By Kristie Bulger
“Dogs’ lives are too short. Their only fault, really.” – Agnes Sligh Turnbull
This article is going to be a 2 part series about lost dogs and how to get them back home. But before starting at “lost", I’d like to make some suggestions on how to keep your beloved dog at home in the first place. The next article, in a couple of weeks, will be about how to recover your dog.
* The most important thing is to have your dog spayed/neutered. Pets that have been spayed/neutered are much less likely to wander off. Over 90% of the dogs that end up in our shelter are unaltered.
* Get your dog licensed and when outside keep his/her collar, with tags, on at all times. A license is the quickest, easiest way to get a dog back home. Here’s a link to Newaygo County license information.
* Get your dog microchipped. Shelters and vet offices will scan found dogs/cats for a chip at no charge. There are stories of dogs that have been missing for years and then have found their way back home to their owners because they were chipped. It’s relatively inexpensive to have done. Bellwether Harbor in Fremont only charges $17.76 for cats and dogs. They’re having a microchip clinic on June 4th and will be having other clinics throughout the summer. You can get updates on their FB page here: https://www.facebook.com/BellwetherHarbor
* The very best way to keep your dog from becoming lost is to not let her/him outside off leash and unsupervised. The best containment option is a physical fence but even that is not a 100% guarantee. You have to know your dog and understand its breed. That cute little Doxie or JRT will probably not jump over your 4’ fence but they certainly will dig under it. Some of the herding breeds think climbing 6’ fences is no big deal and then there are huskies…..who just seem to be Houdini’s who can get out of any kind of fence.
It’s important to check your fence frequently to make sure your dog is not digging under it, that your gate is latching properly and that there are no trees leaning on it. People lose their dogs after winds/storms because they didn’t know their gate blew open or the fence was damaged.
Quite a few people are firm believers in underground fences and have great success keeping their dogs home. But there are dogs lost every day because their e-collars are not charged. Some breeds do better than others in underground fences. Once again, the huskies, with their thick fur and high prey drive, are notorious for running through electric fences. And what Beagle can ignore its nose? The other thing to remember is that while your underground fence may keep your dog in the yard, it won’t keep predators like coyotes and aggressive dogs out. Another containment option is a tie-out or cable. Once again, it’s important to check your tie-out to make sure it’s not getting weak or worn in places.
If you have more than 1 dog, never tie them out close enough to get entwined with each other. I personally know of a dog that was choked to death when she was playing with the other resident dog and the cable accidentally became wrapped around her neck.
Anyone who has been involved with rescue will start to see patterns in when/where/why dogs most frequently become lost. In my opinion there are 4 situations in a dog's life when they are most at risk for being lost. Let's look at these.
#1. When we ride in a vehicle we are required to wear seat belts and to make sure our children are also safely secured. But our dogs are just left loose to wander our vehicle. In a car accident, dogs are ejected out of the vehicle or are mistakenly let loose by the First Responders who arrive on scene. Every day FB has stories about terrified dogs that have gotten loose during an accident. There are lots of good options for canine seat belts and I highly recommend using one for your beloved dog. The info is readily available online.
#2. Many dogs go missing from their babysitters which is extra difficult because their owners may not be available to help look for them. Your dog may love to visit your parents/friends/neighbors/family so it’s perfectly understandable to ask those folks to babysit your dog while you’re away. But your dog knows that you’re not there with them and that they are not at home. This is another high risk time. When dogs are at a babysitter’s, it’s important for them to always have their tags on and to be on leash.
#3. Adopting a dog from a shelter or a rescue is a wonderful thing. While you may be instantly “in love” with your new pet, they may not be quite as sure. Dogs don’t know that they now belong to you. Their love develops more slowly. When a newly adopted dog gets away from a new owner, it can be especially difficult to get them back. These dogs do not know where they are or who they can trust. For the first few months, a newly adopted dog should be wearing tags and kept on leash at all times. Some people use martingale collars and slip leashes, at the same time, to make sure a new dog does not go missing.
#4. Unfortunately a lot of dogs go missing when they are quite old. Owners think that since they’ve been letting their sweet old dog out in the yard for 15 years that it’s ok to keep doing it. But dogs can suffer from senility and can get easily confused. They can get lost in their own backyards. Chances are your old dog is also suffering from some hearing/vision loss so they are even more vulnerable and difficult to find. It’s a myth that old dogs wander off to die. They do not. Here is a very good article about senility in dogs and cats. https://valevets.com/senility-faqs/.
I hope these suggestions help you to keep your dog safe at home. My next article will be about getting your lost dog back home where she/he belongs.
Here’s a link to our FB page "Friends of Newaygo County Shelter” where you can see all our available animals:
The adoption fee for dogs is $90.
This fee includes spay/neuter, deworming, heartworm test, rabies & DHLPP shots, flea & tick treatment and license.
The adoption fee for cats is $65
This fee includes spay/neuter, rabies vaccine, feline distemper combo vaccine, FIV/FELV testing, deworming and flea/tick treatment.
Newaygo County Animal Shelter
78 N. Webster
White Cloud, MI 49349
Monday - Friday 11-1
Appointments welcome and available upon request
It’s way, way early but Tiger season looking up
“We’re going to reestablish ourselves as a winning franchise and develop a winning culture. If you want to be a part of it then you’ll come. If you don’t then we’ll beat you.”- Tiger manager A.J. Hinch
By Ken DeLaat
Granted I was feeling a little elated after that stirring Opening Day come-from-behind victory the Tigers hammered out. With the above photo added to a social media post declaring “Undefeated!” it didn’t take long for the word to become obsolete when they fell short in the second game of the series against the White Sox who are the presumptive choice to win the AL Central. I’m writing this on Saturday so given the way baseball goes it's not unlikely they could drop Sunday’s series finale as well.
But I’m an optimist when it comes to this team and Saturday’s loss was nothing more than more evidence to this aging fan’s eyes that this team is going to be fun to watch and will win their share of games. In the loss they scraped, clawed and grinded away at the Sox as they did in the comeback win. A couple things went against them and in a few situations they failed to get the key hit but they were in this one until the end.
Also they have awakened the best fanbase in sports as the stadium, while not as packed as the previous day, had a huge crowd for a frigid day for baseball. Fans that were getting into the game in a way not seen at 2100 Woodward Ave in quite a few years.
It’s a long season to be sure and while the chances of getting off to a 35-5 start ala the epic ‘84 team range from improbable to ‘are you kidding?’ this is a team that will win their share of games before all is said and done.
Last season the Tig’s took their first 2 games and I joked about them being in first place with a magic number of 161. They didn’t seem to be terrible but truthfully there wasn’t a lot to get excited about other than the emergence of Akil Badoo.
Then they followed up that modest 2 game streak to start the season by winning just 7 times in the next 31 games. This exercise in futility included a 4 game losing streak, two 5 game skids and even a 6 game run of losses without a win. In one of those games they gave up 15 runs.
The throwers getting hammered that day were Jose Urena, Buck Farmer, Derek Holland and Bryan Garcia (minors).
None of them are currently on the team. In fact utility player Harold Castro finished the game tossing a scoreless inning, mind you.
This is a team that was built to not just compete but to win. They spent some money to bring in some quality players and are beginning to enjoy the riches of what has been a robust minor league system. Even without the phenom in waiting Riley Greene (injury, out for a month or two) they pose a frightening lineup of hitters and adding Austin Meadows in a trade just before the season is a move that is going to pay off big time as will the promotion of likely future star Spencer Torkelson.
I’m sure they will stumble along the way, maybe even fall victim to a lengthy losing streak or two.
However, they’ve transformed into a good team. A really nice mixture of youth and veterans possessing multiple weapons with a relentless drive for success and a manager that knows how to get the most out of his players.
So yes I’m optimistic.
Mostly from watching the fans.
Having spent the better part of the last six decades or so in a multitude of baseball stadiums I find Detroit fans to be the most knowledgeable of the lot. Second only perhaps to the regulars who fill Fenway.
Tiger fans are quick to pick up on it when a team is a contender and, most assuredly, when it's a pretender. They will fill the seats for a good team and attend for the love of the game (albeit much less frequently) when the team is sub par. They know their baseball and they know when they have a hold of a winner.
And while it's been just the first weekend my bet is you’ll find more fannies in the seats this season than CoPa has seen since they were collecting AL Central crowns a few years back.
As I said earlier this team will be a lot of fun. And while known to have a tendency to be a bit too sanguine regarding the Tigers I hold no illusionary ideas of postseason miracles even with the expanded playoff picture adding more teams.
But this season, while maybe just a preview of what is yet to come, looks to be a rollicking ride.
So I’m getting my seat on the bandwagon early.
By Ken DeLaat
We understand a month-long Karaoke Competition is going on at the Sportsman's Club in Croton and began this past Friday.
There’s been a long time personal interest in Karaoke but not as a participant or even a fan. Back when it’s popularity was soaring years ago I remember telling a group of friends who had gathered about one weekend night for socialization and refreshments that I wanted to let them know about a business idea I had.
A couple people groaned and I thought I heard someone whisper ‘Amway?’, but I assured them it was nothing like that then went on to describe my idea. It involved drive thru Karaoke stands where folks could cruise up to a window and for a nominal fee pick out a song and belt it out to an attentive attendant who would applause at the end. After adding the part about how I felt it would be a great stress reliever for folks I finished up and took in the crowd of friends and acquaintances
The reaction was priceless and ranged from truly puzzled and sympathetic looks to the shaking heads of those who knew me best. For years after that party my idea would come up in situations when someone in the group came up with something the others felt was boneheaded or simply stupid.
“That’s as asinine as DeLaat’s Drive-thru Karaoke plan” became embraced as almost part of the group jargon, an accomplishment that honors me to this day.
But I digress.
We know nothing about this competition but are admittedly intrigued. Apparently the winners from the 5 April Friday night showdowns will compete on Saturday the 30th. First place $250 Second place $100 and Third place $50.
Entry fee is a ten spot which is good because this should limit the entries to those who might have a chance.
Or, based on past contact with the whole Karaoke experience…
Another event that piques my interest is being held April 11th at the Fremont Library.
Now granted, I watched the first season of Bridgerton and found it entertaining. However others have taken to the series with all the fervor shows like Downton Abbey or (dating myself) Dallas drew during their memorable runs.
I recall watching Twin Peaks while several people I worked with were equally enticed by it. This led to a morning-after ritual of picking apart the show and discussing what this or that meant. It was a fun way to keep in touch with the show.
But it was weekly. In these days of streaming I would be willing to bet that the true fans of Bridgerton finished the second season within about 24-36 hours after it was released on Friday March 25th.
Thus, this invitation has been sent out via social media:
Dearest Gentle Reader,
As an esteemed member of the Ton, you are cordially invited to this season's most promising event yet: Spilling the Tea with Fans of Bridgerton. Come to enjoy tea and biscuits while discussing the Bridgerton televised storyline. Do be certain you have seen Season 2 in its entirety, for spoilers you do not wish to receive.
Spilling the Tea with Fans of Bridgerton
Fremont Area District Library
April 11th from 6:00-7:00 p.m.
Please RSVP by telephoning: 231-928-0256
This would be a veritable banquet of Bridgerton for the true fans who have taken heartedly to the innovative show,
But take heed.
If you have to ask what the Ton is, you’re not ready to attend.
Speaking of TV and streaming…
I admittedly am a latecomer to Mrs. Maisel.
Having recently discovered this gem via adding Amazon Prime to the burgeoning streaming options at N3 World Headquarters & Kayak Dockage, I now see why the show has accumulated so many awards. From top notch performances led by the near perfect pairing of Rachel Brosnahan and Alex Borstein and the sublime support of Marin Hinkles and Tony Shaloub to the crisp and creative writing that delivers a rollicking romp through each episode this show is an absolute feast from start to finish.
The best comedy I’ve seen on television since I was charmed by Cheers and buoyed by Barney Miller.
Warning: It’s 2022 not the 70’s (Barney) or 80’s (Cheers) or even 90's (Seinfeld) so this is not your mother’s sit-com. If the occasional curse causes consternation, if sexual references or a splash of nudity tickle your tsk-tsk toggle, and if your sense of humor begins and ends with ‘good clean fun’...?
This is not likely to be your cup of tea.
But if you want to see comedic genius on many levels and are perhaps a bit less, uh, sensitive about such things give Mrs. Maisel a peek.
By Ken DeLaat
Ok it’s still cold, right? I mean here we sit just over a week into what is supposed to be Spring and we’re still doing the “holy crapola it’s freaking freezing’’ most mornings when venturing outside the first time.
But there are signs everywhere that we are on the very threshold of what most bi-peninsularians cherish the most about our state...
We know there are many out there who savor the pleasure a (far too lengthy) season of winter brings to them.. People like to run their sleds, some think ice fishing is fun (it isn’t), and who can deny the beauty of new fallen snow?
I get it.
Well, not entirely to be truthful, but I try to relate.
But the non-winter months bring a particular kind of enchantment to the land we live in. The slow process of transitioning to warmer weather (some years slower than others) seems to set a tone for the populace. Maybe a splash of hope and a dollop of optimism that things are going to, after all, be o.k. Sometimes even a smattering of tolerance after a too long season of weather influenced impatience.
It’s a renewal of the type of living that eschews layering and welcomes the idea of hitting the outdoors without spending a good deal of time preparing oneself weatherwise for what might await out there. When even a man like me, whose legs throughout the summer retain what Procol Harum once called ‘a whiter shade of pale’, dons shorts most days.
I may be jumping the gun a bit by speculating too soon on lilacs blooming, bees and butterflies returning and a little early garden action.. After all it is still March and April is known for tossing meteorological mayhem about our region with reckless abandon.
But as I said there are indications everywhere that, as always, a 60 day gradual warming trend will come to fruition. The landscape will begin to green up a bit and people will be seen walking about and enjoying the outdoors rather than enduring it.
And what sign could be more clear than the good men of JNR slapping down the dock at N3 World Headquarters and Sourdough Bakery Center?
And that means soon the boat will follow.
Let the reveling begin.
“If winter was not exist, the spring would not be so pleasant”- Davan Yayah Khalil
By Ken DeLaat
So, how’s your bracket?
Wow. Kentucky going all the way, huh? Baylor defending their title perhaps?
In the first round 7 teams seeded in double figures advanced including a couple 10’s, 11’s, and 12’s.
Oh and that pesky #15 St Peter’s a team that has shattered the dreams of countless bracketologists.
The second round Saturday saw Baylor go down as well as the departure of #3 Tennessee (Go Blue). I was hoping that Sparty would send the Blue Devils (#2) back to Durham and Coach K into a well deserved retirement, but Duke outlasted them. And I didn’t mention the NIT because even alumni of the schools involved have a hard time generating any enthusiasm for the post season games involving the 32 schools that did not make it into the top 68.
And in Division III the Hope Women’s team finally got their belated and successful run to a national title. (Go Dutch).
I love this time of the year for sports. The tourney runs through early April when baseball debuts and the Masters (the only golf I watch on TV) arrives in the second week.
I also didn’t mention the Stanley Cup games because they don’t start until May and won’t include the Wings (again!) nor did I give a nod to the NBA playoffs that start in April but hold little interest for me anyway but particularly because though there will be 20 teams in the playoffs, representing two thirds of all teams, the Pistons are not among them (again!).
Toss in the fact that the weather, while unpredictable of course, (it is after all Michigan) has taken a turn toward a warmer blend and it’s tough to not feel pretty good about things.
It’s also the time when our local scholar athletes begin their spring seasons, with early events that draw only the most dedicated fans (generally family members) due to the often dicey atmospheric conditions. These plucky preppers take to the diamonds, fields, tracks, courts, and courses in the early season games, matches, and meets often shivering against weather far too chilly it would seem to be pole vaulting in shorts.
Want to brave the elements and appreciate the dedication of these young women and men?
A week from Tuesday the Newaygo Girls Soccer squad play their first match at home. The next day Grant welcomes in White Cloud for baseball/softball doubleheaders. Hesperia’s track team visits the Cloud on April 13th for a Silver conference meet and Girls Tennis begins around the same time for Fremont and Grant.
Personally I plan on getting myself to several contests this spring.
Except for April 8th.
I’m not going anywhere that day.
The Tig’s open their season at home against the White Sox and while it’s been a few years (actually a few decades) since I attended some 9-10 Opening Days in a row I will view this one from the comfort of my front row seat at N3 World Headquarters & Winter Sowing Center.
First pitch scheduled for 1:10pm.
So unless a catastrophe of epic proportions comes along...
I'll be busy that day until about 4:30.
Unless there's extra innings of course.
Just how good can they be?
By Ken DeLaat
“People ask me what I do in the winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for Spring.”- Rogers Hornsby
Thursday is a big day.
Yes, we know it’s St Patrick's Day, a day when bars across the country are filled with Hibernian wannabees quaffing green beer and possibly diving into some corned beef and cabbage or Irish Stew with soda bread.
But it’s also when baseball begins Spring Training games (Tigers start Friday)and the looming stoppage of play that threatened to extend for weeks into the season has been settled.
And while others may have long been turned off by the bickering between millionaires and billionaires I for one am just glad they will be playing again.
Because I truly believe (naive as I might be) that the Tigers are going to be a much improved product. A team perhaps on the very cusp of being really good, as in contender good.
The talent of their youthful pitching, bringing in a solid starting catcher, signing a shortstop who is adept at going yard, signing a front line pitcher and the possibility of seeing whether Greene, Torkelson and Clemens can bring their impressive Triple-A stats to a major league level combine to give me hope.
It reminds me how after several ‘rebuilding years’ that earmarked the end of the last century and the first few years of this one, the team got serious about winning.
In ‘03 they came a game away from tying the New York Mets record for most losses in a season when they came up short no fewer than 119 times.
Three years later they were in the World Series after they somehow talked Pudge Rodriguez to bring his substantial skills to the Park in ‘04 thus giving them credibility enough to recruit Magglio Ordonez the following year. They had already traded for Carlos Guillen. Then they promoted a raw but talented Justin Verlander and brought in veteran pitcher Kenny Rogers.
And in ‘06 they got in as a wild card, took out the Yankees and A’s and made it to the Series only to lose to the longtime NL rival Cardinals.
Three years ago the Tigers lost 114 games.
Stronger Together Series Event Explores Experiences of Women
On February 24, Fremont Area Community Foundation hosted its fifth Stronger Together Series virtual event with a conversation on the experiences of local women in the workforce and during the pandemic.
Shelly Kasprzycki, Community Foundation president and CEO, welcomed the audience and introduced the evening’s moderator, Dr. Jennifer Drake, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Grand Valley State University.
Drake began by sharing findings from the 2021 Women in the Michigan Workforce report. The report found that between February and December 2020, approximately 136,000 Michigan women left the workforce and that women working full-time make about 78 cents on the dollar compared to men working full-time. In more encouraging news, Drake noted that a Pew Research Center report found women have made significant educational gains, with higher rates of college enrollment and degree completion than men.
Along with Drake, the evening’s panel included Julie Burrell, Newaygo County’s economic development director through The Right Place; Carolyn Hummel, retired educator and the first female principal of Fremont Middle School; and Melissa Dykman, Newaygo County Probate Court Judge.
When asked how their identity as women shaped expectations others had of them, Hummel talked about being the only girl in her advanced math class in high school. “My friends said, ‘Math is just too hard for girls,’” she remembered.
Other panelists commented that pressure often comes from within. “The pressure really comes from me,” said Burrell. “I definitely put pressure on myself to wear all the hats and do all the things.”
When asked about barriers they have faced, Hummel talked about being denied a promotion after asking why a male coworker with less experience was making more than she was.
“At that time, by asking that question, I was blacklisted,” said Hummel. “I realize now if it hadn’t been for that, I would never have gotten my dream job, but it was a little traumatizing at first.”
Panelists also spoke about the experiences and people who have helped them grow. Burrell mentioned the importance of finding an ally. “Whether you call it mentorship, allyship—I think it’s really helpful for anyone in their career, but especially women,” she said. “You need to have people in your corner.”
Dykman talked about the importance of growing up with parents who “believed there was nothing a boy could do that their daughters couldn’t.” She also shared that she is grateful to have built her career in Newaygo County, “where I had great people to work with.” Dykman said that the lawyers and judges she interacted with “never treated me any differently. They were all invested in me being the best I could be and teaching me.”
During a time for questions at the end of the event, the panelists emphasized the importance of women encouraging other women.
“It’s important to identify those women you see who are up-and-coming and embrace them and be their advocate,” said Burrell.
Dykman added, “It goes back to something like today’s event. Having these discussions and hearing from multiple generations not only helps us understand where we’re at and what we need to do to improve but also where we come from. People like Carolyn made it easier for me, and I can make it easier for those coming up.”
Stronger Together is a series of events designed to look at differences, identity, and the stories that shape our lives. More information on the series—including recordings of past events—can be found at facommunityfoundation.org/stronger-together.
The S.F. Wessling Observatory
By Lori Larsen
In 2004 the Newaygo Conservation District applied for grants for an astronomical observatory to be built on the Kropscott Farm Environmental Center (KFEC) property. NCD received two grants, a $100,000 grant from the Fremont Area Community Foundation and a $30,000 grant from The Gerber Foundation
On June 30, 2004 a groundbreaking ceremony was held and construction began. Construction was completed in October 2004 followed by a ribbon cutting ceremony, which included Earle and Mildred Kropscott. The NCD board worked with Stephen Wessling, a science teacher from the Fremont Public School System, and the newly established Newaygo County Dark Sky Astronomers (NCDSA) to coordinate and erect an astronomical observatory.
The goal of the S.F. Wessling Observatory is to provide the general public, area students and local and regional amateur astronomers the opportunity to observe and study our planet and our amazing universe. The Stephen F. Wessling Observatory contains numerous telescopes of various designs and sizes. All of this highly technical equipment is available for the public to view and personally operate with the assistance of the Newaygo County Dark Sky Astronomers. Newaygo County is blessed with “dark skies.” People from West Michigan, Northern Indiana and Eastern Illinois visit the observatory to take advantage of this unique opportunity.
In 2012 The Newaygo Conservation District received an additional grant from the Fremont Area Community Foundation in the amount of $150,000 to renovate the existing farmhouse into a small apartment to rent, to create two state of the art laboratories for educational purposes, and to further develop the S. F. Wessling Observatory.
In 2015, the Kropscott barn was renovated to create a demonstration area complete with high-speed internet, LED projector, screen, and amplifier, which is perfect for large student groups.
This unique facility offers our students and the community an opportunity to see how nature, science, technology, engineering, and math all come together. The S.F. Wessling Observatory is an important part of the programming for KFEC. It expands our reach and allows us to demonstrate the outer reaches of science from the macroscopic of the observatory to the microscopic of the labs. We can compare the efficient hexagonal packing of the mirrors of the James Webb telescope to the efficient hexagonal packing of a beehive. We demonstrate that hands-on scientific education impacts students and helps key their interest in STEM education.
Note to the Retirees of Newaygo County
We can be like kids again, experiencing the wonders of the universe that surrounds us and the miracles of the soil under our feet. Both extremes offer worlds that need to be explored, and we can share it with the children who are about to inherit our planet.
Please plan to attend an open house at the Kropscott Farm Environmental Center on April 16th from 10:00 am until 12:00 pm to find out if your experience and passion match with the amazing possibilities of the KFEC. The KFEC is located at 6523 W. Baseline Road, north of Fremont.
Join us! Please!
For more information call Luke Cotton at (231)349-4455.
"United 56 Heavy You are cleared for takeoff on Runway 27 Right."
By Charles Chandler
On Tuesday, February 15, 2022, United Airlines Captain Melvin E. Volz made his final flight.
Most know that the “Captain” was a former resident and favorite son of White Cloud. His family lived in the area and Mel attended White Cloud Public school. The local folks knew that Mel’s passion for aviation began at an early age. Often, they would see him and his school pals, Claire McCombs and Ward Sanders out flying rubber band power models from the high hills at the nearby Sanders family farm. As soon as Mel was old enough, he graduated from flying models and began pilot training at Big Rapids Airport. There must have been some special factor in White Cloud at that time because Mel and his two Buds would go on to great careers in the aviation and aerospace industry. Ward Sanders took a position with Aerojet, a contractor to NASA. Ward would go on to become a significant contributor to the Apollo Program. Clare McCombs became a decorated and distinguished Air Force U 2 pilot. Must have been something in the water at the Sanders Farm.
After High School Mel joined the Army Air Corps in 1944. After additional flight training in Texas and with WWII winding down he, like many other trained pilots, was soon discharged. Using his G.I. Bill money, he was back in pilot training receiving both his Commercial and Instrument ratings. In 1947 he married Ms. Ellie Decker his high school sweetheart. With these two ratings in hand, he began a small aerial spraying business with jobs in Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Next Mel took a position as Experimental Engineer with Continental Motors Aviation Division. Then in early 1950, a friend of the family from Chicago that worked for United Airlines mentioned to Mel that United Airlines was looking for pilots. She insisted that he should apply, he did and on March 26 1952 was hired by United Airlines. It was a great day and a family affair because the day Mel took his Flight Instrument Check Ride his son Chris was born. A few years later Chris would become a Computer Specialist for United Airlines.
After that check ride, Mel began his impressive rise in rank, responsibility, and recognition in the aviation industry. Mel began flying the line for United starting with DC 3s and retiring as a DC 10 pilot. He was promoted to Captain in 1966 and over his 35-year career was qualified to fly eight different aircraft types. Many in the aviation industry would argue that Captain Volz’s greatest contribution was made away from the flight deck. In addition to being a successful pilot, he developed expertise in many areas of United’s operations and the larger commercial air carrier industry. On March 25, 1976, the Board of Directors of United appointed the Captain as both Vice President of Maintenance Services and Regional Vice President of Station Operations for the Central Division. As a senior executive, the Captain would go on to become a recognized expert in engineering, flight, cabin and aircraft safety, air traffic management, airport operations, flight dispatch, meteorology and facilities, and aircraft maintenance operations. The Captain was twice presented with the United Airlines Public Relations Award. In 1986 he was presented with United’s highest award, the Distinguished Service Award. After official retirement but yet not ready to head to the hanger, Captain Mel became a Senior Safety Consultant and an international public relations ambassador for United Airlines. This position took him to every major city in the U.S. and internationally working with the media and many dignitaries.
The Captain still thought of White Cloud as home as his last residence in White Cloud was the beautiful rustic log home on North Webster Street.
Soon after moving to White Cloud my neighbor Eric Rudert learned that my wife Dianne had retired from American Airlines. He asked if I knew Captain Mel Volz and that he had retired from United Airlines and had a home up the street at 148 North Webster. At that time, I did not know the Captain but I knew of his work and was looking forward to meeting him.
I had worked at the American Airlines Maintenance Operations facility in Tulsa Oklahoma for many years and our performance numbers were always compared to United’s. Every day in our maintenance operations center the analysts for the Airlines would post the three important figures, on-time departures, maintenance delays, and maintenance cancellations. The FAA and all other airlines would watch those numbers because we were all competitors and these numbers were available for all the world to see. These numbers were the daily report card for maintenance operations. United’s numbers were always better than ours and this was most likely because of some of the Captain's handiwork. Dianne and I did get to meet the Captain and Chris and tour his exemplary home. At that time, he was transitioning between White Cloud and his home in Florida. We stood on the front steps and chatted a bit. He was, as I expected, unpretentious, humble about his career, friendly with a sense of humor. As it has been my experience with most airline pilots and executives.
(Whining and Complaining section I.) Our aircraft maintenance types and Pilots have always had a symbiotic but unequal relationship. In America, it started in the early 1900s with the Wright Brothers. These two designed and built a magical wooden propeller and a controllable airframe and named it the world-famous Wright Flyer. We, mechanics, called it Wreck #1. Charley Taylor the Wrights Brothers mechanic built the engine for the contraption. It was a lightweight 12-horsepower gasoline engine with a chain driver, all built from scratch, mind you. Our lament is that the literature is resplendent with the tails of Orville and Wilbur and their wonderful flying machine. There is scarcely a footnote that mentions ole Charley. The guys upfront and looking out the little airplane windows get all the glory. When people learn that I retired from the airlines they always ask “were you a pilot or did you know so and so he was a pilot for such and such an airline.” They never ask, were you the guy at the gate so and so on the flight so and so that was out there in the snowstorm changing that giant tire? If you were, you made us late? We always say the pilots know how to operate the airplane and we techs know how the airplane operates. We always appreciate it when the pilots make a good landing especially if we can use the airplane again on the next leg. The pilots always appreciate it when we remember to put gas in the plane. They often leave us funny little notes in the maintenance logbook, for example, “there appears to be a rodent in the cockpit.” To which we investigated and made a subsequent correction action taken logbook entry. “Did find rodent droppings in the cockpit but could not locate rodent. Apparently, said rodent was after abundant crumbs and stale dinner roll found under left seat.”
Make no mistake, we airline folks appreciate our pilots. Generally, they are exceedingly intelligent, well educated, courteous and totally dedicated to their flying public, their fellow crew members, and their aircraft. They are courageous hardworking professionals that will give their life to save yours if the need arises.
In my distant past I had cockpit jump seat privileges and, on some occasions, had to use that seat to get to or from an assignment. I did not want to be up there because it was their office and they did not need me to be there. My job while there was to be as quiet and inconspicuous as possible. There is no chit-chat on the flight deck. It is a busy place and these professionals have to do the right things at the right time and nothing else is ever acceptable. I have watched these pilots fly holding patterns near O’Hare at night and in a snowstorm. I was not brave enough to look outside because I knew there were dozens of aircraft out there flying those holding patterns. Besides I was too busy saying Our Fathers and making promises that I could never keep. I have also watched the Weather Radar scope light as we approached a line of massive summer thunderstorms between Wichita Falls and Dallas Ft Worth. And hear the crew announce “we may encounter a little chop on the way into DFW.” This was my cue to begin the Our Fathers.
They can have the glory because they surely earn it.
(Whining and Complaining section II) We, airline people, are like a big extended family and always seek each other out. We work crazy hours, move a bunch and develop good people skills because we serve the flying public. I think the Captain and I as ole timers would agree that our beloved industry has changed dramatically. We worked for the airlines when folks generally enjoyed flying, made travel arrangements with a travel agent, and had favorite airlines. If you recall, that was when people dressed up and wore suits and ties when they flew. This was before the airlines started choosing volume, rather than value and a pleasant flying experience for their customers. In my opinion, these business choices resulted in the hub airport systems and the mergers and acquisitions of smaller and regional carriers. This move was then followed by the disastrous two-tier wages systems. On September 11, 2001, the hijacking and subsequent crashing of American and United Airlines Flight 175 was a truly tragic day for all airline folks. I am sure Captain Volz felt this greatly and grieved deeply for his fellow flight crew members and passengers. After that event cockpit doors were armor-plated and strict safety and security protocols were implemented.
Now the twin troubles of partisan politics and the Covid pandemic have brought a new plague to the airlines. It appears that some folks now consider flying on a commercial airplane akin to going to a local town hall meeting, Frat party, or a Major League Wrestling event where you can act out, curse, scream, or hit a fellow passenger or flight attendant. Or if they get really worked up try to rush the Cockpit or open the emergency exit doors. A tip from an ole timer. You pay the price for a ticket and the airlines will rent you a seat and fly you from point A to your destination B, safely, and weather permitting, on time and with your baggage. You agree to behave yourself and be considerate of the staff and your fellow passengers. If your life is not going as expected and you are angry, depressed, had too many drugs or alcohol, or simply a wingnut just take the bus, Gus. Or better yet stay home and chill until things get better for you. I am truly glad that the Captain was retired and did not have to deal with this current stuff.
Good books could be written about the Captain's incredible career and contribution to our aviation industry. I would be remiss if I did not try and emphasize what an unimaginably challenging job Captain and Vice President Mel E. Volz had and how truly successful he was. The scope and scale of airline operations are just crazy to think about. For example, today United Airlines has about 96,000 employees and flies about 858 aircraft.
These good folks operate approximately 4,900 flights a day to 362 airports across six continents. That youngster flying model airplanes out at the Sanders farm became that unpretentious Captain and Vice President that successfully managed a good chunk of United’s complicated business. During his career, he flew the line and managed the logistical nightmare of airport and maintenance operations all the while developing new industry-leading safety and operating procedures. Melvin E. Volz, you were truly a great Ambassador for Commercial Aviation and a remarkable man.
Captain Volz of Punta Gorda, Florida was 95 and passed away quietly with family and friends. Commissioner Dale Twing and his brother and my good neighbor Charles Twing were nearby when he passed. Commissioner Twing said that arrangements are being made and there will be a service on April 9th for the Captain here in White Cloud.
Three cheers for a Captain of Captains.
The Kropscott Farm Environmental Center
By Lori Larsen
The Kropscott Centennial Farm was donated to the Newaygo Conservation District (NCD) by Earle and Mildred Kropscott. The property is an 80-acre parcel, which includes a farmhouse, barn, and approximately 40 acres of forest. The Kropscott's wish for this property is that it be used for education, agriculture, and scientific studies pertaining to the environment and our natural resources. The NCD Board of Directors will continue to honor this wish and make the property a place for everyone to utilize and to visit.
The Kropscott Farm Environmental Center (KFEC) is located six miles north of Fremont on the corner of Baseline and Stone Road. The facility contains two research labs for a wide variety of environmental and agricultural research and educational programming. The barn has been renovated to house a large area for demonstration and education purposes. The S.F. Wessling Observatory is a unique aspect of the Environmental Center, offering our residents the ability to view the wonders of the universe.
Educational experts have identified a general lack of interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) on the part of students throughout the U.S. This situation has major implications relating to conservation, the environment, agriculture, research and jobs in general. STEM educational programs at KFEC are tightly aligned with statewide curriculum standards and support regional public, private, parochial and home school networks. Through the project based, hands-on experiences, students develop an understanding and interest that is usually not developed by classroom experiences alone.
As the Kropscott Farm Environmental Center develops, it will be a valued research site and showplace for soil restoration practices such as agroforestry and permaculture. Current research, combined with the KFEC facility, the staff experience and the NCD nursery, offers the entire Newaygo community a truly unique opportunity. As the programs develop and expand, the opportunities for the entire community to explore and enjoy are pretty incredible.
The infrastructure is there, but KFEC is missing the resource that makes the programming come alive: humans.
Note to the Retirees of Newaygo County
We, the seniors of Newaygo County, have much to share. The experience and wisdom that we have gathered with the investment of our years is too valuable to keep to ourselves. So, if you enjoy gardening, bird watching, kite flying, wood working, cooking, hiking, geology, telescopes, microscopes, bee keeping, butterflies, or a dozen other things that we haven’t even thought of yet, please join us. We need you. Today’s youth need you.
And, yes, I did say kite flying. How fun would that be?
The KFEC is a beautiful location with unlimited potential for education and community involvement and enjoyment. All it needs is you. Please join us.
The KFEC open house will be held on April 16th from 10:00 am until 12:00 pm. The KFEC is located at 6523 W. Baseline Road, north of Fremont.
And, yes, there will be coffee and donuts.
I hope to see you there.
For more information call Luke Cotton at (231)349-4455.
Letter to the Editor Policy
Near North Now welcomes original letters from readers on current topics of general interest. Simply fill out the form below. Letters submissions are limited to 300 words.