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Tag Archive | "Hurricane Harvey"

Kent District Library Director named Top Librarian in the Nation

KDL Library Director Lance Werner

Lance Werner, executive director of Kent District Library, has been named the top librarian in the nation by Library Journal.

The 2018 Librarian of the Year award honors a professional librarian among nominees from across the country for outstanding achievement and accomplishments reflecting the loftiest service goals of the library profession. Werner was recognized for his strong leadership, effective legislative advocacy and championing access for his over 200,000 patrons in Kent County.

Werner is the first–and only–Michigan librarian to win the Librarian of the Year award.

“My version of leadership is to get the best people I can, give them what they need and then get out of their way,” Werner said. “I’m one gear in a big machine where everyone is important.” Werner credits this philosophy as a cornerstone to building strong advocacy among his team, municipalities, strategic partners and patrons. 

Under Werner’s leadership, Kent District Library:

• Championed access for all by becoming the first public library in the state to offer e-magazines, e-movies, e-comics and streaming video games free of charge.

• Extended the reach of technology by circulating iPads and wireless hotspots community-wide.

• Installed a collection of Little Free Libraries around Kent County. There are currently 14, which are housed in community centers, senior centers, parks and the Gerald R. Ford International Airport.

• Opened a branch in Kelloggsville High School, which will be a community library outside of school hours.

• Began offering healthcare for part-time employees.

• Partnered with other West Michigan libraries to collect 50,000 library materials for the Port Arthur Public Library, a Texas library devastated by Hurricane Harvey.

• Launched a statewide short story contest called Write Michigan, now in its 6th year, which most recently drew more than 900 submissions from children, teens, adults and Spanish-language writers.

• Provided books for military troops stationed in the Middle East.

• Trained all staff members in first aid and CPR.

• Launched adult program series highlighting beer (KDaLe), wine (KDL Uncorked) and coffee (KDL Caffeinated).

• Partnered with The Geek Group and other local organizations to offer innovative programming, including STEM initiatives.

“Working with Lance is exciting,” said Michelle Boisvenue-Fox, KDL’s director of innovation and user experience. “I admire that he has respect for all of our staff and genuinely wants to do the best for our patrons and communities. This shows in the relationships he has grown over the years and our efforts to grow our KDL family to include more and more community groups.”

Werner builds his life around three pillars: kindness, empathy and love.

“I don’t feel like I have a job, it’s more of a calling,” Werner explained. “I’m so blessed to do work that I love, with those that I love, for those that I love. I consider myself a public servant and want to add to the greater good and touch the lives of future generations.”

Werner has been director of Kent District Library since May 2011. He previously served as director of the Capital Area District Library in Lansing and as a library law specialist at the Library of Michigan. He earned a bachelor of arts in psychology from the University of Northern Colorado, a law degree from Michigan State University and a master’s of library information systems from Wayne State University.

“As the 30th recipient of the LJ Librarian of the Year award, Lance exemplifies the dynamism and keen intelligence we expect in a winner,” said Rebecca T. Miller, editorial director of Library Journal and School Library Journal. “His deep understanding of the importance of building and nurturing strong relationships at all levels has resulted in improved service for his community, enhanced benefits for the Kent District Library staff, and improved the outlook for libraries across Michigan. We are very excited to name him LJ’s 2018 Librarian of the Year.” 

Werner will receive a $1,500 cash prize and is featured in Library Journal’s January 2018 issue, available in print and online. Werner was previously a 2016 LJ Mover & Shaker and 2017 Michigan Library Association Librarian of the Year.

About Kent District Library

Kent District Library is a public library system operating 18 branch libraries that serve nearly 400,000 residents of 27 different municipalities throughout Kent County. KDL is an IRS-designed 501(c)(3) nonprofit supported by millage dollars and private donations. KDL is a member of the Lakeland Library Cooperative. For more, visit kdl.org.


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Rotary donations to Hurricane Harvey victims

The Cedar Springs Rotary collected donations for Hurricane Harvey victims last week. Courtesy photos.

Cedar Springs Rotarians join with you and many others with their sadness on the natural disasters happening in the US. We worked together to offer drop off sites last week for donations to send to those suffering in Texas from Hurricane Harvey. There were locations at many local Rotarians offices to drop off items. Locations included Choice One Bank, Independent Bank, State Farm, Cedar Springs Area Parks and Recreation and Northern Physical Therapy. The items collected include baby food, diapers, kids clothes, medicine, work gloves and other basic needs. The items are being sent directly to Texas with a local church headed down on a mission trip. We will be monitoring the situations there and with the other disasters and their long term affects and be considering future endeavors to help our fellow Americans in need.

Rotarians are called to service projects and put “service above self.” The group works to serve local projects, like the Cedar Springs Library youth room and the pavilion in Morley Park, and international projects as well. We welcome community members to help in these projects and encourage them to consider joining us if they are feeling called to serve others. We have a variety of membership options and welcome a conversation with you to see if it is a fit for you. Please check out the Facebook page “Cedar Springs Rotary Club” to see more about what we do or visit us at Red Flannel and enjoy a Chicken dinner before the parade.

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AccuWeather says cost of Harvey, Irma to be $290 billion

It has been a destructive and costly hurricane season, following the historic impacts from Hurricane Harvey and now Hurricane Irma.

This is the first time in the history of record keeping that two Category 4 or higher hurricanes, Harvey and Irma, have struck the U.S. mainland in the same year.

“That is extraordinary by itself,” Dr. Joel N. Myers, AccuWeather founder, president and chairman, said Monday.

“And also unprecedented is that this particular storm, Irma, has sustained intensity for the longest period of time of any hurricane or typhoon in any ocean of the world since the satellite era began,” Myers said.

Irma has great staying power, and it is a unique storm. It had a brush with several islands in the Caribbean and ran on land in Cuba. It then hugged the Florida coast as a major hurricane.

“The storm is not only intense, it is also very large. The area affected by the strong winds along the west coast near the center of the storm will barrel along and hug the coast closely heading due north, and will bring winds gusts of well over 100 mph and conceivably over 125 mph,” Myers predicted earlier this week.

These types of storms cause extremely hazardous conditions, including flying objects, fallen trees, downed power lines, which carry the potential for electrocution, broken window glass on homes and cars and damage to roofs and other structures. Storm surge was another major threat.

Hurricane Irma caused damage from wind, flooding from heavy rain and damage from the sea in different places in Florida.

While the storm weakened as it pushed through the state, heavy rainfall over North and Central Florida from Hurricane Irma swelled 23 rivers and creeks to beyond flood stage Wednesday, threatening homes along their banks and potentially forcing a massive re-routing of drivers along I-75, according to the Miami Herald.

“We believe the damage estimate from Irma to be about $100 billion, among the costliest hurricanes of all time. This amounts to 0.5 of a percentage point of the GDP of $19 trillion,” Myers said.

“We estimated that Hurricane Harvey is to be the costliest weather disaster in U.S. history at $190 billion or one full percentage point of the GDP. Together, AccuWeather predicts these two disasters amount to 1.5 of a percentage point of the GDP, which will about equal and therefore counter the natural growth of the economy for the period of mid-August through the end of the fourth quarter,” Myers added.

  • Economic costs are incurred by, but not limited to, the following:
  • Disruptions to businesses
  • Increased unemployment rates for weeks, and possibly months in some places
  • Damage to transportation, infrastructure
  • Crop loss, including cotton crop and 25 percent of orange crop, which will impact the cost of consumables for all Americans
  • Increased gasoline, heating oil and jet fuel prices impacting all Americans
  • Damage to homes, cars, furniture, antiques, jewelry and other valuables
  • Loss of valuable papers, cherished belongings such as photos

“Some of the losses will be covered by insurance, some will not, so the losses will be felt in a variety of ways by millions of people. Many millions of people have already been evacuated, so their lives have already been affected and they have incurred costs of one sort or another,” Myers said.

“AccuWeather takes our responsibility of providing the most accurate forecasts and warnings and the impact on people and business very seriously. This is a solemn responsibility that we have and our people are working extremely hard and with great intensity to make sure that all the people we reach can depend on our info for the utmost in reliability so they can make the right decisions during these stressful times.”

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Be on alert for scammers after hurricane


Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is reminding Michigan residents to exercise caution in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Unfortunately, whether it is selling a flood damaged vehicle or taking donations meant for disaster relief, scammers choose times of disaster to take advantage of hard working well meaning citizens.

“Hurricane Harvey has inflicted disastrous results on the state of Texas and we are thinking of all the individuals affected by the storm,” said Schuette. “It is important to remember that while storms like this can bring out the best in people, it can also bring out scammers who see a disaster as nothing more than an opportunity to make a quick buck. I encourage Michigan residents to protect themselves from post disaster scams.”

Schuette noted that the most common scams to happen after a storm of this nature are fake charities, and selling flood damaged vehicles.

Charitable giving scams

In the aftermath of a natural disaster, many individuals seek to donate to relief efforts and residents who have lost everything in the storm. However, scam artists use disaster tragedies to enrich themselves. These scammers exploit the sympathy of donors—perhaps with a name sounding both compassionate and legitimate or with a heart-wrenching appeal—to steal the donations or get consumers’ sensitive financial information.

Residents can avoid disaster scams and make a positive contribution to relief and rebuilding projects by doing a little research before making a donation. Follow these tips:

  • Be cautious of requests for donations by unfamiliar organizations or people.
  • Beware of unsolicited contacts and appeals on social media sites. Some leading relief charities now accept donations via cell phone, but unsolicited text messages, like unsolicited telephone and email communications, should be viewed with suspicion and handled with caution.
  • Crowdfunding and other types of internet-giving can be tools of tremendous good, but as with any type of giving it can be abused, so proceed with caution when donating online. A Consumer alert with additional information and advice on crowdfunding is available here.
  • Continue to reach out and help, but choose established charitable organizations with a history of helping those in need.
  • Before donating, search the Attorney General’s website to see if the organization is registered to solicit in Michigan. (Be aware that some legitimate charities, including the American Red Cross and Salvation Army, do not appear in the Attorney General’s database because they are exempt.)
  • The Attorney General’s website has additional information and advice on charitable giving. Citizens may call the Attorney General›s Charitable Trust Section at 517-373-1152 to check on a specific charity. To check on a police or fire organization, call 800-769-4515, toll-free

Protect yourself before purchasing a used vehicle

When flooding hits, hundreds of vehicles are damaged. Many will end up on the used car market. Vehicles with flood damage from a hurricane can be shipped across the country in a matter of days and appear for sale on the internet or at car lots, without any mention or obvious signs of the damage.

The National Salvage Vehicle Reporting Program, an independent third party standards body for the federal government’s comprehensive database on vehicle damage history, reports that thousands of water/flood damaged vehicles have been sold at auction, including some then resold without disclosure that they were flood-damaged.

Water can damage vital parts of a car including airbag sensors, brakes, and electrical systems — and the damage may not show up right away. Weeks or months could pass before evidence of damage is known, putting the purchase past warranty and leaving a driver without a car.

  • Have the vehicle inspected by an independent, competent automotive technician who has no relation to the seller. Since water damage can be hard to spot, paying an expert mechanic for an inspection is a good idea.
  • Check the vehicle history. Get the VIN (vehicle identification number) and trace its history through the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System database https://www.vehiclehistory.gov/ for a small fee. The National Motor Vehicle Information System is administered by the U.S. Department of Justice.
  • Some consumers also choose to trace vehicle history using commercially available reports such as Experian’s Auto Check or CarFax. A vehicle history should tell you if the car has been in a flood region or issued a flood or salvage title. Remember though, these databases do not always have up-to-date or complete information about a vehicle (which is why the independent inspection is critical).

Be on the lookout for vehicles with tell-tale signs of being submerged in water. For example:

  • Musty or “over-perfumed” smell or signs of mold or mildew;
  • Water stains, mud or residue in the trunk, under the carpet, floor mats, gas and brake pedals, and in hard-to-reach places difficult to clean;
  • Title or registration histories indicating the car was in a flood area;
  • Car hesitates, runs rough, or shows signs of premature rust or corrosion in places where you wouldn’t expect to see rust, such as the upper door hinges, trunk latches, and screws on the console.
  • Always physically inspect the vehicle’s paper title before you buy. Check to see if it has been branded as “flood,” “junk,” “salvage,” “rebuilt” or another brand indicating the vehicle was severely damaged. But beware; a clean title does not prove the car is undamaged. The title may have been laundered across state lines or altered to conceal the brand.

File a Complaint

Consumers should file complaints against a used motor vehicle dealer with the Secretary of State, Bureau of Information Security, Regulatory Monitoring Division online or by contacting the Bureau of Information Security, Regulatory Monitoring Division at 888-SOS-MICH (888-767-6424). https://services2.sos.state.mi.us/automotivecomplaint/

Consumers may contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at:

Consumer Protection Division

P.O. Box 30213

Lansing, MI 48909



Toll free: 877-765-8388

Online complaint form: https://secure.ag.state.mi.us/complaints/consumer.asp

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Hurricane Harvey: how you can help

Soldiers with the Texas Army National Guard move through flooded Houston streets as floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey continue to rise, Monday, August 28, 2017. More than 12,000 members of the Texas National Guard have been called out to support local authorities in response to the storm.

By Judy Reed

Hurricane Harvey swept into Texas last weekend, and at least 25 people have died as the storm battered the southeast region of Texas and nearby Louisiana. Houston has been hit especially hard. Floodwaters have begun to recede, but thousands of people and pets have been left homeless in the storm’s wake. Some 18,000 people have been rescued from the flooding in SE Texas; at least 32,000 people are in shelters, with thousands more seeking to get in.

How can you help?

Hurricane Helping Hands: There are some people right here in Cedar Springs organizing relief for both humans and their pets. Friends Jamie Garcia, Melissa Lombard, and Tiffany Rop are asking for physical donations—not monetary—though gas cards would be accepted. Jamie will be driving some things down to Texas, and someone else has offered one or two semi tractor trailer to drive items down. There are many items needed such as flashlights, batteries, lanterns, socks, bandaids, trash bags, toilet paper, biodegradable wipes, rubber gloves, peanut butter, etc. Please see their Facebook page for the entire list. https://www.facebook.com/HurricaneHelpingHands/

Melissa posted on the Facebook page that there is also a big need for baby items—formula, diapers, wipes, etc. They are also putting together personal care packs and are in need of combs, razors, pads/tampons, tissues, toothbrushes, hair ties, etc. She is also making natural soap to go into the bags, so is looking for donations of lard, coconut oil, sunflower oil and olive oil, but would need those this week. Her goal is to make 100 pounds of soap.

The friends are also collecting items for pets that have been rescued.

The Post will have a drop box for donations, and other drop off points will be announced on their Facebook page. Please email them or send a message through their Facebook page for more information.

Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund: https://ghcf.org/hurricane-relief/ Mayor Sylvester Turner has established the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund that will accept tax-deductible flood relief donations for victims that have been affected by the recent floods. The fund will be housed at the Greater Houston Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity.

Workers with the Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals rescue a horse in rising floodwaters.

Houston Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: The Houston SPCA is the lead nonprofit animal-related agency responsible for disaster rescue, recovery and relief efforts. You can donate online at http://www.houstonspca.org/.

UMCOR – The United Methodist Committee on Relief is currently working with disaster coordinators and early response teams in Louisiana and Texas to provide relief to the many people whose lives have been impacted by hurricane/tropical storm Harvey. They give you five things you can do at http://www.umcor.org/umcor/resources/news-stories/2017/august/0825umcorrespondstoharvey. One is to make relief kits. You can download the packing list and shipping label from their website. You can also donate online or by mail.

Save the children: This organization is delivering family-friendly relief supplies including cribs, strollers, changing tables, baby shampoo, diapers and baby-safe portable tubs. They are also setting up child-friendly spaces in shelters where kids can play and learn while parents manage their family’s emergency needs. Go to www.savethechildren.org to learn more and to donate.

American Red Cross: Visit the American Red Cross at www.redcross.org to donate.

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