JEEPS GALORE… visiting downtown Coloma and surrounding restaurants during the first Paw Paw River Club Hope Cruise.
Paw Paw River Jeep Club distributes hope during this uncertain time!
By Teresa Smithers The Paw Paw River Jeep Club found a creative way to give hope to Coloma restaurants and their patrons during these troubled times. At least, they did until the lockdown forced them to regroup. The Jeep Club started just over a year ago, a group of men and women who love to drive their Jeeps. “It’s like a motorcycle club,” says member Brian Smith, “except we prefer flip-flops and hand waves to leather and boots.” The club has about 400 members on Facebook, most of them local to the Tri-City area. With that many people with that many wheels and the desire to help the community through a rough time, the end result is “Hope Cruise,” a project that offers both hope and community with a dose of fun at a time when everyone sorely needs a bit of fun. The group chose to focus on locally-owned restaurants in Coloma to allow them to do more good without spreading themselves too thin. Led by Brian Smith with Theresa Bohle and other members doing a lot of legwork, the Hope Cruise concept is simple. Folks call a participating Coloma restaurant and purchase a gift card, saying it’s for the Jeep Club Hope Cruise. Then, the Jeep Club gathers the purchased gift cards from the restaurants and distributes them with all the Jeeps going to each address. That’s the fun part – there’s nothing more exciting than seeing some 20 Jeeps pulling into a drive. Restaurants that wanted to get involved had to be able to take credit cards over the phone or online. They had to offer gift cards, they had to be local and they had to be open. The gift card brings HOPE to both the business and its customer that there will be a day when the gift card can be used. It is literally buying hope for the future, something everyone needs. It also provides financial support to the local restaurants during this time of restricted services. And these restaurants surely need this. “My parents put their house on the line for this store,” new Subway owner Jordan Hurst said. “So, I am praying to Jesus that we get through this.” “We opened in April of last year,” says January Loheed-Immer, owner of the Blackbird Waterhouse, “so this is the last test of our first year – a global pandemic!” The first Thursday went great. With only a 24-hour heads-up, people (many of them from the club) bought gift cards. The trial Jeep run (practiced with social distancing, of course) went through without a hitch. Keith and Jill Chapman and Bruce Chapman of Midwest Timer in Riverside bought a $25 gift card from every restaurant on the list. Then they challenged their employees to buy a gift card from one of the restaurants. The first to bring them their card purchased from a restaurant would get Chapman’s gift card, too, making it a two-for-one! Then the lockdown was announced. Now, the Paw Paw River Jeep Club is brainstorming how they can adapt to the lockdown. With American ingenuity and creativeness, a new plan will surely be found. In the meantime, the Club urges everyone not to give up on the gift card purchases. Purchasers of gift cards from local restaurants will give hope to local businesses that are struggling, businesses they will want to see still open once all this has passed. The Paw Paw River Jeep Club will deliver the gift cards once the lockdown is over unless the buyer does not want to wait and the restaurant has an option for delivery. If the Jeep Club comes up with a plan to deliver cards earlier, they will announce it on Facebook. “We want to do our part to help contain the spread, while keeping the flow of cash and hope to our important local establishments here in Coloma,” Brian Smith said. Subscribe to the Tri-City Record! See Page 4 for details or call 463-6397
After researching cecropia moths last week (the largest moth species in North America) I came upon an interesting predator of them – bolas spiders. These orb-weaving spiders in the genus Mastophora, of which there are 13 species in the continental United States, do something unique to catch their prey. They use their silk webbing and dispense a single line, attaching it to a plant. They then act as tiny fishermen, and with great accuracy and skill, use this line as a lasso and swing it at passing insects. At the end of the line is a sticky ball that if thrown correctly, entangles the insect prey and allows the spider to pull in the line and inject their venom, subduing the victim quickly. Another amazing hunting technique bolas spiders have evolved to use is the ability to mimic insect pheromones. That sticky ball at the end of the lasso is covered in not only the coiled silk and glue made by the spider, but also pheromones. Male moths are attracted to the pheromone thinking it is a female moth, approach from downwind and are lured into the trap. Immature and thus smaller bolas spiders use a pheromone to attract male psychodid flies. To deter their own predators when resting, these tiny 1/16th to 1/2-inch adults resemble bird droppings. The Nature Center building will be closed until further notice. Our trails will remain open and free of charge during this time.
Fishing The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) every week puts out a fishing report letting the public know what’s biting and where, but the current, global COVID-19 situation means they must include more critical information too. Head out to fish only if you’re feeling well. Practice social distancing, at least 6 feet away from another person. Frequently wash your hands with soap and warm water, or use hand sanitizer. If driving to or from your fishing spot, roll the windows down a bit for air flow. There is nothing like time on the water for stress relief, and everyone could use that right now. Just do your part to keep yourself and others safe. Though anglers are still ice fishing in the northern regions of the state, the shoreline ice is breaking up and making it harder for anglers to get on and off the ice. Where the waters have opened up, docks are slowly being installed. Remember anglers 17 years of age and older are required to have a fishing license. Ellinee Bait & Tackle located on Paw Paw Lake reported an increase in the number of anglers going out to try their luck on the local waters. Some nice catches of panfish have been reported on most nearby lakes. Salmon are in the Paw Paw River and anglers are doing well. At this point bait is still plentiful, but that could change with the new restrictions every day. Ellinee is staying open their regular hours unless told to do differently. Day by day as with all things, call to check their hours at 269-468-7522. They also have the expertise to point anglers in the right direction for artificial bait that can be used if live bait would become a problem. Bait shops report that at this time there is plenty of bait so they ask customers to not buy over their normal amount! Those anglers fishing the smaller lakes are starting to catch crappie as the bite picks up. On the St. Joseph River, steelheads including fresh fish have been caught all the way up to Berrien Springs. South Haven and Grand Haven have seen some anglers targeting steelhead and coho when they could get out on the pier. On the Grand River near Grand Rapids, anglers were catching a good number of steelhead, including some fresh fish, which are hitting on a variety of live and artificial baits such as jigs with spawn, flies, beads, and wobble glo’s. A good number of steelheads are also being caught in the Rogue River, mainly on jigs tipped with wax worms. The DNR fishing tip this week is storing your ice fishing equipment. The key is doing it properly, so it will be ready to be used next winter. Here is a checklist of things to do: An auger should be checked for any damage and all the blades dried before storing. Consult a power auger’s manual to know how to appropriately handle any leftover gas and how to protect the engine. Remove batteries from any electronics to prevent any potential damage from leaking batteries. Portable shelters should be completely clean and dry before storing. They should have some moth balls stored with them, or the shelters can be hung up, to keep pests at bay. Take a full inventory of rods, reels and tackle to see what might be needed or wanted for next year. Also all bait or line needs to be removed from hooks and lures for storage and everything should be dry. By the time everything is properly stored from ice fishing, anglers will be itching to get out on their favorite stream, river or lake for some spring fishing. The DNR knows there has been a steady stream of “closure” information and messaging about self-isolating to slow the spread of COVID-19. It’s true, we are in uncharted territory, and such steps are critical in protecting Michigan residents from the virus risk. Safeguarding mental health is just as important, and spending time outdoors – whether in your backyard, on your balcony or in big, open spaces – can boost mind, body and spirit. Although the public contact areas (restroom buildings, shooting ranges, visitor centers) at many DNR-managed facilities are restricted, people are still welcome to enjoy the public outdoor areas at state parks and recreation areas, state game and wildlife areas, state forests, state trails and of course our lakes, river and streams. CCW classes canceled The Watervliet Rod and Gun Club has canceled their April Concealed Pistol License Classes (CCW). Ladies Day that was scheduled for May 9 is also cancele