Newaygo County Group 80+ and looking to expand
Christie Pollock saw an article in the Grand Rapids Press about pickleball and took it to Tamarac asking them to incorporate it in their offerings as a way to keep seniors active and competitive in addition to other fitness activities they offered.
That request several years ago has now turned into daily recreational play, leagues, and has recently formed the Newaygo County Pickleball Club, with more than 80 members currently registered .
“Pickleball is played every morning, Monday through Friday and many Saturday mornings at the Fremont Rec Center (the old high school),” said Bob Pinder, NCPC Chairperson. “We have about 80 members and are looking for more people to come and play.”
Tuesday and/or Thursday mornings or Thursday evenings are the best time for beginners, he added, but anyone is welcome on any day. The courts are set up in the gym, which can hold four courts which can accommodate four people per court. After each game, people are reshuffled so every game has different opponents and teammates. Cost is $5 for a daily guest pass, or a Rec Center membership.
The group is currently collaborating with the City of Fremont to build six outdoor courts in a parking lot adjacent to the Rec Center as part of the beautification project and the closing of Darling Street between the Rec Center and the Fremont Area District Library, said Pinder of Fremont. The Club will soon begin fundraising to help offset the cost of the new outdoor pickleball courts.
In the summer, the group also plays pickleball outdoors on tennis courts that have been resurfaced and lined with pickleball court dimensions, in collaboration with the Newaygo County Parks Department, at Henning Park in Newaygo.
“Pickleball is one of those sports that anyone can play no matter what age or skill. It is a good workout but easy on the body,” said John Sinicki, NCPC Vice Chair.
Pickleball is a cross between tennis, table tennis/ping pong, and badminton and played on a court approximately the size of a badminton court (20 ft. x 44 ft.) with a no-volley line 7 feet from the net. It is played with a solid paddle like a ping pong paddle but bigger and with a whiffle ball. It can be played in singles or doubles. If you’re curious to see it in action, there are many videos available on Youtube, just search pickleball.
“It says a lot about what fun pickleball is, from a single court in a parking lot four years ago with a handful of seniors, to more than 80 players now aged from twenty-somethings to eighty-somethings playing on a regular basis and the need for more courts,” said Pollock, NCPC board member from Fremont
For more information or just to play, contact the group at firstname.lastname@example.org, or just stop by any weekday morning from 9:00 am – 11:00 am at the Fremont Rec Center.
Treasury: New Federal Tax Law Does Not Affect 2017 Tax Year
LANSING – With the passage of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the Michigan Department of Treasury reminds taxpayers the 2017 tax year will not be affected when tax season begins later this month.
Taxpayers should file their taxes like they have in previous years when the state Treasury Department begins accepting 2017 state income tax returns on Jan. 29. Any changes to tax laws will be experienced during the 2018 tax year and next year’s state income tax filing season.
“The new federal tax law does not affect the 2017 tax year,” said Deputy State Treasurer Glenn White, head of Treasury’s Tax Administration Group. “Please continue to file your income tax returns as you have in previous years.”
Taxpayers are encouraged to gather tax-related documents and update their home addresses with current and former employers so W-2s and other financial documents can be mailed to the correct address. Incorrect addresses typically lead to information being mailed to the wrong location and could cause delays when filing tax returns.
When tax season opens, taxpayers can e-file their state tax returns instead of mailing a paper return. To learn more, go to www.mifastfile.org.
Later this month, forms and instructions may be viewed and downloaded from www.michigan.gov/taxes. In addition, commonly used forms will continue to be available at Treasury offices, most public libraries, northern Michigan post offices and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services county offices.
All state income tax returns must be e-filed or postmarked by April 17, 2018. For the benefit and convenience of taxpayers, both the beginning and end of the state income tax filing season are the same as the Internal Revenue Service.
To learn more about the state of Michigan’s state income tax, go to www.michigan.gov/incometax. Federal tax information is available at www.irs.gov.
A Few Minutes With NCRC Manager Kelly Smith
Since its closing during the summer of 2016 the Colonial ave bridge has received more attention from the public than normal. While it has always been an interesting landmark for the area, closing it made it an even more interesting topic of discussion.
What most do not know is, we have been working on replacing this structure for 7 years.
Yes, I know what you are thinking here’s another example of “government at its best”.
As manager of the Road Commission, everything that has less than the desired outcome here is going to land on my lap. It comes with job title. And here is where I came up short. I assumed this would be an easy task. After all, here we have a bridge constructed in the early 1900’s that has certainly lived well past it’s intended life cycle and served the area quite well, but it is time for an upgrade. The typical process would be to submit the structure to the local bridge program for funding ( both state and federal dollars) where it is graded on a point system with those that rank highest being funded. Of course the program has a budget so not all the needed structures can be funded.
There has been a lot of questions regarding the length of time that has elapsed since the bridge was closed so I thought a brief synopsis of the events to date might help shed a bit of light
First and foremost, the bridge was not ours. It was constructed in the mid 1920’s by Pere Marquette Railway and maintained by them or the RxR company that owned that stretch of rail until around 2009. At that time the rail was leased to another company and we were informed that they would no longer maintain it as they didn’t own it.
Of course this got our attention after much discussion we came to the conclusion that a plan of replacement must be set in motion. Oh, and before you ask, yes, we considered other options which included a ground level crossing as well as just having the road end on each side. The decision was made to have a bridge constructed, and that leads us back to the “normal” process.
First task, funding. If the RxR does not want to own the bridge they certainly do not want to fund its replacement. So in order for us to get it funded we must own it which sounds easy right? Well it has not been.
Now let me preface this with stating I am in no way wanting to paint the folks at the rail division in a negative way.Like any organization they have their policies and procedures for a reason. However, that being said, it has been an agonizing and painful experience to see a much needed resolution to a glaring issue take so long. After all, we are agreeing to take on a structure that really should be their legacy and we are willing to take that legacy on and work to get it funded in order to follow through with a replacement structure that will serve the area in a much better capacity.
Fast forward a couple years. Now we have acquired the structure and it is time to get it funded. There is a 3 year gap from bridge submittal, to its acceptance for funding, to it being let out for bid for the selection of a contractor. That all has happened except the letting for bid portion and had that happened we were hoping for a 2017 letting and a late 2017 -2018 construction. That gets us to today and back to the “what’s taking so long?” question.
If you remember the RxR denied ownership of the structure. Well, they were also unwilling to grant us ownership at first. Some of you may see where this is leading, after all how can they grant us ownership if they deny owning it? You cannot give away what you do not own and we cannot get it funded unless we own it. It took countless correspondence, phone calls, emails and letters to get that issue resolved to a point where those having oversight on the funding were comfortable enough to allow the funding to move forward.
Ok, so finally we are ready to get this project out for bid, but nope. It appears as though the RxR has no record of us having R-O-W (right of way) for a bridge we supposedly owned, so how can that be? They didn’t own the bridge, and since we didn’t have R-O-W we must not have owned it either? At this point we see no reason to argue the point, we would just like to apply for R-O-W.
So, where are we now? We have submitted an application for R-O-W for the structure and await it being granted and we are cautiously optimistic that is the final piece of the puzzle before going out for bid and I am hopeful that by the end of 2018 we will have a new structure in place.
If not I may have to stage a hunger strike, God knows I could stand to lose a few holiday pounds.
Anyway, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ashland Township for their financial support of the project as it would not be possible without it. As well as the patient customers that are having to drive a little further while we work through this process. We will work to keep you updated on the project’s status as we move forward and as always, Please Be Safe in your travels.
By Megan Wirts
“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, 'It will be happier.'”—Alfred Lord Tennyson
New Year’s Resolutions. Who really sticks to them? I know I never have. I will say things like, “I resolve to not drink pop anymore” and then the next time someone offers me a Diet Coke, I will happily accept it and guzzle it down. I will say, “I resolve not to let people hurt me like they have in the past. I’m going to let things go!”. Then I will see my cousins post about a party they had, a concert they went to or some other thing on Facebook that I wasn’t invited to and I will be sad…again. It’s not that they don’t want me there, they just don’t think of me as often as I think of them and that hurts. Then my older brother will say horrible things about me at our family Christmas party and it will make me feel awkward, uncomfortable and will cement the fact that he’s not ever going to be nice to me, no matter how old we get. The thing is, just because it’s a new year doesn’t mean people are going to change overnight. It takes time. Lots of time, and sometimes a little talk therapy to get through it all. No shame.
The past few years I haven’t made new year’s resolutions simply because I know I won’t stick to them. What I really want is to just live my life and be happy in it every year. I have had big changes in my life the past few years. I was diagnosed with debilitating neurological disorder called Dystonia in 2015, had to stop working a job that I loved dearly, and I have had to learn how to live with a disability. I had to grieve the life I had and grieve the hopes and dreams that I saw for my future. I had to form a new vision for my life and reinvent myself over and over. I dabbled in stand-up comedy, I write, I make amazing cheesecakes and I am a present wife, mother and friend.
I have had to navigate the medical world and become an advocate for myself in order to receive proper care. I have had to fight with doctor’s offices and insurances companies. Which, by the way will never change unless something happens to the American healthcare system and insurance companies stop denying people the treatments and therapies that we deserve and need.
Meh. I’ll stop there. I could go on, but this isn’t supposed to be about our flawed healthcare system, this is supposed to be about the hope that a new year can bring. Which it does.
I am an eternal optimist and even though I know my brother will probably never be nice to me and my cousins will most likely forget to invite me again and the chances of me being cured of my dystonia are pretty slim, I still have hope. Hope is what gets me up in the morning and out of bed, that and coffee. Hope is what keeps me from curling up in the fetal position and crying day after day. Hope is what fuels my heart, and coffee.
I also know that just hoping for things to change isn’t going to change them. People must do the work. So, I am realistic, and I can’t just live my life hoping all the time. Sometimes, I do have to let the negative things go and accept things for how they are. I also know that I am the one that must make the changes in my life, I can’t wait for others to do it for me. I am responsible for my own happiness. I need to recognize the good and positive things that I do have in my life, and if you have been following along with me the past couple of years, you know I have loads of good in my life.
I have an incredible husband that loves me unconditionally. No matter how sick I get, how whiney I am or how ridiculous my requests are, he loves me. Recently, I started having laryngeal spasms (those are muscle spasms in your throat) and I thought I was dying. It felt like I was drowning on dry land, and I couldn’t breath for a good 60 seconds or more. Everything started to go black and I went to the floor, while my son was next to me crying and my dear husband was calling 911. I knelt on the floor and many thoughts flooded my mind. The first was “THIS IS NOT HOW I AM F’ING DYING!” and because I am a former Respiratory Therapist I knew I needed to breath slowly (ha!), not panic (Bigger HA!), and I needed a smooth muscle relaxer. The only thing I had in my house was Albuterol (To all my medical friends, you know how Albuterol is the cure for everything.), so I crawled to my medicine cabinet and saved my own life.
Anyway, after that happened, I began having panic attacks because I am terrified of it happening again and in order to calm myself I have asked my husband to do some ridiculous things for me. Like lay on top of me for 4 hours or more when all he really wants is to get a good night’s sleep because he is the one with the job and provides for our family. No hanky panky folks, I just made him lay there to hold me down, so I didn’t feel like I was going to fly out of my own anxiety riddled skin. I have asked him to go to the store in the early morning hours or late at night to get me anything that will make my anxiety go away and he happily complies. This man loves me. After 15 years of marriage, two kids, a house fire, and illness, he still loves me. That’s good stuff right there.
I have the best friends a girl could ever need, a warm and comfortable home, food in my pantry and so much love in my heart that sometimes I feel like it might explode.
My life isn’t perfect, but it is happy and full of hope. I am sentimental and nostalgic, and the holidays always bring those things out. A new year is like a bright shining beacon of hope. Hope that things will change for the better and hope for more kindness. Hope for more love, light, happiness, peace and cures for disease. Hope for more people to step up and do the right thing and hope for a better world than we had yesterday.
Happy New Year Friends! May it be filled with more happiness than you know what to do with and keep the hope alive in your heart.
By Ken DeLaat
“There's something inherent in human nature that has us constructing narratives to explain a world that is otherwise chaotic and opaque. Life is little more than a series of overlapping stories about who we are, where we came from, and how we struggle to survive. What we call news isn't news at all: wars, murders, famines, plagues—death in all its forms. It's folly to assign meaning to every chance event, yet we do it all the time."-Sue Grafton V is for Vengeance”
Sue Grafton the alphabet author who made Kinsey Millhone a much favored heroine within an ocean of personalities created by mystery writers has passed on.
It was the strong attachment readers had to the quirky and fiercely independent Ms. Millhone that captivated aficionados of the genre and sold millions of books.
And it was an attachment I most certainly shared.
I discovered Ms. Grafton at ‘C is for Corpse’ driving me back for A is for Alibi and B is for Burglar. Her writing was crisp, clever and often tinged with humor while presenting appealing characters who engaged in quick-witted, yet believable dialogue. As her books worked their way through the alphabet they found themselves under our Christmas tree each year inside the skillfully wrapped gift that bore my name.. The last one was ‘X’ a couple years ago.
She published ‘Y is for Yesterday’ this year but I didn’t get it…. perhaps the result of not being as well behaved as I might have been these past 12 months.
Ms. Grafton wrote a couple of other books before beginning this scintillating series which she once said was inspired by Edward Albee’s ‘The Gashlycrumb Tinies’ a macabre rhyming book depicting a similar run through the alphabet involving the demise of 26 children.
“E is for Ernest who choked on a peach
F is for Fanny sucked dry by a leech
G is for George smothered under a rug
H is for Hector done in by a thug”
If the lyrics seem a bit gruesome check out the accompanying drawings.
But we digress.
When I began reading Ms. Grafton my children were but tots. Early elementary munchkins who required a good deal of attention and time because, well, because they were 7 and 5 years old. Later in the evening when they were finally abed her books were a way of winding down from the day though it was easy to be captivated enough by her storytelling ability to find myself arriving at work the next day a victim of inadequate slumber.
As I progressed through her perennial offerings those children grew and now have children of their own. ‘I is for Innocent’ was read the year our daughter (and youngest) turned 10. I spent evenings with ‘M is for Malice ’ as our son completed his final year of high school and ‘R is for Ricochet’ was sometimes read with a sleeping first grandchild on my lap.
Years ago while watching an interview with Ms. Grafton notice was taken when she was asked why she had turned down offers to have her ultra-popular novels to be transformed into film or television.
She explained that she never wanted anyone identified as Kinsey Millhone. That Kinsey was everywoman and her personae would forever be in the imagination of the reader.
Bonus. In addition to enjoying her books immensely one could admire her integrity when it came to protecting her protagonist.
Unlike other more prolific authors she used no ghost writers and her family will abide by her wishes about such things which means the series has come to an end. One letter short of an alphabet sweep. Just before the final letter Z which was to be ‘Z is for Zero’.
There have been 25 books chronicling the intriguing and adventurous life of Kinsey Millhone and I’ve read 24. Soon to be 25 as I will be getting ahold of ‘Y is for Yesterday’ at first chance since my birthday isn’t until fall and I can’t take any chances on my behavior improving a great deal before then anyway.
‘A is for Alibi’
Yup. Starting over.
While the author whose work I long admired may have departed this plane, Kinsey Millhone the engaging character she created remains with us.
As does the legacy of a talented tale teller.
“The hard thing about death is that nothing ever changes. The hard thing about life is that nothing stays the same.”-Sue Grafton “J is for Judgement”
To the Newaygo County community:
Thank you very much for the tremendous outpouring of generosity from so many people throughout Newaygo County who supported Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial’s Beards for Babies fundraising campaign to benefit our labor and delivery center, and the 500-plus patients we serve each year. Our final tally was $7,377.11. That’s more than three times the original goal we set when we launched the month-long event at the start of November 2017.
All the proceeds from the event are staying locally and directly impacting Gerber Memorial patients and families. The funds will be used to train and certify an additional lactation consultant as well as provide families with diapers, swaddle sacks and educational safe sleep books.
The Spectrum Health Foundation at Gerber Memorial would not have been able to reach this goal if not for the enthusiasm of our 22 participants, who let their beards go for four weeks – and beyond, in a few cases – despite the protests of wives, children and other loved ones. The men set up customized profile pages highlighting their beards and the cause. They pushed, prodded and persuaded people near and far to give money to their pages. Hats off to them, especially to the top individual fundraiser, Scott Swinehart of Newaygo, and the top fundraising team, “Itching for a Cause,” made up of Gerber Memorial Community Health and Wellness Director Josh Gustafson; brothers Collin and Justin Zeerip; and Tamarac Wellness Center Supervisor Justin Aman, who collectively raised $1,810.
Thanks to Lakes 23 Restaurant and Pub, which hosted a beard showdown on the final night of the Beards for Babies fundraiser Nov. 29, where total funds were tallied and judges from the community picked out the best facial hair in a host of whisker-y categories, including best overall beard (Charlie Johnson, LifeLink coordinator at TrueNorth Community Services); most unique beard (Gustafson, who sported a modified “mutton-chop” look that had to be seen to be believed); best-effort beard (Eric Weaver, MD, at Gerber Memorial’s Multispecialty Clinic); and best mustache (Brian McClain, director of clinical and ambulatory services at Gerber Memorial, who gave “handle-bar” a new definition).
Thanks to judges for the night who donated their time and their eye for fashion: Sue Auw of Classic Cuts for Men in Fremont; Kenzi Boerman and Melissa Rich of Snipperz Salon in Fremont; Jackie Kozitzki, RN; and Marsha Stasik of Newaygo.
And thanks to Loretta Towne of Fremont and our Foundation specialist, for her creativity and work making the Beards for Babies fundraiser a success, not to mention her nonstop advocacy for community-driven causes that our foundation spearheads throughout the year.
These are just a few of the many folks who helped this inaugural fundraiser succeed. They and dozens of others opened their hearts, their wallets and their personal schedules to support local families and newborns. On behalf of Gerber Memorial, we are truly grateful to serve such a generous and supportive community that stands together for each other.
Paul C. Bedient
Fund Development Director
Spectrum Health Foundation Gerber Memorial
For more information or questions about contributing to Gerber Memorial’s foundation, call 231-924-3681.
Wow, another year.nearly in the books. The pages of N3 spent the year filled with the stories about our area. We covered the news to be sure but also included a boatload of high school sports, columns by a clever collection of contributors, edgy editorials, insightful information, and a dash or two of controversy.
Our most popular stories this year? Meijer had to be at the top. Since we launched Near North nearly two years ago no stories have drawn more interest than anything written about Meijer. Lured by the exploding numbers of readers that accompanied each posting we considered expanding this by perhaps interviewing Sandy the penny horse or doing in depth explanations of the Perks program but restrained ourselves and found most who came to us for Meijer stuck around for our ‘other’ news and articles.
What follows may not be an all encompassing list of N3’s top 2017 articles but perhaps a few that seemed to draw significant attention to our pages. In keeping with our alliterative tendencies we divided into categorical twosomes. Politics and Provisions, Hemp and Homicide and Fire and Fun.
Politics: In January Lindsey Isenhart and Michelle Petz articulately described their participation in the Women’s March in Washington D.C. in our Pulse section as did Stephanie Barrette in an interview with Alexis Mercer.
Rob Davidson a local Emergency Physician followed a town hall appearance by incumbent U.S. Rep Bill Huizenga with an announcement that he would seek to unseat the Congressman in November of the coming year after engaging the Rep in a bit of a debate about health care. The last Democrat to hold office in the 2nd District was Wes Vivian who rode Lyndon Johnson’s landslide victory in ‘64 to serve a single term after which began a 50 year run for the GOP.
Local elections saw incumbent Mayors fend off challenges as Ed Fedell and James Rynberg remain in the mayoral seats of Newaygo and Fremont. White Cloud HS Band Director Jamie Denslow took the open seat as mayor of that city and Grant’s mayor Julie Hallman ran unopposed.
Provisions: Groceries were in the news frequently this past year. The closing of Plumbs the previous November brought forth a landslide of speculation as to if and when a new tenant would take over the store and just who it might be.
In March Leppinks announced they would add Newaygo to their stable of stores and did so in June filling a grocery gap that existed for more than half a year.
Gene’s Market passed the torch after 6 decades when the Sordins sold their stores in Grant and Croton to Elliott and Larissa Vanderlaan.
And the Meijer mystery came to an end when it was finally announced that the retail giant with West Michigan roots would build in Fremont with construction beginning this coming April.
Hemp: Marijuana hit the headlines this summer and beyond but not due to a major drug bust. The new state laws regulating all aspects of medical marijuana (or marihuana as the state oddly enough spells it) went into effect December 15th and in July the city of Newaygo was the first to pass an ordinance that would allow for a medical marijuana facility to be built in their industrial park.
Efforts to do something similar in Merrill Township went south accompanied by strong opposition to an early initiative from their community watch group but White Cloud ok’d each of the 5 licenses available under the new law including dispensaries and Brooks Township gave the green light for a dispensary.
While opposition to the ordinances emerged, the promise of good paying jobs and tax revenues helped spur these actions along. Our opinion pages predicted a likely 2018 ballot initiative for recreational use.
Homicide: After 9 hours of deliberation a jury convicted Glenna Duram of first degree murder in the death of her husband Marty. She would be sentenced to life in prison without parole in a case that drew national attention as the ‘Parrot Trial’ because of the couple’s African Grey parrot who had reportedly repeated incriminating words such as “Don’t shoot” while in the care of the victims ex-wife.
And no, the parrot never took the stand.
In a case with many grisly details Anthony Shawn Blamer was arrested on a number of charges involved in the murder of a Muskegon man including dismemberment.
Meanwhile an appeal filed on behalf of Paul and Matthew Jones convicted in 2015 for the murder of Shannon Siders was denied.
Fire: While resignations and elections produced changes in their city council the Cloud seemed to be in the news for flames more frequently than California. In two separate blazes the Eagles Club and Department of Public Works buildings were consumed by fire and taken to the ground. While the destruction of the Aerie might have been an emotional blow to those who frequented the club the DPW loss would prove to cripple a department forced to operate without most of its equipment.
Why, even a motorhome rolling down M-37 seemed to decide on our county seat as a likely spot to ignite itself.
We’re hoping the New Year gives WC a bit of a reprieve from any further conflagrations and perhaps a little economic shot in the arm with the Co-op and a possible grow facility looking to make the long dormant industrial park a hive of activity.
Fun: Festivals dotted the landscape from Fremont, Holton and Hesperia to Grant, Newaygo, White Cloud and Croton. Further out local folks poured into the Irish Music Festival in Muskegon, the Wheatland Music Festival in Remus, and of course, ArtPrize in our metro cousin to the south.
The Dogwood Center lit it up again with a remarkable series of entertainment offerings and Rockin Newaygo County caught lightning in a bottle as the little beauties began turning up everywhere and the subsequent facebook photos spread like wildfire across the local social media pages.
And that’s just a few of the tidbits that led to an ever increasing readership for which we are grateful and honored.
It has been our mission to entertain, enlighten, educate and encourage dialogue while being a tad audacious, a little risky and hopefully, a whole lot of fun.
We hope we have succeeded thus far and aspire to continue to providing our readers with timely, relevant, informative and appealing stories and articles.
Here’s to another year.
By Megan Wirts
T’was the day after Christmas and all through the house, everyone else was sleeping in except for me. Sorry, that doesn’t rhyme, but I’m exhausted. Our family had a wonderful holiday season filled with all the usual goodness, friends, family and lots of delicious food. We saw family we hadn’t seen in a few years and we spent quality time with the ones we love the most.
On Christmas Day, our smallest small person woke us up at exactly 7am, it would have been 4am, but when he tried to wake me up I grumbled, “Shhh…not till 7, go away!”. He waited patiently next to my bed watching the clock tick by for 3 hours until it hit 7am and he yelled in my good ear, “WAKE UP IT’S CHRISTMAS!!!”. I rolled over and looked at my husband and said, “coffee” and then we were off to see what Santa left under the tree.
Our teenage daughter was up the stairs in a flash. Which is a Christmas miracle right there, because like most teenagers, she loves to sleep and hates waking up in the morning. Not on this day though, she too had been sitting and waiting like her little brother. Miraculous indeed. When we were all gathered around the tree and I had my coffee in hand, the unwrapping could begin.
I know of some families that sit around and each person opens one gift at a time, while all the other family members get to see what the others receive, and the gift giver gets to see the gift receivers face light up and everyone oohh's and aahh's. That doesn’t happen in our home. No matter how many times I beg for everyone to do it that way, it doesn’t. As soon as one gift is in hand, the paper is flying, and the boxes are being torn apart. It’s pandemonium and chaos and I just have to accept it and let it go.
Once the dust settled and it looked as if a tornado had blown through my living room, we brought out the big stuff. Every year, we give the kids a few small things that they have been asking for, like new socks, underwear (I’m not even kidding, my kids both asked for new socks and underwear and they loved it.), books, new water bottles and things like that. Then, we get them one big thing that they have really been dreaming of but never in their lives think that we will actually get them. This year, those big things were a beautiful handmade ukulele made by the talented Donald Benson, (Seriously, see him for all your handmade musical instrument needs, his instruments are gorgeous.), and a drum set. Yes, a real drum set. A loud, wall shaking drum set. (I’m sorry neighbors!)
Why would any sane mother get her 10-year-old boy a drum set?!? No, I’m not asking to go deaf in my other ear, I’m trying to create a band people!! Our daughter is already a fantastic ukulele player and singer, my husband can shred on the guitar and I love to sing. So, why not get the boy in on the band. WE ARE GOING TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD!!!!!! Ok, I may be getting ahead of myself, but a mom can dream. When we gave our girl her amazing new ukulele, she cried tears of delight and when we brought our son down to the basement where the drums were all set up, he screamed and jumped for joy. Then just 5 minutes after my husband showing him a few beats, they were rocking!! My heart was full seeing the huge grin on my husbands face as he taught our boy to rock out to Metallica and my ears were ringing. Hello, earplugs and noise cancelling headphones.
Our little family foursome spent the entire day, playing with our new goodies, laughing, stuffing our faces with fancy chocolates, cheesecake and cookies. Then, after I spent the evening preparing our Christmas dinner, we sat around the table and told each other all the things we loved about one another. It’s super cheesy, but I love cheese and I fully believe it’s nice to hear that you are loved and appreciated, especially by your family. It started out with my daughter telling my son that she loved him because he smelled like farts and ended with tears streaming down my face because the love I feel overwhelms me and just leaks out like that.
We ended our Christmas Day watching some of our favorite holiday movies and all the Christmas episodes from The Office. It was a magical day filled with love, joy and lots of noise.
Someday, I will miss it so for now, I will slip on my ear plugs and let the happiness and love leak from my eyes.
Let me start by saying, I really do not care that the calendar says it’s the middle of December , it is winter outside. The thermometer says -3 degrees and we are working clearing 6”-8” of fresh snowfall and if that isn’t winter, well I don’t know what is.
After a very busy summer construction season we are now in full on winter mode, sanders are in, side wings are mounted and salt bins are full. That means instead of you waiting in line at one of our constructions zones, or driving around a detour , you will be stuck behind us while we are scraping and sanding the roadways. And before you ask, No, we cannot just pull over every time a car gets behind us and let you by. It is already a struggle for us to accomplish enough in a given time frame to keep up with customer demand. And yes, we get asked that a lot, I mean really, a lot. We do our best to keep you moving, and I say that while keeping in mind that it must be at a reasonable expense to you , after all you are the paying customer.
And just like in our personal budgets we must live within our means, and reasonable expense equals reasonable level of expectation. I do believe sometimes that part of the equation is forgotten, but it is a reality we are faced with on a daily basis and we must work through. I think it would be fair to say that we all have very busy schedules and sometimes taking an extra few minutes to slow down due to less than summer like road conditions, just may not seem feasible. But we would rather see you arrive late, than not at all.
Road conditions can change several times during the course of your travels, and it can happen quickly, so please be careful. We have no doubt that Michigan drivers are the best in the country when it comes to winter time driving skills, we just ask that you refrain from trying prove it by setting a new land speed record in January.
On the “What are we doing to make things better” front, the road commission itself is in a constant state of self evaluation in a never ending effort to provide service to our customers, and one of the more recent changes included a re-organization of staff. At this time I would like to introduce the Assistant Manager of The Newaygo County Road Commission Derek Wawsczyk (yes, that’s really how you spell his name).
Derek has been with the road commission since 2007 in various roles until his acceptance of this position. Derek’s main focus will be overseeing daily operations as well as customer service and public relations. Derek, myself and the rest of the staff are working with the Board of Road Commissioners to take the organization to the next level in both customer relations and quality of service. So please, if you have questions or concerns pass them along to Derek and the staff, watch for future updates, and follow us on Facebook. We are here to provide a reasonably safe and efficient road system as possible to you, our customers.
In closing, it is The Holiday Season so please be kind to one another, please keep those less fortunate in your thoughts and be careful in your travels.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
By Megan Wirts
“Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence.’’
Every year around Christmas time as my small people grew to be, well, not so small, I would wait and wonder when they would ask the big question. Is Santa real? If Santa is a big deal in your house like he is in mine, then you know the feeling. For me, that feeling was dread. What was I going to say? How was I going to break the news to them without crushing their sweet little hearts, or mine?
I love Christmas and all the comes with it. Santa, the tree, the ornaments, the Christmas music, the baking, the religious traditions and the celebration of love, peace, family and friends. I love how everyone is a little nicer and it just feels magical all around. I go nuts for it you guys! The day after Thanksgiving, all the decorations come out and the tree goes up. Some decorations may have already been put on display as soon as it struck midnight on Nov. 1st. Then I turn on my Hallmark Christmas movies and it’s Christmas 24/7. This year I even entered my towns door decorating contest, (and I got 2nd place!!), just so I could live my life as close to a Hallmark Christmas movie as possible. I LOVE CHRISTMAS!
So, when my oldest small person when she was a 5th grader, asked me to tell her the 100% honest truth about Santa. I had to. It was time, but I didn’t want to lose the magic. I could sense that the question was coming so, like any good mother with internet access, I searched, “What to do when your child wants to know the truth about Santa?”. There were hundreds of links to ideas and suggestions on how to break it to them gently. While I was searching and reading, it hit me like a lightning bolt.
The Magic Keepers Club.
When my sweet girl looked at me with those big brown eyes wanting to know the truth, I told her all about The Magic Keepers Club. I told her that when a child gets older and matures, like she had, they are let in on the secret of the magic of all the holidays. I told her that yes, Moms and Dads all around the world were the ones that put the money under kids pillows after they lost a tooth, hid all the Easter eggs and most importantly we were the ones that kept the magic of Santa Claus alive for all the children of the world that believe.
We talked about the history of St. Nicholas and how Santa came to be who he is now. I told her that Santa represents the joy of the season and shows us that we should be generous and give to others. I told her that without magic in our lives how boring our world would be. Santa, Fairies, Easter Bunnies, and Elves are some of the most wonderous parts of our lives even if they are things we made up and are games we play. I told her that in this world sometimes a little magic makes it a whole lot more tolerable. She was now part of the club. A special secret club only for parents, older siblings and anyone that promises to make the world a magical and special place for their little brothers and sisters and other children to live in.
She sat and listened with wide eyes and I waited for her to react. After I finished my semi prepared speech, she got a huge grin on her face and was so FREAKING EXCITED!! She had tons of questions and couldn’t wait to help make the holidays magic for her little brother. She wanted to hide our Elf on the Shelf every night and tell her little brother and cousins all about Santa and his magic reindeer. She went all in! It was such a fun and sweet time to have her help us with all the silly things we did to make Christmas special for her little brother. Like the time we set up a video camera to capture Elvis, our Elf on the Shelf, flying through the living room. It took my husband, myself and her to pull it off and it blew our son’s mind!
Now, my smallest small person isn’t quite so small and this year around Easter time, he asked the big question. He told me he knew the Easter Bunny couldn’t possibly be real, and he wanted to know the rest and he was quite insistent. You see, he’s my baby and when he had asked before, right after Christmas last year, I completely avoided the question and changed the subject every time. I couldn’t have my baby not be a believer anymore! NOT MY BABY!!
Alas, our babies grow up and they want to know the truth. So, just as I did with his older sister, I told him all about The Magic Keepers Club and just like her, he was also extremely excited to be part of the super-secret club. Just like her, he also had tons of questions and he many comments. Like, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?! YOU MADE ELVIS FLY!! I KNEW THERE WAS A FISHING LINE!! I KNEW IT!!” and “You guys ate all the cookies!?! So unfair!” and “Thank you for making Christmas magic for me!”.
It has been a little bittersweet this year not having little kids that believe in Santa and our magical elf any more. A little sweeter than bitter though, I must say. I mean, it’s actually been quite liberating. Now, I don’t have to buy separate Santa wrapping paper or if I forget to move the elf…it doesn’t matter anymore!! Nobody is going to cry about the elf not moving and I’m not going to wake up from a dead sleep at 3am saying, “I FORGOT TO MOVE THE #%@^ ELF!”. Now, Mom and Dad get all the credit for all the gifts. Not that Santa brought them a ton, usually just one thing and some candy, but this year we get ALL THE GLORY!!!
Just because our small people are older doesn’t mean we didn’t go see Santa this year though, and it doesn’t mean we aren’t moving the elf around the house. (He’s just older, tired and can’t fly anymore.) I’m sure there will still be a gift under the tree marked “From: Santa”, because somethings I just can’t let go of. But this year they will both know. They know now all the effort that their dad and I put into making sure they had a magical and special childhood, and they are grateful for it. I can tell when they tell stories about their magic elf to their little cousins and friends. I can tell when they see Santa and still tell him their secret wishes, while looking at me and giving me a knowing grin. This year has already been so different, but in such a wonderful and more magical way.
When your small people are ready, tell them about The Magic Keepers Club. It might make it a little easier on your tender mama heart, like it did mine, and it might help with those growing pains that you both might be feeling.
Your small people are only small for so long, so soak it in and fill their worlds with joy and magic. Then watch them grow to be amazing, smart, talented people, that just want to make the world a more magical and special place like you do. It makes the whole growing up thing a little easier when you see them turning into awesome humans.
Letter to the Editor Policy
Near North Now welcomes original letters from readers on current topics of general interest. Simply fill out the form below. Letters submissions are limited to 300 words.