer gasoline becomes a pinch point, leading to gas prices that will mostly trend higher for two to three months.”

For live fuel price averages, visit http://FuelInsights.GasBuddy.com. You can also see live gasoline prices at the Post website, www.cedarspringspost.com, and click on Current Gas Prices at the top. It will give you current prices in Cedar Springs, Rockford, and Sparta.

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Three ways to plan ahead for the 2017 tax season

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(BPT) – With the tax season approaching, now is the time to start thinking about creating a strategy to help maximize tax refunds in the year ahead. From the passage of the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act to the increase in health insurance penalties, here are a few items to keep in mind before the IRS begins accepting tax returns.

1. Donating to charity, making an extra student loan payment or contributing to an IRA can lower your adjusted gross and taxable income.

If you are a taxpayer that itemizes your deductions, donating to a qualified charity by Dec. 31 and saving the necessary documentation can lower your taxable income. Taxpayers can also deduct up to $2,500 of interest paid on their student loans each year, even if the payment is voluntary. For those contributing to their IRA, taxpayers can deduct up to $5,000, and have until April 16, 2016 to make contributions.

2. Your health insurance penalty will increase if you are uninsured and do not sign up by Jan. 31.

The per-person flat fee penalty for not having health insurance has increased more than 630 percent since it was first implemented in 2014.

Taxpayers will now have to pay a penalty of $695 per uncovered adult, plus $347.50 per uncovered child up to a maximum of $2,085 or 2.5 percent of their household income over the filing threshold, whichever is greater. That means a family of four earning $60,000 would pay a penalty of more than $2,000.

According to H&R Block’s estimates, taxpayers without insurance in 2015 paid an average penalty of $401. This was a 125 percent increase from 2014, when the average penalty was $178.

There are some cases where an uninsured taxpayer may qualify for an exemption from the penalty, but the only way to completely avoid it in 2017 is to enroll and stay covered under a qualified insurance plan.

3. If you claim the earned income tax credit (EITC) or additional child tax credit (ACTC), your refund will be delayed until at least Feb. 15.

The passage of the PATH Act now requires the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to hold the entire refund for returns claiming the EITC and ACTC until at least Feb. 15, depending on when the return is filed.

The IRS estimates approximately one in five EITC payments are made through fraudulent filings or confusion due to the complexity in claiming the benefit. Employers are now required to send employee W-2s to the IRS by Jan. 31 to allow the IRS additional time to help prevent identity theft and fraud.

The IRS will begin releasing funds on Feb. 15, but taxpayers may not see the funds deposited into their banking accounts immediately. This law could affect approximately up to 30 million taxpayers who claim these tax credits.

If you are one of the 30 million taxpayers who claim these credits and are worried about a delayed refund, visit a local H&R Block professional to see how they might be able to help. For more information, visit hrblock.com/PATH.

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Five tips for financial fitness in 2017

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

(Family Features) If a commitment to improving finances is among your resolutions for 2017, you’re not alone.

A survey from the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) shows that more than two-thirds of U.S. adults will make a financial resolution this year.

However, one out of three Americans said their financial quality of life is worse than they expect, as saving money and debt concerns top the list of stressors. Additionally, almost two-thirds of respondents experienced a financial setback in 2016, with transportation issues, housing repairs and medical care cited as the leading causes. For the nearly 50 percent of those who admit they’re living paycheck to paycheck, significant unplanned expenses can add up.

“To be successful with your financial resolutions in 2017, set thoughtful, realistic goals,” said Paul Golden, spokesperson for NEFE. “If your goal is to build an emergency savings, start with a small amount like $500 dollars to show yourself you actually can achieve that mark then set the bar higher. It’s not uncommon to be hit with an unexpected expense, so be prepared.”

These five tips can help get you on the path toward tackling your financial goals:

1. Get debt under control. Take a hard look at what you owe. If there are warning signs of too much debt, take action. Set a goal to reduce your debt next year by 5-10 percent. That might mean reducing impulse shopping, which six out of 10 people admit to doing, and 80 percent regret the purchases later. When you face temptation, walk away for at least 30 minutes to make sure you still want the item.

2. Start saving now. Ideally, you should have six to nine months of income set aside, but achieving a small goal can provide a sense of security and reduce stress. The rules of retirement have changed: Review your long-term savings and ensure they are appropriate and on target.

3. Shop for better services. Make a game out of shopping providers to find the best value in the services you use. How long has it been since you shopped your insurance policies? Is there any chance you can save money on your cell phone, internet or utilities? Visit current providers and ask, “What’s the best deal?” Be sure to understand your policies and services so that you are comparing fairly and accurately.

4. Understand what’s behind your financial decisions. If you’ve ever wondered why you feel good about spending money on vacations but avoid saving for retirement, the answer may lie in your unique values and how they influence your financial decision-making. Take the LifeValues Quiz at SmartAboutMoney.org.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Recruit a “financial buddy” and share your resolutions with a trusted family member or friend who can provide support in helping you meet your financial goals. Find someone who will hold you accountable and set a good example for you to follow.

For more help getting your finances in order, visit SmartAboutMoney.org.

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Pavelka signs with Spring Arbor

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Congratulations to Cedar Springs senior Jameson Pavelka on signing his national letter of intent to play basketball next year at NAIA member school Spring Arbor University. Jameson is pictured with his parents Julee and Eric, as well as the Spring Arbor Head Coach Ryan Cottingham.

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Red Hawk wrestlers win against FHN

 

Red Hawk Varsity Ryan Ringler was a champion and MVP of the Warren Woods Tower tournament on the southeast side of the state. Photo by B. Chong.

Red Hawk Varsity Ryan Ringler was a champion and MVP of the Warren Woods Tower tournament on the southeast side of the state. Photo by B. Chong.

Take fourth at Warren Woods invite

By Barbra Chong

On Wednesday, January 12, Cedar Springs High School hosted an OK White Conference Dual against the Forest Hills Northern Huskies. The Red Hawks claimed another victory against the Huskies with a final score 51-26. Our current team OK White record is 2-2. 119 lb Kaedrian Dines, 125 lb Aaron Smith, 135 lb Jordan Ringler, 140 lb Jacob Galinis, 152 lb Lucus Pienton, 160lb Xavier Anderson, 171 lb Ryan Ringler, 189 lb Nate Patin and Heavy Weight Patrick Depiazza all won their matches. JV went undefeated with 125 Patrick Fliearman, 152 Zak Schmid and 215 Caleb Baty winning their matches.

Saturday, January 14, the Red Hawks traveled to Warren Woods Tower for their Clash of the Champions Invite. The southeast side of the state is known for their tough competitors; 18 area teams came to compete. Final team standings are Warren Woods Tower with the Championship and score of 205; Holt finished 2nd with a score of 187; Marysville finished 3rd with a score of 173; and Cedar Springs finished 4th with a score of 169.5. Final individual standings are as follows: 171 lb Ryan Ringler went undefeated and took home a Championship title as well as the Most Outstanding Wrestler award. Patrick Depiazza also went undefeated and claimed a Championship title. 145 lb Lucus Pienton and 135 Jordan Ringler each took 3rd Place; 140 lb Jacob Galinis took 4th Place; 125 lb Aaron Smith and 130 lb Jordan Andrus took 5th Place and 135 lb Anthony Brew took 6th Place.

“We travelled over 150 miles to introduce ourselves to the wrestlers of Metro Detroit. We impressed them with our style and earned their respect with our grit and determination. The tournament style was unique and was run very smoothly by WWT. The Red Hawks represented our team and our community, like the true gentleman they were raised to be,” said Head Coach Nick Emery.

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New Venue Enhances Experience for CTA Choirs

Middle School and High School students combined for “Carol of the Bells” during the winter concert.

Middle School and High School students combined for “Carol of the Bells” during the winter concert.

On Monday, Dec. 12, the middle and high school choirs at CTA put on a holiday concert. This was a year of many firsts for the choirs. This was the first time that the choirs performed a holiday concert. Due to scheduling, last year’s choirs were not able to do a holiday concert. Many students were excited about being able to perform the well-known songs. The other “first” for this concert was the opportunity to perform at Cedar Springs High School. The professionalism and hard work of the singers was complemented by a beautiful venue. The final “first” happened at the very end of the concert when all 62 singers (middle and high school) performed the song “Carol of the Bells” together. For many in the choir and the audience, Carol of the Bells was the favorite moment of the concert. Many audience members praised the combined effort and loved the power that the combined group was able to achieve. The middle school singers got to experience the excitement of singing with the high school choir and the older students got the opportunity to be leaders for the students coming up. CTA’s first holiday choir concert was a great success!

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Chasing Birds

Ranger Steve Mueller

Ranger Steve Mueller

By Ranger Steve Mueller

 

Grand Rapids Audubon Club 2016 Christmas Bird Count, Kent County Center at 2 Mile & Honey Creek Roads 

Fifty-nine species of birds were seen (Table 1) by forty-three traveling observers and 1 bird feeder watcher on 31 Dec 2016. A Rough-legged Hawk, Great Horned Owls, and Barred Owl were additional species recorded during count week. Count week is the three days before and after count day. Count week species are reported separately from count day species totals and numbers are not reported.

Total individuals sighted was 9342 and was almost 2000 less than last year’s but was similar with two years ago. Travel conditions and weather were good for field exploration. Mostly frozen still water helped concentrate waterfowl but flowing water was mostly open.

Weather conditions were 100% cloudy. Temperatures were between 33 and 39 F. Winds 0-15 mph with gusts to 30 from the west. Snow cover was 1-4 inches.

We totaled 76.75 hours in vehicles traveling 673 miles. 19.5 hours was spent on foot covering 17.25 miles and 5.5 hours at feeders. A combined total of 690.25 miles were on foot and driving. Groups totaled 199.75 hours of daytime birding. There were 15 birding parties in the morning and 10 in the afternoon with one feeder watcher recording. To count birds at feeders one counts the most seen for each species at any one time during observation time.

Wittenbach/Wege Agri-science and Environmental Education Center (WWC) co-hosted and we appreciate use of the facility. We encourage everyone to visit and enjoy the WWC grounds and to support their community programs.

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.

OUT-Bird-Count-Table

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New library taking shape

This photo is a view of the side entrance, which leads into the community room. This area is where the circulation desk will be located. Photo courtesy of the Cedar Springs Library.

This photo is a view of the side entrance, which leads into the community room.
This area is where the circulation desk will be located. Photo courtesy of the Cedar Springs Library.

By Judy Reed

Work is humming along on the new Cedar Springs Library and residents can’t wait to get a peek inside.

Library staff and others took a tour of the inside this week to see how it was looking. “I’m really excited,” remarked Library Director Donna Clark. “I was surprised to see how far along they are.”

Clark said that the drywall is up and they have started painting. The metal roofing also arrived this week.

“There is also going to be an area with a beautiful fireplace, which will be very warm and welcoming, comfy chairs, and a table with chairs on either side,” she remarked.

There will also be 12 public computers, a classroom, three tutoring rooms, an enclosed children’s area with glass panels, and a playroom area. There will also be four stations for children’s computers. Teens will also have their own area.

This area is where the circulation desk will be located. Photo courtesy of the Cedar Springs Library.

This area is where the circulation desk will be located. Photo courtesy of the Cedar Springs Library.

Another draw will be the community room, which will hold up to 75 people with the tables and chairs, and 100 without. A complete kitchen will open up into the community room. People can walk out of the community room to a patio, which will be facing the creek, where the retaining wall will be.

The retaining wall is being funded by the blocks that the library is selling. They have sold 18 of the 25 they need, so are looking for more people or businesses interested in helping fund this part of the project. The 10×8 retaining wall blocks are $1,000, and will have a brass plaque insert with 8 lines available. Logos are also possible with a block.

They also are still selling bricks. For $50 you can get a 4×8 brick with 3 lines, or an 8×8 brick with 6 lines for $100, and inscribe it as you wish. Bricks will be placed at the Library entrance and a few other places, as needed.

Pick up a brochure to order a brick or block at the Cedar Springs Library or visit http://cedarspringslibrary.org/news/bricks-and-blocks-for-new-library/ to print one out.

They library is expected to be completed sometime in the spring.

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