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Archive | December, 2012

Kent Theatre robbed

The Kent Theatre was robbed December 29.

The Kent Theatre was robbed December 29. Post photo by J. Reed.

There was another robbery in Cedar Springs Saturday night, December 29.

According to the Cedar Springs Police, a man in a puffy gray jacket with a stocking cap pulled down over his face walked into the Kent Theatre about 10 p.m. and demanded money. He got an undisclosed amount of cash from the concession stand and grabbed the donation can before fleeing on foot.

Cedar Springs Police were on an alarm call at the school but responded to the scene within two minutes. Rockford Police and a tracking dog from the Grand Rapids Police Department assisted the CSPD in searching for the suspect. They tracked him down the alley off Cherry Street, where he jumped a fence and ran into a yard on First Street. Tracks led up to the house and then went back to the road, where the dog lost the scent. The people in the home cooperated with police and let them inside to search the premises but nothing was found.

Police did find the top of the donation can and some coins near where the suspect jumped the fence.

The historic Kent Theatre is a  non-profit and run by volunteers.

It was just a week ago that the Admiral Gas station was also robbed.

If you have information on this robbery or the robberies at Admiral, please call Cedar Springs Police at 696-1311. If you you’d like to sign up for alerts from the Cedar Springs Police when they are looking for a suspect, or any other type of alert, you can go to http://www.nixle.com/ and register.

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Year in review: 2012



Nathaniel Purdy (center) was arrested in Montana last January. Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Joe Hensley, left, and Stillwater County Undersheriff Woody Claunch, right, assisted in the pursuit. Photo by Brenna McElhinny, editor of the Stillwater County News.

Nathaniel Purdy (center) was arrested in Montana last January. Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Joe Hensley, left, and Stillwater County Undersheriff Woody Claunch, right, assisted in the pursuit. Photo by Brenna McElhinny, editor of the Stillwater County News.

On the run: What started out as a stolen vehicle from a gas station in Cedar Springs ended in a high-speed chase and arrest 1,500 miles away. A 2002 Pontiac Grand Prix was stolen from the Admiral Gas Station at 194 S. Main in Cedar Springs, about 8:45 p.m. January 2. The driver left it running and went inside to pay for gas, and a short, stocky person wearing a hooded sweatshirt and baggy clothing got into the car and drove it away. Police say it appeared to be a smaller size female.


Two days later, on January 4, the Stillwater County Sheriff’s Department in Montana arrested Nathaniel James Purdy, 28, of Cedar Springs, after a high-speed chase topping 100 mph. He pled guilty to one count of felony Criminal Endangerment, one count of felony Assault on a Peace Officer and one misdemeanor count of fleeing and eluding. He was sentenced in September to two years in prison. Under the plea agreement, the Stillwater County Attorney’s office recommended that Purdy be sentenced to five years with three years suspended. He has not been prosecuted for possession of a stolen vehicle.

Fire truck: The Sand Lake Fire Department finally got it’s brand new engine with the help of Kent County. All the fire departments in the county are on a rotation system, and each fire department gets a new engine every 17 years, with the departments and the county each paying a portion. According to Sand Lake Fire Chief Ed Holtzlander, the new fire truck costed $325,000. “It’s the first engine in the county with a clean burn diesel emission system,” he said.


Primroses in January. Photo by Mary Gardner.

Primroses in January. Photo by Mary Gardner.

What season is it?: Mary Gardner, of Algoma Township, sent us this photo of something you’d rarely see in January—primroses blooming!


“I was filling my birdfeeder today and a bee buzzed by me,” she said. “I wondered how many other things were fooled by our spring-like weather, so I checked my flower garden. Sure enough, I have primroses budding and blooming on January 10th! This is utterly amazing to me.” She also had strawberry plants leafing out.



OPERATOR ERROR—This crane collapse at the Kent County Correctional Facility caused many inmates to be temporarily relocated.

OPERATOR ERROR—This crane collapse at the Kent County Correctional Facility caused many inmates to be temporarily relocated.

Ethnic intimidation: A Solon Township man was arrested in February for a December incident in which he pulled a knife on a man and used a racial slur during the confrontation at Huck’s Corners, at the corner of 17 Mile and Algoma. Eric Scott Pierson, 50, was charged with ethnic intimidation and pleaded no contest to charges of assault with a dangerous weapon (felony assault), ethnic intimidation, and being a habitual offender-3rd offense. Pierson was sentenced May 15 to nine months in jail with one day credit, 60 months probation, and court costs and fines.



Crane collapse: A crane collapse, on February 10, at the Kent County jail caused damage to water and electrical lines, causing it to lose heat. This prompted the transfer of 150 inmates to other jails in the West Michigan area for staff and inmate safety and crowding purposes. The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration deemed it as operator error. The company subcontracted on the job was G2 Inc., a company in Cedar Springs.



PEELING PAINT—The school district only has the budget to do basic maintenance at Skinner Field. Post photo by J. Reed.

PEELING PAINT—The school district only has the budget to do basic maintenance at Skinner Field. Post photo by J. Reed.

Skinner Field: Discussions began between the school and city on what to do with Skinner Field after Cedar Springs native Charlie Towns began asking questions about who was responsible for the upkeep. The school no longer uses the field since Red Hawk Stadium was built, but other community groups still use the field. The fate of the field has not yet been decided.



Come on in: Ryan Lee Nagle, 21, one of the two men charged in an armed robbery at Cedar Springs Mobile Estates, pled guilty and was sentenced in March on a charge of assault with intent to rob while armed. Joshua Steven Monroe, then 19, and Ryan Lee Nagle, then 20, reportedly went into the mobile home of a 42-year-old man and 41-year-old woman with a shotgun and demanded money and prescription medication in December 2011. The victims knew one of the suspects, and let them in. Nagle was sentenced to a minimum of 5 years in prison, and a maximum of 20. Monroe also pled guilty to the same charge, and was sentenced in June to a minimum of 4 years and a maximum of 15.

Rolling meth lab: A man charged with a rolling meth lab agreed to turn himself in then went on the run. Officer Chad Potts made a traffic stop in February on Michael Adam Woroniecki, 29, of Sand Lake. The passenger, Joshua David Kuhn, 23, of Cedar Springs, was arrested on outstanding warrants, including three-count warrant for violation of controlled substances: possession of methamphetamine/ecstasy, controlled substance-operating-maintaining a laboratory, and third degree retail fraud. Officer Potts also noticed an unusual smell in the car, asked permission to search, and found various components used to make methamphetamine. Woroniecki was charged with violation of a controlled substance-operating a laboratory involving methamphetamine, and as a habitual offender 4th offense. He agreed to turn himself in, but missed the date. He was later arrested by the Kent County Sheriff Department on another traffic stop. He was with another Cedar Springs man, Jacob Ringler, 22. Police found outstanding warrants on the pair, along with evidence of a rolling meth lab.

All three men were ultimately sentenced. Woroniecki pled guilty and was sentenced on three charges. He received a minimum of 5 years and a maximum of 20 years on charges of delivery and manufacturing methamphetamine, and operating and maintaining a meth lab; and 2 to 14 years for uttering and publishing.

Joshua David Kuhn pled guilty to operating and maintaining a lab and possession of meth and received 3-1/2 years probation in October. However, his status shows he currently is a parole absconder as of November.

Jacob Allen Ringler pled guilty to one count of possession of marijuana and one count of possession of meth, and was sentenced in September to 1-1/2 years probation. He, too, is a parole absconder as of October.

To pay or not to pay: The Red Flannel Festival sent a proposal to the City of Cedar Springs that they pay to license the use of the Red Flannel logo. The proposal is tendered after the city orders license plates, on behalf of the library fundraising committee, with the Red Flannel logo. The license plates were pulled immediately, and talks began between the RFF and City RF adhoc committee. The ad hoc committee told the Festival to write up a proposal for them to license the logo for $4,000, but the proposal came in at twice that amount, which led to a months-long battle between the two entities on whether the city should pay to use the logo they had used for decades.

Unspeakable: A Nelson Township man was arrested by federal investigators after he traveled to Ohio to allegedly have sex with two pre-teen girls. Herman H. Kamphuis, 43, began talking to an undercover officer, in a “parenting” Internet chatroom, who was posing as the father of two girls, ages 6 and 11. The suspect told the detective he was looking to make a 25-year fantasy come true by having sex with the girls, and he traveled to Ohio on March 9 for a rendezvous with the “dad” and daughters, and was arrested. He brought along a computer with over 100 files of child pornography. He pled guilty in May to a charge of coercion or enticement of a female over the Internet. He was sentenced in August to 145 months in prison minus time served, and placed in the sex offender treatment program.


Deputy Fire Chief Marty Fraser became the new Cedar Springs Fire Chief in March.

Deputy Fire Chief Marty Fraser became the new Cedar Springs Fire Chief in March.

New fire chief: The City of Cedar Springs hired Deputy Fire Chief Marty Fraser as the new fire chief. Fraser is a 35-year veteran of the department and has served in various roles. He has been a first responder since 1990.




Emergency teams searched Little Whitefish Lake for Dalton Gustinis, 15. Photo from WOODTV.com.

Emergency teams searched Little Whitefish Lake for Dalton Gustinis, 15. Photo from WOODTV.com.

Drowning: A fishing trip ended in tragedy for three Tri County High School teens, when one of the three drowned in Little Whitefish Lake, in Pierson Township. The three boys headed out to fish in an aluminum rowboat about 10:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 29. Awhile later the boat began to take on water and capsized. The three teens attempted to swim back to shore, but when two of them arrived on shore, they realized their friend, Dalton Gustinis, 15, was missing. Numerous agencies and volunteers helped to search for the missing teen all the next day, but he was not found until Saturday afternoon.

Cedar Springs resident Beth Karafa is frustrated because she is being told that she cannot park in the gravel in front of her home, according to a city ordinance. Post photo by J. Reed

Cedar Springs resident Beth Karafa is frustrated because she is being told that she cannot park in the gravel in front of her home, according to a city ordinance. Post photo by J. Reed

Parking is an issue: Parking on the road in front of your house in Cedar Springs became an issue in April. Beth Karafa was frustrated because under the city’s ordinance, she cannot permanently park in the gravel area between her yard and the road, in the city’s right of way. And Officer Nick Barbour, the city’s code enforcer, ticketed her on at least two occasions. The ticket last year resulted in a court order saying that she could not allow any vehicle to park on her property unless she installed a driveway. The parking ordinance has since been sent back to the planning commission for review.


Hit and run: A Sand Lake man was killed in a hit and run accident in April. Tyler Helton, 20, a 2010 graduate of Tri County High School, was reportedly walking along Stanton Road, between Jones Rd and Maple Hill Rd in Pierson Township, Saturday night, April 21, when he was struck by a white pickup truck about 9:12 p.m. The young man was airlifted to Spectrum Butterworth in Grand Rapids, but died of his injuries. The driver of the pickup, Ronald James Williams, 57, of Howard City, was charged with leaving the scene of an accident causing serious injury and death. He reportedly thought he hit a deer and turned himself in to police the next morning after hearing the news report. He took a plea deal in December and pled guilty to the charge of failure to report an accident and must pay restitution of $7,200 for funeral expenses. The law requires that the prosecution prove that Williams knew he hit a person, and the judge in the case didn’t feel that burden was met, so he recommended the plea deal.



Cedar Springs Middle School students had a “white out” on Friday, May 12, and was one of several schools that participated in a helicopter flyover as part of the be nice. campaign (against bullying). Photo by Joe Corriveau.

Cedar Springs Middle School students had a “white out” on Friday, May 12, and was one of several schools that participated in a helicopter flyover as part of the be nice. campaign (against bullying). Photo by Joe Corriveau.

Be Nice: Students at Cedar Springs Middle School received a wake-up call when a group from the Kent County Mental Health Foundation visited their school to present an assembly for a campaign known as be nice. The goal was to open the eyes of young students in communities across Michigan to help them realize how large of a problem bullying is. According to Christy Buck, Executive Director of the Mental Health Foundation, suicide is the second highest cause of death among teens and college students in Kent County. Students had brainstorm sessions to think of different events and activities that they could do at school to help eliminate bullying. To take the campaign to the next step, the Mental Health Foundation teamed up with Amway and Fox 17 News to fly a helicopter over participating schools. Students from middle schools and high schools across west Michigan were involved in this campaign. At CSMS, students gathered in the field on the west side of the school to form the words “be nice.” The helicopter then flew over the students to take aerial pictures of the words they created.


Girls track makes history: The Cedar Springs Red Hawk girls track team won their first conference championship in school history, on Friday May 11, at Belding. The team scored 128 points to finish ahead of West Catholic, who scored 112. The victory in the conference meet, combined with an undefeated league dual record, gave the team the outright OK Blue Championship. In regionals, they placed 8th and qualified six individuals for the state meet. Sisters Katie and Kenzie Weiler earned all-state honors at the state track meet.


Justin Balczak (pictured far right) earned the title of All-American

Justin Balczak (pictured far right) earned the title of All-American

All-Americans: Grand Valley State University senior Tyler Emmorey, a 2007 Cedar Springs graduate, finished eighth in the 5,000 meter run in March, to earn United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) All-American honors, crossing the line in a time of 14:28.66. He has earned the title several times, but this was his first All-American honor during indoor track season.


Justin Balczak, a 2011 graduate of Cedar Springs High School, and a freshmen (in April) at Lake Superior State University, earned the title of All-American for finishing third in the men’s decathlon at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships hosted by Colorado State-Pueblo. Balczak competed in 10 events over a two-day period, setting six personal records. While in high school, Balczak was a state champion in the 110m high hurdles.

Please see more Year in Review in next week’s POST!







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Admiral gas station robbed

This was the scene when the Admiral Gas Station at the corner of Main and Muskegon when it was robbed in October. It was robbed again Saturday evening, December 22. Post photo by J. Reed.

This was the scene when the Admiral Gas Station at the corner of Main and Muskegon when it was robbed in October. It was robbed again Saturday evening, December 22. Post photo by J. Reed.

The Admiral Gas Station at the corner of Main Street and Muskegon in Cedar Springs was robbed again Sunday evening, December 22, for the second time in just over two months.
According to Cedar Springs Police Chief Roger Parent, the robbery took place about 9:06 p.m. A single male entered the store wearing a dark coat with light colored collar, dark beanie-type stocking cap, and a light-colored mask. He was described as about 5-foot 8-inches, 200 pounds. The suspect kept his hand inside his pocket to imply he had a weapon. He fled on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash.
No area canine units were available to track the subject.
The clerk on duty was not the same clerk as in the previous robbery. That incident took place October 9, about 8:20 p.m. The robber in that incident was described as 5-foot 6-inches, medium build, with a raspy voice.
If you have info on this or the other robbery, please call the Cedar Springs Police at 616-696-1311.

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Police seek suspect in mail theft

Cedar Springs Police are searching for a tall, slender, man in a gray hooded sweatshirt who may have stolen mail out of people’s mailboxes on E. Maple Street Wednesday, including a box of checks.

According Cedar Springs Police Chief Roger Parent, the man was seen sorting through a large amount of mail and throwing some of it into a dumpster behind CarQuest early Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 26, sometime around 1 p.m. He then took off on a bicycle.

If you have any information or see something suspicious like this, please call the Cedar Springs Police at 696-1311. Leave a message if they are on a call.

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Library meets matching goal


Dan Davis tops off the library fundraising thermometer showing that the library met its matching goal, as his wife, Carolyn Davis, looks on.

It was just a year ago that an anonymous donor gave the Cedar Springs Public Library the opportunity to obtain a $50,000 matching grant to help build a new library—with the stipulation that the money must be raised by the end of the 2012. The task seemed daunting, but a dedicated fundraising committee took on the challenge and spurred on the community to help make it happen.

“As we look back, we will remember 2012 as the year that our community came together for a common cause,” said Library fundrasing co-chair Vicky Babcock. “There is no doubt that we love our library! This is a community where kindergarteners, as well as businesses, individuals and groups joined hands in a labor of love. We have we met the challenge. We not only obtained the $50,000 goal, we blew the top off the thermometer! We received upwards of $55,000 to add to the building fund, plus the additional $50,000 donation! This is a major step towards our final goal—to build a bigger library.”

According to Library Director Donna Clark, they now have $555,000 towards the approximately $2 million needed for a new library. “This really gave us a shot in the arm,” remarked Clark, who was tickled pink at the news.

According to Babcock, the board will create a building committee to come up with a plan on where to go from here. “There is much yet to do. We will need additional funds and planning before we can break ground on our new building. We understand the need to move forward as quickly as possible without compromise to the utility of the building,” said Babcock. “Our board is conscious of the responsibility given us by our community.”

She said they will discuss the committee at their next meeting January 28 at 7:00 p.m. at the Library. Board meetings are open to the public.

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Traffic fatalities down over holiday weekend

The Michigan State Police (MSP) in Lansing confirmed Wednesday that preliminary reports indicate four people lost their lives in four separate traffic crashes during the 2012 Lifesaver holiday weekend. In comparison, eight people died in eight separate traffic crashes during the 2011 Lifesaver holiday weekend.

The 2012 Lifesaver holiday weekend ran from 6 p.m. on Friday, December 21, 2012, through midnight on Sunday, December 23, 2012.

Alcohol was a known factor in three of the four fatal crashes, and three of the four victims were not using seatbelt restraints.

“These numbers are preliminary and only reflect those fatalities reported to the Michigan State Police as of 11 a.m. today (December 26),” stated Capt. Kari Kusmierz, commander of the MSP Training Division. “Even though these preliminary numbers show a decrease in fatalities from this same holiday period last year, the Michigan State Police continues to urge motorists to not drink and drive, to always use proper restraints and to drive safely.”

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Cub Scouts make Christmas brighter for elderly

-N-Cub-scoutsThe wolf and Webelos, two dens of Cedar Springs Cub Scout pack 3222, visited the Metron home in Cedar Springs on Wednesday, December 19. The boys gave each resident a handmade Christmas card.

“The residents and the Cub Scouts both enjoyed the experience,” said Cub Scout leader Daniel Menefee. “I am proud of the boys for their involvement in the community.” He was also thankful to the home for letting them visit.

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Two pediatric deaths from flu—cases rise early

The influenza virus is on the rise in Michigan, including two influenza-associated pediatric deaths in the last week. According to the Michigan Department of Community Health, these deaths are a somber reminder of the danger flu poses to children. They recommend that everyone 6 months of age and older get a seasonal flu vaccine each year.

One death was in a 6 month old from southwest Michigan and the second death was in a 13 year old from the central region of the state. Nationally, eight influenza-associated pediatric deaths have been reported. Children less than 6 months of age cannot get a flu vaccine. The best way to protect infants from the flu is to vaccinate those around them, including parents, siblings, grandparents, day and child care workers, and health care personnel.

“While it’s too early to tell how severe our season might be, there’s no doubt that we’ve seen more cases already this year than we typically do,” said James K. Haveman, Director of the MDCH. “Hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized with flu each year. Vaccination is the single most important step we can take to protect ourselves and our families against infection. It’s not too late to get vaccinated before Michigan’s flu season peaks.”

Some children 6 months through 8 years of age require two doses of influenza vaccine. The second dose should be given at least 28 days after the first dose. Your child’s health care provider can use Michigan’s Care Improvement Registry (MCIR) to tell you whether two doses are recommended for your child. MCIR can be used by your doctor, local health department, pharmacy or other health care provider to keep track of the vaccines you’ve received and those you need.

In addition to the two flu-associated pediatric deaths in Michigan, there have been 149 positive influenza cases confirmed at the MDCH Bureau of Laboratories (BOL). This number does not represent all the influenza cases diagnosed and reported in Michigan, as additional cases have been confirmed at laboratories throughout the state. During the last flu season, there were four positive cases reported to MDCH’s BOL at this time; however, last year we experienced a relatively late and mild flu season.

Vaccination should be occurring now and continue throughout the entire flu season and there is an ample supply of flu vaccine available. Citizens can call their physician, local health department, or utilize the Health Map Vaccine Finder at http://flushot.healthmap.org to find nearby influenza vaccination clinics. For more information about the flu, visit www.michigan.gov/flu.

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Hometown Happenings

Tri County Eagles’ New Year’s Eve Party

Dec. 31: Come to the Tri County Eagles in Sand Lake for a New Year’s Eve Party! Open to the Public. The evening starts with a prime rib dinner from 4pm – 9pm, call 616-636-8787 to RSVP for $11.75 per person or at the door for $13.00 per person. Vegas Night starts at 6pm – includes Black Jack, Roulette, Texas Holdem, 3 card poker, and a 50/50 raffle. The O’Brother Band will provide live entertainment. There will be champagne & snacks at midnight. License#M79231. #51,52p


Michigan’s Owls

Jan. 6: Listening to the hooting of owls has to be one of life’s most special pleasures. Learning more about Michigan’s owls gives those calls even more meaning. Join naturalist Greg Swanson as he introduces you to owl biology and a number of owls during an indoor presentation then head outdoors in search of these elusive nocturnal wonders. Sunday, January 6 from 6 to 8pm. Donation of $6/person or $15/family. Howard Christensen Nature Center, 16190 Red Pine Drive, Kent City. Pre-registration is NOT required, however registering is greatly appreciated. 616-675-3158. #52


TOPS weight loss support group

Jan. 8: Start the New Year off right with TOPS. Take off pounds sensibly (TOPS), a non-profit weight loss support group for men and women, meets every Tuesday at the Resurrection Lutheran Church in Sand Lake. Your first visit is free so come check out what TOPS can do to help you reach your weight loss goals! Exercise 8-8:30am (optional), weigh-ins from 8:30am–9am and the meeting starts at 9:15am. In case of inclemeent weather, meetings are cancelled if Tri-County or Cedar Springs schools are closed. Call Martha at 696-1039 for more information. #52


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Driving tips for winter weather

-CAR-Winter-driving-tips(BPT) – Snow, ice, slush and other winter driving challenges can threaten both driver and passenger safety, and adding distractions into the mix only exacerbates the situation. So instead of dashing through the snow in your four-wheeled “sleigh” and ending up o’er the hills, it may be best to simply drive with caution and focus, to stay on the road this winter.

Before heading out to the ski lodge or embarking on a winter road trip, take the proper precautions to ensure the safety of yourself, your friends and your family, as well as others on the road. According to Hankook Tire’s latest Winter Gauge Index, 68 percent of those surveyed are worried about skidding across winter’s icy roadways. Try these simple tips for staying safe while driving in winter weather:

Put distractions on ice: Despite many recent public service announcements and news articles on the dangers of texting and driving, drivers between the ages of 18 and 35 say texting is their top distraction while on the road, according to the Hankook Tire 2012 Fall Gauge Index. Other distractions include talking on the phone, talking to other passengers and eating while driving. Whether driving to a New Year’s party, heading back to school after winter break, or road tripping with a group of friends on a ski trip, it’s important to keep your eyes on the road so you can reach your destination safely.

Check your tire tread to prepare for snow: Worn tread is the No. 1 cause of skidding during the winter season, so it is important to make sure your tires are up to the task before hitting the road. A quick way to do this is to check your tires’ tread depth indicators. Tread depth indicators are small raised bars that run in-between a tire’s tread grooves. When a tire’s tread is worn down to these indicator bars, it’s time to change to a new set of tires.- If your winter driving plans include putting on a set of dedicated winter tires like the Winter i*cept evo, be sure to put them on your vehicle one to two weeks before the next anticipated snow storm.

Check your tire pressure: Every 10-degree drop in air temperature can actually cause a vehicle’s tires to lose up to 2 pounds per square inch (psi) in tire pressure. Improper tire pressure can result in increased tread wear and lowered performance, factors that are highly detrimental to one’s safety in undesirable weather driving conditions.

Be prepared and stock up: Getting stuck on the road is also a major concern during the winter season. Before heading out, check to make sure your engine coolant, no-freeze windshield washer fluid and your gas tank is topped off. Also make sure there are no blockages or obstructions to your heating or window defroster vents. Be sure to pack extra water, a spare tire, ice scraper, snow shovel and brush, blanket, booster cables and a flashlight in your car for emergencies.

With proper preparation you can keep your slipping and sliding confined to the ice rink and make winter pit stops in front of the fireplace instead of in the breakdown lane.


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One thing we can agree on about government

By Lee Hamilton

By Lee Hamilton

We are locked in a seemingly permanent debate over the proper size and scope of government. It was a centerpiece of the recent presidential campaign. It features heavily in the ongoing maneuvering over the “fiscal cliff” and the upcoming vote on raising the debt ceiling. And it surfaces regularly in the speeches and comments of politicians and opinion leaders who either take the government to task for growing too large or argue that it needs to play an even more active role than it does now.

I don’t expect this argument to end anytime soon — after all, it’s been a feature of political life for as long as any of us can remember. But no matter how we view the role of government, there’s one thing most of us do agree on: whatever government does, it should do it well.

Recently, I read a compelling speech by a prominent corporate CEO who criticized the federal government for creating an environment of uncertainty and stifling the engines of market growth — and then went on to lay out plans for economic renewal that all involved the government: a revamped education policy, more investment in infrastructure and in basic research, changes to the tax code to reward innovation. His speech underscores a basic truth about American life: we can argue about the fine points of its reach, but the importance of government’s role in our lives is inescapable.

This does not mean that government is the answer to everything — far from it. Nor, however, does the anti-government rhetoric that so often marks our politics show much sign of being rooted in reality. When we want to build roads and bridges, operate schools and keep our cities safe, create conditions under which businesses can thrive, respond to natural disasters or attacks on our security, we turn to government at some level. And we expect the people who run it — the leaders as well as those on the front lines — to be good at what they do.

As Alexander Hamilton put it, “A government ill-executed, whatever may be the theory, in practice is poor government.” You don’t want second-rate scientists doing cancer research, second-rate lawyers negotiating arms control treaties, second-rate bureaucrats helping your community recover from a hurricane or flooding, second-rate inspectors making sure your hamburger is free from e. coli, or second-rate air traffic controllers guiding your plane through crowded airspace. None of us wants to live with a government that is incompetent in the exercise of its important functions.

For this reason, Americans are not as anti-government in practice as their “get government off our backs” rhetoric would often suggest. We turn again and again to government to solve the problems we complain about. And however easy it might be to rail against Washington or against “big government,” it’s the institutions of government you turn to when you need them.

Constructive criticism of Congress is always appropriate, but the anti-government language that so often gets bandied about creates distrust of the very institutions we rely on to meet the challenges and solve the problems that confront us as a nation. I sometimes find myself wondering how far we can erode confidence in our officials and our government and still have a country that works.

Whatever the particular policies of a given administration, whatever programs are enacted by the Congress, the American public is entitled to have those policies and programs administered effectively, efficiently and competently. This cannot be done without skillful civil servants and a steady stream of talented people who are attracted to public service.

My sense is that the public is demanding more from government, not in size, but in performance. Americans want government to work better for less, and the only way to achieve this is for government to become more effective and productive in dealing with the challenges before us.

Lee Hamilton is Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.

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God’s desire is for you!

“I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me” Song of Solomon 7:10 (nasb).

My life was filled with busyness leading into the Christmas season. So busy that the meaning and purpose of life, let alone Christmas, was being lost! Life requires us to give so much throughout the year, and the thought of spending more time, energy and money for another brief season in time was overwhelming. I was so overwhelmed, that I just wanted to rebel from the whole Christmas and giving thing this year. I thought, maybe I can just take a year off! I know these are not the greatest thoughts for a father, husband, employee and pastor to have, but they were mine none-the-less.

Then I read Brennan Manning’s book, “The furious longing of God.” I was reminded of some simple truths that were a gift to me and set my heart free to enjoy life and Christmas again this year. I hope they are a gift to you as well.

First, God is crazy in love with you! He not only loves you, he likes you, too! We focus so much on ourselves and our own shortcomings, that we forget this. Many people acknowledge God loves them, but live their lives as if He does not like them! The Song of Solomon 7:10 reads, “I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me.” The book of the Song of Solomon is an amazing book about God’s love for you and me. This verse says His “desire” is for you! Meaning he likes you a lot and wants to spend every moment of His day with you. He is concerned about everything that concerns you! God spends all his time and energy on seeing that you and I understand, believe and receive this love. I encourage you to spend the next few weeks quoting this verse to yourself. Make this verse your life’s motto! “I am my beloved’s and his desire is for ME!” If we truly believe and receive it, it will change our lives.

Second, life is just as much about receiving, as it is about giving. I have been taught, as a Christian, this life is not about me. That is true. So, I have spent all my Christian life giving to the needs of others. I have taught my children and my church this valuable truth. Yet God has made His focus all about us! My greatest challenge has been to receive it. I love giving to others and encouraging them to receive what God has for them. But, I am not very good at receiving it myself. God has reminded me that if I fail to receive, then I have very little to give. Christmas, God sending His son into the world as our Saviour, is more about receiving than giving. John 1:12 states, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God…”(KJV). For if we fail to receive Him, we miss the purpose of the gift. Learn to receive from God. God is in a giving mood all the time. Try to be a better receiver. Commit to God and others that you will learn to receive from Him all he has for you!

Pastor Craig Carter

North Kent Community Church

1480 Indian Lakes Rd. N.E.

Sparta, MI 49345

Posted in Church Connection, From the PulpitComments Off on God’s desire is for you!



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