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Local beers earn gold medals

Cedar Springs Brewing Company medaled for the third straight year

After the blind judging of more than 6,000 beers from around the world, representing 140 styles, the U.S. Open Beer Championship announced the medal winners and Grand National Champion.

“Cedar Springs (Brewing) is delighted to be among the nine Michigan breweries who earned a medal at one of the largest International beer competitions in the country,” said David Ringler, Director of Happiness at Cedar Springs Brewing Company. “Our Küsterer Pils (Bohemian Pilsener) and Eire Irish Stout (Classic Irish Dry Stout) both earned GOLD in their respective categories. This is the third straight year we’ve been honored to medal at this competition. Even better, our Küsterer Pils is still available by the can, six-pack, or case at our taproom. The Eire, along with all of our amazing brews, are available by the growler fill.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, judging was held in both the U.S. and Canada. Locations included Atlanta, Oxford, and Welland, Ontario. Judging in the U.S. Open Beer Championships is blind; judges know only the categories, not the names or locations of beers being judged.  
For a complete list of winners go to http://usopenbeer.com/2020-u-s-open-beer-championship-medal-winners/

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Community shows appreciation for Larry Levin’s 50 years

Members of the Rotary with Meijer store director Larry Levin. Courtesy photo.

By Sue Wolfe

A recent Community Appreciation Celebration was held for retiring Cedar Springs Meijer Store Director Larry Levin. 

At the end of this month Levin will end his 50-year stint with Meijer. His first position as a 15-year old bagger earning $1.56 an hour, was at the Plainfield Thrifty Acres store. He extended his career working at different stores throughout Michigan. In May 2013, he opened the Cedar Springs store, where he will remain until he walks out the door for the last time on Christmas Eve. 

While serving as store director, Levin has numerous responsibilities, which includes awarding donations to community organizations.  Many of those organizations were represented at the Appreciation Celebration to include the Cedar Springs Women’s Club, Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, Community Library, Community Building Development Team, North Country Trail, En Gedi, United Methodist Church Community Food Panty, Downtown Development Authority (DDA), Howard Christensen Nature Center, Cedar Springs Public Schools (CSPS) and area business owners. Also attending were Meijer executives Shawn Buckner, Regional Vice President of Operations for North Region; Greg Miller, Marketing Director in Training; Dawn Shoemaker, Retail Administrative Assistant; and Larry’s wife Kathy. 

Words of appreciation to Levin included seeing Levin on the store floor stocking shelves, gathering carts in the parking lot, but always making time to talk with customers about most anything–including how Meijer might assist in serving the community.  

Donna Clark, representing multiple organizations at the celebration, thanked Levin by saying, “Your support has allowed each of these service organizations to better fulfil their service goals to our community, country, and world. It is a cascading affect as you and Meijer blessed us, we are able to pay it forward and bless others.” 

“Mr. Levin was always willing to take time to meet with representative from the Women’s Club and provide various items which allowed us to better serve Cedar Springs,” explained Mary Balon. “On a personal note, I want to thank you for having such outstanding employees. Your crew has happily helped me load groceries into my car and return the cart while dealing with some health issues. This means a lot to me,” she continued. 

Scott Smith, CSPS Superintendent and Heidi Reed, School Board President, thanked Levin and the entire Meijer organization for investing in the Cedar Springs Community which in turn helps all businesses, organizations, and residents.   

Kim Gillow, Howard Christensen Nature Center Board Member, followed by explaining how the Meijer gift cards allowed the Nature Center to make, bake, and sell pies earning higher profits on the fund raiser. 

The Rotary Club stated their group would be donating  $1,000.00 of Simply Give funds in Levin’s honor to the Community Food Pantry. 

Judy and Bob Murray, co-directors of the United Methodist Community Food Pantry were on hand to express their appreciations to Levin by saying, “Please know that Meijer has helped feed thousands of community members and we are very grateful!” 

David Ringler, owner of the Cedar Springs Brewery and a member of the DDA expressed appreciate and presented an honorary gift card for retirement beverages at The Brew. 

Upon the conclusion of the event both Larry and his wife Kathy expressed their appreciation. “I am humbled by the opportunity to have represented Meijer in serving the Cedar Springs Community. I have enjoyed getting to know the people of this fine community.” 

Kathy Levin continued by saying, “I am so impressed with the partnerships and commitment of the organizations within this community. People sure work together here and have a true real sense of community.” 

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Cedar Springs Rotary supports North Kent Connect

Rotary presenting the check to North Kent Connect. From L to R: Kim Latham, Carolyn Davis, NKC Executive Director Claire Guisfredi, and Rotary Club President Stacy Helsel.

In mid-November, the Cedar Springs Rotary Club President Stacy Helsel presented North Kent Connect’s (NKC) Executive Director, Claire Guisfrediwith a check for $1,000 for the capital building campaign. In the spring, NKC began a $2.9-million building project that will nearly double the size of their building and permit them to offer more services to residents of northern Kent County. Thanks to generous local businesses, organizations, and individuals, the campaign has reached over 90 percent of its $2.9-million goal, with less than $250,000 left to close the gap.

Earlier in the fall, the Club participated in the Meijer Simply Give Program supporting North Kent Connect at the Rockford Meijer by donating $1,000 that was “double” matched to give the NKC $3,000 for their food pantry.

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Rowland Excavating in new location

Post photo by M. Sanderson.

Rowland Excavating, established in 1997, has recently moved to a new location. 

They are now located at 12545 Northland Drive, Cedar Springs.

The commercial and residential excavation company specializes in sand and aggregate delivery to their customers. They said that what makes their business unique is that they highly value family, community, honesty, respect and professionalism.

“Our goal is  not just a one time job but a lifetime customer relationship,” they said.

They plan to continue to provide the best service they can for their customers out of their new location.

Their hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For more info, give them a call at (616) 696-0622.

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Get ready now to file 2020 federal income tax returns

WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service today encouraged taxpayers to take necessary actions this fall to help them file their federal tax returns timely and accurately in 2021, including special steps related to Economic Impact Payments.

This is the first in a series of reminders to help taxpayers get ready for the upcoming tax filing season. A special page, updated and available on IRS.gov, outlines steps taxpayers can take now to prepare for the 2021 tax return filing season ahead.

Steps taxpayers can take now to make tax filing easier in 2021

Taxpayers should gather Forms W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, Forms 1099-Misc, Miscellaneous Income, and other income documents to help determine if they’re eligible for deductions or credits. They’ll also need their Notice 1444, Your Economic Impact Payment, to calculate any Recovery Rebate Credit they may be eligible for on their 2020 Federal income tax return.

Most income is taxable, including unemployment compensation, refund interest and income from the gig economy and virtual currencies.

Taxpayers with an Individual Tax Identification Number should ensure it hasn’t expired before they file their 2020 federal tax return. If it has, IRS recommends they submit a Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, now to renew their ITIN. Taxpayers who fail to renew an ITIN before filing a tax return next year could face a delayed refund and may be ineligible for certain tax credits.

Taxpayers can use the Tax Withholding Estimator on IRS.gov to help determine the right amount of tax to have withheld from their paychecks. If they need to adjust their withholding for the rest of the year time is running out, they should submit a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Certificate, to their employer as soon as possible.

Taxpayers who received non-wage income like self-employment income, investment income, taxable Social Security benefits and in some instances, pension and annuity income, may have to make estimated tax payments. Payment options can be found at IRS.gov/payments.

New in 2021: Those who didn’t receive an EIP may be able to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit

Taxpayers may be able to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit if they met the eligibility criteria in 2020 and:

  • They didn’t receive an Economic Impact Payment this year, or
  • Their Economic Impact Payment was less than $1,200 ($2,400 if married filing jointly for 2019 or 2018) plus $500 for each qualifying child.
  • For additional information about the Economic Impact Payment, taxpayers can visit the Economic Impact Payment Information Center.

Received interest on a federal tax refund? Remember these are taxable; include when filing

Taxpayers who received a federal tax refund in 2020 may have been paid interest. The IRS sent interest payments to individual taxpayers who timely filed their 2019 federal income tax returns and received refunds. Most interest payments were received separately from tax refunds. Interest payments are taxable and must be reported on 2020 federal income tax returns. In January 2021, the IRS will send a Form 1099-INT, Interest Income, to anyone who received interest totaling at least $10.

Although the IRS issues most refunds in less than 21 days, the IRS cautions taxpayers not to rely on receiving a 2020 federal tax refund by a certain date, especially when making major purchases or paying bills. Some returns may require additional review and may take longer.

EITC/ACTC-related refunds should be available by first week of March

By law, the IRS cannot issue refunds for people claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit before mid-February. The law requires the IRS to hold the entire refund − even the portion not associated with EITC or ACTC. The IRS expects most EITC/ACTC related refunds to be available in taxpayer bank accounts or on debit cards by the first week of March, if they chose direct deposit and there are no other issues with their tax return. Taxpayers should “Where’s My Refund?” for their personalized refund date.

With social distancing continuing, taxpayers can stay home and stay safe with IRS online tools

Taxpayers can find online tools and resources to help get the information they need. These IRS.gov tools are easy-to-use and available 24 hours a day. Millions of people use them to find information about their accounts, get answers to tax questions or file and pay their taxes.  

Almost everyone can file electronically for free.The IRS Free File program, available only through IRS.gov or the IRS2Go app, offers brand-name tax preparation software packages at no cost. The software does all the work of finding deductions, credits and exemptions for you. It‘s free for those who earned $72,000 or less in 2020. Some of the Free File packages also offer free state tax return preparation.

If you’re comfortable filling out  your own tax forms electronically, you can use Free File Fillable Forms, regardless of your income, to file your tax returns either by mail or online.

Taxpayers have several options to find a tax preparer. One resource is Choosing a Tax Professional, which offers a wealth of information for selecting a tax professional.

The Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications can help taxpayers find preparers in their area who currently hold professional credentials recognized by the IRS, or who hold an Annual Filing Season Program Record of Completion.

Taxpayers can use the Interactive Tax Assistant beginning in January 2021 to get answers to a number of tax law questions. The ITA can help determine if a type of income is taxable, if someone is eligible to claim certain credits, or if they can deduct expenses on their tax return.

Taxpayers can check the status of their refund using “Where’s My Refund?”. The status is available within 24 hours after the IRS receives their e-filed tax return or up to four weeks if they after they mailed a paper return. The “Where’s My Refund?” tool updates once every 24 hours, usually overnight, so taxpayers only need to check once a day.

The best and fastest way for taxpayers to get their tax refund is to have it direct deposited into their financial account. Taxpayers who don’t have a financial account can visit the FDIC website for information to help open an account online.

Taxpayers are invited to join the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs. VITA/TCE volunteers receive training to provide free tax return preparation for eligible taxpayers. There’s never been a better time to get ready to help others file and the IRS is rolling out new ways to make volunteering easier. Visit IRS.gov/volunteers to learn more.

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New pharmacy opens

Cedar Springs residents now have a new option when it comes to choosing a local pharmacy. The Cedar Springs Pharmacy, located in the White Creek plaza at 14111 White Creek Ave., opened their new business and held a ribbon cutting last month.

“This small, locally owned pharmacy will provide personalized care and service that is unmatched,” said owner Jodi Maki. “We will support you in your healthcare journey as if you were family. We will strive to keep things quick and convenient. It is only 15 steps from the parking lot to our counter—or you can stay in your car and we’ll come to you!”

One of the things that makes this store unique is that the owner is the pharmacist. Maki has resided in Cedar Springs for 15 years, and she will be the one serving patients and customers each day.

They provide prescription services, non-prescription medications, vitamins, supplements, healthcare items, special order items, immunizations (including flu shots, shingles vaccines, and tetanus boosters), curbside pickup, medication reviews, and medication synchronization. They also carry a small assortment of Michigan made candles and gifts, and 99-cent made in the USA greeting cards.

“Our future plan is to become the pharmacy of choice for the Cedar Springs community,” said Maki, especially those seeking a pharmacist who gets to know them and their specific healthcare needs.”

Stop in and see them today at 14111 White Creek Avenue. Hours are Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and closed on Sunday. Or call them at (616) 439-2779.

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Social Security announces 1.3 percent benefit increase for 2021

Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for approximately 70 million Americans will increase 1.3 percent in 2021, the Social Security Administration announced today.

The 1.3 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits payable to more than 64 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2021.  Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 31, 2020.  (Note: some people receive both Social Security and SSI benefits).  The Social Security Act ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Some other adjustments that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages.  Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $142,800 from $137,700.  

Social Security and SSI beneficiaries are normally notified by mail starting in early December about their new benefit amount.  Most people who receive Social Security payments will be able to view their COLA notice online through their personal my Social Security account.  People may create or access their my Social Security account online at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.     

Information about Medicare changes for 2021, when announced, will be available at www.medicare.gov.  For Social Security beneficiaries receiving Medicare, Social Security will not be able to compute their new benefit amount until after the Medicare premium amounts for 2021 are announced.  Final 2021 benefit amounts will be communicated to beneficiaries in December through the mailed COLA notice and my Social Security’s Message Center.

The Social Security Act provides for how the COLA is calculated.  To read more, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/cola.

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Counselors to America’s small businesses

Establish a line of credit to manage the unexpected

A line of credit, sometimes called revolving debt, enables a company to draw against a pool of money as it needs to. That line of credit is invaluable for protecting your business from emergencies and stalled cash flow because it extends the cash available in the business checking account to the upper limit of the loan contract. Essentially, the line of credit is assurance by a bank that as long as your company is financially healthy, it can borrow money whenever it needs to.

This form of short-term borrowing is an excellent way to establish a relationship with a bank and demonstrate the creditworthiness of your business-especially if you have but don’t use the line of credit. Moreover, by virtue of having this relationship, your banker can become a sort of silent partner, giving business operation advice as well as money.

You’ll find many variables in a line of credit, such as the period of time (short or intermediate), whether it is renewable or nonrenewable, and whether it has a fixed or fluctuating rate of interest.

A short-term line of credit typically is 60 to 120 days, whereas an intermediate-term line may be as short as one year or as long as three. You’re most likely to want the line of credit to purchase inventory and to pay operating costs-not to purchase equipment or real estate.

To negotiate a credit line with your bank, prepare to hand over your current financial statements, latest tax returns, and a statement of projected cash flow.

What collateral will you use to secure your loan? You’ll need more than the assets you may be purchasing with it, such as the company’s accounts receivable, equipment, and real estate. The loan agreement and related documents will be designed to ensure that your loan payments are on time and have priority over noncritical expenses, dividends and employee bonuses.

This is a key point for avoiding confusion and resentment over what your bank is willing to do for you. Some small business owners think the loan officer doesn’t understand their business requirements. At the same time, the loan officer doesn’t think the borrower is making realistic projections for anticipated cash flow, profitability, and the like.

As loans go, banks tend to view line-of-credit loans as low risk, so they carry the lowest interest rate. The bank may reserve the right to cancel the loan if it thinks your business is in jeopardy.  You’ll make interest payments monthly, regardless of when you expect to pay off the principal. For an annual fee, most banks will allow one-year lines of credit to renew almost automatically. However, they may require the credit line to be fully paid off for between seven and 30 days each contract year.

To learn more about lines of credit, contact SCORE “Counselors to America’s Small Business.” More than 35 volunteer business counselors in the Grand Rapids SCORE office donate their time to consult with and mentor entrepreneurs (In person or Virtual). Contact the Grand Rapids SCORE office at 616/771-0305 or go to www.scoregr.org.

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Lume Cannabis receives preliminary approval

By Judy Reed

Photo from lume.com.

Lume Cannabis, the recreational marijuana business seeking to set up shop in the building at 16 N. Main Street—currently the home of Vitale’s Pizza—received preliminary approval for their venture from the Cedar Springs Planning Commission earlier this month.

“That final approval is subject to Zoning Administrator approval after they submit some additional information,” City Manager Mike Womack told the Post.

John Gregory, chief marketing officer for Lume, answered some questions this week from the Post about the business.

How many Lume stores are there? “We currently have 11 stores open across the state and we are aiming to have 20 by year end,” said Gregory.

What products will they carry? Lume stores carry a wide-range of high-quality cannabis products and accessories and a unique, customer-focused retail experience with more than 20 strains of high-quality Lume flower, pre-rolls, effects-based Lume Cartridges, edibles and a new line of CBD products available online at lume-cbd.com and in Lume stores,” explained Gregory. “For a full product listing, visit www.lume.com.”

How will the process of buying your products work? “In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Lume gives customers the option of shopping in-store, doing curbside pick-up or using Lume Delivery, Lume’s discreet home delivery service. We hope to launch Lume Delivery in Cedar Springs, which is already available at 10 of Lume’s stores, shortly after opening.”

Some people are worried about a family movie theater being right next door. What would you say to allay their fears? “We have no concerns with being located near a family movie theater,” said Gregory. “We currently operate 11 stores around the state and we have not had any issues with marketing or selling to minors. We are thoughtfully designed to prevent any sightlines into our stores and have a premium aesthetic that makes us part of the community, not an eyesore.”

What will security be like? “We work with a well-known third-party security company that helps ensure we are using industry-leading security protocols that eliminate public safety concerns,” he explained.

Do your shops get involved in the community? “At Lume we take great pride in contributing to the improvement of all the communities we serve,” remarked Gregory. “From making and providing lunch and donating N-95 masks to frontline workers at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, to making scholarship donations to graduating seniors for a local high school, we strive to be good neighbors in every community we enter.”

What is your timeline projection to open? “We’re actively working to open in Cedar Springs as soon as possible, however, at this time there is no concrete timeline for opening,” he said.

For more information on Lume, visit them online at lume.com.

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Family Video closes

Family Video, at the corner of Muskegon and Main Streets in Cedar Springs, has closed its doors. 

Colleen White made the announcement on Facebook in August.

“It is with a saddened heart that I post this. Family Video of Cedar Springs (our location only) is permanently closing. Our last day for rentals is August 24th (receiving new releases through August 18th). Our last day open will be September 4th. Currently all items/sections with a price tag are for sale. Thank you, Cedar Springs, for all the fabulous years our company has had been allowed to serve you!”

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