A Celebration of a Life Well Lived
"United 56 Heavy You are cleared for takeoff on Runway 27 Right."
By Charles Chandler
On Tuesday, February 15, 2022, United Airlines Captain Melvin E. Volz made his final flight.
Most know that the “Captain” was a former resident and favorite son of White Cloud. His family lived in the area and Mel attended White Cloud Public school. The local folks knew that Mel’s passion for aviation began at an early age. Often, they would see him and his school pals, Claire McCombs and Ward Sanders out flying rubber band power models from the high hills at the nearby Sanders family farm. As soon as Mel was old enough, he graduated from flying models and began pilot training at Big Rapids Airport. There must have been some special factor in White Cloud at that time because Mel and his two Buds would go on to great careers in the aviation and aerospace industry. Ward Sanders took a position with Aerojet, a contractor to NASA. Ward would go on to become a significant contributor to the Apollo Program. Clare McCombs became a decorated and distinguished Air Force U 2 pilot. Must have been something in the water at the Sanders Farm.
After High School Mel joined the Army Air Corps in 1944. After additional flight training in Texas and with WWII winding down he, like many other trained pilots, was soon discharged. Using his G.I. Bill money, he was back in pilot training receiving both his Commercial and Instrument ratings. In 1947 he married Ms. Ellie Decker his high school sweetheart. With these two ratings in hand, he began a small aerial spraying business with jobs in Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Next Mel took a position as Experimental Engineer with Continental Motors Aviation Division. Then in early 1950, a friend of the family from Chicago that worked for United Airlines mentioned to Mel that United Airlines was looking for pilots. She insisted that he should apply, he did and on March 26 1952 was hired by United Airlines. It was a great day and a family affair because the day Mel took his Flight Instrument Check Ride his son Chris was born. A few years later Chris would become a Computer Specialist for United Airlines.
After that check ride, Mel began his impressive rise in rank, responsibility, and recognition in the aviation industry. Mel began flying the line for United starting with DC 3s and retiring as a DC 10 pilot. He was promoted to Captain in 1966 and over his 35-year career was qualified to fly eight different aircraft types. Many in the aviation industry would argue that Captain Volz’s greatest contribution was made away from the flight deck. In addition to being a successful pilot, he developed expertise in many areas of United’s operations and the larger commercial air carrier industry. On March 25, 1976, the Board of Directors of United appointed the Captain as both Vice President of Maintenance Services and Regional Vice President of Station Operations for the Central Division. As a senior executive, the Captain would go on to become a recognized expert in engineering, flight, cabin and aircraft safety, air traffic management, airport operations, flight dispatch, meteorology and facilities, and aircraft maintenance operations. The Captain was twice presented with the United Airlines Public Relations Award. In 1986 he was presented with United’s highest award, the Distinguished Service Award. After official retirement but yet not ready to head to the hanger, Captain Mel became a Senior Safety Consultant and an international public relations ambassador for United Airlines. This position took him to every major city in the U.S. and internationally working with the media and many dignitaries.
The Captain still thought of White Cloud as home as his last residence in White Cloud was the beautiful rustic log home on North Webster Street.
Soon after moving to White Cloud my neighbor Eric Rudert learned that my wife Dianne had retired from American Airlines. He asked if I knew Captain Mel Volz and that he had retired from United Airlines and had a home up the street at 148 North Webster. At that time, I did not know the Captain but I knew of his work and was looking forward to meeting him.
I had worked at the American Airlines Maintenance Operations facility in Tulsa Oklahoma for many years and our performance numbers were always compared to United’s. Every day in our maintenance operations center the analysts for the Airlines would post the three important figures, on-time departures, maintenance delays, and maintenance cancellations. The FAA and all other airlines would watch those numbers because we were all competitors and these numbers were available for all the world to see. These numbers were the daily report card for maintenance operations. United’s numbers were always better than ours and this was most likely because of some of the Captain's handiwork. Dianne and I did get to meet the Captain and Chris and tour his exemplary home. At that time, he was transitioning between White Cloud and his home in Florida. We stood on the front steps and chatted a bit. He was, as I expected, unpretentious, humble about his career, friendly with a sense of humor. As it has been my experience with most airline pilots and executives.
(Whining and Complaining section I.) Our aircraft maintenance types and Pilots have always had a symbiotic but unequal relationship. In America, it started in the early 1900s with the Wright Brothers. These two designed and built a magical wooden propeller and a controllable airframe and named it the world-famous Wright Flyer. We, mechanics, called it Wreck #1. Charley Taylor the Wrights Brothers mechanic built the engine for the contraption. It was a lightweight 12-horsepower gasoline engine with a chain driver, all built from scratch, mind you. Our lament is that the literature is resplendent with the tails of Orville and Wilbur and their wonderful flying machine. There is scarcely a footnote that mentions ole Charley. The guys upfront and looking out the little airplane windows get all the glory. When people learn that I retired from the airlines they always ask “were you a pilot or did you know so and so he was a pilot for such and such an airline.” They never ask, were you the guy at the gate so and so on the flight so and so that was out there in the snowstorm changing that giant tire? If you were, you made us late? We always say the pilots know how to operate the airplane and we techs know how the airplane operates. We always appreciate it when the pilots make a good landing especially if we can use the airplane again on the next leg. The pilots always appreciate it when we remember to put gas in the plane. They often leave us funny little notes in the maintenance logbook, for example, “there appears to be a rodent in the cockpit.” To which we investigated and made a subsequent correction action taken logbook entry. “Did find rodent droppings in the cockpit but could not locate rodent. Apparently, said rodent was after abundant crumbs and stale dinner roll found under left seat.”
Make no mistake, we airline folks appreciate our pilots. Generally, they are exceedingly intelligent, well educated, courteous and totally dedicated to their flying public, their fellow crew members, and their aircraft. They are courageous hardworking professionals that will give their life to save yours if the need arises.
In my distant past I had cockpit jump seat privileges and, on some occasions, had to use that seat to get to or from an assignment. I did not want to be up there because it was their office and they did not need me to be there. My job while there was to be as quiet and inconspicuous as possible. There is no chit-chat on the flight deck. It is a busy place and these professionals have to do the right things at the right time and nothing else is ever acceptable. I have watched these pilots fly holding patterns near O’Hare at night and in a snowstorm. I was not brave enough to look outside because I knew there were dozens of aircraft out there flying those holding patterns. Besides I was too busy saying Our Fathers and making promises that I could never keep. I have also watched the Weather Radar scope light as we approached a line of massive summer thunderstorms between Wichita Falls and Dallas Ft Worth. And hear the crew announce “we may encounter a little chop on the way into DFW.” This was my cue to begin the Our Fathers.
They can have the glory because they surely earn it.
(Whining and Complaining section II) We, airline people, are like a big extended family and always seek each other out. We work crazy hours, move a bunch and develop good people skills because we serve the flying public. I think the Captain and I as ole timers would agree that our beloved industry has changed dramatically. We worked for the airlines when folks generally enjoyed flying, made travel arrangements with a travel agent, and had favorite airlines. If you recall, that was when people dressed up and wore suits and ties when they flew. This was before the airlines started choosing volume, rather than value and a pleasant flying experience for their customers. In my opinion, these business choices resulted in the hub airport systems and the mergers and acquisitions of smaller and regional carriers. This move was then followed by the disastrous two-tier wages systems. On September 11, 2001, the hijacking and subsequent crashing of American and United Airlines Flight 175 was a truly tragic day for all airline folks. I am sure Captain Volz felt this greatly and grieved deeply for his fellow flight crew members and passengers. After that event cockpit doors were armor-plated and strict safety and security protocols were implemented.
Now the twin troubles of partisan politics and the Covid pandemic have brought a new plague to the airlines. It appears that some folks now consider flying on a commercial airplane akin to going to a local town hall meeting, Frat party, or a Major League Wrestling event where you can act out, curse, scream, or hit a fellow passenger or flight attendant. Or if they get really worked up try to rush the Cockpit or open the emergency exit doors. A tip from an ole timer. You pay the price for a ticket and the airlines will rent you a seat and fly you from point A to your destination B, safely, and weather permitting, on time and with your baggage. You agree to behave yourself and be considerate of the staff and your fellow passengers. If your life is not going as expected and you are angry, depressed, had too many drugs or alcohol, or simply a wingnut just take the bus, Gus. Or better yet stay home and chill until things get better for you. I am truly glad that the Captain was retired and did not have to deal with this current stuff.
Good books could be written about the Captain's incredible career and contribution to our aviation industry. I would be remiss if I did not try and emphasize what an unimaginably challenging job Captain and Vice President Mel E. Volz had and how truly successful he was. The scope and scale of airline operations are just crazy to think about. For example, today United Airlines has about 96,000 employees and flies about 858 aircraft.
These good folks operate approximately 4,900 flights a day to 362 airports across six continents. That youngster flying model airplanes out at the Sanders farm became that unpretentious Captain and Vice President that successfully managed a good chunk of United’s complicated business. During his career, he flew the line and managed the logistical nightmare of airport and maintenance operations all the while developing new industry-leading safety and operating procedures. Melvin E. Volz, you were truly a great Ambassador for Commercial Aviation and a remarkable man.
Captain Volz of Punta Gorda, Florida was 95 and passed away quietly with family and friends. Commissioner Dale Twing and his brother and my good neighbor Charles Twing were nearby when he passed. Commissioner Twing said that arrangements are being made and there will be a service on April 9th for the Captain here in White Cloud.
Three cheers for a Captain of Captains.
The Kropscott Farm Environmental Center
By Lori Larsen
The Kropscott Centennial Farm was donated to the Newaygo Conservation District (NCD) by Earle and Mildred Kropscott. The property is an 80-acre parcel, which includes a farmhouse, barn, and approximately 40 acres of forest. The Kropscott's wish for this property is that it be used for education, agriculture, and scientific studies pertaining to the environment and our natural resources. The NCD Board of Directors will continue to honor this wish and make the property a place for everyone to utilize and to visit.
The Kropscott Farm Environmental Center (KFEC) is located six miles north of Fremont on the corner of Baseline and Stone Road. The facility contains two research labs for a wide variety of environmental and agricultural research and educational programming. The barn has been renovated to house a large area for demonstration and education purposes. The S.F. Wessling Observatory is a unique aspect of the Environmental Center, offering our residents the ability to view the wonders of the universe.
Educational experts have identified a general lack of interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) on the part of students throughout the U.S. This situation has major implications relating to conservation, the environment, agriculture, research and jobs in general. STEM educational programs at KFEC are tightly aligned with statewide curriculum standards and support regional public, private, parochial and home school networks. Through the project based, hands-on experiences, students develop an understanding and interest that is usually not developed by classroom experiences alone.
As the Kropscott Farm Environmental Center develops, it will be a valued research site and showplace for soil restoration practices such as agroforestry and permaculture. Current research, combined with the KFEC facility, the staff experience and the NCD nursery, offers the entire Newaygo community a truly unique opportunity. As the programs develop and expand, the opportunities for the entire community to explore and enjoy are pretty incredible.
The infrastructure is there, but KFEC is missing the resource that makes the programming come alive: humans.
Note to the Retirees of Newaygo County
We, the seniors of Newaygo County, have much to share. The experience and wisdom that we have gathered with the investment of our years is too valuable to keep to ourselves. So, if you enjoy gardening, bird watching, kite flying, wood working, cooking, hiking, geology, telescopes, microscopes, bee keeping, butterflies, or a dozen other things that we haven’t even thought of yet, please join us. We need you. Today’s youth need you.
And, yes, I did say kite flying. How fun would that be?
The KFEC is a beautiful location with unlimited potential for education and community involvement and enjoyment. All it needs is you. Please join us.
The KFEC open house will be held on April 16th from 10:00 am until 12:00 pm. The KFEC is located at 6523 W. Baseline Road, north of Fremont.
And, yes, there will be coffee and donuts.
I hope to see you there.
For more information call Luke Cotton at (231)349-4455.
A Vaycay Gone Viral
By Ken De Laat
It wasn’t to be an extravagant vacation. No Hawaii this time, Cabo was out, and there were zero plans for a trip to Jamaica or Costa Rica.
We just thought flying somewhere may not be the most judicious move right now.
So it was to be a low key road trip to the shores of the Gulf to share a condo with some old friends both of whom had been vaxed and boosted as had we.
Seemed safe and all and there was plenty to do.
Then one of our companions began to feel a bit out of sorts. She tested herself and …
Two days later we took a test and while Lil’s was negative mine was not.
And I was isolation bound. Staying in our room in the condo and waiting out the 5 day period before beginning another 5 days of masking.
But there’s a beach to walk on, a deck to sit on and copious amounts of good food and snacks within easy reach.
And it’s warm outside.
Now admittedly, in the past few months I have not been the most prudent person when it comes to the virus. Oh I have masked mostly and washed my hands as if I was scrubbing for surgery and stayed relatively distant off and on. But I have also frequented eateries, been in meetings where no one masked and generally felt a bit cocky after getting the boost and thus lightened up on my disciplines.
And now I am isolating to hopefully keep others from getting viraled by my infectious state since there are many out there who remain vulnerable.
As for feeling sick? No. I don’t. Not a bit. I had a sore throat and a cough for about a day but nothing since. Being in one of the vulnerable age groups (is it true 70 is the new 50?) has always been in the back of my mind. A mind, mind you, that generally seems to think the body is about 30 years younger with a maturity level significantly lower than that.
But I digress.
Several people I know who eschewed any notion of getting the vax caught the ‘rona and got sick.
Some got real sick.
Most, but not all, were able to avoid hospitalization. Thankfully all survived, though one friend told me that during the worst of it the idea of his demise wasn’t totally unwelcome.
I’m glad they got through it of course, and perhaps I might have also gotten through it and toughed it out had I not been gifted with the advent of the vaccine.
But you see, beyond how very much I despise being ill, I almost always play the odds whether it be poker or my health.
When considering getting a shingles shot I spoke to a friend who had gone through a lengthy bout with shingles. He revealed to me that if someone had told him there was a shot to prevent it, even if it was only a partial chance of working, he’d hand over a blank check and roll up his sleeve because it was that bad.
I asked others who also experienced this post-chickenpox scourge. The answers wavered little and just the memory of their time with the virus caused them to scrunch up their faces in a combination of fear and pain.
I got the shot.
Thus when the COVID vaccines appeared I was on board. I’ve heard the anti’s arguments and while perhaps a few are not without merit, at least those that don’t involve the secret chips being injected or the other varieties of conspiracy theory, I went with the odds.
Thus my time with the virus was short and uneventful.
I’m grateful for the series of shots that has likely made my COVID journey as tolerant as it has been. And while the deniers (a minority, albeit a rather cacophonous minority) will undoubtedly be compelled to comment and dismiss the efficacy of the vax with perhaps some words disparaging my intelligence and naivete at believing the medical experts?
Most stats indicate that being unvaxed increases your chances for hospitalization by about 7 times over those who got the shots.
And like I said, I tend to go with the odds.
Open House Coming March 12th
By Lori Larsen
The Newaygo Conservation District Nursery
The Newaygo Conservation District (NCD) was established in 1950, one year after the creation of the national conservation district program. The Newaygo Conservation District Nursery was established the same year.
The land on which the NCD Nursery is located was leased from the Henning family with a life lease of $2,000 annually. This lease ended with the passing of Mrs. Henning in December of 1999 when the ownership was transferred to the NCD. The property includes 28 acres.
The NCD Nursery provides bare-root seedlings in bulk to conservation districts throughout the State of Michigan and to residents for reforestation, afforestation, wildlife planting and erosion control. The NCD nursery focuses on native Michigan trees and shrubs. Over the past three year alone over 1.5 million seedlings have been sold through the NCD Nursery.
The NCD nursery is a valuable resource for any landowner interested in the restoration of native species, not only for watershed management, but for pollinators and landscape aesthetics.
The staff of the nursery is currently establishing baseline studies for future soil health research. They are exploring innovative ways to increase the soil productivity of the nursery while increasing the soil health of the property. In the near future there will be an active internship program providing opportunities for students from area high schools and colleges to develop their skill sets in nursery management and expand their base for individual areas of interest.
Note to the Retirees of Newaygo County
The NCD hopes to expand our reach to the valuable resources of our retired community. The nursery offers two statewide tree sales, one in the spring and one in the fall. The human resources needed to successfully conduct those sales are immense. Who better to fill that need than the skilled and resourceful retirees of our community? The work environment is relaxed and rewarding and wonderfully flexible.
If you enjoy gardening or working with equipment, if you like to organize, enjoy the company of other active, involved people, if you can figure out the intricacies of an irrigation system, or just like being outdoors with a purpose, please join us for the open house. The board members and staff would like to meet you and explore possibilities.
The Nursery open house will be held March 12th from 10:00 am until 12:00 pm. We will offer a tour of the nursery and an introduction to this valuable resource and how you can be involved. The NCD nursery is located at 1725 E. Walnut Street, Newaygo.
For more details about the activities and schedules of our nursery, please call Luke Cotton at (231)349-4455.
Next week we will explore the Kropscott Farm Environmental Center and the incredible potential that resource offers our community, with your help, of course.
Random Bits…“Go on, Have a Cigar”
By Tim McGrath
“You never really know what someone’s going through. You can be kind, honey.
You can always be kind.” – Mom
My parents were tough. They had to be. These were people who survived the Great Depression, World War II, and all the chaos that came with it. It didn’t leave a lot of room for softness. With no social safety nets to count on, they had themselves and family to rely on. Resilience, perseverance, mental and physical toughness were things they learned and valued – survival strategies brought on by the challenges they faced during those years. It left scars, of course, yet neither became bitter and resentful.
“Well, what are you going to do, anyway? I hear all these guys down at the gas house crying in their beer about how bad they got it. Everybody’s got problems, Timmy. Just got to shake it off, and get on with it, figure it out. Nobody’s going to come along and just hand it to you,” Dad frequently remarked.
Looking back, it strikes me how remarkable they both were. In spite of the hardships they endured early on, both of them were people of deep faith, funny, a bit irreverent at times, tenderhearted, and always, always, always kind. Not a doormat to the world nice. Nice is something far more superficial. They were kind. It was a kind that saw someone in need and give them a hand up. Respectful of how others thought, even when they disagreed. Empathetic and compassionate.
Dad came home one day, announced he’d quit his job at Michigan Consolidated Gas Company, and had bought a blueberry farm in West Olive. We were now a full-time blueberry farming family. This was 1968. It was before mechanical harvesting came along and made life on the farm a bit less labor intensive. That meant we needed lots of people to help, especially during harvest. Oh, what a cast of characters they were. People from the deep south working alongside people from inner city Grand Rapids, and Muskegon Heights. The locals who couldn’t find other jobs drifted in and were put to work helping us get the harvest in. One, in particular, stands out.
Late one steamy hot August afternoon a scruffy looking guy shuffled into the packing shed where we were just finishing up the last of the day’s work. “Looking for some work,” he said. “Got anything?” he asked Dad. Dad turned, looked at me with the look that said, mind your own business, go find something to do, I’m talking here. As we finished up, I noticed the guy sitting at one of the picnic tables we had in the shed for eating lunch, just sort of hanging around, waiting. The other workers had finally left for the day leaving Dad, me, and this guy. “This is Rick,” Dad said. As we locked up for the night, Dad pointed at me. “Timmy, get in the back, Rick’s sitting up front.” I cleared a path of assorted tools and nameless bits of farm stuff off the hard bench where a back seat used to be, and clambered in. Not much room in the back of a ’60 Plymouth Valiant, but I was young and agile. Dad pulled out a couple Dutch Masters Coronas from his front shirt pocket, and handed one to Rick. “Go on,” he said. “Have a cigar.” They both unwrapped them, then stuffed the crinkly clear wrappers in the overflowing ashtray. Dad slid the paper ring from around his cigar. Handing it over the back of the front seat, I tenderly took it and slid it on my ring finger, admiring the artwork on the band. They lit up, and that first wispy plume of magically delicious cigar smoke drifted to the back seat. Loved that smell. Yes, they were both smoking cigars in a small car with a child inside. It was 1968. Didn’t seem to bother anyone. Even now, whenever I smell a cigar burning, I’m back in the grubby insides of that Valiant.
“Got a little detour to make, Timmy,” Dad said over his shoulder. He and Rick chatted in the front seat as we bounced along 144th, heading in the general direction of Grand Haven. Couldn’t hear much, the roaring wind blowing in the open windows drowned out most of their conversation. We didn’t go this way often, so I sat watching all the sights whizzing by. Shortly after, Dad pulled off the highway and into the parking lot of the Courtesy Motel just south of the city. He and Rick got out. Dad got out his wallet and I saw him hand Rick what looked like a couple of twenties. Rick shook Dad’s hand, and walked into the office, never to be seen again.
I hopped up in the front seat. “Who was that guy?” I asked.
“Somebody who needed a little help,” he said. “Got to do those things, Timmy. You never know when you might need some help yourself. It’s what we’re supposed to do.”
I was able to see that attitude lived out time and again from both Mom and Dad.
Let me tell you, my friends, that farm is where I got my real education. Even though I graduated from college, and went to graduate school, that farm is where I really learned early on what’s important. Hard work, of course; it came with the territory. Perseverance, obviously. Farming is a tough way to make a living. Things can go sour quickly and often. The trials farmers regularly face would make most of us bang our heads against a brick wall in frustration. Maybe more importantly, though, was how I learned about people. It didn’t take me long to realize most people want to be treated with dignity, respect, and kindness.
Dad put me, at 16, in charge of all the field workers. Before mechanized harvesting was how the crop was picked, it was all done by hand. At one point, we had well over 100 people picking in the fields. For most of them, things were hard. These were people, for whatever reason, who always seemed to be beat down by life. Money was usually short. Couldn’t hold a job. At odds with someone in the family. Couldn’t make rent, or the payments this month, you know what I mean? The list seemed endless for so many. They would drift in and out. “Got business to tend to,” was what I often heard. But I suppose that’s all any of them really wanted. Someone who would just listen, accept them as they were, show them a little kindness. Couldn’t fix their problems, but could be kind. Remarkably, in spite of all the baggage most of them carried onto that farm, the harvest, somehow, always got finished.
I guess I figured out in those long-ago summers that kindness wasn’t weakness. Neither was it a way to manipulate people to get them to do what I wanted. It wasn’t about being “nice”. I realized it was a connecting point that said, “You and I are a lot alike. I know you’ve got stuff to deal with, but you matter.” I’d like to think it’s one of the reasons the work always got finished. The people we had working with us felt valued. Pretty heady stuff for a teenage boy. Glad I figured this out as a kid, as it would be invaluable in the next big thing I did.
After high school and college, I got to be a teacher. It was a wonderful career. For 34 years I found myself in the company of charmers, pouters, politicians, rascals, geniuses, rule followers, rebels, troublemakers, diamonds in the rough. As with life on the farm years earlier, I found that the characters in those classrooms brought the best they had. I believe we were mostly successful most of the time. Not only in the academics but more importantly, the stuff undergirding all of it. Learning they were valued, and had things to offer. Learning they were capable in spite of the obstacles they faced. How to be resilient. How to be kind. Not everything was sunshine and roses, of course. There’s no place for dewy-eyed optimism in a classroom. We had our tough days, and years. There were some years when almost every day I’d walk out of the building muttering to myself, “Tomorrow’s a new day. We can do this.” And in the end, as they walked, sauntered, or slouched out the door in June, I was confident each of them knew I cared about them, that they mattered, that they were significant.
So, Mom and Dad, here’s to you. Thanks for all of it.
And to the red-faced driver of the white pickup truck giving me the finger as he barreled past me a week or so ago: Me going 62mph in a 55mph zone wasn’t fast enough for you? Shalom, my friend, shalom. (May your collection of speeding tickets forevermore increase)
By Lori Larsen
Our Newaygo Conservation District (NCD) is a unique and valuable resource for the residents of Newaygo County. Our NCD provides valuable opportunities for all landowners, from the agriculture community to individual property owners, as well as the students of our county.
The NCD consults with landowners to educate them in the planning and use of their land. The district’s mission is to be the primary contact for natural resource information, support and leadership and thereby provide guidance in conserving, maintaining, and improving the natural resources in our county.
The NCD has a long and stable history. It was organized in 1949 with the purpose of improving and maintaining soil productivity and obtaining efficient, appropriate and economical use of the land. In 1950 the NCD established the only conservation supported nursery in Michigan, which has produced and distributed literally millions of tree seedlings over the last 72 years.
That’s not all. The following is a brief description of the programs available through the NCD, with more detailed explanations available at the website:
As stated before, the NCD is a unique community resource, but we need your help.
Note to the retirees of Newaygo County:
We want you; your experience, your knowledge, your talent and your time. The physical and financial resources of the NCD can only be realized with the input of our human resources. You are a valuable human resource for the development and expansion of the programming that can reach all audiences and extend well into the future.
Please join us on March 12th from 10:00 am until 12:00 pm for a tour of the nursery and an introduction to this valuable resource. The NCD nursery is located at 1725 E. Walnut Street, Newaygo.
Or, attend the open house at the Kropscott Farm Environmental Center (KFEC) on April 16th from 10:00 am until 12:00 pm to do the same. The KFEC is located at 6523 W. Baseline Road, north of Fremont.
If you are interested in a part time commitment, either paid or volunteer, please put these dates on your calendar and over the next few weeks we will offer a more in-depth look at the facilities and the programs that are conducted through the Newaygo Conservation District. Hopefully you will want to join us.
We will provide the coffee and the donuts, and the smiling faces!
We will chat more about the nursery in the next article.
If you would like more information before the open houses, call Luke Cotton at (231)349-4455.
Kelly Smith Enters House Race
Newaygo resident tosses in his hat
Kelly Smith of White Cloud has announced his candidacy for the open seat in the Michigan House of Representatives 101st district The newly redrawn district includes all of Newaygo County, parts of Oceana, Mason, Lake and Wexford County.
Smith, a lifelong resident of Newaygo County and the former Director of the county’s Road Commission, is pursuing the office to help bring the voice of rural Michigan to Lansing. As an innovative problem solver who knows how to get things done Smith will bring those traits to the Capitol Building along with a healthy dose of common sense.
Smith: "My work career has taught me the value of hard work, collaborative efforts and fiscal responsibility, In taking this next step, my intent is to be your voice for the betterment of our citizens.
“I am not a polished politician; I am one of you!"
If you would like more information on candidate Kelly Smith , please visit his website
or his Facebook page
By Ken DeLaat
The Winter Olympics can elude me at times. Hockey aside, once I’m past the events involving clocks and finish lines there are so many sports that far exceed my grasp when it comes to the judging and scoring.
By the time snowboarding began to become part of the Oly’s (‘98) I had already witnessed around 10 sets of the quadrennial (except ‘94) event and had yet to even wrap my head around the advent of curling (‘88) in the games.
But sometimes you don’t have to understand in order to appreciate. There are much favored pieces of art I may not be able to explain but never tire of looking at. And there is a multitude of music I’ve enjoyed over the years but couldn’t begin to describe it with any level of expertise beyond what was gleaned from a long ago music appreciation class that landed me a C- after being marked down for what was described as ‘excessive socializing’.
Such was the case last night when witnessing the magic performed in the Women’s Slopestyle Event.
Beyond the raw courage of the competitors, they were able transcend any concept I may have previously held regarding snowboarding. Zoi Sadowski-Synnott, Tess Coady, and Julia Marino landed in the top three and the gold medal run of Ms. S-S was particularly captivating for the gravity defying moves that absolutely defined precision.
But the real magic was watching how these three 20-something athletes from three different countries related to each other as exemplified by the group hug in the snow after the winning run. They seemed to be truly excited as they celebrated the success of their co-competitors and expressed such appreciation for each other's skills. It was almost as if they were actually members of a team and not competing against each other but competing with the run and perhaps with the sport itself.
An interesting concept within the often uber-competitive world of top level athletics.
Interesting and incredibly refreshing, particularly given the divisiveness that permeates our lives these days.
So while I don’t always understand scoring, I understand excellence.
And these young women, while excelling at their sport without question...
Also put on display a near perfect ten when it comes to class.
By Lori Larsen
Do you have a yard? Or do you garden? Are you a local farmer or grower? Do you own a wooded area? Are you interested in sharing your nature experience with the youth of today? Then the Newaygo Conservation District (NCD) has something for you!
The Newaygo Conservation District has been around for a long time, 72 years to be exact. And it has a lot to offer our community, from the commercial growers to the backyard gardener. In the past it has been operating quietly behind the scenes, but there is enough going on now that it is time to begin making some noise.
I am new to Newaygo County. When I moved here I knew nothing about this organization and the people who dedicate their time, energy and talent to it.
Luke Cotton is the executive director. When I called the NCD office to request assistance with an invasion of non-native plants, Luke visited my son’s property to assess the invasion of non-native plants. Luke responded. He was knowledgeable and helpful. We walked the property and had great conversations. I was impressed.
Fast forward six months. I received a phone call from Luke asking me if I might consider assuming a position as a member of the NCD Board of Directors. I did some research, attended a couple board meetings, asked many questions and was again impressed with the board, the staff, the organization's resources and the amazing possibilities that are offered to the community.
The programs within the NCD are cooperative and collaborative, I like that. The outcome and product of one program supports another, that seems like a good way to conduct dynamic, sustainable programming. The staff of each program has their own area of expertise, but they rely on each other to create a complete and diverse approach to environmental solutions. That is one of the best examples of teamwork that I can imagine.
The NCD supports and offers the benefits of the NCD Nursery, which has distributed literally millions of bare root seedlings. The Kropscott Farm Environmental Center and the S. F. Wessling Observatory are educational, place-based learning centers for Newaygo County and beyond. What a great opportunity for our youth.
The NCD is centrally located to offer these combined services. The NCD is also uniquely positioned to provide research opportunities in areas such as soil health and management, watershed management, pollinator protections and agricultural practices.
For me personally, the Newaygo Conservation District has been a retired person’s dream come true. I have many years of experience and a driving passion to protect this beautiful planet. This commitment to NCD has given me an opportunity to continue my contribution to planet Earth and I cannot think of a way I would rather spend my time.
Truly, the opportunities for our community through NCD are limited only by the effort and the imagination of the people who are involved. That is why I am inviting you to join the effort. There is nothing more powerful than a group of individuals who are all focused and dedicated to a mission. And there is no human resource better prepared than us, the retired individuals of our community.
Over the next four weeks we will explore the resources and opportunities of the Newaygo Conservation District. Then we will invite you to join us for the open houses at the nursery and at Kropscott Farm Environmental Center.
The Nursery open house will be held on March 12th from 10:00 am until 12:00 pm. We will offer a tour of the nursery and provide an introduction to this valuable resource. We will invite you to be involved. The NCD nursery is located at 1725 E. 72nd Street, Newaygo.
The open house for the Kropscott Farm Environmental Center (KFEC) will be held on April 16th from 10:00 am until 12:00 pm. We will tour the facility and discuss the upcoming program opportunities. Again, we will ask you to be a part of our efforts. The KFEC is located at 6523 W. Baseline Road, north of Fremont.
You don’t have to choose, you are welcome to explore both facilities.
And, yes, you guessed it, there will be coffee and donuts.
For more information call Luke Cotton at (231)349-4455.
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