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Camp Grayling Flexes Capacity Muscle with Arctic Eagle 16

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By Tech. Sgt. Dan Heaton, Michigan National Guard

As a Coast Guard rapid response team stormed a ship taken by “terrorists” in Lake Huron, Marine Corps Reservists were conducting infantry maneuvers with a group of soldiers from the Denmark Home Guard. At the local hospital, an incident command center had been stood up as civilian doctors and nurses communicated with sheriff deputies about the possibility that some kind of radiological dirty bomb had been detonated in town—discovered by a specialized team from the Indiana National Guard.

In short, it was just another day at Camp Grayling.

The complexity of this exercise shows the capacity that we enjoy here at Camp Grayling,” Major Gen. Gregory Vadnais, the adjutant general of Michigan, explained as he stood outside a decontamination tent at Munson Healthcare Grayling Hospital in the northern Michigan city of Grayling.

This exercise is Arctic Eagle 16, a National Guard-led exercise focusing on emergency response to a terrorist incident on American soil. Arctic Eagle brought some 1,100 troops to the Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center for about two weeks in early April amid a late season snowstorm that dropped temperatures below zero and dumped six or more inches of snow on the region, and complemented the exercise’s Arctic name. But this exercise was just one of a series of events that brought nearly a quarter million troops to the camp in Fiscal Year 2015.

We can provide four seasons of a wide range of training scenarios,” explained Lt. Col. Theresa Brown, the deputy garrison commander at Camp Grayling. “In recent years, we have increasingly moved into functioning as a truly joint training environment, where we see multiple different uniforms, often times able to work directly and collaboratively with state and local law enforcement or other first responder agencies.”

Which explains why, on the day Vadnais and several other general officers visited the troops in the field during Arctic Eagle, a senior Coast Guard officer was with the group—on an Army National Guard camp some 75 miles from the nearest coastline.

Our mission brings us in to regular contact both with the various military branches and with local and state law enforcement,” said Coast Guard Capt. Eric Johnson, chief of incident management for the 9th Coast Guard District, which oversees the Great Lakes region. “So an exercise like this—while our personnel may not be operating on Camp Grayling itself, but we are working closely with other teams, sharing communications and coordinating efforts—allows us to practice our mission of homeland security.”

In the Arctic Eagle scenario, Coast Guard and National Guard troops from Michigan and Massachusetts used a museum ship in Mackinaw City, Mich.—the former US Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw—to stage a series of attacks and counter-attacks on the ship. The troops worked closely with the owner of a privately owned industrial shipyard in nearby Cheboygan to stage the raid. The fact that Cheboygan County Sheriff Dale Claremont is also a sergeant major in the Michigan Army National Guard helped to ensure smooth coordination between the military units and the locals in Mackinaw City and Cheboygan.

As that was happening in Cheboygan and Mackinaw City, at Camp Grayling’s Combined Arms Training Facility, Marine Corps Reservists from the 3rd Battalion/25th Marines based in Johnson City, Tenn., were focused on another aspect of Arctic Eagle—providing security and response to seek out the “terrorists” in the exercise. Working with the Marines were some 80 members of the Home Guard of Denmark, a volunteer unit somewhat similar to the U.S. National Guard.

This is an opportunity for our Marines to not only work in conjunction with other units, but to gain some great cultural training by working with the Danes,” said Lt. Col. Ford Philips, inspector/instructor for 3rd Battalion. “The Marines are not only working on their skills as infantry, but learning a lot about another culture and how they view military service.

For one of the Danish Home Guard troops, the Camp Grayling training has particular relevance. Pvt. A.J. Manzon said he had a friend who was in Brussels, Belgium, during the March 22, 2016, terror attacks there.

Terrorism has come too close to us,” Manzon said during a break between small squad infantry training. “It is very important for us to be ready, both Denmark and the U.S.”

Working with partner organizations—both at the local level and internationally—is a core competency of the National Guard, Vadnais said.

Having the Danish Home Guard here adds a layer of complexity to the operation. The opportunity to work with the local hospital—and they have just been great partners with us. Our job is to leverage these partnerships in a way that serves our state and our nation,” Vadnais said. “The partnerships and the capacity that we have here at Camp Grayling allows not only the Michigan National Guard to maintain a high degree of readiness, but to be able to share that capacity with our partners.”

Those partnerships benefit not only the National Guard and related agencies, but the medical professionals at the community hospital in Grayling.

“It’s always worthwhile to practice emergency preparedness as a hospital because we know that we will almost always be involved in an external disaster and the more we practice the better prepared we will be in the future, explained Stephanie Riemer, president of Munson Healthcare Grayling Hospital. “Being able to practice with our long standing community partner, the National Guard, was not only an honor, it gave the hospital the opportunity to practice an entirely different scenario than our usual community wide drills would offer and we learned so much from the exercise that will strengthen our ongoing efforts in emergency preparedness.”

Among the 1,100 troops supporting Arctic Eagle 16 was an Indiana National Guard soldier on her first major exercise. Private 1st Class Rakiya Lyons was part of the team that helped create the emergency decontamination treatment center near the simulated bomb blast site.

Seeing how it all really comes together, seeing how the parts of the team all work together—it’s really something,” Lyons said.

Arctic Eagle 16 is a National Guard led, joint, interagency, intergovernmental, and multinational exercise based on the President of the United States, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, state of Alaska and international partners’ Arctic strategies. It is conducted in live and constructive environments, focused on humanitarian assistance, consequence management and infrastructure protection.

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Report uncovers dangerous chemicals in canned foods

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By Mary Kuhlman, Michigan News Connection

Chemicals in the linings of most food cans may be dangerous to consumers, according to WEB-BPA study Buyer Beware released jointly by six nonprofit groups.

They tested nearly 200 cans from 19 states distributed to some major retailers by producers, including Campbell’s, Del Monte and General Mills.

Mike Schade, Mind the Store campaign director for the group Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, said two-thirds of the cans were lined with an epoxy containing Bisphenol A (BPA), an endocrine-disrupting chemical.

“This is a chemical that is in the food packaging,” said Schade, “and studies have shown that it can migrate out of the cans and get into the food that we eat, eventually make its way into our bodies and may be harmful to our health.”

The report recommends that consumers buy fresh fruits and vegetables, look for alternative packaging, such as glass jars, or buy only from manufacturers that disclose the safety of their can linings.

As Schade pointed out, the health consequences of exposure to BPA can be serious.

“Studies have linked exposure to BPA to breast and prostate cancer, infertility, diabetes, obesity and other serious health problems on the rise,” he said.

Just two days before the report was released, Campbell’s announced it will be packaging all its products for sale in the United States and Canada in BPA-free cans by mid-2017.

But Schade said simply getting rid of BPA in the can linings is no guarantee of safety, as some companies are substituting other ingredients that may also be harmful.

“We found other toxic materials like PVC plastic and styrene-based resins in the can linings of many popular brands,” he noted.

The report calls on retailers and manufactures to commit to eliminating harmful lining materials, and disclose the safety data about the chemicals used in packaging.

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Michiganders reminded that they can prevent child abuse

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

Preventing child abuse is a community responsibility that needs

involvement from all Michiganders, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says.

During April, which is Child Abuse Prevention Month, MDHHS is reminding people that they can help protect children from abuse and neglect. “Michigan’s children can be protected through the power of one person, one community, one dollar or one action,” said Michael Foley, executive director of the Children’s Trust Fund, a nonprofit within MDHHS to prevent child abuse and neglect.

Gov. Rick Snyder has proclaimed this month as Child Abuse Prevention Month in

Michigan, making it the 32nd year that April has had that official designation.

Michigan had 23,813 confirmed cases of child abuse or neglect in fiscal year 2015.

Residents can prevent abuse by working as a community to create healthy environments for raising children, Foley said. They can also promote preventive factors to strengthen families—including family resiliency, social support systems, nurturing and attachment and knowledge of parenting and child development. Or they can donate money to prevention efforts and report suspected abuse or neglect using an anonymous state hotline that is answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The toll-free number in Michigan is 1-855-444-3911. The hotline is available to everyone in Michigan, including the general public and mandatory reporters such as teachers and health professionals who are required to report suspected child abuse or neglect.

Tips from the public are crucial in identifying situations in which children are being harmed or are at risk,” said Steve Yager, executive director of the MDHHS Children’s Services Agency. “Once we are alerted, we can take action to provide services to families to keep them together safely or, when necessary, petition courts to remove children from unsafe homes.”

For more information on the Children’s Trust Fund, including how to donate online or on your Michigan tax form, visit www.michigan.gov/PreventChildAbuse.

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Cedar Creek floods roadways, yards

Cedar Creek overflowed into Main Street last Thursday, March 31. Post photo by J. Reed.

Cedar Creek overflowed into Main Street last Thursday, March 31. Post photo by J. Reed.

This area, north of the Creek, flooded and sent water out on to Main Street. Post photo by J. Reed.

This area, north of the Creek, flooded and sent water out on to Main Street. Post photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

An spring storm with heavy rainfall whipped through the area on Thursday, March 31, during mid-afternoon (about 3-4 p.m.) and a surge of water caused Cedar Creek to overflow her banks.

The water was high all along the creek, and a flood watch was out for the Rogue River. The storm surge sent the water into Main Street, just north of Oak Street, and areas of Fifth Street were flooded as well. Cars were lined up along Main Street, waiting to drive slowly through the affected area. The flooding had subsided by later that evening.

The last time Cedar Creek overflowed on to Main Street was in 2013. Prior to that it was the mid-1980s, so it’s a fairly rare occurrence. However, there was a flood in 1905 or 1906 in that same area that washed out the wooden bridge across Main Street, and the cement sidewalks. It was reportedly two to three feet deep, and people used rowboats to get up and down Main Street.

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Teens face charges after attempted break-in

Kyle Adam Norvell

Kyle Adam Norvell

The names of two older teens have been released in the attempted break-in at the Cedar Springs Public Schools Hilltop Administration building early Wednesday morning, March 23.

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, they responded to the call at 3:22 a.m. of several suspects trying to break in to Hilltop. A witness reportedly scared off four suspects. It was initially reported that they could be armed with weapons, but detectives weren’t able to verify that any weapons were used.

Alexandr Ivan Rohloff

Alexandr Ivan Rohloff

After an intensive search by the deputies on scene, two white males were taken into custody for questioning.

The two suspects admitted to breaking into at least two homes and at least six motor vehicles over the past month. During the interview, the remaining two suspects were identified. One was located in the Cedar Springs area and taken into custody for questioning. This suspect also confirmed the break-ins.

Arrested was Alexandr Ivan Rohloff, 17, of Cedar Springs, and Kyle Adam Norvell, 19, of Grant. A male juvenile was also arrested.

Both Rohloff and the juvenile were charged with two counts of home invasion, and one count of resisting and obstructing a police officer. Norvell was charged with one count of resisting and obstructing a police officer, and a probation violation.

Rohloff’s bail was set at $50,000 cash/surety on each home invasion charge, and $10,000 cash/surety on the resisting and obstructing.

Norvell’s bail was set at $5,000, 10 percent.

Police have not yet apprehended the fourth suspect. The investigation is still open.

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Eagle standing watch

By Mindy Abbott

By Mindy Abbott

A couple of weeks ago we ran a photo of an eagle on a barn just off Northland Drive. This week, Mindy Abbott gave us another eagle photo—this one up close and personal from her home in Solon Township.

Got to get a good look at a bald eagle today sitting in the rain,” she wrote. “I’ve heard he has been seen in our neighborhood lately.” She took the photo while standing on her front porch.

That’s a great photo, Mindy! Thanks so much for sending it!

If any of you have wildlife photos you’d like to send us, email them to news@cedarspringspost.com, and include some info about the photo, and about yourself. We will run them as space allows.

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FFA gains support for community gardens

Community members work in last year's garden.

Community members work in last year’s garden.

This year the FFA has gained increased support for their popular Community Garden Project. Gary Mills, President of Grand Arbor number 733, a community service organization sponsored by the Gleaner Life Insurance Society, informed Nate Schoen, Local FFA Vice President, that the organization was honoring the FFA project with a $1,000 grant. Under this program community members can utilize 20’ x 20’ garden plots to grow vegetables, fruit, and even flowers.

FFA advisor Larry Reyburn was pleased to announce that this grant would allow the organization to drop the $20 fee normally charged for the use of a plot. The preparation of the plots is performed by Agriscience students and FFA members.

We hope to be able to supply many free transplants for the plots as well, and the seedlings are to be grown in the High School Plant Science class. We provide hand tools, and we rototill the gardens for community member before they take over. White Creek Lumber has been kind enough to donate the use of a tiller each year, and this year we hope to be able to purchase one of our own,” Reyburn added. Another big help has come from the area Fire Departments, who take turns filling the water tank used on the gardens.

Any member of the community that is interested in having their own plot should contact Reyburn at the high school by phone at 616-696-1200 extension 6131, or by email at Larry.Reyburn@csredhawks.org. For over 70 years the FFA at Cedar has focused on serving others and developing its member’s leadership and personal growth.

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Sunset in Cedar Springs

Photo by Wendy Russell

Photo by Wendy Russell

Wendy Russell sent us some photos of the April 4 sunset that were taken on 17 mile road, just west of US131. Thank you for sharing them with us, Wendy!

Do you have wildlife or nature photos taken in this area that you’d like to share with us? Send them to news@cedarspringspost.com, and include some information about the photo and yourself. We will print as space allows.

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Hometown Hero at work

Damage Controlman 3rd Class Joseph Flores, from Cedar Springs

Damage Controlman 3rd Class Joseph Flores, from Cedar Springs

ATLANTIC OCEAN (March 18, 2016) – Damage Controlman 3rd Class Joseph Flores, from Cedar Springs, Mich., conducts operational testing of Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) stations aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Roosevelt (DDG 80). Roosevelt is underway conducting Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) with the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group in preparation for a future deployment.(U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Taylor A. Elberg/Released.)

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Time to prepare for severe weather

Last year (2015) followed a similar pattern as the past two years, with fewer days of severe weather activity but, when it hit, the severe weather was more impactful, with higher winds, larger hail and significant damage in Michigan.

Last year (2015) followed a similar pattern as the past two years, with fewer days of severe weather activity but, when it hit, the severe weather was more impactful, with higher winds, larger hail and significant damage in Michigan.

Each year, the Michigan Committee for Severe Weather Awareness sponsors Severe Weather Awareness Week to highlight the need to be prepared in the event of severe weather. This year it runs April 10-16. As residents in Portland, Michigan learned last year, severe weather doesn’t always give you a lot of time to prepare so let’s get ready now and make the severe weather season a safe one.

Save the Date: 2016 statewide tornado drill

Local and state emergency management officials are asking Michiganders to take action to prepare by participating in a statewide tornado drill at 1:30 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, April 13, 2016.

Government agencies, organizations, families and individuals are encouraged to be a part of this statewide preparedness activity, but are not required to do so. Nearly all state of Michigan facilities will be participating.

While tornadoes can occur during any time of the year, they are especially common during the late spring and early summer months. As one of nature’s most violent storms, they can devastate homes and property in just seconds.

The average lead time for tornadoes to develop is 10 to 15 minutes, which means citizens need to be ready to react quickly when a warning is issued. By taking a few extra steps and participating in the statewide tornado drill, citizens and businesses will be ready well in advance if a tornado ever occurs.

In the event of severe weather, the statewide tornado drill will be postponed until 1:30 p.m. EDT on Thursday, April 14, 2016.

2015 Severe Weather Review

Last year, Michigan had an average number of tornadoes, but it was a below average year for overall severe weather, including lightning, severe thunderstorm wind, hail, and flooding. Severe weather was responsible for seven injuries in the state during 2015, all on June 22. A tornado outbreak that spawned five tornadoes hit the state during the afternoon of June 22 and continued into the overnight hours of June 23. The Portland EF1 tornado was responsible for five of the injuries while the Birch Run-Millington EF2 tornado caused the other two injuries. While tornadoes are nature’s most violent weather, all forms of severe weather can have a huge impact on the State of Michigan. Michigan citizens need to be vigilant whenever severe weather is in the forecast, not only for tornadoes, but also for wind, hail, flooding and lightning.

Flooding, severe thunderstorms and tornadoes in 2015 caused over $130 million in damages. Nearly half of that total statewide damage occurred on one date, August 2, 2015. The total in damages in 2015 was down dramatically from the $2 billion in damages caused by severe weather in 2014, most notably from the August 11, 2014 Detroit floods. Last year (2015) followed a similar pattern as the past two years, with fewer days of severe weather activity but, when it hit, the severe weather was more impactful, with higher winds, larger hail and significant damage in Michigan.

Tornadoes and Severe Thunderstorms

In 2015, there were 14 tornadoes across the state, which is near the average of 15. Two days experienced most of the tornado activity: June 22-23 and November 6. The first tornado on June 22 was the Portland EF1 tornado that moved through the heart of the community during the afternoon hours affecting over 50 homes, businesses and churches. There were four additional tornadoes around the midnight hour as June 22 turned to June 23 across southeast Lower Michigan. The most significant of these was an EF2 tornado that developed near Birch Run before dissipating 10 miles later near Millington. This tornado touched down near the Pine Ridge RV Campground and severely damaged a couple houses as it moved into Tuscola County. A rare November severe line of thunderstorms developed over central Lower Michigan during the pre-dawn hours of November 6. This line would spawn three tornadoes across the Thumb region of Lower Michigan. The strongest was an EF1 just southwest of Applegate where a mobile home and several barns and outbuildings were destroyed.

Other damaging EF1 tornadoes occurred with severe thunderstorms. Those included the August 2 tornado in Owendale (Huron County), the August 8 tornado near Rose City (Ogemaw), and the December 23 tornado in Canton (Wayne). The Rose City tornado developed on September 8 and was on the ground for nearly nine miles. Most of the damage from this tornado was trees snapped or downed by the swirling winds. The Canton EF1 tornado was the first Michigan tornado in the month of December since records started in 1950! This storm proved once again that severe weather can develop during any month of the year if the atmospheric conditions are favorable.

The first severe weather event to hit the state occurred on April 9. Thunderstorms developed along a warm front across far southern Lower Michigan. These storms produced wind damage in Hillsdale, Muskegon, Kent and Montcalm counties totaling $100,000. The first Michigan tornado of 2015, a short-lived EF0, developed near the Hillsdale-Jackson County line.

A significant hail storm developed over Menominee County and then dropped two-inch diameter hail near the town of Stephenson on May 27. The hail damaged many homes, especially the roofs, for a half million dollars’ worth of damage.

Western Upper Michigan was again hit with severe storms on June 10. Thunderstorm winds up to 70 mph across Dickenson and Marquette counties downed numerous trees causing over $50,000 in damages.

During the late evening of July 13 and just past midnight on July 14, severe thunderstorms moved across west central Lower Michigan. Significant wind damage was reported across the region with many trees downed and a short-lived EF0 tornado near Alto. There was approximately $200,000 in estimated damages from the severe weather events.

By far, the most significant severe weather day for Michigan was August 2. It was the largest severe weather day in northern Michigan in more than a decade and the costliest severe weather day in the 20+ years for that region. In the day after the storm, nearly 75 percent of southern Leelanau County was without power. It took nearly a week to restore power to many of these areas. There were 100 mph winds around Sleeping Bear Dunes and Glen Arbor that caused widespread tree damage. Thousands of trees were damaged, closing roads and damaging hundreds of homes and businesses. Most of the attractions at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore were closed for nearly a week due to impassable roads and tree damage. The winds were so strong that they pushed water out of Little Glen Lake for a brief period in southern Leelanau County.

Governor Rick Snyder declared states of disaster in both Leelanau and Grand Traverse counties.

A squall line developed across eastern Wisconsin and then raced into northwest Lower Michigan during the early afternoon of August 2. This line of storms then pivoted southeast across most of the rest of Lower Michigan during the late afternoon and evening hours. Severe wind damage was recorded down to the border in Lenawee and Monroe counties. These storms also spawned an EF1 tornado in the Thumb town of Owendale. Wind damages from these storms were nearly $40 million.

The largest hailstone ever recorded in northern Michigan (since 1950), 4.25 inches, fell during the storm in West Branch. It was the 5th largest hailstone ever recorded in the state of Michigan (record is 4.50 inches). There was widespread hail damage throughout West Branch with hundreds of cars, homes and businesses damaged by the large hail. The total damage from the West Branch hail was over $30 million.

Flooding

Remarkably, there was very little flooding in the state during 2015. The only flood to cause any damage was in Lenawee County on June 27 when three to five inches of rain fell across far southeast Lower Michigan on June 27 to cap one of the wettest Junes on record for that portion of the state. Many roads were closed and a few were washed out. Total damage was estimated to be around $100,000.

What to do when a tornado warning is issued for your area:

· Quickly move to shelter in the basement or lowest floor of a permanent structure.

· In homes and small buildings, go to the basement and get under something sturdy, like a workbench or stairwell. If a basement is not available, go to an interior part of the home on the lowest level. A good rule of thumb is to put as many walls between you and the tornado as possible.

· In schools, hospitals and public places, move to the designated shelter areas. Interior hallways on the lowest floors are generally best.

· Stay away from windows, doors and outside walls. Broken glass and wind blown projectiles cause more injuries and deaths than collapsed buildings. Protect your head with a pillow, blanket, or mattress.

· If you are caught outdoors, a sturdy shelter is the only safe location in a tornado.

· If you are boating or swimming, get to land and seek shelter immediately.

Lightning

Lightning can provide a spectacular display of light in the nighttime sky, but this awesome show of nature can also cause death and destruction. Lightning is the visible discharge of electrical energy. It is often accompanied by thunder, which is a sonic boom created by the same discharge. It is important to remember that if you hear thunder, a storm is close enough for lightning to strike you, even if the storm seems miles away and the sky is blue.

Lightning safety tips

1. Plan your evacuation and safety measures. At the first sign of lightning or thunder, activate your emergency plan. Lightning often precedes rain, so do not wait for the rain to begin before suspending activities. No place is absolutely safe from lightning; however, some places are much safer than others. The safest location during lightning activity is a large enclosed building. The second safest location is an enclosed metal topped vehicle, but NOT a convertible, bike, or other topless or soft-top vehicle.

2. If outdoors, get inside a suitable shelter IMMEDIATELY. Your only safe choice is to get to a protected building or vehicle. Avoid seeking shelter under a tree as a tree can attract lightning. In the event you are outdoors without a safe vehicle or shelter, follow outdoor safety tips at www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/outdoors.shtml Although these tips will not prevent you from being hit, they can help lessen the odds.

3. If indoors, avoid water, doors, windows, and using the telephone and headsets. Lightning could strike exterior wires, inducing shocks to inside equipment. Any item plugged into an electrical outlet may cause a hazard.

4. Do not resume activities until 30 minutes following the last observed lightning or thunder.

5. Injured persons do not carry an electrical charge and can be handled safely. If you are qualified to do so, apply first aid procedures to a lightning victim. Call 911 or send for help immediately.

For more information on how to stay safe during severe weather, download the entire severe weather packet from our website at www.cedarspringspost.com.

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