By Ken DeLaat
“There's something inherent in human nature that has us constructing narratives to explain a world that is otherwise chaotic and opaque. Life is little more than a series of overlapping stories about who we are, where we came from, and how we struggle to survive. What we call news isn't news at all: wars, murders, famines, plagues—death in all its forms. It's folly to assign meaning to every chance event, yet we do it all the time."-Sue Grafton V is for Vengeance”
Sue Grafton the alphabet author who made Kinsey Millhone a much favored heroine within an ocean of personalities created by mystery writers has passed on.
It was the strong attachment readers had to the quirky and fiercely independent Ms. Millhone that captivated aficionados of the genre and sold millions of books.
And it was an attachment I most certainly shared.
I discovered Ms. Grafton at ‘C is for Corpse’ driving me back for A is for Alibi and B is for Burglar. Her writing was crisp, clever and often tinged with humor while presenting appealing characters who engaged in quick-witted, yet believable dialogue. As her books worked their way through the alphabet they found themselves under our Christmas tree each year inside the skillfully wrapped gift that bore my name.. The last one was ‘X’ a couple years ago.
She published ‘Y is for Yesterday’ this year but I didn’t get it…. perhaps the result of not being as well behaved as I might have been these past 12 months.
Ms. Grafton wrote a couple of other books before beginning this scintillating series which she once said was inspired by Edward Albee’s ‘The Gashlycrumb Tinies’ a macabre rhyming book depicting a similar run through the alphabet involving the demise of 26 children.
“E is for Ernest who choked on a peach
F is for Fanny sucked dry by a leech
G is for George smothered under a rug
H is for Hector done in by a thug”
If the lyrics seem a bit gruesome check out the accompanying drawings.
But we digress.
When I began reading Ms. Grafton my children were but tots. Early elementary munchkins who required a good deal of attention and time because, well, because they were 7 and 5 years old. Later in the evening when they were finally abed her books were a way of winding down from the day though it was easy to be captivated enough by her storytelling ability to find myself arriving at work the next day a victim of inadequate slumber.
As I progressed through her perennial offerings those children grew and now have children of their own. ‘I is for Innocent’ was read the year our daughter (and youngest) turned 10. I spent evenings with ‘M is for Malice ’ as our son completed his final year of high school and ‘R is for Ricochet’ was sometimes read with a sleeping first grandchild on my lap.
Years ago while watching an interview with Ms. Grafton notice was taken when she was asked why she had turned down offers to have her ultra-popular novels to be transformed into film or television.
She explained that she never wanted anyone identified as Kinsey Millhone. That Kinsey was everywoman and her personae would forever be in the imagination of the reader.
Bonus. In addition to enjoying her books immensely one could admire her integrity when it came to protecting her protagonist.
Unlike other more prolific authors she used no ghost writers and her family will abide by her wishes about such things which means the series has come to an end. One letter short of an alphabet sweep. Just before the final letter Z which was to be ‘Z is for Zero’.
There have been 25 books chronicling the intriguing and adventurous life of Kinsey Millhone and I’ve read 24. Soon to be 25 as I will be getting ahold of ‘Y is for Yesterday’ at first chance since my birthday isn’t until fall and I can’t take any chances on my behavior improving a great deal before then anyway.
‘A is for Alibi’
Yup. Starting over.
While the author whose work I long admired may have departed this plane, Kinsey Millhone the engaging character she created remains with us.
As does the legacy of a talented tale teller.
“The hard thing about death is that nothing ever changes. The hard thing about life is that nothing stays the same.”-Sue Grafton “J is for Judgement”
To the Newaygo County community:
Thank you very much for the tremendous outpouring of generosity from so many people throughout Newaygo County who supported Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial’s Beards for Babies fundraising campaign to benefit our labor and delivery center, and the 500-plus patients we serve each year. Our final tally was $7,377.11. That’s more than three times the original goal we set when we launched the month-long event at the start of November 2017.
All the proceeds from the event are staying locally and directly impacting Gerber Memorial patients and families. The funds will be used to train and certify an additional lactation consultant as well as provide families with diapers, swaddle sacks and educational safe sleep books.
The Spectrum Health Foundation at Gerber Memorial would not have been able to reach this goal if not for the enthusiasm of our 22 participants, who let their beards go for four weeks – and beyond, in a few cases – despite the protests of wives, children and other loved ones. The men set up customized profile pages highlighting their beards and the cause. They pushed, prodded and persuaded people near and far to give money to their pages. Hats off to them, especially to the top individual fundraiser, Scott Swinehart of Newaygo, and the top fundraising team, “Itching for a Cause,” made up of Gerber Memorial Community Health and Wellness Director Josh Gustafson; brothers Collin and Justin Zeerip; and Tamarac Wellness Center Supervisor Justin Aman, who collectively raised $1,810.
Thanks to Lakes 23 Restaurant and Pub, which hosted a beard showdown on the final night of the Beards for Babies fundraiser Nov. 29, where total funds were tallied and judges from the community picked out the best facial hair in a host of whisker-y categories, including best overall beard (Charlie Johnson, LifeLink coordinator at TrueNorth Community Services); most unique beard (Gustafson, who sported a modified “mutton-chop” look that had to be seen to be believed); best-effort beard (Eric Weaver, MD, at Gerber Memorial’s Multispecialty Clinic); and best mustache (Brian McClain, director of clinical and ambulatory services at Gerber Memorial, who gave “handle-bar” a new definition).
Thanks to judges for the night who donated their time and their eye for fashion: Sue Auw of Classic Cuts for Men in Fremont; Kenzi Boerman and Melissa Rich of Snipperz Salon in Fremont; Jackie Kozitzki, RN; and Marsha Stasik of Newaygo.
And thanks to Loretta Towne of Fremont and our Foundation specialist, for her creativity and work making the Beards for Babies fundraiser a success, not to mention her nonstop advocacy for community-driven causes that our foundation spearheads throughout the year.
These are just a few of the many folks who helped this inaugural fundraiser succeed. They and dozens of others opened their hearts, their wallets and their personal schedules to support local families and newborns. On behalf of Gerber Memorial, we are truly grateful to serve such a generous and supportive community that stands together for each other.
Paul C. Bedient
Fund Development Director
Spectrum Health Foundation Gerber Memorial
For more information or questions about contributing to Gerber Memorial’s foundation, call 231-924-3681.
Wow, another year.nearly in the books. The pages of N3 spent the year filled with the stories about our area. We covered the news to be sure but also included a boatload of high school sports, columns by a clever collection of contributors, edgy editorials, insightful information, and a dash or two of controversy.
Our most popular stories this year? Meijer had to be at the top. Since we launched Near North nearly two years ago no stories have drawn more interest than anything written about Meijer. Lured by the exploding numbers of readers that accompanied each posting we considered expanding this by perhaps interviewing Sandy the penny horse or doing in depth explanations of the Perks program but restrained ourselves and found most who came to us for Meijer stuck around for our ‘other’ news and articles.
What follows may not be an all encompassing list of N3’s top 2017 articles but perhaps a few that seemed to draw significant attention to our pages. In keeping with our alliterative tendencies we divided into categorical twosomes. Politics and Provisions, Hemp and Homicide and Fire and Fun.
Politics: In January Lindsey Isenhart and Michelle Petz articulately described their participation in the Women’s March in Washington D.C. in our Pulse section as did Stephanie Barrette in an interview with Alexis Mercer.
Rob Davidson a local Emergency Physician followed a town hall appearance by incumbent U.S. Rep Bill Huizenga with an announcement that he would seek to unseat the Congressman in November of the coming year after engaging the Rep in a bit of a debate about health care. The last Democrat to hold office in the 2nd District was Wes Vivian who rode Lyndon Johnson’s landslide victory in ‘64 to serve a single term after which began a 50 year run for the GOP.
Local elections saw incumbent Mayors fend off challenges as Ed Fedell and James Rynberg remain in the mayoral seats of Newaygo and Fremont. White Cloud HS Band Director Jamie Denslow took the open seat as mayor of that city and Grant’s mayor Julie Hallman ran unopposed.
Provisions: Groceries were in the news frequently this past year. The closing of Plumbs the previous November brought forth a landslide of speculation as to if and when a new tenant would take over the store and just who it might be.
In March Leppinks announced they would add Newaygo to their stable of stores and did so in June filling a grocery gap that existed for more than half a year.
Gene’s Market passed the torch after 6 decades when the Sordins sold their stores in Grant and Croton to Elliott and Larissa Vanderlaan.
And the Meijer mystery came to an end when it was finally announced that the retail giant with West Michigan roots would build in Fremont with construction beginning this coming April.
Hemp: Marijuana hit the headlines this summer and beyond but not due to a major drug bust. The new state laws regulating all aspects of medical marijuana (or marihuana as the state oddly enough spells it) went into effect December 15th and in July the city of Newaygo was the first to pass an ordinance that would allow for a medical marijuana facility to be built in their industrial park.
Efforts to do something similar in Merrill Township went south accompanied by strong opposition to an early initiative from their community watch group but White Cloud ok’d each of the 5 licenses available under the new law including dispensaries and Brooks Township gave the green light for a dispensary.
While opposition to the ordinances emerged, the promise of good paying jobs and tax revenues helped spur these actions along. Our opinion pages predicted a likely 2018 ballot initiative for recreational use.
Homicide: After 9 hours of deliberation a jury convicted Glenna Duram of first degree murder in the death of her husband Marty. She would be sentenced to life in prison without parole in a case that drew national attention as the ‘Parrot Trial’ because of the couple’s African Grey parrot who had reportedly repeated incriminating words such as “Don’t shoot” while in the care of the victims ex-wife.
And no, the parrot never took the stand.
In a case with many grisly details Anthony Shawn Blamer was arrested on a number of charges involved in the murder of a Muskegon man including dismemberment.
Meanwhile an appeal filed on behalf of Paul and Matthew Jones convicted in 2015 for the murder of Shannon Siders was denied.
Fire: While resignations and elections produced changes in their city council the Cloud seemed to be in the news for flames more frequently than California. In two separate blazes the Eagles Club and Department of Public Works buildings were consumed by fire and taken to the ground. While the destruction of the Aerie might have been an emotional blow to those who frequented the club the DPW loss would prove to cripple a department forced to operate without most of its equipment.
Why, even a motorhome rolling down M-37 seemed to decide on our county seat as a likely spot to ignite itself.
We’re hoping the New Year gives WC a bit of a reprieve from any further conflagrations and perhaps a little economic shot in the arm with the Co-op and a possible grow facility looking to make the long dormant industrial park a hive of activity.
Fun: Festivals dotted the landscape from Fremont, Holton and Hesperia to Grant, Newaygo, White Cloud and Croton. Further out local folks poured into the Irish Music Festival in Muskegon, the Wheatland Music Festival in Remus, and of course, ArtPrize in our metro cousin to the south.
The Dogwood Center lit it up again with a remarkable series of entertainment offerings and Rockin Newaygo County caught lightning in a bottle as the little beauties began turning up everywhere and the subsequent facebook photos spread like wildfire across the local social media pages.
And that’s just a few of the tidbits that led to an ever increasing readership for which we are grateful and honored.
It has been our mission to entertain, enlighten, educate and encourage dialogue while being a tad audacious, a little risky and hopefully, a whole lot of fun.
We hope we have succeeded thus far and aspire to continue to providing our readers with timely, relevant, informative and appealing stories and articles.
Here’s to another year.
By Megan Wirts
T’was the day after Christmas and all through the house, everyone else was sleeping in except for me. Sorry, that doesn’t rhyme, but I’m exhausted. Our family had a wonderful holiday season filled with all the usual goodness, friends, family and lots of delicious food. We saw family we hadn’t seen in a few years and we spent quality time with the ones we love the most.
On Christmas Day, our smallest small person woke us up at exactly 7am, it would have been 4am, but when he tried to wake me up I grumbled, “Shhh…not till 7, go away!”. He waited patiently next to my bed watching the clock tick by for 3 hours until it hit 7am and he yelled in my good ear, “WAKE UP IT’S CHRISTMAS!!!”. I rolled over and looked at my husband and said, “coffee” and then we were off to see what Santa left under the tree.
Our teenage daughter was up the stairs in a flash. Which is a Christmas miracle right there, because like most teenagers, she loves to sleep and hates waking up in the morning. Not on this day though, she too had been sitting and waiting like her little brother. Miraculous indeed. When we were all gathered around the tree and I had my coffee in hand, the unwrapping could begin.
I know of some families that sit around and each person opens one gift at a time, while all the other family members get to see what the others receive, and the gift giver gets to see the gift receivers face light up and everyone oohh's and aahh's. That doesn’t happen in our home. No matter how many times I beg for everyone to do it that way, it doesn’t. As soon as one gift is in hand, the paper is flying, and the boxes are being torn apart. It’s pandemonium and chaos and I just have to accept it and let it go.
Once the dust settled and it looked as if a tornado had blown through my living room, we brought out the big stuff. Every year, we give the kids a few small things that they have been asking for, like new socks, underwear (I’m not even kidding, my kids both asked for new socks and underwear and they loved it.), books, new water bottles and things like that. Then, we get them one big thing that they have really been dreaming of but never in their lives think that we will actually get them. This year, those big things were a beautiful handmade ukulele made by the talented Donald Benson, (Seriously, see him for all your handmade musical instrument needs, his instruments are gorgeous.), and a drum set. Yes, a real drum set. A loud, wall shaking drum set. (I’m sorry neighbors!)
Why would any sane mother get her 10-year-old boy a drum set?!? No, I’m not asking to go deaf in my other ear, I’m trying to create a band people!! Our daughter is already a fantastic ukulele player and singer, my husband can shred on the guitar and I love to sing. So, why not get the boy in on the band. WE ARE GOING TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD!!!!!! Ok, I may be getting ahead of myself, but a mom can dream. When we gave our girl her amazing new ukulele, she cried tears of delight and when we brought our son down to the basement where the drums were all set up, he screamed and jumped for joy. Then just 5 minutes after my husband showing him a few beats, they were rocking!! My heart was full seeing the huge grin on my husbands face as he taught our boy to rock out to Metallica and my ears were ringing. Hello, earplugs and noise cancelling headphones.
Our little family foursome spent the entire day, playing with our new goodies, laughing, stuffing our faces with fancy chocolates, cheesecake and cookies. Then, after I spent the evening preparing our Christmas dinner, we sat around the table and told each other all the things we loved about one another. It’s super cheesy, but I love cheese and I fully believe it’s nice to hear that you are loved and appreciated, especially by your family. It started out with my daughter telling my son that she loved him because he smelled like farts and ended with tears streaming down my face because the love I feel overwhelms me and just leaks out like that.
We ended our Christmas Day watching some of our favorite holiday movies and all the Christmas episodes from The Office. It was a magical day filled with love, joy and lots of noise.
Someday, I will miss it so for now, I will slip on my ear plugs and let the happiness and love leak from my eyes.
Let me start by saying, I really do not care that the calendar says it’s the middle of December , it is winter outside. The thermometer says -3 degrees and we are working clearing 6”-8” of fresh snowfall and if that isn’t winter, well I don’t know what is.
After a very busy summer construction season we are now in full on winter mode, sanders are in, side wings are mounted and salt bins are full. That means instead of you waiting in line at one of our constructions zones, or driving around a detour , you will be stuck behind us while we are scraping and sanding the roadways. And before you ask, No, we cannot just pull over every time a car gets behind us and let you by. It is already a struggle for us to accomplish enough in a given time frame to keep up with customer demand. And yes, we get asked that a lot, I mean really, a lot. We do our best to keep you moving, and I say that while keeping in mind that it must be at a reasonable expense to you , after all you are the paying customer.
And just like in our personal budgets we must live within our means, and reasonable expense equals reasonable level of expectation. I do believe sometimes that part of the equation is forgotten, but it is a reality we are faced with on a daily basis and we must work through. I think it would be fair to say that we all have very busy schedules and sometimes taking an extra few minutes to slow down due to less than summer like road conditions, just may not seem feasible. But we would rather see you arrive late, than not at all.
Road conditions can change several times during the course of your travels, and it can happen quickly, so please be careful. We have no doubt that Michigan drivers are the best in the country when it comes to winter time driving skills, we just ask that you refrain from trying prove it by setting a new land speed record in January.
On the “What are we doing to make things better” front, the road commission itself is in a constant state of self evaluation in a never ending effort to provide service to our customers, and one of the more recent changes included a re-organization of staff. At this time I would like to introduce the Assistant Manager of The Newaygo County Road Commission Derek Wawsczyk (yes, that’s really how you spell his name).
Derek has been with the road commission since 2007 in various roles until his acceptance of this position. Derek’s main focus will be overseeing daily operations as well as customer service and public relations. Derek, myself and the rest of the staff are working with the Board of Road Commissioners to take the organization to the next level in both customer relations and quality of service. So please, if you have questions or concerns pass them along to Derek and the staff, watch for future updates, and follow us on Facebook. We are here to provide a reasonably safe and efficient road system as possible to you, our customers.
In closing, it is The Holiday Season so please be kind to one another, please keep those less fortunate in your thoughts and be careful in your travels.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
By Megan Wirts
“Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence.’’
Every year around Christmas time as my small people grew to be, well, not so small, I would wait and wonder when they would ask the big question. Is Santa real? If Santa is a big deal in your house like he is in mine, then you know the feeling. For me, that feeling was dread. What was I going to say? How was I going to break the news to them without crushing their sweet little hearts, or mine?
I love Christmas and all the comes with it. Santa, the tree, the ornaments, the Christmas music, the baking, the religious traditions and the celebration of love, peace, family and friends. I love how everyone is a little nicer and it just feels magical all around. I go nuts for it you guys! The day after Thanksgiving, all the decorations come out and the tree goes up. Some decorations may have already been put on display as soon as it struck midnight on Nov. 1st. Then I turn on my Hallmark Christmas movies and it’s Christmas 24/7. This year I even entered my towns door decorating contest, (and I got 2nd place!!), just so I could live my life as close to a Hallmark Christmas movie as possible. I LOVE CHRISTMAS!
So, when my oldest small person when she was a 5th grader, asked me to tell her the 100% honest truth about Santa. I had to. It was time, but I didn’t want to lose the magic. I could sense that the question was coming so, like any good mother with internet access, I searched, “What to do when your child wants to know the truth about Santa?”. There were hundreds of links to ideas and suggestions on how to break it to them gently. While I was searching and reading, it hit me like a lightning bolt.
The Magic Keepers Club.
When my sweet girl looked at me with those big brown eyes wanting to know the truth, I told her all about The Magic Keepers Club. I told her that when a child gets older and matures, like she had, they are let in on the secret of the magic of all the holidays. I told her that yes, Moms and Dads all around the world were the ones that put the money under kids pillows after they lost a tooth, hid all the Easter eggs and most importantly we were the ones that kept the magic of Santa Claus alive for all the children of the world that believe.
We talked about the history of St. Nicholas and how Santa came to be who he is now. I told her that Santa represents the joy of the season and shows us that we should be generous and give to others. I told her that without magic in our lives how boring our world would be. Santa, Fairies, Easter Bunnies, and Elves are some of the most wonderous parts of our lives even if they are things we made up and are games we play. I told her that in this world sometimes a little magic makes it a whole lot more tolerable. She was now part of the club. A special secret club only for parents, older siblings and anyone that promises to make the world a magical and special place for their little brothers and sisters and other children to live in.
She sat and listened with wide eyes and I waited for her to react. After I finished my semi prepared speech, she got a huge grin on her face and was so FREAKING EXCITED!! She had tons of questions and couldn’t wait to help make the holidays magic for her little brother. She wanted to hide our Elf on the Shelf every night and tell her little brother and cousins all about Santa and his magic reindeer. She went all in! It was such a fun and sweet time to have her help us with all the silly things we did to make Christmas special for her little brother. Like the time we set up a video camera to capture Elvis, our Elf on the Shelf, flying through the living room. It took my husband, myself and her to pull it off and it blew our son’s mind!
Now, my smallest small person isn’t quite so small and this year around Easter time, he asked the big question. He told me he knew the Easter Bunny couldn’t possibly be real, and he wanted to know the rest and he was quite insistent. You see, he’s my baby and when he had asked before, right after Christmas last year, I completely avoided the question and changed the subject every time. I couldn’t have my baby not be a believer anymore! NOT MY BABY!!
Alas, our babies grow up and they want to know the truth. So, just as I did with his older sister, I told him all about The Magic Keepers Club and just like her, he was also extremely excited to be part of the super-secret club. Just like her, he also had tons of questions and he many comments. Like, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?! YOU MADE ELVIS FLY!! I KNEW THERE WAS A FISHING LINE!! I KNEW IT!!” and “You guys ate all the cookies!?! So unfair!” and “Thank you for making Christmas magic for me!”.
It has been a little bittersweet this year not having little kids that believe in Santa and our magical elf any more. A little sweeter than bitter though, I must say. I mean, it’s actually been quite liberating. Now, I don’t have to buy separate Santa wrapping paper or if I forget to move the elf…it doesn’t matter anymore!! Nobody is going to cry about the elf not moving and I’m not going to wake up from a dead sleep at 3am saying, “I FORGOT TO MOVE THE #%@^ ELF!”. Now, Mom and Dad get all the credit for all the gifts. Not that Santa brought them a ton, usually just one thing and some candy, but this year we get ALL THE GLORY!!!
Just because our small people are older doesn’t mean we didn’t go see Santa this year though, and it doesn’t mean we aren’t moving the elf around the house. (He’s just older, tired and can’t fly anymore.) I’m sure there will still be a gift under the tree marked “From: Santa”, because somethings I just can’t let go of. But this year they will both know. They know now all the effort that their dad and I put into making sure they had a magical and special childhood, and they are grateful for it. I can tell when they tell stories about their magic elf to their little cousins and friends. I can tell when they see Santa and still tell him their secret wishes, while looking at me and giving me a knowing grin. This year has already been so different, but in such a wonderful and more magical way.
When your small people are ready, tell them about The Magic Keepers Club. It might make it a little easier on your tender mama heart, like it did mine, and it might help with those growing pains that you both might be feeling.
Your small people are only small for so long, so soak it in and fill their worlds with joy and magic. Then watch them grow to be amazing, smart, talented people, that just want to make the world a more magical and special place like you do. It makes the whole growing up thing a little easier when you see them turning into awesome humans.
By Ken DeLaat
Can someone please tell me why Line 5 continues to exist? Is it vital to Michigan’s economy? Does it produce those massive amounts of jobs D.C. and Lansing folks are always promising when they do the smoke and mirrors thing to pass legislation bought and paid for by major corporations? Does it bring down gas prices a penny or two?
Why is this so hard? A Canadian company with a rather checkered record of cleanliness (ask folks around Marshall about the Kalamazoo River rather than believing the expensive commercials on it) has a 60+ year old pipeline running under the Straits of Mackinac, the dividing spot between two of the 5 largest freshwater lakes in the world.
Then read the November 27th agreement between the people charged with working in the state’s best interests (including one would hope the long term type) and the behemoth company with galaxies of cash. An agreement borne partially out of the outcry of citizens who recognize the insanity of the situation. Those who don’t respond favorably to assurances that having a gazillion gallons of oil surging under the Straits will be just fine for an indefinite period with no threat of disaster looming.
To me in reading the agreement it appears either the state either hasn’t got the muscle to do what is necessary or lacks the willingness because…..well….it’s a oil company, right?
It’s as though the state went to Enbridge, hat in hand and asked if they could get a few little compromise crumbs to save face.
Well, they didn’t.
Granted I am rather firmly on the “Shut it down, don’t care what it costs them or anyone else concerned just shut it down” side of things. Mostly because to me it seems that when it comes to business and politics the environmental impact is of no concern whatsoever in the minds of people making huge money decisions. There is a near total lack of ecological integrity in their behavior because quite frankly keeping the flow of money coming in beats the risk of an outflow of oil going out like a full house trumps a baby straight. No question at all. Oh there will be the usual mix of denial and apologetic posing and tons of money (when it gets through court and all at great expense) but there exists no genuine repercussions for doing unspeakable damage.
You can either believe business folks with no environmental skin in the game, or your own awareness of what most assuredly will happen should an oil pipeline be allowed to continue playing ecological chicken with our Great Lakes.
And when you read about the concessions made by Enbridge, for instance the agreement to shut it off during inclement weather and other puny points scored by the State, and then hear that, lo and behold, they already needed to shut her down once this week, recognize what it means. Either it was all for show (my personal take) or the freaking thing is way more vulnerable than previously thought.
And it’s been there 60+ years.
From the Michigan Agency for Energy press release on Tuesday:
High winds and waves in the Straits of Mackinac today has prompted Enbridge Energy to temporarily suspend operation of its Line 5, meeting one of the provisions in a recent agreement between the State of Michigan and Enbridge aimed at safeguarding the Great Lakes.Wave heights reached more than nine feet in the Straits, according to the NOAA Great Lakes Coastal Forecasting System (GLCFS) Nowcast model. The agreement between the State and Enbridge Energy Partners calls for the discontinuation of Line 5 operations in the Straits during sustained adverse weather conditions where wave heights reach more than eight feet.
Enbridge told the State that Line 5 was shut down at 11:37 a.m. Tuesday, adding that the company would restart the pipeline when conditions improve.
“The purpose of the State’s agreement with Enbridge was to find practical solutions to concerns we had about the operation of Line 5 and the safety of the Great Lakes,” said Valerie Brader, executive director of the Michigan Agency for Energy. “Enbridge’s action today shows the steps outlined in the plan will have immediate and long-term positive outcomes.”
Besides weather-related suspensions of the operation of Line 5, Enbridge must also -- under the Nov. 27 agreement -- conduct a study of the feasibility of placing a new pipeline or the existing dual pipelines in a tunnel in the Straits, assess the installation of underwater technologies to better monitor Line 5, study ways to mitigate the risk of a vessel anchor damaging the Straits pipeline, and evaluate measures to minimize the likelihood of a spill at the approximately 245 bodies of water Line 5 crosses in Michigan.
Demand our representatives not just oppose its continued existence but show a little moxie and take a stand by calling out a few colleagues to show their hand or even get real brave and call out a few in your own party for pity’s sake.
Of all the little and large political machinations the folks in Lansing weave their way through playing their perpetual political games, this one is the real deal. There is no place on earth like the Great Lakes and anyone with any voice who fails to use it to save our shores may endear himself to a group of lobbyists or corporate types or party leaders to be sure but please, don’t insult our intelligence by pretending to be anything other than easily manipulated or cursed with cowardice.
Here’s the skinny on feedback sessions. The first took place in Taylor today (Wednesday).
Public feedback sessions on final Line 5
Alternatives Analysis begin Wednesday
Public feedback sessions regarding the final independent Alternatives Analysis report on the Straits of Mackinac Line 5 pipeline begin this week.
Who: The Michigan Agency for Energy, Michigan Attorney General’s Office, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
When and Where:
Why: The events are an opportunity for the public to suggest the next steps the State should take regarding Line 5 based on the information in the final version of the Alternatives Analysis. The report by independent contractor Dynamic Risk Assessment Systems, Inc. analyzed alternatives to using Line 5, owned by Enbridge Energy Partners, L.P., to transport light crude oil and natural gas liquids from Superior, Wisc., through the Straits of Mackinac to Sarnia, Canada. The final report incorporates some changes by Dynamic Risk, as well as some of the public comments that were offered on the draft version of the report.
How else to participate:
By Megan Wirts
Everyone knows about spring cleaning, when you open your windows after a long cold winter and let all the dust out and the fresh air in. It’s refreshing, and I’ll be honest, the snow hasn’t even fallen yet and I’m ready for spring. Cold weather is not my favorite. But this isn’t about the weather, this is about cleaning. Specifically, what I like to call the Pre-Christmas Purge.
What is the Pre-Christmas Purge, you might be asking? In my house it is one weekend a year, usually the 1st or 2nd weekend in December, when you go into your bedroom, your child’s bedroom or basically any room in your house and realize that you are becoming overrun with stuff.
Too much stuff.
And what do you get at Christmas? More stuff! AHH!
Not that I don’t love giving and receiving gifts, it’s just that sometimes you don’t realize how much unnecessary stuff you have until you get all your Christmas decorations out and you feel like the walls of your house are closing in on you and how in the world are you going to fit any more stuff in your house!
You become overwhelmed. There are toys the kids haven’t played with in years. Clothes that have been hanging in your closet for 5 years because eventually you are going to lose those last 10lbs. (Besides even if you do, you will realize that the dress went out of style 3 years ago and you aren’t EVER GOING TO WEAR IT!!). Dresses that your daughter wore to her first daddy/daughter dance and choir recital, but she’s grown 5 inches since then and they are just shoved in the back of the closet never to be worn again.
You also realize your son could put anyone on the television show “Hoarders” to shame and now you fear that every knock on the door could be a camera crew. You then think you might lose your mind if you find another “super special stick because I found it while walking in the woods with my uncle” and don’t even get me started on the rocks. WHY DOES HE NEED SO MANY ROCKS!!?!?!?!
You know your small people need new clothes because you also noticed that your son has grown out of all the school clothes you just bought THREE MONTHS AGO!!! So, you go through his dresser and realize he literally has 1 pair of pants and 2 long sleeve shirts that actually fit him properly. Which means, whether he likes it or not, he’s getting clothes for Christmas. You then holler to your sweet husband who is trying to watch a football game on his day off, to “Grab some boxes and trash bags! LET THE PURGE BEGIN!”. Since he is a wonderful sweet man, and because of my dystonia he knows I can’t do this on my own, he pauses his game (Thank you Technology!) and it begins.
We gathered both the small people and explained to them what was about to happen. In years past, we would have skipped this step because negotiating with a 3 or 4-year-old is impossible, and we don’t negotiate with terrorists. We used to go through their toys while they were blissfully unaware, playing at Nana and Papa’s house. Did they ever wonder where all those toys went? Not once! So, no, all 25 stuffed kittens were not your favorite sweet daughter. You never even missed them. Oh, and son, remember that toy robot you begged for one year and you played with twice? Of course, you don’t, YOU ONLY PLAYED WITH IT TWICE!!!
Now that they are older, ages 10 and 13, we allow them to participate in the purge. Not just because it’s free child labor and forces them to clean their rooms, but because we do respect them and want them to have a say in what they want to keep and want to donate. We split up in teams of two and by the end of the day we had a car filled to the brim with boxes that will be heading to the nearest donation bin. Halfway through the purge, I thought to myself, “I should save all this for the spring and have a garage sale!” and then I remembered the last time I had a garage sale and how much work that was and came to my senses. *shudder* Plus, I needed all of it out of my house before I lost my mind.
This year we are trying to be more mindful of all the “stuff” we are giving for Christmas. Then we might not lose our minds a few weeks before the big day and purge our lives away because we are feeling overwhelmed and closed in.
Besides, Christmas shouldn’t be about the stuff. It’s about the love, joy, kindness and gentle peace that this time of year brings. It should be about families coming together and neighbors caring for one another. It should never be about what we are getting, but about what we are able to give. Not everyone can afford to give stuff, and that’s okay. Likewise, not everyone needs more stuff. Getting stuff at Christmas is inevitable though, don’t get me wrong, I love a good gift…maybe a cute new apron or a massage gift card, but it’s not that important, really. But if you are reading this husband…*hint hint*.
Let me propose this though, along with the stuff we give to others this year, let us also give more time of ourselves and more kindness to those around us. Let us give more laughter to our friends, more bedtime snuggles with our small people, more snowball fights (when the snow finally gets here), more hugs when you get home from work, more phone calls to old friends, more butterfly kisses, sweeter good nights and more beautiful good mornings.
Go ahead, do your Pre-Christmas Purge and open your home and your hearts to the joy and peace of the season.
By Megan Wirts
Every year for the past three years my family has gone on a Christmas Tree hunting adventure! Well, as adventurous as it can be by going across the street to Church’s Christmas Tree Farm. Yes, literally across the street from my house is a gorgeous Christmas Tree farm filled with acres of exceptional evergreens. It’s a pretty awesome view.
Just like many other families, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving we made the 1 ½ minute car ride over to the farm. We were greeted with smells of Christmas, smiling faces and a plethora of trees to choose from. Last year we went with the pre-cut option because of the previous year’s tree cutting debacle. Let’s just say, my husband is not a lumberjack. Don’t get me wrong, he looks good in plaid though.
This year however, our 10-year-old boy, who thinks he might be Paul Bunyan reincarnated, brought along his very own saw and was determined to cut down a tree for us. I was pretty excited to see how this would unfold. If you are going with the cut it yourself options, you can either ride on a hayride to go deep into the farm to find your special tree, or you can drive back there yourself. Since I am not a fan of cold wind blowing in my face, we opted to drive ourselves.
As we started along the path, we oooh’d and aaah’d at all the beautiful trees and argued about when and where we should stop.
Kids: Stop! Stop! Those are perfect!
Me: No! They are too small and not the right kind. I want a Fraser Fir.
Kids: Those are Fraser Firs!
Me: No, I don’t see a sign. Those are something else. I know it.
Husband: Meg, the sign right there says Fraser Fir.
Husband: See, Fraser Fir.
Me: Ok, fine, let's get out.
So, we got out of the car and of course, I needed to get a family selfie. But did anyone else want to get a selfie? No, they wanted to look at the trees. We needed a selfie though, I mean, does anything actually happen if you don’t get a selfie during it? After several requests for them to just stand by me and smile, I finally got one good one. Phew. Mission accomplished. Now to find the tree.
There were SO many to choose from, but we had very specific requirements for our tree. First, I wanted a Fraser Fir, because they hold their needles well and you don’t feel like you are being stabbed by tiny swords every time you hang an ornament and end up with bloody hands. They are my favorite tree. Second, it needed to be at least 8 feet tall and couldn’t be more than 5 feet wide. The problem was that we forgot our measuring tape and we didn’t feel like going alllll the way home to get it, because you know it was such a long ride. So, we decided to eyeball it.
As we strolled through the trees and said, “That’s it, no…that’s it!” over and over. We finally found one that looked as if it belonged in our home. It was the perfect height, we hoped, and it was filled out beautifully with no dead needles and no squirrels living in it. It was perfect!! My son grabbed his saw and went to town, while the rest of us watched and relaxed. Seriously, this kid can cut down a tree! He had it down in no time with no trouble at all. We just had to give a little push and TIMBER, our tree was down. Now, he wants to cut trees down all the time. I won’t let him, but he wants to. My husband was thrilled because now, he will never have to cut a tree down again!
We flagged down the tractor with the hayride and threw the tree on and headed back to the Moose House, that is filled with delicious snacks, fresh roasted chestnuts and most of all it’s warm! Then after the tree farm workers complimented our boy on such a great cut, we had our tree trimmed, shook and baled. Then we were ready to tie it to the roof of our car and away we went. With it being just a few hundred feet away we were pretty sure it wasn’t going to fall off. It didn’t.
When we got it home we set it up in the stand and marveled at its beauty and how we got one just the right size. Usually I try to force the tree trimming to be some fantasy from a Hallmark Movie and it usually ends with me screaming “MERRY FREAKING CHRISTMAS!! THIS ISN’T FUN ANYMORE!!”.
Just like I did last year, I decided not to stress about it. So, if the kids didn’t want to help put up ornaments, I wasn’t going to push it. I just let them decide when it would happen. That’s why it took us three days to get it decorated. Finally, on Monday after school it was time. We put on some Christmas music and decorated the tree together as a family. It wasn’t forced, it wasn’t chaotic and rushed. It was easy, relaxing and wonderful reminiscing about Christmases past. We ended the night all snuggled up on the couch, listening to Christmas songs and our hearts were all filled with joy and contentment.
I have realized over the years that the more I try to force a fun filled family day, it never goes as planned and it’s never fun. Those days that are spontaneous and natural, those days are the best. Those are the days that I look at my little family and I want to freeze time. I want to bottle up those feelings and keep them forever.
As I sit here in the light of my Christmas Tree with my family all around, one is looking at their phone, one is watching a video and the other snuggled up next to me, I am happy. Just simply happy.
And that’s all I need.
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