A Magical Night
By Doug Harmon
The recent Saturday Night Show at the Dogwood was truly a night filled with fairy dust. Fans (friends, family, wives, coworkers, old classmates) rolled in with a night of fun, relaxation and enjoyment on their minds. As the band rolled through their first lively one hour forty minute set, patrons were dancing, singing along or just watching all of what was going on.
As a band you work hard rehearsing, fine tuning vocals, picking material that you hope the people who paid to come hear you will enjoy. Saturday night the stars aligned. The sold out crowd was a pure joy to play for. From the forty-something to the seventy-something folks in the crowd, a good time was had by all.
The band enjoys mixing up the types of music and keeps everyone guessing as to what’s next. The first set included a brief celebration of life comment to recognize Don Heaven who recently passed away. Don had been at the Dogwood from day one as it now celebrates its twenty year anniversary. Many of us had worked with Don on multiple projects and shows. Playing at the Dogwood is remarkable in itself. The facility is second to none and it’s so cool that we have it in our community. The Dogwood Staff is always ready to assist or help in any way to make the show and the performer the best they can be.
Then, without saying, the Saturday attendees of our show made the night. They were ready to kick back and have a good time and enjoy some music. As a band it’s always rewarding when people enjoy your music whether it be dancing, watching or singing alone. All of that was going on at the show. The band's second set was one hour twenty minutes and included many crowd favorites and songs that seemed like everyone was singing along to.
Yes it was a special night. For whatever reasons some nights may seem reserved. Saturday night at the Dogwood was not one of them.
The staff was tuned in, the band was tuned in, and the crowd was tuned in.
Someone left a napkin on the stage after the show,
“You’re always good but tonight you guys outdid yourselves, great show.”
Yup, it was a magical night.
Braunschweiger Blues Band
Random Bits… You Are Caller #541
By Tim McGrath
Wait – as in delay: pause, holdup, postponement, setback, deferral, lag, slowdown, foot-dragging – from Merriam-Webster Thesaurus
You know the message that goes something like this: “Due to heavy call volume, longer than normal wait times are expected. We’re sorry for the inconvenience. Someone will be with you soon. Your business is VERY important to us. You are currently caller number…”. Then the tinny, muddled elevator music starts in. Not a big deal, really. Leave the volume on the phone turned up, and keep doing whatever it is we’re doing at the time. Eventually a voice answers, and we’re in business. That is, if we’re paying attention. There have been times when the voice comes and I miss it because I walked out of the room for a millisecond, or the call just dropped for some unknown, but assuredly sinister, reason. Mildly annoying, but just the way it is. First world problem, I remind myself.
This one really was a jaw dropper. I don’t remember what the business was any longer, yet when I called and realized a live person wasn’t going to answer, I prepared myself for the usual blah, blah, blah message assuring me I’m a valued customer. When it got to the part where they say “Your business is very important to us. You are currently caller number …”, the reassuring voice said number 541. 541! I am not making this up. I could drive to Chicago and back and still not be near the top of the list. I had to laugh at the absurdity of it. It made me wonder if someone on the other end was scooting their roller chair around the edge of their cubicle, asking the person in the next one over, “Hey Stu, check this out. I’m going to tell this guy he’s caller number 541. What a hoot; man, I love this job!” Devilish.
I guess when it’s all said and done, we just don’t like to wait. How many times have I been the first car at the stoplight, it turns green, and if I don’t instantly roar off, someone behind me in line honks their irritation at me, the slowpoke in the front of the line. Same kind of thing with the tailgaters out there. Doesn’t matter how fast I’m going over the speed limit, there’s that one (or more) person who zooms in tight just waiting to pass, inching in closer and closer to my back bumper, obviously wishing I was off in the ditch somewhere. Then when there’s the teensiest opening in traffic, roars around me, oblivious to the danger they pose to everyone else around them. Or, what about when deciding which checkout line to get in, do I always seem to pick the slowest one. Not just the slower one, the slowest. The one with the coupon lady in front of me, who hauls out her George Costanza sized wallet of coupons, riffles through them, looking for the five cents off coupon for the jar of mayonnaise only to have it be the wrong one or outdated. Then the pleading with the cashier to, just this once, honor the coupon. Honestly though, it is kind of fun to turn and watch the disbelief on the faces of the other long suffering shoppers in line behind me as the scene unfolds. We all want to scream in coupon lady’s direction, ”Lady, get the app, they’re all on there!” No one does, yet I think we’re all yelling it inside our heads. A little guilty pleasure on my part, I guess.
As responsible citizens though, we do have to admit there are times when waiting is good. Developing patience is a virtue; a serene attitude helps reduce stress and anxiety. Can’t always get what we want when we want it. That’s not how life works. It’s not good to be so entitled and pampered that little inconveniences cause us to blow a gasket. Remember when we were kids? We couldn’t wait for Christmas. In spite of knowing we shouldn’t, how many times did we sneak around looking for mom’s secret hidey hole of Christmas that she thought was impenetrable, find it, then immediately regret it. And it really is a good thing kids have to wait to drive until they’re 16. Not to mention when the drinking age was raised from 18 to 21. Lots of reminders that we just have to be patient and learn to take our turn. We’ll get there in the end. And yet, in spite of all this, I’ll bet most of us really, really don’t like to wait.
Here's one that happened to fall in our laps just recently…
It was time to wrap up another fantastic visit to northern Colorado with son, and daughter-in-law. The plan was to catch the 6:35 shuttle from Ft. Collins to Denver International. The trip would get us there around 7:45; plenty of time to enjoy coffee and a leisurely breakfast prior to our 9:55 flight to Grand Rapids. And to top it off, it was a direct flight. Two-and-a-half hours and we’d be touching down in Grand Rapids. No waiting for endless hours in layovers at some cavernous, mind numbing airport. How can you beat that?
As everyone on the early morning shuttle settled in, Ricky, our driver, stood and told us about the trip. “We have to stop in Loveland to pick up a few passengers, then on to Denver International. Looks like there might be some weather and traffic down there, but it should be cleared up by the time we get there. You’ve got the easy part. Just settle back and enjoy the ride. We’ll be there in about an hour!” That’s when a little bell inside my head tinkled it’s warning that “a little weather and traffic” may be, in reality, anything but. It’s mid-November in Colorado, after all. Yet looking out the window at the beautifully radiant sunrise that was just unfolding, put any hand wringing on hold. Looks like clear sailing ahead.
After picking up the remaining passengers in Loveland, we hopped back on the interstate. As we rolled along, I noticed the lady sitting in front of me tap the guy sitting next to her and showing him her phone. “Look at this. You have got to be kidding me,” she said. I glanced at her phone and noticed Google maps open. I took out my phone, opened the same app, and saw a good portion of the rest of our trip was a red line– major slowdown, to the tune of at least 45 extra minutes. And that’s when we came to an almost complete stop. The road in front of us was a sheet of glare ice as far as I could see. Denver had had snow earlier that morning, and it was completely snarling traffic. Guess they hadn’t got it cleared up by the time we got here….
The longer we inched along, the more palpable the rising anxiety on the bus. Phones were out in unison checking, checking, and more checking. I have to admit I did my own checking trying to mentally calculate when we finally get to the airport will we have enough time to clear security, hop the train, and get to our gate before takeoff? The lady in front of me was already checking options. And they weren’t good, apparently. I checked our options, too. The only other flight from DEN – GRR today didn’t get us back to Grand Rapids until 11:30 tonight, with the added bonus of having to fly into Chicago O’Hare, with about a four hour layover. No, No, No, not Chicago O’Hare! I silently whimpered. The waiting was taking its toll.
The hourish trip was now stretching to over two and a half hours. But just on cue, at 9:00, the circus tent looking silhouette of Denver International rose in the distance like a beacon shining on a dark night. We’re almost there. As we approached the drop off spot, one sensible woman encouraged us all to, “Give a big round of applause for Ricky. He got us all safely here!” Which he had, and we did. Job well done, Ricky. Let’s hope our fellow travelers also cough up some big tips for his efforts. “Just sit tight, folks,” Ricky exhorted. “I know we’re running a little bit behind schedule, but does anyone have any questions?” Oh no, please Lord, don’t let anyone have questions, I pleaded. Looking around at the group, it was clear almost everyone had the same thought. “So can you tell me again where I’m supposed to go?’ a woman near the front asked with hand raised. She’d asked the same thing two-and-a-half hours ago just prior to leaving Ft. Collins. Ricky patiently told her he’d help her after he got us all off the bus and on our way. Everyone clambered down and went to the back of the shuttle to retrieve our bags. It was now 9:15. There’s no way, no way we’re going to make it, I fretted.
Scurrying off with our bags, we entered the labyrinth of DEN. No time for a bathroom, got to get through security, get the train to B gate, find B18, and hope to Heaven they haven’t shut the door. Knowing that getting through security at Denver International can be a horror show of waiting in miles long lines, all we could do is hope that because we have TSA Pre Check, it wouldn’t be too long. And thankfully, it wasn’t. Got through the initial checkpoint, now on to the screening. I have knee replacements which requires me to go through the full body scanner. I climbed in, dutifully crossed my raised arms, stood with feet apart on the yellow footpads, and waited. The slider door closed, then opened. The TSA agent motioned me forward, and said,” Sir, you’ll have to remove your boots, we’re picking up something.” Oh great, I fumed. Finding nothing, he sent me on my way. Usually by this time Cheryl is waiting for me with our bags, but she was nowhere to be seen. That’s odd, I thought. I wondered if they’d taken her aside for something. I waited. I kept waiting, trying not to listen to the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland laughing in my ear, ”Oh your fur and whiskers! You’re late, you’re late. You’re late for a very important date!” And then, there she was, waiting in the full body scanner line. Just waiting. She had got sent from the metal detector scanner because she kept tripping the alarm. On to the full body scanner you go, young lady. When she finally made it through, all she said was, “Boots”. There were some other adjectives thrown in, but those are probably better left unsaid. You can fill them in for yourself. 9:40. Hmmm, we might just be able to pull this off. “C’mon, we can do this!” I said.
Juking in and out of other travelers we sprinted, OJ Simpson style, for the train taking us to the B gates. We hopped on, it took off at warp speed, and we arrived at the B gates. It was now 9:45. Don’t they usually close the plane doors 10 minutes before takeoff? No matter, we’re going to make this! Zooming in and around the dawdlers on the moving sidewalk, we finally saw it, gate B18, all the way down at the end of the hall. Of course. 9:50.
Huffing our way to the gate, we saw the door was still open. We’d made it by the hair of our chinny chin chins. “We made it,” was all I said. The gate agent greeted us warmly.” You didn’t need to hurry, sir, there’s others still coming. They’re holding the plane for a bit!” Oh.
“Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite. Or waiting around for Friday night or waiting perhaps for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil or a better break or a string of pearls or a pair of pants or a wig with curls or another chance. Everyone is just waiting.” - Dr. Seuss
You said it.
Letter: "We Must Lead By Example"
To The Editor;
I write this personal statement today as a parent and a community member. These are my views and they may not reflect the views of my colleagues on the Grant Public Schools Board of Education (BOE).
My name is Rob Schuitema and I have been a trustee on the BOE since January of 2021. I am a graduate of Grant High School, class of 1991 and come from a family that has strong ties to this district. My father taught in the middle school for 36 years, my mother worked in the district for over 25 years and I have 2 family members still working in the school. We have dedicated our lives to this district. My two kids attend Grant Public Schools and are active in many academic and extracurricular activities. We love this school.
What occurred at the Board meeting on October 10th was one of the most shameful displays of bad behavior I have ever heard of. I was unable to attend the meeting in question as I had a previous commitment at work. As I watched the news, I was shocked and appalled by the public display of animosity and bullying toward our students and the Child and Adolescent Health Center (CAHC) housed in the Middle School.
First, I would like to apologize to Evelyn Gonzalez for the behavior demonstrated by those that attended the board meeting last month. She was unfairly punished for showcasing her amazing talents, talents that were awarded in the contest hosted by the CAHC and hand-picked by the leaders of our district. She created a wonderful piece of artwork that should be celebrated, not chastised. She had her integrity challenged by people who are supposed to protect our students, this is indefensible, and I apologize for the hardship that this has caused. This is a terrible situation and I hope she has been able to take some solace in the outpouring of positivity and support, both within this community and from the outside. I am one of those supporters and I stand proudly by her.
Not only is this an attack on one of our students, but this is also an indictment of our award-winning art program. That infuriates me. I have witnessed firsthand the accomplishments of our fine arts programs, both visual and performing arts, and the amazing students who have competed and won at the highest level. We have incredible teachers who have guided them to their success. Those teachers have sacrificed so much to provide a creative, and more importantly, safe environment to blossom. They have challenged our students every day to be the very best they can be. To have to sit here, in this very room (Middle School Cafeteria), and listen to adults berate and belittle a fantastic student because they don’t understand, or like, their work is absolutely deplorable. Jill Kuebler, our high school art teacher, has dedicated her professional career to GPS students, she has gone above and beyond to have a lasting positive impact on our creative minds. She is a treasure to this community.
Second, public discourse is a vital part of the Michigan Department of Education's Curriculum Standards and it encourages discussion of current topics, trends, policies, and laws, etc. It is an opportunity to engage students in debate and conversation. This is the foundation for art as well. Art is an interpretation as well as an avenue for conversation. It is NOT an opportunity to demonstrate bullying behavior.
Michigan Public Schools has a vision statement for every district in the state. It is: “Every learner in Michigan's public schools will have an inspiring, engaging, and caring learning environment that fosters creative and critical thinkers who believe in their ability to positively influence Michigan and the world beyond.”
This statement is the foundation for the rules and policies that we must adhere to as students, faculty, Board of Education members, and community members. The events of the last month have reminded me that it’s good to revisit those policies from time to time to make sure I, as a parent and a member of the BOE, understand them and comply.
Our Student Handbooks clearly states the district's policies when it comes to discrimination and harassment. In the section on harassment, it emphasizes the importance of the safety and comfort of the students as a top priority in our school. “Unwanted sexual actions or comments, derogatory statements, or action concerning his/her gender, religion, race, ethnic group or disability is prohibited.”
The section entitled: Sexual/Gender/Ethnic/Religious/Disability Harassment states that “Written or verbal threats concerning gender, national origin, and religion will not be tolerated.” It also states that the policy of the district is “To provide a safe and nurturing educational environment for all its students. Bullying or other aggressive behavior toward a student, whether by other students, staff, or third parties, including board members, parents, guests, contractors, vendors, and volunteers is strictly prohibited.”
Furthermore, the district adheres Title IX: “It is the policy of Grant Public Schools not to discriminate on the basis of race, sex, age, color, national origin, religion or handicap in its educational programs, activities, admission, or employment policies as required by Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments, Executive Order 11246 as amended.”
Additional language was introduced to Title IX: “In the landmark 2020 Bostock v. Clayton County case, the Supreme Court held that federal law prohibitions against discrimination on the basis of sex necessarily prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. The Biden administration has followed this interpretation, as it must, in enforcing other civil rights laws, including those that protect students and educators from discrimination on the basis of sex, including gender identity or sexual orientation.” To read more about this, read the September 26th, 2022 article by the National Education Association’s article discussing this case and its outcome for students and educators.
What does this all mean? We are a public school and we follow the laws set forth by the Federal, State, and local government and we set policies based on those laws. No exceptions.
Third, I have heard comments stating that if the artwork had depictions of Christian symbolism they would not be allowed. This is completely false. We cannot discriminate against religion, sexual orientation, race, etc. as I have stated. In fact, Christian influences are abundant in our school system including choir concerts, speeches at graduation, and beyond. The district has taken students to visit 2 and 4-year colleges, including Christian colleges and universities.
They are present in clubs like FCA, Release Bible School, and Baccalaureate. The argument may be made that these are hosted offsite because of the Separation of Church and State. Baccalaureate has been held at the Fine Art Center, attached to the High School which is not a violation because it is led by students and local religious leaders as a partnership with the district to utilize the facility. If a similar question arose about the mural in the Child and Adolescent Health Center, the same can be said. It is an outside organization in partnership with the district.
Christian symbolism is present in our students' artwork as well. I encourage everyone to check out their work in the schools, Fine Art Center, and at local and regional art shows. You will see many examples of both pop culture (like the symbol in Evelyn’s work), political commentary, and religious references. Our teachers do not instruct students to exclude religious messages, characters, or symbols. What the fine art teachers mandate is that the work not include gore, violent acts, sexually explicit content, and bullying. In fact, if you go into Mrs. Kuebler’s classroom and look at the bricks lining the walls you will see images and messages from past students (it is a tradition for outgoing senior art students to paint a brick) some contain bible verses as well as other Christian symbolism.
Finally, I would like to address the vitriol that is now targeting the Teen Health Center. Let me ask you one question. If you had someone come into your place of business and demand you change things just because they didn’t like it, or found it offensive even though it is perfectly legal, how would you react? That is what is happening to the CAHC. They hosted a contest for GPS students and a winner was selected. The student created a painting and added detail to fill the space. They did so with pop culture references and symbolism important to their culture and if a conversation would have taken place to understand its meaning before casting judgment, maybe this situation could have been avoided. But that didn’t happen and now we are all dealing with the repercussions.
What I do know is the Teen Health Center is an invaluable resource for our community. They provide service to 1400 kids (this is an unduplicated number) from Grant, Kent City, Newaygo, Fremont, and other areas. Every child who is seen needs to have a signed parent consent form. They are grant funded so that their services can be offered to all kids regardless of their family's ability to pay. Many of the kids they see do not have insurance and this is their primary access to basic health care. From routine doctor appointments to sports physicals and mental health services.
It is disgraceful that personal agendas and misunderstanding has led us down a path where we are at odds with each other. That shouldn’t have happened but it has. The question is, where do we go from here? It cannot be a path of bickering and infighting, bullying, and name-calling. Personal agendas need to be set aside as well as personal beliefs. What we have to do is move forward with leadership and compassion. Understanding and compromise. If not, this situation will only get worse. The country is watching, whether we like it or not. We must lead by example and remember our mission. Students come first!
Trustee, Grant Public Schools Board of Education
Grant Resident and Concerned Parent
Walkerville PFAS public meeting presenters (L-R): Cheryl Ruble (Sierra Club anti-CAFO advocate) , Denise Trabbic-Pointer (Sierra Club scientist), Sandy Wynn-Stelt (citizen contaminated from Rockford area PFAS site, with Great Lakes PFAS Action Network), Pegg Clevenger (Sierra Club Food & Agriculture Team). Photo by Sally Wagoner
By Sally Wagoner, Newaygo County Environmental Coalition
Northwest Newaygo and east Oceana Counties are newly identified PFAS ground zero areas in Michigan where these toxic chemicals have been found in the soil, private wells, irrigation wells, ground water and local Beaver Creek.
Two public meetings have taken place in Walkerville since July to inform the residents of the contamination. On July 22, EGLE’s MPART (Michigan PFAS Action Response Team) led a town hall meeting that first informed residents of the contamination. More recently, on November 2, Walkerville Thrives officers Deanna Helminger and Emma Kirwan, along with Michigan Sierra Club, held a meeting to help the residents further understand the health risks of PFAS, educate on how to lessen continued exposure, and learn what government and outside agencies and organizations are doing to remediate the environment, private properties, and individual health and economic tolls.
Contamination of the Longview and Hilltop fields owned by Eagle Ottawa Newaygo Farms in Leavitt (Oceana Co.) and Beaver (Newaygo Co.) Townships began in 1994. The original source of PFAS and other contaminants came from the Eagle Ottawa Leather Company’s tannery in Grand Haven, which operated from 1916 to 2007. In 1994 the company began reclaiming waste from the tannery and applying it to the agricultural farms which they purchased specifically for the disposal of the tannery waste. The waste was used at CAFOs (concentrated animal feed operations) in the area as well. The company also patented the compost and sold it as “ReTurn” to the public for application on fields, farms and home gardens.
PFAS (Per- and Poly-fluoroalkyl Substances) are synthetic, human created chemicals developed in the 1950’s and utilized heavily in common products and uses such a non-stick cookware, food packaging, water proof fabrics, clothing, camping gear, furniture, carpets, cosmetics, firefighting foams and other areas. PFAS are sometimes called the “Forever Chemicals” as they do not break down under typical environmental conditions. Some of the 9,000 types of PFAs can last for over 1,000 years.
The health risks of PFAS is still in the early stages of research, but may include decreased infant birth weights, high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia in pregnant women, kidney and testicular cancer, poor vaccine response with sub-therapeutic immune response to disease, liver enzyme changes that may indicate liver damage, thyroid disease, increased cholesterol blood levels that can lead to heart attacks and stroke. In the human body, PFAS may hypothetically degrade or be eliminated from blood, organs and over a long period of time. However, the possibility of someone actually becoming free of PFAs is unlikely, as daily exposure to PFAS from the soil, food, water, air and everyday products continue to add to the accumulation in the body.
Other PFAS sites have also been identified in Newaygo County. One is a previous landfill site north of Fremont (Kunnen’s Landfill) at 3897 Ramshorn. Three of eight groundwater wells have levels of PFOA and PFOS that exceed clean-up criteria. The other site is surface water at Williams Creek (also called Lynne Drain) at South Baldwin which show low levels of PFAS and related chemicals but at less than those considered toxic. The Muskegon River at the very southwest corner of Newaygo County has been monitored for low levels of PFAS as well.
At this time there are no known methods of eliminating or breaking down PFAS in the environment or in animal and human bodies. According to information gleaned from EGLE, MPART and the Sierra Club, the best ways to deal with PFAS are:
The County of Newaygo is appraised of new and ongoing PFAS investigations in our area, although there is no point person or department to monitor or reach out to the communities affected. The regional Department of Health (DHD #10) tracks water test results, blood tests, and refers community members to the certified water filters that can be used to decrease PFAS from private wells for home use.
For further PFAS information, these resources are available:
MPART – Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (www.michigan.gov/pfasresponse).
EGLE site lead for the Kunnen’s Landfill site in Fremont is Kent Walters, 616-278-4350, waltersK7@michigan.gov
EGLE site lead for the Walkerville area is Aaron Assmann, 616-430-5275, AssmannA@Michigan.gov.
DHD #10 - www.dhd10.org/pfas-response, 231-902-8528
Sierra Club, www.sierraclub.org/michigan/PFAS-in-Michigan.
A virtual summit by EGLE will be held December 5 – 7 that is open to the public. To register, go to:
From the Summit description: “Participants will include local, state, and federal government officials; environmental consultants and vendors; academic researchers and students; industry managing PFAS contamination; and community organizations.”
“Community members need to be concerned about these PFAS reports, even if it seems we may live far from a contaminated site,” states Sally Wagoner of the Newaygo County Environmental Coalition (NCEC). “PFAS is everywhere. Even polar bears in the Arctic Circle have been found to have high concentrations of PFAS in their livers as these chemicals have been let loose in almost every product of our modern lives.”
“The Newaygo County Environmental Coalition will continue to be aware of and report on our local PFAS concerns,” Ms. Wagoner continued. “Anyone with a special interest in this area, or anyone with a passion and concern for our local environment, can become involved.”
NCEC can be followed on Facebook @Newaygo County Environmental Coalition.
Or contact NCEC: email@example.com; 231-519-3419.
A Thank You From Compassion Home
Thank you to all who supported the Newaygo County Compassion Homes Seventh Annual Gathering of Friends fundraiser on Friday, October 28, 2022. We are so glad that so many could join us at the Dogwood Center for Performing Arts for an evening of fellowship, fun and to support our mission. We would like to share our final fundraising total, as well as a few other exciting announcements.
We are excited to share that we have not only met but EXCEEDED our goal of $40,000. In addition, to the many generous event sponsors the night raised a total of $43,100 through our live and silent auctions as well as so many generous contributions! All funds will go towards supporting the Compassion Home to ensure that our guests and family members from across Newaygo County have the best possible care while at the Compassion Home as our loved one’s search for an end-of-life solution in a caring and loving environment.
This year’s event featured a live and silent auction in addition to endless appetizers and cocktails throughout the evening for just over two hundred guests who attended this year’s free community event. This fund-raising effort was also an educational experience that included letters of support from two of the Compassion Home families read by Abi Haggart and Amy Drilling.
“This event could not be possible without the generous support of several area businesses and individuals. We are pleased to announce our sponsors for the Seventh Annual Gathering of Friends, which includes MPH Fremont, IBEW Local 876 of Mt. Pleasant, Scott Meats, Deur Speet Fremont, E&M Design Solutions, Betsy Bakeman, DDS, H&S Companies, Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial, Action Water Sports, River Stop Café, Mark and Gay Buschmann, Mellema Nursery, REMAX River Valley, Oosting Burt & Associates, LLP, Hometown Pharmacy, Gerber Federal Credit Union, White & Associates, River Country Builders and Remodelers and Blondi Blossoms and numerous champions who supported this year amazing event.
It is also vital to thank everyone who volunteered their time to make this year’s Annual Gathering of Friends a tremendous success. It takes a community, “said Ann Hindes and Cheri Spoelma, Co-Chairs of this year’s event.
Diane L. Rudholm
Newaygo County Compassion Home
And a restaurant find in Mancelona
By Ken DeLaat
Heights have never bothered me.
I imagine this comes from a childhood spent in a neighborhood where tree climbing was close to a religion among the younger denizens of our turf. Frequent dares involved scaling the tallest close enough to the top to make the possibility of a snap off very real. These efforts generally ended with one of our Moms spotting us and yelling out a window or door in that tone of voice we all recognized as rife with consequences should it go unheeded.
But I digress.
Lifetime Spousal Companion Lil and I had heard about the recent opening of Boyne’s SkyBridge billed as the ‘World’s Longest Timber Towered Suspension Bridge.” a 1200 foot long and 118 feet high span between the peaks of McLouth and Disciples Ridge. A window of opportunity arose so we embraced a little Carpe Diem and set off North.
With the season heading into the late October days the drive up produced some crimson and yellow brilliance intermixed with some post dazzling spreads of rust and brown. It was a little on the gray side that day with an occasional appearance by the sun. As with any road trip the quest to find a heretofore undiscovered eatery presented itself and we took a shot at Shirley’s Cafe in Mancelona.
A most fortunate find for a pair of breakfast loving folks prepping to engage in a little bridgewalking. We arrived around 10ish and were directed to the lone open table of the ten or so scattered about. As in any small town cafe it contained the mandatory table of somewhat seasoned men discussing recent local events while referencing past ones and occasionally arguing a point of contention.
The breakfast menu was one page but substantial enough to provide for a variety of preferences. Without expounding on details I would go out of my way to revisit Shirley’s for breakfast. And while not likely to go the 130 miles out of my way when I’m home, I would put Shirley’s in the 30-40 mile radius of going out of my way.
Lil, who is more than a bit discriminating when it comes to her omelets said simply, “The kitchen here knows what they’re doing”
And all the bread is homemade. With 6 selections.
But back to Boyne. It had been awhile since my last visit.. A conference or two back in the day and a couple of golf weekends with a group of guys somewhere in the previous century. Never to ski which is of course their primary endeavor. We drove past the airstrip and parked at the designated area. A short hike led us to the ticket window where about 10 people were in line waiting to get tickets for the lift that would transport us to the bridge.
Side note: Among the advantages found in the aging process are the bargains one can access via ‘senior discounts’.Some places offer them up beginning at age 50 which seems a reach. Most are centered around 60 though a few spots bump it up to Medicare age. At SkyBridge the age is 70. Being a member of the septuagenarian society I qualified to get a 5 buck discount from the $25 fee. Ready with hand on driver’s license to prove my point, the teller never asked. She just looked me over and said ‘That’ll be 20 dollars.’
Gotta admit it stung a little.
We proceeded to the chair lift and took a leisurely ride up the hill passing folks on their way down who were mostly smiling and even dispensing advice such as “It’s one way so take your photos early.” Once at the top we were directed toward the new span.
So yes, finally, the bridge.
Ok it’s cool. Very cool. Suspension bridges have always fascinated me since my first trip across the Mighty Mac circa late 1950’s and this one fit the bill for a fun walking experience. It’s not a major hike by any means but it overlooks the landscape of the Boyne area in an impressive way. Chatting with one of the people assigned to watch over the bridgewalkers we found out that the glass section can be a bit dicey for some folks and in such cases the one way requirement is compassionately waived.
It can be a bit disconcerting to have people along the underside of the bridge tightening this or that but neither looked particularly worried about what they were doing. Their colleague on the bridge saw my interest and assured us they were performing routine maintenance which I chose to believe.
The scenery is outstanding and difficult to capture with my limited photographic ability but safe to say if you enjoy majestic scenes this fits the bill.
The see-through section was a nice treat mid bridge though a couple of people near us balked One bridge walker was already knee deep into being coaxed by her partner with little chance of changing her mind since she spent the whole time staring down through the section at the 100+ foot drop and shaking her head silently.
We got to the end, circled around on the top of the slopes and grabbed a chair lift down. All in all it was fun, albeit short. When we alighted from our chairs the line had increased substantially with perhaps a couple dozen or more in line and others milling about waiting for tickets.
On the road back home we concurred that it was worth the trip but both hedged when we discussed doing it again. Like many such endeavors we have tried, once was enough. Although, as we spoke of similar one time activities on our joint resume, Lil referenced our trip to the Grand Canyon last year.
“I’d hike down into the canyon again if we get the chance. You’d want to do that again, right?”
I remained silent while recalling the arduous trek back up the canyon when I had to keep reminding myself how much I love this woman who is always in much better shape than yours truly. How she convinced me to follow her down for ‘just a bit’ as the hike,for me, turned into a scene reminiscent of Frodo’s scaling of Mt. Doom.
“Sure. But this time I get to decide how far we go ok?”
I glanced over and she had her head turned to the window, something she does when stifling a bit of a laugh.
By Ken DeLaat
Truth, Lion Fans.
You were ready for Aaron Freakin’ Rodgers to steal another one in the closing seconds, right?
Just as you knew they would, the Lions were about to fold in the final mile.
But Rodgers proved more than human as he had the whole game, tossing a trio of picks to a Lion secondary that has resembled a sieve in recent weeks.
Ok it might mean nothing in the standings other than a possible escape from the very bottom of the league and the playoffs remain a dream broken before the bye week, but it was the Packers. To Detroit fans the Guys of Green Bay are like the football version of the Yankees so yeah, not a lot of love going in that direction.
But I’m telling you it was like a scripted outcome gone awry. The table was set with a drive that had its share of controversy, the crowd had readied itself for the collective sigh of disappointment, Rodgers was poised to toss a last second dagger into the hearts of Lion fans…
Then he didn’t and the Lions managed to double their win total for the season.
And entice their diehard fans such as yours truly to continue to follow the team who remains first in our hearts…
And last in the Central Division.
Ready for the election?
Or more accurately, ready to stop seeing what has to be the most ruthless and truthless TV advertising yet? And we all know how high, or rather how low, that bar has been set.
Tired of filling the recycle bin with those postcards that extoll the wonderfulness of the always honest, upright and working for you candidates? Including some with a reference to their uber-evil and puppy killing opponents?
Well, now after enough money has been spent on such things to put a severe dent in the national debt we get to find out who will be representing us in Lansing and D.C.
Otherwise known as the reality based anti-climax.
Because if any of the candidates could truly accomplish what they are promising?
By February at the latest we should have inflation deflated, crime eliminated, gas prices under 2 bucks a gallon and our guy/gal working across the aisle to make these things happen, right?
I think the chances are better that the Lions will win out and enter the playoffs with an 11-6 mark on their way to a Super Bowl title.
If you haven’t already voted, please make it to the polls Tuesday.
Democracy needs you.
And here are a few random election-related quotes to ponder:
“Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule—and both commonly succeed, and are right.”-H.L. Mencken
“Every election is determined by the people who show up.”- Larry Sabato, Pendulum Swing
“A vote is like a rifle: its usefulness depends upon the character of the user.”- Theodore Roosevelt
“Elections belong to the people. It's their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”- Abraham Lincoln
“If you are part of a society that votes, then do so. There may be no candidates and no measures you want to vote for ... but there are certain to be ones you want to vote against. In case of doubt, vote against. By this rule you will rarely go wrong.”- Robert Heinlein, Time Enough For Love
“When widely followed public figures feel free to say anything, without any fact-checking, it becomes impossible for a democracy to think intelligently about big issues.”- Thomas Friedman
“The fact that so many successful politicians are such shameless liars is not only a reflection on them, it is also a reflection on us. When the people want the impossible, only liars can satisfy.”-Thomas Sowell
“The job facing American voters… in the days and years to come is to determine which hearts, minds and souls command those qualities best suited to unify a country rather than further divide it, to heal the wounds of a nation as opposed to aggravate its injuries, and to secure for the next generation a legacy of choices based on informed awareness rather than one of reactions based on unknowing fear.”-Aberjhani, Illuminated Corners
Candidate Siggins Weighs In
What are your ideas to support local school districts in the legislature?
Schools in the 101st have, for years, suffered with dwindling numbers of students and therefore the funding that comes with them. We also have greater costs due to bussing so many of our rural students over greater distances, along with high levels of poverty. It is more difficult to recruit the highest quality teachers to rural districts as well. As your representative, and the mother of three elementary students who attend public school in the 101st, I will champion local schools to make sure they have the resources necessary to provide an excellent education for all our students. I will work with local communities as they strive to create the kind of places that attract new educators as well.
What can you do to work with people who have opposing views to solve critical issues our communities face?
This is such an important question given the terrible discord that divides us as people and citizens. It has created so much fear and mistrust that working together can be seen as a flaw. I have found, however, that the best way to get things done is to work with people who have opposing views to mine. We need to enter the conversation realizing that each of us has good intentions for our communities and our state. Operating with that mindset, I will listen with an open mind, looking for the things on which we do agree. Then from that platform find the best way forward with the best interest of the people in the forefront.
What support will be given to ensure Counties, cities and townships are provided the funding that is continually stripped away through Revenue Sharing reductions elimination of personal property tax?
Local counties, townships and cities impact each individual’s life more than any other entity. They provide the services that we rely on every day. For the first time in decades municipalities are beginning to receive the revenues they were promised, and you can see the effects all over the 101 and beyond. It is wrong for the state to collect property taxes and then distribute them back to municipalities in a trickle. When I am in the legislature I will fight for our local communities to receive what we deserve, what the state constitution promises. I will stand in the way of redirecting those revenues away from the local people in Michigan.
What is your stance on Court funding and the need for the State to take over the funding of courts statewide?
The state fully funds the Supreme Court and The Michigan Court of Appeals. It does not, however, fully fund trial courts which puts the courts closest to the people at risk. The Trial Court Funding Commission Final Report identifies these concerns:
“A real or perceived conflict of interest between a judge’s impartiality and the obligation to use the courts to generate revenue; Inadequate funding from all sources due to excessive dependence on local government funding; and Unequal access to justice harming those who are most vulnerable and have the least access to financial resources.”
Then the commission goes on to make specific recommendations such as establishing a stable court funding system, have the state provide for all technology needs, establish uniform assessments and centralized collections, and establish a transition plan for the new court funding model. In order for these reforms to take place the legislature must be on board to create policy and funding for the reforms. I fully support the recommendations of the commission and will when I represent the 101 in the legislature.
How will state address a housing recession as it relates to the disparities Proposal A provides with the inability of municipalities to collect on higher values which are capped but allowed to fall at the same rate?
Proposal A is a good example of a good idea that may need a little tweaking. According to The Michigan Municipal League, “ …For local governments levying at their Headlee maximum authorized millage, rolling back the maximum authorized millage rate reduces the revenue that would have been generated from these increased property values. The increase in the taxable value of property not transferred is capped at the lesser of inflation or five percent. Even though the taxable value of a particular piece of property increases at the rate of inflation, the millage rate for the entire community is “rolled back” as a result of the increase in the total taxable value of the community. The net result—a less than inflationary increase in the actual dollars received from property taxes. Consequently, the 1994 change to the General Property Tax Act has prevented local governments from being able to share the benefits of any substantial market growth in existing property values.”
Municipalities, as I said before, provide all the vital services to the people of Michigan. Reduced revenues limit their ability to provide these services. I think that smart solutions can be found if the legislature works with municipalities and experts in the field. I pledge to strive for those solutions.
What do you see as the biggest challenge in the funding and delivery of care for mental health and substance abuse needs in our community?
I think that funding and the availability of resources is the biggest roadblock for delivery of care for mental health and substance use disorders needs in our community. The state has a plan and policy guidelines, but without the needed resources and trained personnel it cannot be implemented. The pandemic made clear the great need for these resources in our communities. I think this should be a priority.
There are currently legislative efforts that would essentially move the responsibility for the public mental health system to the Health Plans over time. Are you in support of such legislation?
No. Private health plans are administered by private entities that have the bottom line as a factor when dealing with the wellbeing of its clients. In the past privatizing has proven more costly and less efficient. Mental health in Michigan is too important to shift it to insurance corporations who are notorious for putting profit before people.
There is a staffing crisis for qualified staff for both health care and education. What steps would you support to alleviate the staffing crisis?
During the past few years as we navigated the pandemic, educators and health care workers quickly went from being perceived as heroes to villains amid the political diatribe of those who would divide us. The stress of carrying this burden has led many highly skilled individuals to leave the field. It has also created a decrease in young people who choose to become educators or healthcare workers, and who would blame them? In order to attract skilled people in these fields we need to consider that they are human beings. We need to stop attacking them on social media or at school board meetings. We need to reject the divisive rhetoric of those with their own agenda and honor the good work that these people do every day.
What is your position on the safety net for families given rising inflation?
I think that if we want to retain young, working families in Michigan long term we need to address the struggles that are specific to their circumstances. Our young families are facing numerous problems. First time home buyers are not able to afford the homes that are available, there aren't enough early education and after school programs for their children, as well as affordable and reliable day care centers for them to take their children to so they can return to work full time. Formula shelves at the grocery stores remain mostly empty for the parents whose babies rely on that nourishment. Young families also have more of a demand on grocery needs because their households have more people to feed. All of these things can be a hindrance to success in our economy, but when you add them all together it is detrimental.
Where do you stand on the charitable tax credit for donations?
I think that tax credits for charitable donations help people and help the community organizations that serve them. It also provides incentive for people to support the arts, education, and other things that increase the quality of life in Michigan.
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