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Friends and fun on the gridiron

(L to R) Carson Thornton and Kaiden Dreyer in younger days.

Thursday, September 8 was an exciting evening for a couple of local families. 

The Red Hawks JV football team squared up against the Pioneers of East Grand Rapids, and that brought together two friends—Kaiden Dreyer (CSHS) and Carson Thornton (EGR), who first met as babies in the nursery at the former Ensley Baptist Church. 

Carson’s dad, Austin Thornton, was the first Cedar Springs Varsity QB to play on the new Red Hawk Stadium turf in 2005. He spent the first half of this game on the home side. Lots of family and friends came out to enjoy this special event.

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MSP Sixth District gets new Asst. Commander

Join us in welcoming Inspector Jason Nemecek!

Insp. Nemecek comes from the Human Resources Division in Lansing and will serve as the Sixth District Assistant District Commander.

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Tie-dye at the library

This past Monday, September 12, 18 kids were able to participate in messy fun doing tie-dye at the Cedar Springs Public Library. Kids were able to learn about the art of tie-dye, see different designs and then had a hand at trying it out for themselves. Kids were then able to take one tie-dye item home so they could enjoy and share their tie-dye adventure with others.

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Ford International Airport announces new opportunities for local artists

Grand Rapids—Calling all West Michigan artists: The Gerald R. Ford International Airport will be seeking submissions for original art installations to showcase in its $110 million Concourse A expansion.

Thanks to support from the Frey Foundation, the Ford International Airport will continue to invest in a variety of local artists to feature the diverse talents of West Michigan through its public art program. The Airport’s design team has identified three types of opportunities for integrated art within Concourse A, including custom terrazzo flooring, suspended art and wall art.

“Through our art program, we strive to curate a unique sense of place that resonates with our community,” said Tory Richardson, Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority president and CEO. “As the gateway to West Michigan, we are always looking to showcase the immense talent that exists in our region, from the lakeshore to urban core.

“We are extremely grateful for our partnership with the Frey Foundation on our public art program. Their vision to expand access to art within the greater community resonates deeply with us, and we’re honored to partner with them on this mission.”

The Concourse A project—part of the Elevate capital expansion program to enhance the Airport’s facilities and infrastructure—is designed to reflect the culture of the region. This $110 million expansion will more than double the length and width of the existing concourse to meet the growing passenger demand for air travel. New dining options, amenities, such as an executive lounge, and retail options will be located throughout the 90,000 square-feet of new space.

Designed by architect Jorge Barrero of HKS, Concourse A will mimic the experience of arriving in West Michigan, from the blue of Lake Michigan and natural tans of the sand dunes to the greys and purples of the urban core to the greens of the forests and farmland in between, with local art playing a significant role along the way.

“The Frey Foundation is thrilled to support the Ford International Airport as it expands its art program and opens new opportunities for local artists,” Frey Foundation President Holly Johnson said. “Through our continued partnership, we want the West Michigan artist community to know their work will provide a world-class experience to Airport guests.”

Artists interested in submitting a proposal can do so for three different categories:

Terrazzo flooring: Inspired by the landscapes of West Michigan, four highly visible areas will allow direct interaction with passengers as they navigate the concourse.

Suspended art: Located directly above the four terrazzo flooring locations, suspended art will be intentionally visible from many angles, creating a sense of circulation.

Wall art: Several walls within the concourse will serve as backdrops for artwork. These walls are located adjacent to passenger boarding and gathering areas with high visibility.

To assist with art selection and installation, the Airport has contracted Katie Moore to serve as its new art manager. Moore has nearly a decade of experience in art management and community engagement roles. She previously held roles at ArtPrize and Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc.

Artists interested in submitting proposals can find more information flyford.org/elevate/opportunities. The first category that is now open for submissions is for terrazzo flooring installations. Submissions for suspended art and wall art will open later this year.

The Ford International Airport is home to several installations from West Michigan artists, including:

Aankobiisinging Eshki-kakamigak, Jason Quigno

Chickens Don’t Fly too Much, Reb Roberts

Flying Colors of the United States, Alexander Calder

Ford Statue and Presidential Gateway Plaza, J. Brett Grill

Model of La Grande Vitesse (by Alexander Calder), model by Joe Kazlauskas

President Ford Mural, Paul Collins

The Great Blue, Nick Nortier

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Manufacturing groups urge Congress to stop pending rail strike

By J.D. Davidson | The Center Square

Train yard in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Avi Waxman on Unsplash.

(The Center Square) – Manufacturing and business groups from eight Midwestern states sent a letter to Capitol Hill on Tuesday urging congressional action, if necessary, to stop a possible rail strike that could stress an already struggling supply chain.

The letter follows similar steps taken from agriculture and shipping organizations across the country as a 12:01 a.m. Friday strike deadline looms for freight rail worker unions from 12 railroads. The 12 unions account for 115,000 workers.

A strike could shut down more than 7,000 trains that operate nationwide on any given day, according to Jamie Karl, managing director of communications for the Ohio Manufacturers Association.

“This issue is prominently on the OMA’s radar,” Karl said. “Such a strike would severely impact Ohio’s manufacturing sector, significantly straining an already disrupted supply chain. For the sake of the U.S. manufacturing economy and national security, this strike must be averted.”

Joining the OMA in the letter were the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, Associated Industries of Missouri, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, Kentucky Association of Manufacturers, Indiana Manufacturers Association and the Michigan Manufacturers Association.

The groups did not release the letter until Wednesday.

Sens. Richard Burr, R-North Carolina, and Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, introduced a resolution Tuesday that if passed would prevent a strike if contract negotiations fail.

The resolution calls for recommendations by the Presidential Emergency Board be adopted. Those recommendations include what Burr called significant wage increases for workers retroactive to 2020.

“A rail worker strike would be catastrophic for America’s transportation system and already-stressed supply chain,” Burr said in a news release. “The Presidential Emergency Board recommendations are a fair and appropriate solution to a years-long negotiation process, but labor unions are continuing to hold the entire nation’s rail system hostage as they demand more. The Biden Administration should reject labor union’s bullying tactics. This resolution would provide certainty for Americans who have a right to travel and work freely across state lines.”

A strike, according to the Association of American Railroads, could cost the U.S. economy $2 billion a day. Rail moves 28% of U.S. freight, according to federal data.

According to Burr’s news release, the rail industry and rail unions have been in contract talks since 2019. In July, President Biden appointed a Presidential Emergency Board to investigate and make recommendations.

The recommendations included a 24% wage increase, plus $1,000 annual bonuses to be applied retroactively back to 2020. They also included increased health care and other benefits. Not all of the unions agreed.

Under the Railway Labor Act, Congress has stepped in and stopped rail disruptions at least 18 times in the past, Burr said.

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Additional food assistance benefits in September 

LANSING, Mich. Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced all Michigan families who are eligible for food assistance benefits will continue to receive at least an additional $95 monthly payment in September to help lower the cost of groceries and ensure Michiganders can keep more of their hard-earned money. The additional assistance will help more than 1.3 million Michiganders in more than 700,000 households.  

“We will keep working together to help over 1.3 million Michiganders put food on the table,” said Governor Whitmer. “This extra $95 monthly payment will lower grocery bills and help households use more of their hard-earned dollars for bills, school supplies, and other essential expenses. I will work with anyone to put money back in people’s pockets so they can get a little breathing room. This assistance ensures that federal tax dollars get sent back to Michigan and are spent at Michigan businesses.” 

In April 2020, some Michigan residents began receiving additional food assistance under this program. In May 2021, all eligible households began getting extra monthly benefits. Federal approval is necessary every month.  

Eligible clients who receive food assistance received the additional benefits on their Bridge Card by Sept. 26. These benefits are loaded onto Bridge Cards as a separate payment from the assistance provided earlier in the month.  

All households eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) receive an increase of at least $95 monthly, even if they are already receiving the maximum payment or are close to that amount. Households that received more than $95 to bring them to the maximum payment for their group size will continue to receive that larger amount.  

Below are the maximum allowable benefits for SNAP customers based on their respective household size:  

One Person: $250   

Two Persons: $459   

Three Persons: $658   

Four Persons: $835   

Five Persons: $992   

Six Persons: $1,190   

Seven Persons: $1,316   

Eight Persons: $1,504   

Secured by U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow as Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee, the federal government is providing additional funding to states for food assistance under House Resolution 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.  

Eligible families do not need to re-apply to receive the additional benefits. People who receive food assistance can check their benefits balance on their Michigan Bridge Card by going online to www.michigan.gov/MIBridges or calling a consumer service representative toll-free at 888-678-8914. They can ask questions about the additional benefits by calling or emailing their caseworker.  

Customer service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Spanish and Arabic service is available. If you are deaf, deafblind, or hard of hearing or speech-impaired, call the Michigan Relay Center at 7-1-1.  

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State Conviction Integrity Unit receives federal grant for DNA Testing

LANSING—The Michigan Department of Attorney General’s Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) has received federal grant dollars for post-conviction DNA testing to aid in its evaluation of more than 1,700 post-conviction claims of innocence, Attorney General Dana Nessel announced.

The Bureau of Justice Assistance, part of the U.S. Department of Justice, awarded $550,000 to the department to aid in the review of post-conviction DNA testing cases. The Postconviction Testing of DNA Evidence grant provides funding to states, local units of government and public institutions of higher education to assist in defraying the costs associated with postconviction case identification, case review, evidence location, and DNA testing in violent felony cases where the results of such testing might show actual innocence. The Department will use grant funds to cover the cost of case reviews, locating evidence, DNA testing of evidence, and hiring of additional staff and experts. 

Nessel launched the department’s Conviction Integrity Unit in 2019 and then partnered with Western Michigan University Cooley Law School to review forensic (including DNA) cases. That same year, the department received $734,930 from the Postconviction Testing of DNA Evidence grant and WMU-Cooley Law School received $274,960 from the Upholding the Rule of Law grant. This new grant award will allow this successful partnership to continue.

“Law enforcement officers are duty-bound to pursue justice. That duty is especially important when it comes to correcting the failures of our criminal justice system,” said Nessel. “These grant dollars not only provide our office with the financial resources needed to review cases, but they will also ensure a rigorous and detailed evaluation that keeps dangerous offenders out of Michigan communities, while providing justice to those wrongfully convicted.”

To date, the work of the CIU has resulted in the exoneration of four individuals. The CIU is comprised of Director and Assistant Attorney General Robyn Frankel, Assistant Attorney General Lori Montgomery, Special Agent Khary Mason, and Special Agent Gentry Shelby.

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Old fire station torn down

By Judy Reed

The old fire station on W. Maple Street was torn down this week. Post photo by J. Reed.
Photo by Sharon Magoon.

The old Cedar Springs Fire Station that sat near the corner of W. Maple and Main served the community and its firefighters for approximately 40 years. It was torn down earlier this week, after being vacant for the last year and a half.

The Cedar Springs Fire Department outgrew the building on Maple Street, and moved out of the building in 2021 and into the brand new fire station at the corner of Second and Elm, which has three times the amount of space.

We asked City Manager Mike Womack about plans for the property.

“No decisions have been made what to do with the property. The City has discussed two main options, turning it into a small parking area or turning it into a pocket park with seating for library guests. There are pros and cons to both proposals and with so many other developments and projects going on in the downtown area right now, I think that the City might wait a little while before making any final decisions. The goal is look at all of the City’s development through a holistic and comprehensive lens and plan for not just immediate needs and wants but for long term use.”

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City receives grant for pocket park

By Judy Reed

A “Pocket Park” in the City of Cedar Springs is one of nine projects approved for a grant by the Right Place, Inc.

The Right Place, Inc., in collaboration with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) announced that The Right Place will receive $3.6 million in funding from the Revitalization and Placemaking (RAP) Program to help spur the development of 9 placemaking projects totaling over $10 million across the region. The grant for the Cedar Springs pocket park is $212,500.

RAP is an incentive program that deployed $100 million in American Rescue Plan funding to address the COVID-19 impacts in Michigan communities.

The Cedar Springs downtown pocket park is planned for 17 N. Main, currently an empty, unbuildable lot. It was the former home of Mercantile of Yesterday. The building was torn down prior to the County Drain project. 

Plans for the park include an area for outdoor picnicking, outdoor gas firepit, performance stage, a shade sail, synthetic turf, outdoor lights, flowers, and a restroom. It can be used for art displays, socializing, food truck parking, social district, pop-up retail and relaxation for public use. 

Information describing the park said that “Local restaurants are eager to see more outdoor dining options but are constrained by the traditional zero-setback lots in the downtown area. This project not only activates an unutilized downtown space but provides new business opportunities for nearby restaurants.”

The grant for the park is $212,500. According to City Manager Mike Womack, the total cost of the park is about $508,000 if they do everything in the draft plans.  “A likely scenario is that the City removes the bathroom that is planned for there and add that back in as a phase 2 project and simply plan for the water/sewer now,” he said. “Bathrooms are surprisingly expensive and removing the planned bathroom would reduce current expected costs about $100,000.

“But, right now, the DDA and City Council have both pledged significant funding to help make this become a reality with the assistance of this grant.”

Why are they considering synthetic turf?

“I asked for synthetic turf because I’ve seen it be successful in other communities and even though the upfront costs are higher, the long term maintenance costs are lower,” explained Womack. “Also, artificial grass looks nice neat and green all year round without needing to be cut or watered, though I admit that it will likely look a little out of place being bright green in the dead of winter.”

Will it be open in the winter?

“We haven’t determined whether the bathroom will be heated year round or whether the City will snow plow through there yet. But, otherwise, the park should remain open all year round even if not snowplowed or if the bathroom is closed. With the overhead lights, I hope that the park can be used after dark some days but we’ll have to figure out a schedule for that as well,” he said.

Why is the property considered unbuildable?

“The property is “unbuildable” because the County Storm Drain project goes right through the middle of this property and not only are the pipes very shallow under the ground, which would prevent any significant weight or footings be installed, but also because the pipe is covered by an easement held by the drain commissioner’s office, which we will need permission to build anything on top of.  We believe, following discussions with the drain commissioner, that our plans will be approvable and not in contradiction to the desires of the drain commissioner’s needs,” explained Womack.

What is the projected timeline on the project?

“Project timelines are normally dictated by funding availability, which we have not heard anything about yet. My hope would be that we could complete the project in late Spring or early Summer 2023 so that the public might be able to use it throughout next year,” he said.

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Scammers taking advantage of loan forgiveness announcement

From the Better Business Bureau

September 8, 2022 — Scammers wasted no time capitalizing on the Biden Administration’s plan to cancel some federal student loan debt, as BBB predicted. BBB Scam Tracker has already received reports from consumers who have been targeted by impostor loan forgiveness calls and emails. So far, BBB® has not received any scam reports in Michigan.

How the scam works

You receive a call or voicemail from someone claiming to represent a new student loan forgiveness program. To see if you qualify for forgiveness, the scammer insists that you need to complete an online application form, which asks for personal information, such as your bank account details. Scammers might also insist you need to pay an upfront fee or redirect your current loan payments to them. 

Currently, the application process for student loan forgiveness under the Biden Administration’s plan does not go live until sometime in October. 

Right now, most of the student loan forgiveness scams reported to BBB Scam Tracker are government impostors. But watch out for new variations as scammers have time to get creative.

How to avoid student loan forgiveness scams

Only communicate with the Department of Education directly. If you receive a message from someone claiming to be from the government, verify by contacting the government agency. For details on the student loan forgiveness program, visit ED.gov or StudentAid.gov.

Never pay fees for a free government program. Government agencies will never ask you to pay a fee to benefit from a free government program. Don’t let scammers persuade you otherwise. 

Think twice about unsolicited calls, emails, or text messages. Government agencies rarely reach out to you unless you request to be contacted. Out-of-the-blue communications are a red flag.

Don’t give in to scare tactics. If someone claims you’ll miss out if you don’t act immediately, be wary. This is an all-too-common tactic scammers use on their victims. Instead of responding, stop communications until you can verify what they say is true.

For more information

For information on federal student loan repayment options, visit the official government website, StudentAid.gov. This is the best way to determine if you qualify for loan forgiveness and how to receive it. 

Learn more about student loan forgiveness scams at https://www.bbb.org/article/news-releases/27471-bbb-tip-student-loan-forgiveness-is-here-heres-how-to-avoid-scams

You can also read up on government impostor scams in this BBB study and learn how to spot a scam.

If you spot a student loan forgiveness scam, report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker to help other consumers spot the scam faster.

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Artist meet and greet at O’Flynn’s

Meet Wanda Alberta on Saturday, September 10, from 11 am to 5 pm

Stop in at O’Flynn’s, 60 N. Main Street, Cedar Springs, on September 10, and meet our artist of the month, Wanda Alberta. Check out her stunning landscapes, discover her art process, and watch her turn a blank canvas into a stunning landscape.

Wanda will be doing a live painting during her Artist Meet and Greet. Ask her about her process, it’s incredible. She doesn’t even know what she is going to paint until her brush touches the canvas. Be sure to buy your favorite piece to brighten up your home.

Artist Info:

I always had the ability to draw and paint my whole life. I was never really taught, it just came natural.

I used to just give my paintings away, never giving it a thought. Once in a while, I did get paid for some, but never asked much back then.

Now, however, I am finding myself in a difficult time of life. The roof to my craft place fell in and destroyed my paintings and the exterior of my home. In between all of this, I had two heart attacks and did not qualify for disability. I’m in a tough place, but when life gives you lemons you make some lemonade.

So, here’s to hoping my natural ability God gave me will turn things around.

But, most of all, please do enjoy the art. After all, that is its purpose, for you to enjoy and maybe take you away from your problems, if only for a little while.

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Beef jerky products recalled 

Possible listeria contamination

FSIS Announcement

WASHINGTON, Sept. 6, 2022 – Magnolia Provision Company, Inc., a Knoxville, Tenn. establishment, is recalling approximately 497 pounds of beef jerky products that may be adulterated with Listeria monocytogenes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

The ready-to-eat beef jerky items were produced on August 25, 2022. The following products are subject to recall [view labels]:    

  • 2-oz. packages of “BEEF JERKY EXPERIENCE CHOP HOUSE STYLE PRIME RIB FLAVORED BEEF JERKY” with “EXP 8/25/23” displayed on the back of the package.
  • 8-oz. packages of “BEEF JERKY EXPERIENCE CHOP HOUSE STYLE PRIME RIB FLAVORED BEEF JERKY” with “EXP 8/25/23” displayed on the back of the package.
  • 16-oz. packages of “BEEF JERKY EXPERIENCE CHOP HOUSE STYLE PRIME RIB FLAVORED BEEF JERKY” with “EXP 8/25/23” displayed on the back of the package.

The products subject to recall bear establishment number “EST. 8091” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to retail locations nationwide.

The problem was discovered when the establishment reported to FSIS that it received confirmation from their third-party lab that a product contact surface sample returned as positive for Listeria monocytogenes.

There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider.  

Consumption of food contaminated with L. monocytogenes can cause listeriosis, a serious infection that primarily affects older adults, persons with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women and their newborns. Less commonly, persons outside these risk groups are affected.

Listeriosis can cause fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. An invasive infection spreads beyond the gastrointestinal tract. In pregnant women, the infection can cause miscarriages, stillbirths, premature delivery or life-threatening infection of the newborn. In addition, serious and sometimes fatal infections in older adults and persons with weakened immune systems. Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics. Persons in the higher-risk categories who experience flu-like symptoms within two months after eating contaminated food should seek medical care and tell the health care provider about eating the contaminated food.

FSIS is concerned that some product may be in consumers’ pantries. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers. When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on the FSIS website at www.fsis.usda.gov/recalls.

Consumers with questions regarding the recall can contact Rob Noyes, Vice President of Magnolia Provision Company, Inc., at Rob@magnoliajerky.com.

Consumers with food safety questions can call the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 888-MPHotline (888-674-6854) or live chat via Ask USDA from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Consumers can also browse food safety messages at Ask USDA or send a question via email to MPHotline@usda.gov. For consumers that need to report a problem with a meat, poultry, or egg product, the online Electronic Consumer Complaint Monitoring System can be accessed 24 hours a day at https://foodcomplaint.fsis.usda.gov/eCCF/.

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