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Archive | January, 2013

Hometown Happenings

Daddy daughter dance

Feb. 2: The 9th Annual Daddy-Daughter Dance will be held Saturday, Feb. 2, at Cedar Springs Middle School. Doors open at 6:15pm and dance begins at 7. Tickets must be pre-purchased. Cost for a couple is $15, for a group of three is $18, and a group of four or more $20. Tickets on sale at Cedar Springs Public Schools district office (Hilltop) from 8am-4pm Thursday and Friday, and at Cedar Springs Middle School from 6-9 p.m. on Thursday.


Rockford Rebels 12u Tryouts

Feb. 2: The Rockford Rebels 12u baseball team will be holding a tryout for remaining roster positions on the 2013 travel baseball team. Tryouts will be Saturday, February 2 at 3pm at the Rebels Training Facility located at 9330 Belding Rd., Rockford. To register and for more information, contact Micah Braman at 616-232-8422 or email: braman1mj@cmich.edu. #4,5p


Archery at Red Flannel Rod & Gun Club

Feb. 7: Come to the Red Flannel Rod & Gun Club on Thursdays starting February 7 through March 28 at 7pm. 7463 – 18 Mile Rd., Cedar Springs. #5,6p


Help Promote Literacy!

Feb. 7: The Literacy Center of West Michigan, 1120 Monroe Ave. NW, Suite 240, Grand Rapids, has scheduled an information session on Thursday, February 7 for prospective volunteer tutors. This session is held at 6:30pm and lasts one hour. It allows interested persons in becoming volunteer tutors to find out more about the Center and its literacy programs. At the end of the session, there will be an opportunity to sign up for tutor training. Please call us at 616-459-5151 (ex. 10) to register. #5



Feb. 8-9: The Sand Lake Winterfest will take place on Friday, February 8 and Saturday, February 9. Pinewood derby, ice skating in the park, ice fishing contest, outhouse race, snowman contest, hot dog eating contest and more. For a full schedule of events please visit www.sandlakechamberofcommerce.com. #5


Lost on the Lady Elgin

Feb. 11: Valerie van Heest, award-wining author and member of the Women Diver’s Hall of Fame, discusses the Lake Michigan sinking of the Lady Elgin in 1860. Monday, February 11 at 6:30 pm. Sand Lake/ Nelson Township KDL Branch, 88 Eighth St. #5


Spring 2013 Soccer Registration

Feb. 12: Spring 2013 Soccer Registration for American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) is Feb. 12, 14 and 20 at Beach Elementary School on the Campus of Cedar Springs Public Schools, 204 E. Muskegon from 6pm – 8pm each day. Cost for the Spring Session is $60 per child with a $5 discount per child for families registering 3 or more players. Players must be at least 4 years of age as of April 8, 2013. A birth certificate is required for age verification of first time registrants. Please complete online application at www.eayso.org – print two copies and take advantage of our Express Lane! These will be the final registration dates for the Spring Season. Please tell your friends and neighbors. If you have questions please contact the AYSO Hotline at 616-696-7349, or visit us at www.ayso902.org. #5,6,7b


Valentine Candlelight Snowshoe Walk

Feb. 14: Bring your Sweetheart out (People of all ages and abilities are welcome to enjoy the candlelit trails). The walk is 2 miles and suitable for beginner-level snowshoers and hikers. Walk will be lead by a naturalist. After the walk, enjoy hot chocolate, coffee and cookies by our fireside “Smooches”. Thursday, February 14th from 6-9pm. Donation of $5 per person, snowshoes included. Howard Christensen Nature Center, 16190 Red Pine Drive, Kent City. Pre-registration is NOT required, however registering is greatly appreciated. 616-675-3158. #5


Valentines Dinner

Feb. 14: Members, bring in your friends to this special dinner and music. Tri-County Eagles in Sand Lake, Thursday, February 14th. Dinner from 4 – 8pm, Rib Eye steak, potato, garlic toast and salad bar, $11.75. Entertainment from 8 – 11pm by Rhythm Masters, Clint Gitchel & Jerry Roberts starting. #4-6p

Posted in Arts & Entertainment, Hometown HappeningsComments Off on Hometown Happenings

Michigan National Guard supports lifting ban on women in combat roles

From the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs


LANSING, MICH.— Maj. Gen. Gregory J. Vadnais, the Adjutant General of the Michigan National Guard and the Director of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs supports the Pentagon’s decision to clear women for combat roles in the U.S. military.

“Michigan women have already served in combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Vadnais said. “Expansion to allow women into ground combat units really comes as no surprise. We remain standards driven organization; the best-qualified and most capable people will successfully accomplish our missions, regardless of gender. The policy move opens up additional options for service women and provides official recognition for those serving in some of the most dangerous positions protecting our nation.”

Women are currently excluded from only 8 military specialties in the Michigan Army National Guard. Approximately 3,000 female Soldiers have deployed since 9/11. Nearly 1,000 Michigan National Guard Soldiers and Airmen are scheduled to deploy in contingency operation in the coming year.

In a Pentagon news conference earlier this week, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey announced the decision to lift the ban on women serving in combat and said woman are integral to the military’s success, noting their demonstrated willingness to fight and die in combat in order to defend and protect American freedom.

The Michigan National Guard stands ready to make any and all changes necessary in accordance with Department of Defense initiatives.


Posted in Voices and ViewsComments Off on Michigan National Guard supports lifting ban on women in combat roles

Myths about Social Security

By: Vonda VanTil, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist


V-SS-VondaVantilLike any other successful and long-standing program or organization, there are a number of myths surrounding Social Security. Some of them are grounded in truth but just slightly misconstrued. Others are completely out of line with the truth. Let’s take a look at a few.

Myth 1: Social Security is just a retirement program.

Social Security provides benefits to retirees, survivors, and people with disabilities who can no longer work. In fact, almost seven million disabled workers and nearly two million of their dependents get Social Security disability benefits. Six and a half million dependents of deceased workers (including two million children) get Social Security survivors benefits.

Myth 2: I don’t need to save because Social Security will take care of me when I’m retired.

Social Security was never intended to be a person’s sole income in retirement; it should be combined with pension income and personal savings and investments. Your Social Security Statement, available at www.socialsecurity.gov.mystatement, is a great place to get an idea of what to expect during retirement.

Myth 3: If I work after I retire, I will be penalized.

Once you reach your full retirement age, there is no penalty and no limit on the amount you can earn. The earnings limit for workers who are younger than “full” retirement age (age 66 for people born in 1943 through 1954) is $15,120 in 2013. (We deduct $1 from benefits for each $2 earned over $15,120.) The earnings limit for people turning 66 in 2013 is $40,080. (We deduct $1 from benefits for each $3 earned over $40,080 until the month the worker turns age 66.) Keep in mind that if we withhold some of your benefits due to work, we will re-compute your monthly benefit amount when you reach full retirement age to account for those months that we withheld your benefit. There is no limit on earnings for workers who are full retirement age or older for the entire year.

Myth 4: To apply for benefits or do business with Social Security, I need to go to an office.

Not only is this false, but we encourage you to do business with us the most convenient and fastest way: at www.socialsecurity.gov

Vonda VanTil is the public affairs specialist for West Michigan. You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp St NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at vonda.vantil@ssa.gov


Posted in Business, News, Tax Time, Voices and ViewsComments Off on Myths about Social Security

IRS to accept returns claiming education credits by mid-February

WASHINGTON—As preparations continue for the Jan. 30 opening of the 2013 filing season for most taxpayers, the Internal Revenue Service announced today that processing of tax returns claiming education credits would begin by the middle of February.

Taxpayers using Form 8863, Education Credits, can begin filing their tax returns after the IRS updates its processing systems. Form 8863 is used to claim two higher education credits—the American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit.

The IRS emphasized that the delayed start will have no impact on taxpayers claiming other education-related tax benefits, such as the tuition and fees deduction and the student loan interest deduction. People otherwise able to file and claiming these benefits can start filing Jan. 30.

As it does every year, the IRS reviews and tests its systems in advance of the opening of the tax season to protect taxpayers from processing errors and refund delays. The IRS discovered during testing that programming modifications are needed to accurately process Form 8863. Filers who are otherwise able to file but use the Form 8863 will be able to file by mid-February. No action needs to be taken by the taxpayer or their tax professional. Typically through the mid-February period, about 3 million tax returns include Form 8863, less than a quarter of those filed during the year.

The IRS remains on track to open the tax season on Jan. 30 for most taxpayers. The Jan. 30 opening includes people claiming the student loan interest deduction on the Form 1040 series or the higher education tuition or fees on Form 8917, Tuition and Fees Deduction. Forms that will be able to be filed later are listed on IRS.gov.

Updated information will be posted on IRS.gov.

Posted in Business, Tax TimeComments Off on IRS to accept returns claiming education credits by mid-February

Winter fishing in Michigan

Michigan’s world-class fisheries are known throughout the country, if not the world, with many anglers pursuing them at all times of the year. These fisheries are even on proud display during the state’s legendary winter months—a time of year many anglers proclaim as the best time to go fishing.

Despite that claim, there are many other anglers who will have no part in winter fishing opportunities—either on or off the ice. But those anglers who actually prefer fishing through the ice to open-water fishing have two arguments to back up their inclination: anglers can get just about anywhere on the lake during ice-fishing season, something they can’t do without a boat during the open-water season; and virtually every fish that’s available to anglers in the summer can be caught through the ice. In fact, some are even caught more frequently in the winter.

Photo courtesy of Michigan DNR

 Two youngsters eagerly await a big bite while ice fishing on Higgins Lake.

Photo courtesy of Michigan DNR

Two youngsters eagerly await a big bite while ice fishing on Higgins Lake.

So winter can be a great time to partake in Michigan’s water wonderland, as many of the state’s 11,000 lakes, 36,000 miles of rivers and streams, and even the Great Lakes can offer lots of cold-weather fishing fun.

Venturing out this time of year can be rewarding to anglers willing to pursue it – especially for families. Ice fishing offers something for kids that open-water fishing doesn’t: space to run around while they wait for the fish to bite.
While children often find sitting in a boat during the summer months a squirm-worthy activity, heading out on the ice to fish lends itself to all kinds of kid-friendly activities, like skiing, skating and snowball fights. Creating a fun atmosphere and memorable experience just might spark a family ice-fishing tradition.

A young angler proudly shows off his recently caught bluegill while ice fishing in Michigan.

A young angler proudly shows off his recently caught bluegill while ice fishing in Michigan.

If you’re new to ice fishing, don’t be intimated by the idea of heading out! Learn about the kind of equipment you need and the safety precautions to take. The DNR offers plenty of online information about the ins and outs of ice fishing.

If you already go ice fishing regularly, consider taking on a new challenge by targeting a different species. Popular winter species include bluegill, crappie, smelt, walleyes and yellow perch, among others.

It’s helpful to know some simple tips when targeting these species. For instance, did you know the best time to target crappie is during the first and last hours of the day? Or that Michigan has an unusual smelt fishery, and in the winter anglers often use a hook-and-line to catch them while during other times of the year they are typically netted? Did you know that during colder months, bluegill—a popular species no matter the time of year—suspend in the water column? As a result, avid ice fishermen use depth finders to find out where the fish are swimming. Ice fisherman also love targeting walleyes, typically by jigging (which means moving the fishing rod tip up and down while the bait is in the water) or with tip-ups. And avid anglers know yellow perch—quite possibly the most popular fish to eat—can often be found in shallow water towards the end of the ice-fishing season but at a wide range of depths earlier on.

Learn about these fishes and even more tips on how to catch them in the winter by checking out the “Michigan Fishes and How to Catch Them” section of the DNR’s website.

Still not convinced this winter is a great time to head outdoors to go fishing? What if you didn’t have to purchase a Michigan fishing license to test the waters?

That’s the case this February as the 2013 Winter Free Fishing Weekend arrives Saturday, Feb. 16 and Sunday, Feb. 17. During those two days anyone—residents and non-residents alike—can fish all waters without purchasing a license, although all regulations still apply at that time.

The DNR coordinates the Winter Free Fishing Weekend each year as an opportunity to showcase the great angling opportunities available in Michigan, but alleviating some of the financial investment needed to get involved. It’s the perfect time to discover the state’s winter water wonderland. 
If you’re still nervous about heading out on your own, check out one of the official 2013 Winter Free Fishing Weekend events taking place throughout the state. Many of these events generously offer fishing instruction and free use of equipment and bait to help participants enjoy the experience.

Consider exploring the wealth of fishing opportunities Michigan offers this winter. Start planning your next fishing trip at www.michigan.gov/fishing.

Posted in Featured, OutdoorsComments Off on Winter fishing in Michigan

Ranger Steve’s Nature Niche

By Ranger Steve Mueller


National Bird Feeding Month (part 1)


OUT-Nature-niche-Tufted-TitmouseThe Tufted Titmouse has a white belly, appearing gray when not well lighted, but its sides brighten to white in good light. Gray wings largely hide a burnt orange just above its white sides. A black nosepiece and erect head crest add beauty that people to the north do not witness. Our latitude is just south of the bird’s northern distribution.

Black-capped Chickadees crowd my feeder. This diminutive bird has broad shoulders, and a black nape, head crown, and chin. It flashes white cheeks when it flies in for a seed and quickly departs. One would think each would burn too much precious energy coming and going.

American Goldfinches take a turn at the feeder while chickadees quickly return and depart. The finches hold fast at the feeder lunch table rather than carry their meal to a picnic location like chickadees. They wear winter camouflage but vivid black and white wings draw attention. Less noticeable is dark around their eyes. Their olive winter plumage is already showing flecks of bright emerging yellow. Much of winter is still ahead but lengthening daylight is perceived through their eyes causing hormone changes that generate growth of spring’s fresh feathers.

A larger White-breasted Nuthatch darts to the feeder startling goldfinches into flight. The nuthatch’s almost woodpecker-like bill intimidates birds within close reach. Its white breast with crimson undertail coverts contrasts with gray wings rich with white dashes.

Goldfinches draw attention with the appearance of yellow patches, but chickadees two-note whistles appeal to our ears on bright sunny days foretelling spring will come. Visiting Red-breasted Nuthatches indicate winter is here and we should not heed the hasty spring song of chickadees. The red-breasted visitors will let us know spring is near when they depart for their North Country conifer nesting grounds.

Common Redpolls do not appreciate the restricted tightness of trees surrounding our small yard but seven occasionally come. They prefer open space, so I walk the White Pine State Park trail to enjoy them and wintering Eastern Bluebirds. Instead of the appealing blue back and orange breast seen on bluebirds, Northern Cardinals offer bright cheery red in the yard. Male House Finches offer a more subdued red. Occasionally Blue Jays create colorful commotion. The mostly black and white yard abounds with moving color at feeders all winter.

Red-bellied, Downy, and Hairy Woodpeckers depart forest stands to visit our small yard opening but the suet feeder hangs on a large sugar maple and offers security. Dark-eyed Juncos hop under the suet and sunflower feeders gathering bits of food scattered by the maelstrom of birds above. Ground walking Mourning Doves join among the hopping juncos.

Keeping feeders and feed simple, inexpensive, and easy can entice many species of birds into close view. The nature niche you might call yours is probably more theirs than yours. Birds are present all day and night and do not leave your surroundings for work and recreation. February is “National Bird Feeding Month” so consider feeding them. February’s Nature Niche articles will elaborate on feed, feeders, and yard landscapes that create and enrich pleasant encounters with resident wild neighbors.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at the odybrook@chartermi.net Ody Brook, 13010 Northland Dr, Cedar Springs, MI 49319-8433, or call 616-696-1753.


Posted in OutdoorsComments Off on Ranger Steve’s Nature Niche

The god who speaks to our times

Danny Diliwenava, former sports announcer from California, sometimes related the following story.

One night, Danny invited a young baseball player for the Los Angeles Dodgers over to his house for dinner. Danny and the ballplayer were sitting in the living room talking while their wives finished putting together dinner in the kitchen. All of a sudden, the young ballplayer’s infant son began crying.

Over her shoulder, the ballplayer’s wife said, “Change the baby.”

The ballplayer was a bit embarrassed and replied, “What do you mean change the baby? I’m a ballplayer, that’s not my line of work.”

The young wife whipped around, placed both hands on her hips, and she communicated!

She said, “Look buster, you lay the diaper out like a diamond, you put second base on home plate, put the baby’s bottom on the pitcher’s mound, hook up first and third, you slide home underneath, and if it starts to rain, the game ain’t called, you start all over again.”

In many ways respects the days in which we live are dark and difficult times — times fomenting with changes and challenges. These are days when we need clear communication from someone who knows not only the questions but likewise the answers. While we face distressing circumstances, we do not need to be discouraged. We are not left alone without a voice. The God of Heaven is still speaking and He speaks to our day and to our times.

God is speaking to the problem of insecurity. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1 NKJV) The Psalmist is saying that our refuge is not in man-made institutions like government or even in military might but in God. Violent changes may come, our tall buildings may tumble into dust and our dreams may be shattered, but our refuge is in God! The voice we just read teaches us that God is existent, He is infinite, and He is present.

Then we notice that God speaks to the problem of insufficiency. “There is a river whose streams shall make glad the City of God, the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. God is in the midst of her.” (Psalm 46:4-5a NKJV)

We can’t make it on our own strength–but there is a river of God’s presence flowing for us and in His presence we find a provision for fullness. Ephesians 5:18 tells us to “Be filled with the Spirit.” (NKJV) If there is any emptiness on our part, it is not because of any insufficiency on God’s part. God is ready to pour His presence upon us, but often the channels become clogged. Too many of us are running on empty. We are not demonstrating the sufficiency of His grace.

There is also a provision for freshness in God’s presence. Rivers can be a source of joy and great blessing. Are you a vibrant and happy person? You can be. God is speaking to our times, let Him speak to you. And once He speaks be sure to follow His instructions: “For there is no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”

Pastor Mike Shiery

Pilgrim Bible Church

West Pine St. • Cedar Springs • 696-1021

Posted in Church Connection, From the PulpitComments Off on The god who speaks to our times


Richard Earl Welsh, 69 of Kent City, died Saturday, January 26, 2013 at Metron of Cedar Springs. Mr. Welsh was born March 23, 1943 in Grand Rapids, Michigan the son of Marion and Opal (Funk) Welsh. He enjoyed playing the harmonica, had a huge sense of humor and was a very caring person. He was a member of the Sparta Senior Center. Surviving are his sister, Lois VanWyk; children, Melody Parker, Kathy Welsh, Sonya Breen, Jeffrey Welsh, Timothy Welsh, Mandalyn Richardson, Jason Welsh; many grandchildren and nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, brother, Robert Welsh; sisters, Edith McCallum and Dorothy Cazier. Cremation has taken place. A memorial luncheon will be held at the Sparta Moose Lodge on Saturday, February 16 at 3:00 pm for all friends and family who wish to attend. Private interment will take place in Solon Township Cemetery.

Arrangements by Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs.

Posted in Church Connection, ObituaryComments Off on RICHARD EARL WELSH



Feb. 1, 1946 – Jan. 31, 1998


In loving memory Dawn, who passed away on January 31, 1998, it doesn’t seem possible that it has been 15 years ago.


Dear Dawn,

It broke our hearts to say “Goodbye” to one we love so much. You put up a long and courageous battle with cancer, oh how you suffered yet hid it from all of us. You always showed love in spite of the pain and wore a beautiful smile. You touched everyone you came in contact with – oh what a precious, beautiful, spirit you were. Every day in some small way memories of you come our way.

Your time on earth was far too short – oh, how we miss you.

Sadly missed by your loving husband Butch (Dennis), daughters, Michelle & Tracy and families.

Posted in Church Connection, MemorialComments Off on DAWN E. (COVEY) HEIM


_C-OBIT-BranhamMelvin A. “Rass” Branham, age 81, of Gowen, passed on Thursday, January 24, 2013 at United Memorial Hospital. He was born on March 2, 1931 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the son of Hobart & Mary (Hall) Branham. On May 20, 1967, he married the former Loretta Sizemore and she survives in addition to 3 daughters, Brenda Craigmyle of Grand Rapids, Tina Hansen of Cedar Springs, Teresa Branham of Sevierville, Tennessee; 5 sons, Robert (Marty) Jackson of Cedar Springs, Verne & Barb Branham of Cedar Springs, Tom & Christina Branham of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, Robert (Bobby) Branham of Grand Rapids and Melvin (MJ) Branham of Sevierville, Tennessee; plus 20 grandchildren; 22 great grandchildren; 1 sister, Nadine & Tommy Bagwell of Tennessee; and several nieces and nephews including Pam & Craig Bilski, Karen Holmes, Rita Holmes and Gay (Starr) Holmes. Melvin was preceded in death by his parents, several brothers and sisters and several brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law. A longtime resident of the Cedar Springs area, Melvin was a retired tool & die worker. In keeping with the family’s wishes, cremation will take place and a memorial service will be held on Saturday March 2 at Noon. Cedar Creek Community Church, 2969 14 Mile Rd., Sparta. There will be no visitation held. The Simpson Family Funeral Home is honored to serve the Branham family with care and compassion. To leave an online message of condolence, please go to www.simpsonfamilyfuneralhomes.com

Posted in Church Connection, ObituaryComments Off on MELVIN A. “RASS” BRANHAM

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