The View From Here: On The Cusp?
By Ken DeLaat
Ok it’s still cold, right? I mean here we sit just over a week into what is supposed to be Spring and we’re still doing the “holy crapola it’s freaking freezing’’ most mornings when venturing outside the first time.
But there are signs everywhere that we are on the very threshold of what most bi-peninsularians cherish the most about our state...
We know there are many out there who savor the pleasure a (far too lengthy) season of winter brings to them.. People like to run their sleds, some think ice fishing is fun (it isn’t), and who can deny the beauty of new fallen snow?
I get it.
Well, not entirely to be truthful, but I try to relate.
But the non-winter months bring a particular kind of enchantment to the land we live in. The slow process of transitioning to warmer weather (some years slower than others) seems to set a tone for the populace. Maybe a splash of hope and a dollop of optimism that things are going to, after all, be o.k. Sometimes even a smattering of tolerance after a too long season of weather influenced impatience.
It’s a renewal of the type of living that eschews layering and welcomes the idea of hitting the outdoors without spending a good deal of time preparing oneself weatherwise for what might await out there. When even a man like me, whose legs throughout the summer retain what Procol Harum once called ‘a whiter shade of pale’, dons shorts most days.
I may be jumping the gun a bit by speculating too soon on lilacs blooming, bees and butterflies returning and a little early garden action.. After all it is still March and April is known for tossing meteorological mayhem about our region with reckless abandon.
But as I said there are indications everywhere that, as always, a 60 day gradual warming trend will come to fruition. The landscape will begin to green up a bit and people will be seen walking about and enjoying the outdoors rather than enduring it.
And what sign could be more clear than the good men of JNR slapping down the dock at N3 World Headquarters and Sourdough Bakery Center?
And that means soon the boat will follow.
Let the reveling begin.
“If winter was not exist, the spring would not be so pleasant”- Davan Yayah Khalil
By Ken DeLaat
So, how’s your bracket?
Wow. Kentucky going all the way, huh? Baylor defending their title perhaps?
In the first round 7 teams seeded in double figures advanced including a couple 10’s, 11’s, and 12’s.
Oh and that pesky #15 St Peter’s a team that has shattered the dreams of countless bracketologists.
The second round Saturday saw Baylor go down as well as the departure of #3 Tennessee (Go Blue). I was hoping that Sparty would send the Blue Devils (#2) back to Durham and Coach K into a well deserved retirement, but Duke outlasted them. And I didn’t mention the NIT because even alumni of the schools involved have a hard time generating any enthusiasm for the post season games involving the 32 schools that did not make it into the top 68.
And in Division III the Hope Women’s team finally got their belated and successful run to a national title. (Go Dutch).
I love this time of the year for sports. The tourney runs through early April when baseball debuts and the Masters (the only golf I watch on TV) arrives in the second week.
I also didn’t mention the Stanley Cup games because they don’t start until May and won’t include the Wings (again!) nor did I give a nod to the NBA playoffs that start in April but hold little interest for me anyway but particularly because though there will be 20 teams in the playoffs, representing two thirds of all teams, the Pistons are not among them (again!).
Toss in the fact that the weather, while unpredictable of course, (it is after all Michigan) has taken a turn toward a warmer blend and it’s tough to not feel pretty good about things.
It’s also the time when our local scholar athletes begin their spring seasons, with early events that draw only the most dedicated fans (generally family members) due to the often dicey atmospheric conditions. These plucky preppers take to the diamonds, fields, tracks, courts, and courses in the early season games, matches, and meets often shivering against weather far too chilly it would seem to be pole vaulting in shorts.
Want to brave the elements and appreciate the dedication of these young women and men?
A week from Tuesday the Newaygo Girls Soccer squad play their first match at home. The next day Grant welcomes in White Cloud for baseball/softball doubleheaders. Hesperia’s track team visits the Cloud on April 13th for a Silver conference meet and Girls Tennis begins around the same time for Fremont and Grant.
Personally I plan on getting myself to several contests this spring.
Except for April 8th.
I’m not going anywhere that day.
The Tig’s open their season at home against the White Sox and while it’s been a few years (actually a few decades) since I attended some 9-10 Opening Days in a row I will view this one from the comfort of my front row seat at N3 World Headquarters & Winter Sowing Center.
First pitch scheduled for 1:10pm.
So unless a catastrophe of epic proportions comes along...
I'll be busy that day until about 4:30.
Unless there's extra innings of course.
Just how good can they be?
By Ken DeLaat
“People ask me what I do in the winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for Spring.”- Rogers Hornsby
Thursday is a big day.
Yes, we know it’s St Patrick's Day, a day when bars across the country are filled with Hibernian wannabees quaffing green beer and possibly diving into some corned beef and cabbage or Irish Stew with soda bread.
But it’s also when baseball begins Spring Training games (Tigers start Friday)and the looming stoppage of play that threatened to extend for weeks into the season has been settled.
And while others may have long been turned off by the bickering between millionaires and billionaires I for one am just glad they will be playing again.
Because I truly believe (naive as I might be) that the Tigers are going to be a much improved product. A team perhaps on the very cusp of being really good, as in contender good.
The talent of their youthful pitching, bringing in a solid starting catcher, signing a shortstop who is adept at going yard, signing a front line pitcher and the possibility of seeing whether Greene, Torkelson and Clemens can bring their impressive Triple-A stats to a major league level combine to give me hope.
It reminds me how after several ‘rebuilding years’ that earmarked the end of the last century and the first few years of this one, the team got serious about winning.
In ‘03 they came a game away from tying the New York Mets record for most losses in a season when they came up short no fewer than 119 times.
Three years later they were in the World Series after they somehow talked Pudge Rodriguez to bring his substantial skills to the Park in ‘04 thus giving them credibility enough to recruit Magglio Ordonez the following year. They had already traded for Carlos Guillen. Then they promoted a raw but talented Justin Verlander and brought in veteran pitcher Kenny Rogers.
And in ‘06 they got in as a wild card, took out the Yankees and A’s and made it to the Series only to lose to the longtime NL rival Cardinals.
Three years ago the Tigers lost 114 games.
Stronger Together Series Event Explores Experiences of Women
On February 24, Fremont Area Community Foundation hosted its fifth Stronger Together Series virtual event with a conversation on the experiences of local women in the workforce and during the pandemic.
Shelly Kasprzycki, Community Foundation president and CEO, welcomed the audience and introduced the evening’s moderator, Dr. Jennifer Drake, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Grand Valley State University.
Drake began by sharing findings from the 2021 Women in the Michigan Workforce report. The report found that between February and December 2020, approximately 136,000 Michigan women left the workforce and that women working full-time make about 78 cents on the dollar compared to men working full-time. In more encouraging news, Drake noted that a Pew Research Center report found women have made significant educational gains, with higher rates of college enrollment and degree completion than men.
Along with Drake, the evening’s panel included Julie Burrell, Newaygo County’s economic development director through The Right Place; Carolyn Hummel, retired educator and the first female principal of Fremont Middle School; and Melissa Dykman, Newaygo County Probate Court Judge.
When asked how their identity as women shaped expectations others had of them, Hummel talked about being the only girl in her advanced math class in high school. “My friends said, ‘Math is just too hard for girls,’” she remembered.
Other panelists commented that pressure often comes from within. “The pressure really comes from me,” said Burrell. “I definitely put pressure on myself to wear all the hats and do all the things.”
When asked about barriers they have faced, Hummel talked about being denied a promotion after asking why a male coworker with less experience was making more than she was.
“At that time, by asking that question, I was blacklisted,” said Hummel. “I realize now if it hadn’t been for that, I would never have gotten my dream job, but it was a little traumatizing at first.”
Panelists also spoke about the experiences and people who have helped them grow. Burrell mentioned the importance of finding an ally. “Whether you call it mentorship, allyship—I think it’s really helpful for anyone in their career, but especially women,” she said. “You need to have people in your corner.”
Dykman talked about the importance of growing up with parents who “believed there was nothing a boy could do that their daughters couldn’t.” She also shared that she is grateful to have built her career in Newaygo County, “where I had great people to work with.” Dykman said that the lawyers and judges she interacted with “never treated me any differently. They were all invested in me being the best I could be and teaching me.”
During a time for questions at the end of the event, the panelists emphasized the importance of women encouraging other women.
“It’s important to identify those women you see who are up-and-coming and embrace them and be their advocate,” said Burrell.
Dykman added, “It goes back to something like today’s event. Having these discussions and hearing from multiple generations not only helps us understand where we’re at and what we need to do to improve but also where we come from. People like Carolyn made it easier for me, and I can make it easier for those coming up.”
Stronger Together is a series of events designed to look at differences, identity, and the stories that shape our lives. More information on the series—including recordings of past events—can be found at facommunityfoundation.org/stronger-together.
The S.F. Wessling Observatory
By Lori Larsen
In 2004 the Newaygo Conservation District applied for grants for an astronomical observatory to be built on the Kropscott Farm Environmental Center (KFEC) property. NCD received two grants, a $100,000 grant from the Fremont Area Community Foundation and a $30,000 grant from The Gerber Foundation
On June 30, 2004 a groundbreaking ceremony was held and construction began. Construction was completed in October 2004 followed by a ribbon cutting ceremony, which included Earle and Mildred Kropscott. The NCD board worked with Stephen Wessling, a science teacher from the Fremont Public School System, and the newly established Newaygo County Dark Sky Astronomers (NCDSA) to coordinate and erect an astronomical observatory.
The goal of the S.F. Wessling Observatory is to provide the general public, area students and local and regional amateur astronomers the opportunity to observe and study our planet and our amazing universe. The Stephen F. Wessling Observatory contains numerous telescopes of various designs and sizes. All of this highly technical equipment is available for the public to view and personally operate with the assistance of the Newaygo County Dark Sky Astronomers. Newaygo County is blessed with “dark skies.” People from West Michigan, Northern Indiana and Eastern Illinois visit the observatory to take advantage of this unique opportunity.
In 2012 The Newaygo Conservation District received an additional grant from the Fremont Area Community Foundation in the amount of $150,000 to renovate the existing farmhouse into a small apartment to rent, to create two state of the art laboratories for educational purposes, and to further develop the S. F. Wessling Observatory.
In 2015, the Kropscott barn was renovated to create a demonstration area complete with high-speed internet, LED projector, screen, and amplifier, which is perfect for large student groups.
This unique facility offers our students and the community an opportunity to see how nature, science, technology, engineering, and math all come together. The S.F. Wessling Observatory is an important part of the programming for KFEC. It expands our reach and allows us to demonstrate the outer reaches of science from the macroscopic of the observatory to the microscopic of the labs. We can compare the efficient hexagonal packing of the mirrors of the James Webb telescope to the efficient hexagonal packing of a beehive. We demonstrate that hands-on scientific education impacts students and helps key their interest in STEM education.
Note to the Retirees of Newaygo County
We can be like kids again, experiencing the wonders of the universe that surrounds us and the miracles of the soil under our feet. Both extremes offer worlds that need to be explored, and we can share it with the children who are about to inherit our planet.
Please plan to attend an open house at the Kropscott Farm Environmental Center on April 16th from 10:00 am until 12:00 pm to find out if your experience and passion match with the amazing possibilities of the KFEC. The KFEC is located at 6523 W. Baseline Road, north of Fremont.
Join us! Please!
For more information call Luke Cotton at (231)349-4455.
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