Blogs > Sun Insider

News and quick-hit commentary from around mid-Michigan ... from the Morning Sun.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A note from Laura Rodriguez received this note from Laura Rodriguez, widow of Sgt. 1st Class Gregory Rodriguez, the Mt. Pleasant High School graduate and Weidman native who was killed in action in Afghanistan.

A very wonderful man put together Greg's memorial video for me and posted it to YouTube. It is 10 minutes long as there are 3 songs - Tim McGraw's "If You're Reading This," PuffDaddy's "I'll Be Missing You," and Trace Adkins "Arlington."

For those of you who haven't seen it or gotten the chance to see the final version of it, here it is:

There is also an on-line guest book for family and friends to leave comments/messages about Greg on. I will eventually get it professionally printed so each of the kids can have a copy as they grow up. Here is the link.

Greg's memorial service was beautiful. I probably cried more at the memorial than I did at his funeral.
Greg and I had our ups and downs, but overall he was a wonderful husband, an awesome father, and a dedicated K9 handler and soldier. During the month of August he sent me flowers with beautiful notes to both home and work. My husband was stealing my heart back all over again--after 9 1/2 years of marriage.

Jacko, Greg's K9 companion, is now "home". He's a beautiful, wonderful companion with very good manners. I just wish his Daddy were here with him.

On another note, I would like to thank so many people for their heartfelt support and kindness during this difficult time for our family. I have a lot of personal thank you's to do and I hope I don't forget anyone.

I'm going to cut this short.
Laura Rodriguez

Sunday, September 21, 2008

New site FAQ: The comics

Posted in one of our forums:
" I like the new on line Morning Sun, but I cannot find the comics. Where did they go? "

A. The old site didn't carry the comics in an HTML-accessible format, either. The comics still are online, right where they've always been, in the ePaper.
Here's what they look like:

The ePaper is essentially an interactive PDF that allows access to the newspaper in the print-style look. It includes everything, including the ads. Access it by clicking on the upper right of the front page - where it says ePaper.
Guest access is enabled now for everyone, and although we might begin charging for ePaper access in the future, it's free now.
The Sunday funnies remain a print-only product.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Finding obituaries

"If you search for the word “obituaries” you get them all, in order, going way back."
It's been an exciting several weeks at
The new design is up and running, and comments are mostly positive.
The main complaint: It's tougher to find past obituaries.
Under the old system, which was archived by day, it was possible to go into the archives, click on a particular day, and view the archived obits for that day. People living far and near would check in every few days to see.
Our new archiving system doesn't work that way - it's a searchable archive, rather than a day-to-day file.
Here's how to find obits in the new system: Simply search (in the seach window near the top of the page) for the word "obituaries." Rick Mills, the Sun's executive editor, figured this out and reports:
"If you search for the word “obituaries” you get them all, in order, going way back."
Thanks, Rick.
Pass the word.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Students remember 9/11

Around 3,000 small American flags were placed in the lawn next to the Park Library on the campus of Central Michigan University in honor of the seventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. About 3,000 people were killed in the attacks on New York, Washington and rural Pennsylvania.
Derek Gainsforth of Bay City said it took him and other students about an hour and a half to place the memorial.

Central Michigan University students Amanda Brown, left, of Scottville and Hillary Weaver of Northville walk along the student placed Sept. 11 memorial on campus. Many of today's students were in junior high school when the attacs happened seven years ago.
“I think a lot of people forget,” Brown said. “It’s cool someone would take the time to remember.”

Sun photographs by RYAN EVON

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Out of the smoke

Ava Edmondson of Rosebush holds a wet, bedraggled, sooty, 8-week-old ragdoll kitten rescued from a fire at her home on South Street. No one was home when the fire started, and flames were visible in the living room when Edmondson arrived back from shopping.

Isabella Northeast firefighter Rick Ervin, center, emerges carrying a kitten from the burning house.

An Isabella Northeast firefighter stands by as his tanker unloads hundreds of gallons of water into a portable water tank to fight the fire.

A firefighter equipped with breathing gear prepares to enter the smoke-filled home. No one was hurt.

'The best and the bravest'

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Gregory A. Rodriguez, a Mt. Pleasant High School graduate, was killed in action in Afghanistan. Rodriguez and his dog, Jacko, were a special search team in the military police.
Jacko and Rodriguez slept together in Afghanistan, according to Rodriguez' wife. Rodriguez' patrol came under fire in central Afghanistan, and "Rod," as he was known to his Army buddies, was killed. Jacko survived.
Sgt. Rodriguez is to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

He was 35. He joined the Army Reserves in 1994, and went on full-time active duty two years later.

Rodriguez told his wife that if anything happened to him, he wanted to be buried in Arlington, among the "best and the bravest."

(Photos courtesy Laura Rodriguez and the Vietnam Dog Handlers Association.)

Crunch time in Georgia

Chippewas fall to No. 2 Georgia, 56-17

Georgia linebacker Marcus Dowtin, right, and defensive end Justin Houston, bottom, bring down Central Michigan running back Carl Volny (29) during the second half.

Central Michigan quarterback Dan LeFevour (13) is pressured in the backfield by Georgia defensive end Justin Houston (42) .

Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno (24) stiff arms Central Michigan defensive back Josh Gordy, right, during the first half in Athens. Moreno rushed for 168 yards and tied his career high with three touchdowns in their 56-17 win.

Moreno (24) evades the tackle from Central Michigan defensive back Tommy Mama (14) during the first half.

Georgia flanker Michael Moore (82) is brought down by Central Michigan linebacker Nick Bellore during the fourth quarter.

Photos by John Amos/AP

Friday, September 05, 2008

Soldier from Weidman dies in Afghanistan

Sgt. 1st Class Gregory A. Rodgriguez, shown in this image taken from MySpace, died Tuesday in Afghanistan. Rodriguez' home town is Weidman.

A soldier from Weidman died Tuesday in combat in Afghanistan, the Pentagon announced late Friday.

Sgt. 1st Class Gregory A. Rodriguez, 35, a military policeman, was killed in Ana Kalay, Afghanistan when his patrol came under small-arms fire, according to a statement from the Department of Defense.
Rodriguez was a dog handler for the military police. He was assigned to the K-9 unit of the 527th Military Police Company, 709th Military Police Battalion, 18th MP Brigade, Ansbach, Germany, according to the Pentagon.
There was no word on the fate of Rodriguez’ dog.
According to postings on Internet forums, Rodriguez, known to his friends as “150,” loved Jeeps.
His wife’s MySpace page Friday night showed a slide show of Rodriguez with his family, his dog, of the two in action in Afghanistan, and included a photo of a makeshift military memorial erected in his honor. It also included a blog entry of a poem titled “Guardians of the Night,” celebrating the strength and courage of a military working dog.
Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.
Ana Kalay is in central Afghanistan, in a remote, mountainous region about halfway between Kabul, the capitol, and Kandahar.
Rodriguez is the 18th member of the military with Michigan ties to die in Afghanistan since Operation Enduring Freedom began nearly seven years ago.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Republicans love their hockey mom

A Republican delegate holds a sign in support of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
 (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Special to the Sun

The entire Michigan delegation dressed in hockey jerseys Wednesday night.
The jerseys were provided by Attorney General Mike Cox. Cox hosted “Mr. Hockey,” Gordie Howe earlier this week at a reception for the Michigan delegation.
During Sarah Palin’s speech, at one point the Michigan delegation started a chant of “HOCKEY MOM.” That’s the point when Palin said that the only difference between a hockey mom and a pitbull was lipstick.
Being on the floor, we are able to watch the rear teleprompter. I was amazed that this was an off-the-cuff remark that today has so many people talking.
PALIN HITS BACK: Palin took Wednesday night as an opportunity to hit back and to dispel any rumor that she lacks experience. My favorite line last night was the well-reported, “I guess a small town mayor is kind of like a community organizer, except you have actual responsibilities.” Wow.
At the end of the night, I went to Facebook. Scrolling through my friends’ updates, I was shocked at some of the people who wrote about how much they liked Palin’s speech. Talk about energizing the GOP base and bringing independent women to the McCain-Palin ticket. If Facebook could count as an official poll, I think they just got one heck of a post-convention bounce.
BUTTONS: Just like any political event, the campaign buttons are all over the place. From personalized McCain-Palin buttons with a guests’ names on them to the funny ones, almost everyone has some sort of button on.
One finally got me to look twice. On a 20-something delegate from Texas, I saw a button with a photo of Sarah Palin next to the phrase “HOT VP, COOL STATE.”

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks during the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., Wednesday.
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
HUCKABEE WAS … HUCKABEE: Using his typical sarcastic and easy to relate to sense of humor, former Gov. Mike Huckabee worked to dispel any rumors that Palin should be less credible because she is from Alaska or a small town. Huckabee noted that that Alaska has the same number of electoral votes as Delaware. That’s where Obama VP candidate Joe Biden is from.
Former Massachusetts Gov. and presidential candidate Mitt Romney  speaks at the Republican National Convention.
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

MITT ROMNEY: Mitt Romney was one of the featured breakfast speakers at the Michigan hotel on Wednesday morning. He got the crowd riled up! For a former opponent, he sure had come over to the McCain side!
Matthew Golden is chairman of the Isabella County Republican Party and is blogging from the GOP convention in St. Paul for The Sun Insider blog. Reports from earlier this week can be seen there.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Gustav still on Republicans' minds


Special to the Sun

LAURA BUSH: Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land hosted a breakfast on Tuesday morning. Originally, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour was planning to attend. However, because of Hurricane Gustav, Barbour stayed in Mississippi. Land staffers were notified on Monday night that a surrogate would be sent but not told who the surrogate would be.

Just before the event, it became known that First Lady Laura Bush would address the Michigan group. Bush told Michigan attendees that Michigan could be the swing state in this election, similar to Ohio was in 2006. She also spoke about the importance of helping the victims of the hurricane.


Tuesday at the Republican National Convention had a much more upbeat mood, with everyone obviously still mindful of the victims of Hurricane Gustav. The calls were unified for everyone to find a way to participate in one of many community service programs to aide victims of Hurricane Gustav.


BLOOD DRIVE: A few of our GOP leaders, including United States Senate candidate Jack Hoogendyk organized for a blood drive to take place at our hotel on Tuesday morning. It was a great way to show that our thoughts and prayers are with the victims in the Gulf Coast.


CROPSEY HOSTS EVENT: Tuesday evening before the convention, state Sen. Alan Cropsey, R-DeWitt, joined Sen, Jason Allen, R-Traverse City, in hosting a reception for everyone from Michigan. The event was held in a private residence overlooking downtown St. Paul, just two blocks from the X-Cel Energy Center. It was awesome to see everything from a bird’s-eye view, including some of the protesters and the security setups.


THOMPSON MESMERIZES CROWD: Fred Thompson delivered a speech that left everyone in the Convention Hall in awe. Thompson focused on why he believes that Sen. McCain would be the best person to lead the ticket, and the excitement that Sarah Palin brings to the ticket.

From a former opponent of McCain, you could hear and see the sincerity from Thompson. At some points you could hear a pin drop the audience was so focused on what Thompson had to say. 

 LIEBERMAN GETS TOUGH: The highlight of the night had to be the Lieberman speech for me. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into the night. After all, just a few years ago, Lieberman was the vice presidential candidate on the Democratic ticket. 

Lieberman said the things that needed to be said, and while his speech was obviously tailored to Democrats who might be on the fence, the reaction from the Republicans was nothing short of awesome. He focused on change, but closed his speech by saying the real change we need was to elect John McCain and Sarah Palin to go “shake up Washington.”

 More to follow, after the much awaited speech from Sarah Palin scheduled for Wednesday night, as she accepts the official nomination of the Republican Party.

Matt Golden is the chairman of the Isabella County Republican Party. He is blogging for the Sun Insider from the Republican National Convention in St. Paul

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Palin, Gustav the buzz of the convention

Sun Special Correspondent

Greetings from Minneapolis!
Or, to be correct, Brooklyn Park, a suburb about 15 minutes northeast of downtown Minneapolis, where the Michigan delegation is staying. This week, I will be blogging for the Morning Sun to provide a local perspective of the happenings here at the Republican National Convention.
I’ve had a lifelong interest in politics, and couldn’t be more excited to be on the ground in Minnesota as Republicans kick off this phase of the election, by making our presidential and vice-presidential nominees official.
In the interest of disclosure, at 24 years old, I am a lifelong Republican. I currently serve as the chairman of the Isabella GOP and formerly served as youth vice-chairman of the Michigan Republican Party. I was an active supporter of Sen. John McCain in the primary, and spent time in Florida and Missouri volunteering in other key primary states following the Michigan primary.


THE PALIN PICK: Since Friday when McCain announced Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running-mate pick, the first question in so many conversations with delegates, Alternates, guests and others from Michigan has been something along the lines of “How about that pick?”
Palin seemed to draw a new energy into the grassroots of the GOP. Comments like “a maverick chose a maverick” and “someone we can all relate to” lead the conversations regarding Palin.
Personally, I would have loved to see Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty picked to run with McCain, but the Palin pick got me excited almost immediately and seeing the response in the days following has me convinced that the McCain-Palin ticket was an outstanding choice.


THE PALIN PICK, REVISITED: On Saturday, a small group of people began to discuss the rumors that Gov. Palin’s 6-month-old son, Trig, was actually born to Palin’s oldest daughter, Bristol. Most discredited it as rumor.
Then, on Monday the bombshell was dropped: Bristol Palin was pregnant. The text messages and e-mails started pouring in or many of us, a sign of how news spreads so quickly among the often tech-savvy political groupies.
Even among the hardcore conservatives, the comments extended beyond the simple line, “This is a family matter for the Palin family.” They actually praised the family for doing the right thing by announcing the pregnancy and “doing the right thing,” in keeping the baby.
The other interesting comments I heard over and over again was that this shows that the Palin family is dealing with many of the challenges that other families in America deal with and that its refreshing to see a politician who doesn’t fight to hide anything that may be tough to deal with.


WHO’S HERE: Central Michigan is well represented here in Minnesota. Kim Emmons, the chairwoman of the Clare County GOP is here, as is our state Sen. Alan Cropsey with his wife, Erica. The Michigan group is together a large amount of the time, as we all are staying at the same hotel, and travel to and from the convention center and events together.


HURRICANE GUSTAV: As everyone began to arrive Saturday and Sunday, the all-too common question was “Are we going to have a convention?”
The outpouring of support for hurricane victims has been amazing thus far. During the first few minutes, delegates were promoted to take out their cell phones and make a contribution, via text message, to help hurricane relief programs. I was shocked by the number of people, of all ages, around me that were using their cell phones to make contributions.
The tone has certainly been more mellow. The televisions in our hotel lobby are continuously on the news, and there is often a crowd in the lobby watching the news to find out the latest. It will be interesting to see how everything moves forward for the rest of the week.
I had the opportunity to meet a delegate from Louisiana on the convention floor on Monday. Hearing about the real experiences of the Louisiana delegation was really interesting. Of course, it was moving to hear how many rushed home to be with their families. But, what was more interesting was his comments about how some planned to come back once if possible and that they wanted to bring their families with.


CINDY McCAIN AND LAURA BUSH: Our schedules only indicated that the speakers for Monday’s abbreviated convention session were “to be announced.” As we were boarding the busses to head to the X-Cel Energy Center, the buzz started that Cindy McCain and Laura Bush would make an appearance.
Laura Bush delivered a thoughtful and inspiring speech that focuses on helping the victims of the hurricane. Cindy McCain then joined Mrs. Bush on the stage and shared a similar message. Both Mrs. Bush and Mrs. McCain steered clear of talking politics and once again encouraged everyone to find a way to contribute to the victims of Hurricane Gustav.
It’s been a roller coaster of a few days out here and I look forward to continuing updates. No matter who wins in November, this year will prove to be a historic election. The excitement, energy and dedication to their parties is evident on the ground here in Minneapolis and was obvious last week through last weeks coverage of the Democratic National Convention.
Matthew Golden is chairman of the Isabella County Republican Party. He is blogging for the Morning Sun and from St. Paul during the GOP convention.

Monday, September 01, 2008

The Detroit Speech

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, D-Ill., speaks to supporters at Hart Plaza in Detroit.
(AP Photo/Detroit Free Press, Andre J. Jackson)

The original plan for our family's Labor Day weekend didn't involve Detroit or Barack Obama, but that changed. We went to see the Mt. Pleasant High School jazz band perform at the Detroit Jazz Festival - more on that later - and a Detroit Tiger game. But when we heard that Obama would stage a rally Monday, we thought, Why not? Why not see what this is all about?

Supporters cheered when Obama said he didn't choke on the word "union."
(Photo by Robert Ranzenberger/The Ranzenblog)

We were surrounded by a huge, extremely well-behaved crowd. There was no rowdiness, except for the huge cheers for the candidate. There was no booze, almost no line-cutting that I saw, and just a sense that this is a Movement, not just a candidacy.

The crowd spilled out beyond Hart Plaza, filling up several blocks of Jefferson and Woodward.

Long lines snaked through downtown Detroit as people waited to get through security and enter the event along Detroit's riverfront.

The line my family and I joined turned out to be 15 blocks long, but it moved fairly quickly. The people waiting to see the Democratic presidential nominee were black, white, mostly middle class, and frankly, looked like America.

Much of the crowd didn't take much convincing.

Often, when I've gone to Detroit, I've gotten a sense of hopelessness and defeat. That's easy to understand. But there was none of that this time. I hesitate to say there's a sense of optimism, but there's certainly a sense of the future among the people who saw Barack Obama in Motown.