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Archive | May, 2011

Local family man risked all, lives on as national hero

Major John C. Sjogren helped win key battle in WWII, awarded Medal of Honor

by Matt Marn

Memorial Day, a time to commemorate U.S. soldiers who died while in service of their country, began after the Civil War as a day of remembrance and reconciliation. Memorial Day has now evolved into a general day of memory, in which families and loved ones visit the graves of deceased relatives who may or may not have served.

This Memorial Day, Julie Sjogren, administrative assistant with the Algoma Planning and Building Department and president of the Algoma Historical Society, will remember a national hometown hero in her husband’s family.

John Carleton Sjogren, or “Uncle Carleton” to his family, went to family gatherings with his wife Jean, and Julie remembers her relative’s warmth toward his family.

Julie Sjogren, with clippings about Major John Sjogren.

Julie Sjogren, with clippings about Major John Sjogren.

“John and his wife were always on the go,” Julie said. “But when he did come, it was a real treat. He was a very friendly, nice man; such a gentleman. One Christmas party, he took my daughter up on his knee. He took a lapel pin off of his suit coat, and pinned it on her dress. To me, that was a big deal.”
But in addition to love for family, she will remember the courage and devotion to country he showed to the entire nation.

The following is derived from an article published in the January issue of the Algoma Township Historical Society’s quarterly newsletter, based on “A Grenade and A Prayer,” an article written by Lt. George H. Larson, written with excerpts from a piece by Judy Helsel.

Sjogren was born and raised in Algoma to parents Carl and Anna on a farm full of corn, beans and potatoes in 1916. John had an older brother, Elmer, and a younger brother, Norman, and his sisters, Lillian, Edith and Esther. From an early age, he worked in Chicago as a bricklayer and came home on weekends.
In 1929—the year he graduated eighth grade and the year the Great Depression began—he once more showed his dedication  when he spent eight years working on his family’s farm as well as another family farm nearby to see himself and his family through. In 1938 he went to work for Wolverine Shoe and Tanning Corporation in Rockford.

In 1940 Sjogren was called up to serve through the draft. After a bone specialist took a look at his X-ray, he lay a hand on Sjogren’s shoulder and said, “You’ll never get in the Army, son.”

The doctor explained that two of Sjogren’s vertebrae were deformed, and it was unwise for him to perform combat duty, and he was classified as “4F,” which meant the applicant was under the physical, mental or moral standards and was therefore not fit for military service.

As he grudgingly returned to work at Wolverine, a civilian once more, Sjogren heard his brother Norman was among the first invasion wave of troops into Casablanca in North Africa. He wanted so badly to serve his country. When he was once more called upon for limited service by the draft in 1942, he knew he had to act. By now, Norman was stationed in Rome, Italy, and following suit, John asked for a classification of 1A—availability for unrestricted military service. That request was granted.

Sjogren also requested an assignment to infantry duty and the next overseas assignment. This was also granted, and he was on his way to Camp McCain in Mississippi to train, then to Hawaii for jungle training. Upon completion of training, he joined the United States Army, 40th Division, 160th Infantry Regiment, I Company, Third Platoon, First Squad, where he was named to the position of First Scout.

He saw a great deal of combat in the first half of 1945, from enemy ambushes to mortar attacks, and was wounded on more than one occasion, and saw many people in his unit die. After some time in an infirmary, after his leg was hit with shrapnel from a mortar, he rejoined his division on Negros Island in the Philippines.

May 23 was the day Sjogren (at the time, a staff sergeant) and his unit was given the order to take an enemy position on the banana-shaped Hill 3155, also called Suicide Knob. Sjogren’s squad moved in after an Allied air strike, but many Japanese soldiers survived the strike and had holed up in fortified pillbox bunkers along the ridge.

Sjogren’s company was tasked with outflanking the Japanese on the hill, and their platoon was chosen to lead the attack. As the first scout of the first squad, Sjogren began the move to the crest of the hill through darkness so thick his squad had to hold hands to move forward.
Sjogren and his squad saw it as a suicide mission, but pressed on. Sjogren had scouted out the terrain earlier that morning, but still feared a trap as they crept through the darkness. As Allied troops crept up both ends of the hill, the Japanese forces opened fire. They began lobbing grenades and anti-personnel bombs, but the squad still worked their way up the hill.

Sjogren saw his second in command (and close friend) hit by sniper fire as he was crawling over a log. Sjogren crossed 20 yards of exposed terrain and continued automatic weapon fire from the Japanese to get his friend back to the edge of the hill where the medics could administer first aid. It was then Sjogren learned that his friend had been killed by the sniper’s shot.

After losing his friend, Sjogren had only four men left in his squad, and they were pinned down by constant machine gun fire. “I told the rest of my squad to start passing up hand grenades, which they thought I was being a fool as this would give away our position, but I started heaving them wherever I figured [they] were,” Sjogren recalled. “I could hear them holler. Bullets were flying all around us. Sometimes I threw them from my knees and other times on my belly. I was lying behind a log a few yards ahead of my unit and I could see some of the [enemy soldiers] starting to take off. I shouted, ‘Let’s go!’ and we pushed ahead.”

“I was watching a pillbox when a [soldier] who was playing dead fired three shots at me,” he said. “They went right past my ear and I hit the ground. I don’t see how he missed! My second shot knocked him down with a rifle and I crawled up and threw a grenade into the hold. Then we moved on up and blasted a machine gun position.”

“I squirmed up close enough to toss a grenade through the hole in the top of the pillbox,” Sjogren continued. “My squad kept picking them off as they tried to run from their holes. They also kept me covered as I crept up close to one pillbox after another. Sometimes I threw a grenade from 20 yards and sometimes I got within a yard and pushed grenades in. That’s about all there was to it. The rest of our platoon came up from behind and another company rushed them from the other end and it was soon over.”

After the battle was won by the Allied forces, there were many soldiers on both sides of the field that lost their lives, but his platoon agreed Sergeant Sjogren accounted for at least 43 enemy Japanese killed; at least one he had defeated in hand-to-hand combat. He and his squad, who had gone 50 hours without food or water, had succeeded in systematically destroying nine pillbox encampments on the hill.

Sjogren held each grenade for two seconds before he threw them, helping prevent the enemy from throwing them back. He was even injured by an enemy-thrown grenade, but he continued with the assault. At one point, he grabbed the hot barrel of an enemy machine gun and ripped it out of the pillbox. After that, his platoon began calling him “Grenade John.”

Sjogren was asked on July 5 if he wanted a field commission, and was granted the rank of lieutenant. While he was still in the Philippine Islands on August 19, his 29th birthday, he was leaving church when he was informed he had won the highest award that can be bestowed in the United States military: the Congressional Medal of Honor.

He flew back to the states, where President Truman gave him the honored medal October 12, 1945. When Sjogren returned home to Michigan, he was welcomed as a true hero.

Michigan Governor Harry S. Kelly officially proclaimed Friday, September 14, 1945 as “Sjogren Day.” During Sjogren Day, the lieutenant was awarded with a new 1946 Ford Super Deluxe Sedan, paid for by the Rockford Chamber of Commerce and most of the town’s 2,000 citizens. The Sjogren Day celebration also included a parade through downtown Rockford to the Rockford High School football field, where they held a special ceremony in Sjogren’s honor.

There were many speakers who praised Sjogren’s selflessness and bravery, including the Rockford mayor and a number of Michigan senators and representatives, and culminated by Michigan Lt. Governor Vernon J. Brown.

“Words are too weak and inadequate to express truly the feeling your fellow citizens hold toward the record of courage and devotion to duty which you have established,” said Brown to the crowd, as recorded in the Rockford Register. “Your country and your state are pledged to express their gratitude to heroes like yourself in action… for the welfare of you men who risked your lives in the service of this nation.”

“Michigan is proud to call you its own, Lieutenant,” Brown continued. “The whole nation owes you a great debt of thanks. You and other young men like you saw this nation through the dark days of the past to the broad, sunlit uplands of victory and peace. You justified beyond our most hopeful dreams, the confidence we had in you. And—most important, perhaps—you gave America a powerful assurance for the future. We know of no task the future may impose which is too great for a nation, which can produce men like yourself… On behalf of the people of Michigan, I say thank you, Lieutenant Sjogren, for the deeds of war you have done and the deeds of peace we know you will yet do. Thank you for the victory of yesterday and the faith you have given us in the security of tomorrow.”

With the audience emotional already, when Sjogren himself took the podium and spoke—far fewer words than anyone before him—he left everyone in tears.

“To me there is no honor, surely not the Medal of Honor, that should compare with the honor that should go to those boys who will not come home ever again,” Sjogren said. “Many of you people… do not know, nor will you ever know, what those boys who gave their lives went through.”

With a prayer for safe return of all the boys who were yet away from home, and with a brief statement of profound gladness to be home again himself, Lieutenant Sjogren thanked all who had come to honor him that day.

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City cuts funding to community events

Red Flannel Festival falls victim to budget shortfall

by Judy Reed

A $55,000 shortfall in the City of Cedar Springs’ budget has forced the city to make some painful cuts, including slashing funding of community events. “We had to cut so deep that no one was immune,” said City Manager Christine Burns.

Not only does that include the Halloween Spook~tacular and Christmas tree lighting, it also includes $6,466 worth of services to the Red Flannel Festival.

The Red Flannel Festival budget is approximately $90,000, and according to Festival president Michele Andres, the city is their second largest donor, providing police protection, DPW services and equipment rental. The festival gave the CSPD a donation of $1,000 last year to help offset costs, and Burns said that the $6,466 figure took that into account. She also noted that they would phase in the cuts to the RFF, by not charging for equipment rental this year, and continuing to waive parade fees.

“For the sustainability of the festival, it’s a devastating blow,” said Andres, who noted that they are already four months into their budget year. “We’ve made commitments to our vendors that we don’t yet have money for.” They are currently in the midst of their patron sponsorship drive, which brings in money for many of the events. She said that $6,000 is about the cost of the Lumberjack show, or new this year, the US Army Screaming Eagles Parachute team, which costs between $6000-8000. Andres said that they spend over $14,000 on advertising alone, through radio and TV spots, and the Red Flannel 36-page color brochure.

The city has seen a drop in revenue sharing of $144,502 since 2001, and a drop in interest revenue of $46,722 in the same time period. Burns explained that the city staff has been living with the reductions and making sacrifices the last few years, including reducing staff by four people. (For a complete list of cuts, visit the city’s website at www.cityofcedarsprings.org.)

Burns said that when they are cutting staff and services, they shouldn’t be doing things for free. “Those events will need to be sponsored by businesses,” she explained. As far as the festival, she said they could either choose to contract out the services they need, or hire the local police department.

Mayor Charlie Watson wasn’t happy about the cuts, but thinks they were needed. “I’ve lived in this community all my life. My father chaired the parade for three years. I love this community and the Festival. This decision is painful for all of us,” he said.

City Councilor and former festival organizer Pat Capek said she didn’t immediately understand the ramifications when they adopted the budget earlier this month. “I think it’s very important to play an active role in the festival. We are the Red Flannel Town,” she said.

Capek said she was recently at a Michigan Municipal League convention, where the speaker told them to think about what makes their community unique. “He said, ‘Don’t be cutting those things that make your community special or unique.’ And here we are doing it,” she remarked. “I know that money is tight, but it’s not a huge amount, it seems like there would be other ways to find the money.”

The Post contacted several West Michigan communities to see how they operate with the festivals in their towns. George Bosanic, City Manager in Greenville, said that they provide labor and service in terms of police protection for the Danish Festival, but that the festival also purchases security from the outside. “Their requirement for public safety is above and beyond what we can provide,” he explained. He also noted that they enhance transit operations, and the DPW does some work, too. “With budgets the way they are, we’ve been fortunate not to cut support. Some of those items can be looked at as low hanging fruit,” he said.

Martin Super, Sparta Village Manager, said that they provide police patrol for increased traffic for Sparta Town and Country Days, but they don’t provide security for the beer tent. “They get volunteers for that,” he said. Super said that they try to use part-time officers to avoid overtime pay, and that the DPW has some added workload but it’s not really a hardship. “If you plan things right, you can get it to fall into two pay periods to avoid overtime,” he explained. “When we clean up after events, we try not to pay OT. We might wait until the next morning to clean up.” He also noted that they have a very organized festival committee who is very proactive about getting things done on their own. On a side note, he mentioned that when he was a part-time sheriff for VanBuren County, he used to work for the county fair for a week during regular working hours, and that his wages were paid for by the fair, and not the Sheriff’s Department.

According to Kirk Thielke, Village President of Sand Lake, they don’t give any financial aid to the Sand Lake Fourth of July celebration, although the DPW does some extra work to get things ready, such as setting up barrels, brush hogging,  mowing, porta potty placement and  preparing the area for fireworks. The Chamber pays the police department $2,500 for additional police protection, and pays the Fire Department $2,500 for opening and closing streets, picking up garbage, etc. “What’s good for the village is good for the chamber, and what’s good for the chamber is good for the village,” said Thielke. The chamber also puts on the Easter egg hunt, Santa parade, and Winter fest, and uses village property for some of those events at no charge.

Rockford City Manager Michael Young said that they have 24 events throughout the year, and that they support them all—they don’t charge any of the organizations. “We try to look at it as bringing economic stimulus into the community, and providing people here with quality of life events,” he said. “I don’t see us cutting support for community events.”

Kate Klemp, in charge of sponsorship and development of Holland’s Tulip Festival, said that they work closely with the city. “The city plants millions of tulips, and we do pay for some of them. We are expected to pay for police services outside of their realm of duty, but we get back so much from them as they work the events,” she explained. “Some events we do pay for officers to be at their posts.” She said that they also get a grant from the city’s culture and leisure services to fund cultural experiences for the 82-year-old festival. “If you work with public safety and the culture committee, you’ll accomplish a lot more than as a lone wolf,” she remarked.

The Red Flannel Festival does not employ any paid staff, and all the work is done soley by volunteers. The organization gives money back to non-profits through its community share program, where organizations share volunteers and the festival shares profits. Andres said the festival has donated over $20,000 to area non-profits the last few years. She said they also try to buy from local businesses if available.

The city and the festival are scheduled to have a meeting Thursday to sit down and discuss what this means to the future of the Red Flannel Festival. “It’s kind of hard to get our arms around. We just don’t know yet the scope of what’s not going to be covered,” said Andres.

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Teens involved in drug deal to be sentenced

Three Cedar Springs teens who robbed another teen of drugs after setting up a drug buy from him will be sentenced early next month.

Cordeil Lea Boyce-Burden, 18, Austin Lee Mosher, 19, and Brandon Clay Bates, 17, all pled guilty on May 2 to the assault and battery of Allan McKay, 18.

According to police, McKay first reported that a group of men assaulted him with boards and bottles the evening of April 13 on the White Pine Trail. Police saw no signs of assault, and the victim told police they stole $120 from him. The group admitted they set up McKay to come deliver drugs, with the intention of stealing his marijuana. Those involved said they swung at McKay, acting like they wanted to hit him, and then chased him on the trail until he fell into the brush filled ditch. He then gave up his marijuana to avoid being harmed. McKay then admitted that this was what took place.

Police originally arrested Boyce-Burden, Mosher, Bates and one 15-year-old juvenile on a larceny from a person charge, but the charge the three older teens pled guilty to was assault and battery.

McKay was not charged with a drug-related offense because no evidence of the drug was found.  He was arrested, however, for violating his bond conditional release order. He has also been in jail on other unrelated charges.

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Lest we forget

Memorial Day is a day to remember and honor those that gave their lives while defending our country. It’s also a day to remember all those that have served and are now deceased. Inside this issue are the names of veterans buried in area cemeteries, and we honor them with this issue of The Cedar Springs Post, on page 11. If you know of a veteran’s name that is missing from the list, please let us know and we’ll add them for next year.

There will be several memorial activities and ceremonies taking place this weekend that residents are encouraged to take part in:

The Cedar Springs Historical Society is holding its 11th annual Memorial Cemetery Walk on Sunday May 29 at 2:00 pm to honor veterans of all wars. This years veterans will be Grats Allen, Spanish American War; John Tisdel, Civil War; Glen Doyle, WWI; Wesley Lewis, WWII; Robert Engel, Korea; Danny Hanna, Vietnam. Biographical and historical information will be presented at each gravesite. The American Legion honor guard will assist at the presentation. Plan to leave from the museum in Morley Park at 1:30 p.m. and return there for refreshments. If there are severe weather warnings, they will cancel the event. If it rains, the presentations will be done in the museum.

The American Legion Glen Hill Post #287 in Cedar Springs will hold their annual Memorial Day program on May 30, with Michigan state Representative Peter MacGregor as guest speaker. They will be at Elmwood Cemetery at 9 a.m., Solon Cemetery at 10 a.m., East Nelson Cemetery at 10:45 a.m., and Veterans Memorial Park, (corner of Main and Oak in Cedar Springs) at 11:30 a.m. There will be no program at the senior center this year. In case of bad weather, services will be held in the American Legion Hall at 9 a.m.

The Sand Lake/Cedar Springs Tri-Corner Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #7912 will have ceremonies on Monday, May 30. They will be at the VFW Post in Sand Lake at 10:30 a.m., and then in Pierson Cemetery at 11 a.m. The Tri County Marching Band will also participate if weather permits.

Algoma Township Cemetery at 10515 Grange Ave., at 1:00 p.m. The service will honor all veterans and members of our armed forces with special recognition to two local servicemen killed in action in Vietnam—Daniel Louis Behm, and Craig Yates. The American Legion will present the colors and give a 21-gun salute, and the Boy Scouts and Civil War reenactment group will also be in attendance.

The Sparta American Legion Post #107 will hold a Memorial Day program on Monday, May 30, at 10:30 a.m. in Lamoreaux Park, 150 Park Street, in Sparta. Services will include the Sparta high School Band, Color Guard, Boy Scout Troops, and American Legion members. Special feature presentation “The Cost of Freedom” performed By Dana C. Smith and The Life Express.”

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Local dog a finalist in national pet contest

By Judy Reed

Madeline Sagorski and two-year-old  Labrador Retriever, Lucy.

Madeline Sagorski and two-year-old Labrador Retriever, Lucy.

Lucy, a golden Labrador Retriever, from Solon Township, has been named one of five finalists from across the country in the Eukanuba dog food 28-day Challenge Champion contest.

Dog owners across the country who took the 28-day challenge between February 15 and April 30 were invited to submit in 100 words or less their dog’s transformation from good to extraordinary, while eating Eukanuba for 28 days. Lucy was announced as a finalist last week.

Lucy’s owner, Madeline Sagorski, knows that her two-year-old dog is special. “She’s really a great dog, eager to please, and friendly,” said Madeline. “A part of the family.”

So when Lucy began to gain a few pounds, even though active, Madeline knew she had to try something different with her dog’s food. “She’s a very active dog. We have a lot of property (40 acres and a 20-acre lake) and she does a lot of running. We had been buying the cheaper dog food at the grocery store, and we noticed that Lucy was gaining weight, even though she was so active,” said Madeline. “She also didn’t have the muscle tone we’d expect, so we decided to try some other brands.”

Madeline said they tried several brands before trying Eukanuba, which can only be found in pet or feed stores. After they switched, Madeline said they noticed her coat was softer, her digestion was better, she was leaner and had more muscle tone. “Overall she was healthier,” said Madeline. “She had more energy and stamina.” That energy helps her enjoy some of her favorite things, such as swimming in the lake, retrieving and duck hunting.

Madeline said that while the dog food is more expensive, it’s worth it. And becoming a finalist in the competition will help with that expense. Since Lucy became a finalist, she won a year’s worth of dog and a free subscription to Dog Fancy magazine.

One winner will chosen and announced on the Eukanuba facebook page on June 6. The winner will be given the “pink carpet treatment” with a Hollywood-style photo and video shoot, appear in the  September issue of Dog Fancy magazine, and star in an upcoming Eukanuba print advertisement.

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Teens donate to cancer foundation

The American Legion Auxiliary Junior Girls of Cedar Springs held a raffle drawing on May 21. The proceeds of their raffle will be used to make a $325 donation to the Race Against Cancer Foundation. The lucky winner of a camping package (tent, sleeping bags, lantern and heater) was Randy May of Cedar Springs.  The Junior Girls would like to thank all those who purchased tickets, and to congratulate Randy on having the lucky ticket!  Pictured along with Randy are Juniors Sabrina, Taylor, Mackenzie and Caitlin.

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School art contest winners

Winning classrooms awarded with pizza parties

Rep. MacGregor poses with students from Sue Elenbaas’ 3rd grade class at Beach Elementary in Cedar Springs.

Rep. MacGregor poses with students from Sue Elenbaas’ 3rd grade class at Beach Elementary in Cedar Springs.

State Rep. Peter MacGregor announced the winners of his elementary school student art contest last week.
MacGregor extended this contest to all elementary school students within the 73rd District and winners earned a pizza party for their entire class.

“I am extremely impressed with the talent and creativity of the children in the 73rd District,” said MacGregor, R-Rockford. “Providing my youngest constituents with pizza parties to recognize their hard work is the least I can do. I look forward to displaying their beautiful artwork in my office and showing off the talent of local children to my colleagues.”

MacGregor and his staff visited classrooms at Kent City, Beach, Cedar View and North Oakview elementary schools on May 13 to congratulate the winners and deliver the pizza for their parties.

Contest winners include Kinsey Dever from Kent City Elementary (5th grade- Claire DeGraaf’s class), Karina Ulloa and Haley Denton from North Oakview Elementary (4th grade – Carrie Davies’ class), Brooke Harris from Beach Elementary (3rd grade- Sue Elenbaas’ class) and Amy Cook from Cedar View Elementary (5th grade- Craig Gates’ class).

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Church puts “balance” back into community

For a second year in a row the Solon Center Wesleyan Church took a day off last Sunday from their regular worship schedule and went out into the community to serve in simple, yet practical ways.

The effort was part of the sermon series titled “Living a Balanced Life in an Unbalanced World.”

“A balanced life includes serving,” said Pastor Tom Holloway.

And serve they did as over a hundred people of the church participated.  After a shortened service and final instructions, members set out at 11:30 a.m. They washed windows on Main Street; delivered plates of cookies to 25 businesses for employees; cleaned sections of roadsides on White Creek, Pine Street and the on and off ramps to the expressway.  Some visited residents at Metron, handing out little gifts and cards made by 3 classes of elementary school children.  A crew at Wesco also washed car windows, refilled wiper fluid, and passed out popcorn.

“It’s showing the Love of Christ with no strings attached,” Holloway explained.  “In these economic times where cutbacks are everywhere, the church needs to partner with the community.”

Some people stayed back at the church and prayed for the community and the safety of the crews, while others finished up preparations for a potluck lunch for the hungry workers to return to. Upon their arrival back at the church, those who visited Metron said they were more blessed by the visit than the residents were.

“It was a great day,” said Pastor Doug DiBell.  “A big thank you goes to the city of Cedar Springs for allowing the church to minister and serve in these simple ways.”

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Survival Surprise Party

By Alixan Spaulding

Ranger Steve Mueller on an outing at Howard Christensen Nature Center. He plans to remain involved with the Nature Center as much as his health permits.

Ranger Steve Mueller on an outing at Howard Christensen Nature Center. He plans to remain involved with the Nature Center as much as his health permits.

Sometimes the best medicine can be the love and support of one’s friends and family. Just ask Steve Mueller, of Cedar Springs, who is best known to the community as “Ranger Steve.”  On April 1, 2008, Mueller, who has multiple myeloma, was told he could not reasonably expect to live more than one to three years from that date.  Steve hasn’t let that slow him down one bit; living a full and productive life seems to keep him strong. He continues his work as an award-winning naturalist and teacher just trying to connect people with nature.

On April 1, 2011, three years after his diagnosis, Mueller was recovering from a bout of pneumonia when his wife and daughters convinced him to go out for a walk. When Steve returned to Ody Brook that evening, he found a surprise party waiting for him. Many of his friends had shown up to celebrate Mueller’s survival beyond the statistically expected. “It was like receiving 50 shots of antibiotic that evening when I returned home to find 50 people who truly do want to see me continue to survive and to continue to contribute productively,” spoke Steve of the occasion. “Friday evening I received the greatest curing treatment with their presence and well wishes.” The celebration left Mueller feeling much better, so he wanted to express his heartfelt thanks and gratitude to the many well wishers involved with the party, and all those who support and encourage his survival.

Steve once said, “Some people go to work for a profession, but I have gone to work because it is a passion.” It certainly shows in the way he lives his life. Steve, once director of the newly reopened Howard Christensen Nature Center, plans to keep volunteering and stay involved with the Center as much as possible. He will also be running more than one program for children, including a program called the Outernet Project this summer, in which they will learn about butterflies, other insects, and nature in general. Mueller, who discovered a new species of moth known as the brilliant virgin tiger moth, has a strongly positive attitude toward life, saying, “Cancer is just a bump along the way.”

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Time to jump

Katia Corwin raise $280 for Jump rope for heart.

Katia Corwin raise $280 for Jump rope for heart.

Last month the Cedar Springs school kids were jumping. Really jumping. No, not with the normal excess energy they seem to possess. They participated in the annual Jump Rope for Heart Contest. Sponsored by the American Heart Association, the Physical Education teachers organized the event for the 22nd consecutive year.

Middle School Team Back row L to R:  Kaci Clark, Nick Fennessey, Zach Clelland. Front row L to R: Krysten Messersmith, Maddie Garza and Robbie Peckham.

Middle School Team Back row L to R: Kaci Clark, Nick Fennessey, Zach Clelland. Front row L to R: Krysten Messersmith, Maddie Garza and Robbie Peckham.

A total of 582 students from Cedar View and Red Hawk Elementary as well as the Middle School enjoyed the day of jumping and music.

“These kids did a wonderful job raising donations for the event. They were thinking of others and that is something special,” stated PE teacher Steve Banagis, one of the pioneers of the event.

Red Hawk Elementary team Back row L to R: Megan Dryer, Carlee  Mouthean, Sammie TerHorst. Front row L to R: Lindsey Lehman, Alison Sparling and Kaitlyn Coons.

Red Hawk Elementary team Back row L to R: Megan Dryer, Carlee Mouthean, Sammie TerHorst. Front row L to R: Lindsey Lehman, Alison Sparling and Kaitlyn Coons.

Banagis, along with Chris Rypma and Mark Schumann, stress wellness and physical activities all year in their classes.
Katia Corwin, a fourth grader, raised $280.00 to lead all kids. At Red Hawk, the top team was Carlee Mouthean, Megan Dreyer, Alison Sparling, Kaitlyn Coons, Sammie TerHorst and Lindsey Lehman.
In the middle school, Zach Clelland led the top team that included Maddie Garza, Kaci Clark, Nick Fennessey, Robbie Pecklam and Krystyn Messersmith.

The amount raised this year totaled $ 9,382.00.

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North Kent Community Services seeks donations

The North Kent Community Services, 10075 Northland Drive, is seeking food donations to help feed kids lunch this summer, as well as cash donations to help them earn a matching grant.
$5,000 matching grant

NKCS experienced a drop off in cash donations after the holiday season, and one of their donors has offered to match all donations up to $5,000, during the months of May and June.
“We are asking you, the community, to make a special donation towards this matching grant,” said Executive Director Sandy Waite. “Your donation will be matched, assisting us to make a $ 5,000 donation a $10,000 donation. During these tough economical times our families continue to struggle and we struggle to assist.” Donations should be marked as a matching grant donation.

“We hope you are able to make this a $10,000 win-win for us and the families we serve in our community,” she added.

Summer lunch bags for kids

During the summer months the center’s food pantry is depleted by all the extra requests for food. With children home during the summer months, families need three meals instead of one. During the school year many children receive both breakfast and lunch at school.

“Summer is one of our busiest times for emergency food requests,” said Waite. “This summer we are supplying extra food for 2,800 families who have school age children. We hope to lessen the burden of those summer lunches that families now have to provide. “

Waite is asking people to collect lunch items for families, to help those who are struggling right here in our own back yards and neighborhoods.

Macaroni & cheese
Peanut butter & Jelly
Individual wrapped snacks
Drink boxes
Fresh fruit
Canned spaghetti-o’s, spaghetti, soups
Cheese slices
Bring donations to the center, or call 866-3478 for more info.

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Is It Safe To Use The Internet In Public Places?

(StatePoint) Americans love going online. In fact, a recent study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project and the Wi-Fi Alliance found that half of all adults go online with a laptop using a Wi-Fi connection while 40 percent use the Internet on mobile phones.

Going online in public is convenient. Public Wi-Fi networks let us check e-mail, update social media profiles, and shop almost anywhere. But should we? How safe is the personal information we send over public networks?

“Most people don’t realize that Wi-Fi signals are just radio waves, and anyone can ‘listen’ to what you’re sending just as easily as tuning a radio to the right station,” says Kent Lawson, Founder and CEO of Private Communications Corporation, a new online security technology company.

That’s because the majority of Wi-Fi hotspots in airports, planes, coffee houses and other public places aren’t encrypted. That makes them havens for data thieves who’ve walked off with millions of Wi-Fi users’ credit card and Social Security numbers.

There are some steps you can take to keep your information safe, says Lawson.
If you’re using public computers, such as those at the library, don’t save anything on them.  Make sure to close the browser and clear the cache when you’re done. In addition, limit your activities, because someone might have installed “key stroke tracking” software, which can watch everything you do, and capture your log-in information.

If you’re using your own computer with public Wi-Fi access, be even more careful.  For example, be cautious about what you put in email messages. Credit card and social security numbers and home addresses should be avoided. Never bank or shop, unless the site is secure — the web addresses should start with “https” not “http.”  And turn off file sharing to prevent someone from gaining access to your hard drive.
Or, for better peace of mind, you can install software that encrypts all data going into and out of your computer, such as PCC’s Private WiFi. This makes you invisible to hackers on any public network, anywhere in the world. While antivirus protects you from viruses and firewalls prevents unauthorized access to your information while you communicate, Private WiFi encrypts all the information you send. All three work in tandem to keep you safe.
If you use your mobile phone to access the Internet, make sure you password protect it and install security software. You can also enroll in a back-up/wiping program, which backs-up your information and also can delete it if your phone is lost or stolen. These services are available from your phone’s manufacturer or your wireless provider.

For more tips to keep your information safe over public Wi-Fi networks, visit www.privatewifi.com or www.private-i.com.

In this digital age, our lives are increasingly lived online, so be sure to incorporate the right protections.

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